Recommendation on area to eat/stay!
My husband and I are planning on taking a week long vacation in Chicago in July and would like your recommendations regarding where to stay and best places to eat.
To give you some back ground are situation is as follows;
- we have a 1 year old son and are looking for areas that are reasonably kid friendly
- we want to stay in a safe location
- we want to spend the week on foot, no taxis, and therefore would like an area that has good eats and lodging
- this will be mainly an eating trip. We love eating all kinds of food (burgers, schwarma, Vietnamese, pizza etc.. ) and prefer it to be at reasonable prices. We are not looking for fine dining by no means.
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thank-you for your help!
Please note, replies about lodging or general tourist information, without discussion of restaurants, have been removed from this thread. Please help us maintain the value of Chowhound as a data trove of dining information by discussing the food and restaurant scene in Chicago.
I would recommend choosing a hotel that is in the Magnificent Mile/River North area. Unfortunately, this area is not so good for cheap and varied good eats, but it is definitely safe and gives you plenty of transportation options. Try to choose a place which is close to one of the Red Line stations: Grand (State & Grand), Chicago (State & Chicago), or Division (Clark & Division). You can take the Red Line subway/el train north to some great neighborhoods, including Argyle for Vietnamese, or the Sheridan stop to TAC, an outstanding Thai restaurant. (Search here and on lthforum.com for much discussion, especially posts by Erik M.) Ethiopian and other African spots would also be reachable by going north on the Red Line.
The Red Line also goes south to Chinatown, where you could choose from Lao Sze Chuan (Szechuan, obviously), Mandarin Kitchen (Shanghainese, not so obviously), Spring World (Yunnanese), and Phoenix for dim sum, among other spots. Depending on the day and time (check the CTA web page, www.transitchicago.com ) the Chinatown el station would also be a convenient place to catch a bus (#18, going along 18th St. much of its route) to the Pilsen neighborhood with its wealth of Mexican options (e.g. Nuevo Leon for a large, general norteno menu, very family-friendly; Reyes de Ocotlan for birria, Don Pedro or Carnitas Uruapan for carnitas, ...) You could return downtown from the Pilsen neighborhood via the 18th St. Pink Line el station on 18th 1.5 blocks west of Ashland.
If you take the Red Line south into the loop you can transfer to any of the other train lines, including the aforementioned Pink Line, the Brown Line, which would take you up to Albany Park for excellent Middle Eastern food (Kedzie stop), or the Blue Line which goes all the way out to O'Hare. Here is one possibility of a place accessible via the Blue Line: Podhalanka, for very inexpensive Polish food, close to the Division stop.
You should definitely look into getting CTA passes for your stay -- I believe it's $20 for a 7 day pass.
P.S. I forgot to add that during the summer there are also free trolleys running to many of the popular tourist destinations (Lincoln Park, Museum Campus, etc) and a free weekend shuttle to Chinatown and Pilsen which you can pick up at the Museum Campus or the Roosevelt Road el station (State and Roosevelt). You should be able to find the trolley routes somewhere on the city of Chicago's web site...
Being a Chicago resident I have never stayed at a Chicago hotel, but there is a huge are of Chiacago that begins south of the loop - certainly 1500 S. and these day much farther - until you hit Evanston north of the city that is safe to walk around in. These days you need to get pretty far South or West before you relly need to worry. That said, you'll probably stay in one of the many hotels in the Streeterville/Goldcoast area. There are hundreds of them. As a frequent traveler, I might recommend the Embassy Suites since their rooms are larger and always have two rooms - nice when Jr. needs feeding late at night. There is one on 600 N. State that is very convenient.
Although you say no taxis, Chicago is a big city, and taxis are VERY convenient to get around. For example, you could walk up through the Goldcoast to Lincoln park one day, and then take a taxi home. I grew up in a small town and it took me a while to figure it out, but for a $5-10 taxi ride you can really make your life a lot easier. Its just a way of life for city dwellers.
For some reasonable places in downtown, you could try the following.
Portillos - 100 W. Ontario. Chicago Style Hot Dogs and Italian Beef Sandwiches. (www.portillos.com)
Kan Zaman - 617 N. Wells. Lebanese. Maybe 4 blocks west of Michigan Avenue in an interesting little restraunt/retail strip of Wells St. Excellent Middle Eastern food.
Quartinos - 626 N. State. Italian. They have a large menu of small to mid sized dishes to share for around $10 each. Its a fun palce. (www.quartino.com).
If you want something a little nicer, you could try Brasserie Jo - 59 W. Hubbard. French Bistro. I've been there a few times for earlier meals (5:30-7:00) and there have been a good number of tables with small children. (www.brasseriejo.com)
And of course there are tons of Pizza places. Check past threads if you are interested in those.
Definitely check out Millenium park. Its a neat place in the summer.
Also, there is a free city zoo in Lincoln park. A great place to stroll around and you'll be right on the lakefront.
If you're in the area I'd also recommend a walk up Astor Street - from Division (1200 N) to State (1600 N.) That whole area is the real old money strip and there are some beautiful houses to see.
I could go on forever, but that gives you some ideas. Good Luck. Its a great city.