Best of Chicago for Visiting Hound?
I'll be in Chicago in a couple weeks on business staying near Navy Pier, I'd like to get recommendations for the best Chicago Pizza and any other Chicago specialities (Italian beef perhaps) in the neighborhood that would merit a visit. Can a visiting hound get some help?
For pizza, I would recommend Pizzeria Uno or Due, as ever-crowded and touristy as they are. They are related and only a block apart, not real close to Navy Pier but walkable or a short cab ride. It's pan style (thick, but not too thick) pizza. If you want stuffed (the really thick stuff) then try Gino's. However, be warned that Gino's is pretty lacking in ambience and even more shamelessly touristy than Uno's/Due's. Giordano's isn't bad in a pinch either, but has a more generic "chain" feel to it than the others.
I am not aware of any Italian beef places in the Navy pier neighborhood although I am sure some form of it is available on the pier itself. If you have some time, Mr Beef is a classic Chicago Italian beef place but I am not sure if it's open for dinner and in any event is a ways from Navy Pier in the River North neighborhood. Al's Italian beef is also good. These are both lunch counter type places; essentially fast food.
Als is a good one for Italian Beef (169 W Ontario). Really just a roadside stand with a few tables under a tent, but about as good as you'll find.
Honestly, there is a ton of great food in Chicago that is not Italian Beef/Pizza. If you're up to more, you can go wild, especially if you're on a Per Diem to pay for/defray the costs.
Navy Pier is in a part of town called Streeterville - between the Loop to the South and Gold Coast to the North. Despite having a ton of pricey condos and high end shopping, the food scene seems to be domintated by chains. I never go out there but others may know of some winners in the area.
I have more luck to the North and West - but you don't need to go far - maybe a 5-10 minute cab ride. Certainly worth getting around if you're in town for a while.
To give you an idea, here are a couple of areas to check out:
1) West Loop - Greek Town (Try Santorini), Blackbird ($$$) or the cheaper Avec (my preference, same owners), Carnivale (Latin, trendy, good people watching, food good - esp, Guacamole), Sushi Wabi
2) Near North - Coco Pazo (Italian -there's also a lower end Coco Pazo Cafe in Streeterville), Gene and Georgetti's (Steak House), Tizi Meloul, Pepper Canister (Bar with good pub food and great beer on tap), Kan Zaman (cheap Lebanese), Tizi Meloul (Mid-East Fusion), Crofton on Wells ($$$ - Regional American).
3) Old Town - on Wells Street by North Avenue - Adobo Grill (Mex), Topo Gigio (Italian), Bistro Margot (French), Kamehachi (Sushi) - All just South of Second City comedy club.
Just a small sampling from three small areas. In general, for most of these, I'd say paln $50 for a couple drinks, appetizer, entree, tax and tip. If you're interested in something more specific, let us know.
Hey there fellow OCer...how long you gonna be there, what kind of time/transportation/budget do you have? SOme good suggestions so far...I think the key is that between the free trolley that serves Navy Pier, CTA buses and trains, you can get a LOT of places cheaply and relatively quickly. Navy Pier itself has a large number of restaurants, from fast food to mid-high end, but the joy would come from a little exploring. One suggestion I'll add...for the atmosphere maybe more than the food...and that's lunch (reasonable), dinner (pricey) or drinks on the 95th floor of the Hancock Center.
I'd second that motion for drinks on the 95th Floor around sundown. For $5-6/person you can get admission to the Hancock Observatory and mill about with tourists. For just a few dollars more, you'll get a comfy barstool, a cocktail, and a view of the sun setting over a beautiful city through the western window. My sweetheart and I make it a point to go a few times a year.
"there's also a lower end Coco Pazo Cafe in Streeterville"
A good option for near-Navy-Pier dining if you're intrested in midlevel, casual Italian. Blackie's down on Grand also has some of the best barroom hamburgers in town, at a moderate price. For beef and pizza, just do a little searching and you'll get plenty of conflicting views.