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Oct 22, 2006 09:00 PM

hoping for recommendations

hey i am visiting chicago for the first time for just a couple nights in mid-november...i'd love to make the most of it, and i am open to all suggestions...i've considered charlie trotter's for one of those night...for the other night, i was hoping for something a bit more casual and have no clue where to go

any suggestions?

brooklyn, ny

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  1. I suggest Blackbird - more casual, sort of hip (all the waiters wear clothing by Joseph Abboud), cheaper than Trotters, and the food is very, very good. Try to sit against the west wall, out of the noise (the place is "conversation-challenged"), and be sure to order anything on the menu that inlcudes pork belly!

    But if you want to have the meal of a lifetime, try to get a reservation at Alinea. I would do Alinea over Trotters any time. Recently voted the #1 restaurant in the country, it's an experience not to be missed - a series of incredible and delicious taste sensations that will leave you amazed and delighted. Though it might be short notice, it may be possible to get a reservation for earlier than prime-time. We went at 5:30, and since the 23 course Tour is 4 1/2 hours long, that was just right.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Akatonbo

      alinea isn't going to work out for me, but blackbird looks intriguing thank you for the recommendation.

    2. I agree - ALINEA is the place to sure to have a wine flight!

      1 Reply
      1. re: dcuffaro

        as i replied below, i'm only there on a monday and tuesday - the only 2 days alinea is closed a week!!

        so bummed, i really had psyched myself up for it.

        thanks tho

      2. I was at Trotters recently for a big occasion and in retrospect would have preferred Alinea, although Trotter's was quite good. Which ever you choose, get the wine pairings and make your reservations ASAP. Might already be too late for a weekend in Nov. With Alinea's recent ranking (by Gourmet) I am sure they are packed solid. (FYI, Trotters was #13 on the list, so still not shabby).

        For a more casual, what kind of food do you like? How causal? There are hundreds of good options.

        3 Replies
        1. re: wak

          as i tried to make a reservation last night at alinea, i was dismayed to find that they are open only wednesday to sunday nights! i will be there on monday and tuesday, so i suppose i'll have to return for alinea another time. i am excited to try trotter's altho the reviews i have read are spotty at best. i understand that reviews often reflect on the reviewer more than the restaurant. i've even read terrible reviews of per se here in new york, and let me tell you, those are off base.

          so far as casual goes, i would love to find a restaurant along the lines of an enoteca with well conceived and executed simple dishes and fantastic wine. not necessarily italian, but i say enoteca to give you an idea of style; i'm just hoping to find a good spot that may not get so many stars but is respected and frequented by locals in the know. i've been spoiled i suppose by new york restaurants like otto enoteca (where i work), perry strett, fatty crab and many others. i know such places must exist by the dozens in chicago.

          thanks a lot for your response.


          1. re: eddie dc

            Perry Street and Fatty Crab sound like you like a little asian influence. How about Le Lan ( or Meritage (

            For Italian, I like Coco Pazzo (

            All have excellent wine lists.

            1. re: eddie dc

              Another place that may fit the bill is Sola, in the 3800 block of North Lincoln. The influences are definitely Asian - and the food is all delicious. It never seems to get mentioned here, which I think is a shame. The comfy, not overly noisy or cowded room reminds me of someplace in Malibu (they even have Nobu's Black Cod in Miso on the menu). I wouldn't rate Sola as highly as Blackbird, but we've had two very delicious meals there, and the wines are nice, too. I think it's the equal of Le Lan.

          2. oops replied in the wrong spot!

            1. Since you can't get into Alinea and are unsure of Trotter's- try TRU (675 N St. Clair St; 312-202-0001) - TRU is owned by Rick Tramonto (he worked under Charlie Trotter) and Gale Gand (french dessert chef - I believe she may have worked under Trotter as well). Doubtful, but you may have enough time to book the kitchen table if that interests you ($150).