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Nov 5, 2006 01:56 AM

Great dining experience in Chicago?

My husband and I will be in Chicago over Thanksgiving weekend. We're looking for a nice restaurant. We've heard great things about Alinea and would love to try it, but we won't have the time to finish such a long meal this time around. And of course, we probably wouldn't be able to get reservations either at this point. Anyway, price doesn't matter. But no Mexican, Italian or steakhouses, please.

We're from LA. Just to give you an idea, our favorite restaurants in LA are Sona and Orris.

I've read about a lot of restaurants on these boards, but it's been hard to narrow it down to one place. We only come once a year to Chicago and only have time for one nice meal. Which one would you pick? Thanks.

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  1. You might want to try North Pond, which has a lot of regional, organic, seasonal dishes or Spring. has listings and reviews of both for more info. They both may be hard to get into at that time, but give them a try.

    1. Why not try Avenues, in the Peninsula Hotel? Award-winning chef Graham Elliot Bowles turns out stellar cuisine that I would rate right under Alinea's (just not as innovative, but then, what is?). Though the biggest degustation is another lengthy meal, they do have other choices, and I believe you can also order a la carte. Here's a link:

      Sola is another good choice - a very good restaurant that doesn't get enough exposure, IMHO. I love the ambience, the service is good, and the food is delicious. Of course, it is sort of "California-style" (they even have Nobu's black cod in miso on the menu), so it might be old hat to you, but they are quite good, and you'd be able to get in. Here's a link - check it out:

      1 Reply
      1. re: Akatonbo

        I tired Sola for the first time this weekend and was duly impressed. I had the duck confit salad appetizer, mustard encrusted stuffed lamb chops with parmesan truffle fries as an entree, and the cookies for dessert. It was all delicious. Mrs. WAK raved about the Filet. The room was a little plain and noisy, but service and wine list both good.

        Kevin is another idea, ( although it is another Western/Asian fusion (albeit and excellent one) that might seem too familiar.

        Are you sure about the Italian thing? Spiaggia, if you can get a table at this point, is consistently one of the best half dozen meals in town. Coco Pazzo on Hubbard St. is more causal but excellent in its own way. It’s one of my favorite places in the city.

        A new spot that I really enjoy is the May Street Market on Grand Avenue. It’s only been open for six months with a young chef who had training in Austria that influences his food. Very original preparations like the Maytag Blue Cheesecake appetizer, which is to die for. Service was cagey at first, but last time it seemed to have improved significantly.

      2. If you like Sona, why not go to where the chef got a lot of his inspiration... he used to work for Charlie Trotter. I still believe its the best place in town. Degustation menu but if you have 3 hours you'll be fine.

        1. If you want a totally classic dining style you might consider Ambria. It is quite formal, but the food, service, and wine list are all stunning.