A short cab ride can take you just about anyplace in the downtown and near north areas.
If you want to knock everyone's socks off with the best food in the city, take them to Everest. Also exquisite service and a wonderful atmosphere with the view from the top of the exchange building. http://www.everestrestaurant.com
Another place with outstanding food and a bit more trendy atmosphere is One Sixty Blue. http://www.onesixtyblue.com
Zest - very good contemporary American food. This is in the Inter-Continental on Michigan Ave, but the prices are very reasonable for a restaurant in a hotel. The lobster club at lunch is great!
Other options within walking distance (listed by distance from the hotel, closest first):
China Grille - I haven't been, but I've heard good things.
South Water Kitchen (Southern mostly)
Catch 35 (Seafood)
VTK (inauthentic Thai food, but yummy)
Vermillion (Indian-Latin Fusion)
Kevin (contemporary American with Asian influences)
All of these are open for lunch and dinner.
The Swisshotel is sort of out on an island on East Wacker. The restaurant at the hotel has a reputation for being decent, and there is also Aria at the Fairmont which is in walking distance and is also pretty good.
However, you are about a 10 - 20 minute cab ride from many great places, from Custom House towards the south even up to Charlie Trotters or Alinea in Lincoln Park/Old Town.
I would forget about walking and take a cab some place.
If you provide some additional info as to price point and food preferences and I can provide additional info.
Ok, thanks - then a cab it is.
I have two meals to eat in Chicago - a lunch on Friday with one person (who's not much of a foodie, but I'm willing to impose my preferences on him), and then a dinner for 6 people (majority of foodies).
We're coming from Boston, Berkeley, and Washington DC., so all have access to "good" food - is there something like a Chez Pannise of Chicago? I.e. local food done well? (Although I'm not much of a beef eater, which is what I think of local food for Chicago in winter!)
Otherwise, I've read that there a good BYOB Thai places? I was going to make reservations at Topolobambo, but it's closed that week.