Good Restaurant Near O'Hare
A group of food professionals are flying into Chicago for a quick meeting. Staying at the
Crowne Plaza O'Hare, 5440 N. River Road in Rosemont. We're looking for a good restaurant
a short taxi ride away. Can be ethnic or not - a place with good food and ideally few
Thanks to you, Bibi Rose - we went to MJ2Bistro and thought it was great. The owner prepared a selection of appetizers, entrees and desserts for the eight of us.
And interesting wines at good prices. I recommend it. (The owner's wife even took
us back to our hotel because we couldn't get a taxi. Now that's service.)
This place is in a strip mall and a short cab ride from O'Hare. Check them out at Metromix.com. Not sure if they have a web site with a menu or not...
Mount Prospect Commons 1746 W. Golf Rd.
The owners also have D & J Bistro way out in the boonies.
You can also try MJ2 Bistro in Park Ridge. (M J squared) This is very close to Rosemont. Check out their website and menu here:
The owner is a Japanese gentleman that was raised in Peru. As you will notice, there are some South American ingredients used in his dishes (Sugar Cane & Yucca)as well as Asian flavors.
Mount Prospect and Park Ridge are both somewhat further away from the hotel mentioned by the OP, which is right next to the Rosemont Theater just south of the convention center. Figure 15 and 10 minutes, respectively, versus 5 minutes for the places in Des Plaines and Rosemont.
Retro Bistro is pretty good. It does have a website with their menu. If you type the obvious guess at the website name into your browser, you will find that it is correct. ;)
Heh, I was probably the one with the Twin Peaks comment.
If I were roughly in that area, I would go to Periyali (a nice Greek restaurant in a scary-looking building that used to be a Red Lobster) or Cafe Lucci (huge portions of Italian food; charming wine guy; but most likely jammed because they were just on Check Please).
David's Bistro is an interesting place. This is going to read like a slam on DB, but I actually like this place because when it's good it's very good (mostly the simpler dishes). But when the chef tries to get "creative" (which is often), the results can be spectacularly (and even entertainingly) bad. A frequent problem is that there are just too many things going on in one dish and most of the entrees are way too sweet.
Most of the patrons are "of a certain age" and probably enjoy eating candy with every course. I know my grandmother did. The space is cozy and attractive, especially given the location in a particularly drab stripmall. Someone else described David's Bistro as having a "Twin Peaks" vibe. If you understand what this means, it might be right up your alley.
1. Black Ram Steakhouse is a restaurant in Des Plaines. All of the food there is absolutely GREAT - the steaks, the seafood, the desserts, everything. It doesn't get a lot of press, but it gets a lot of repeat business. The proprietor greets lots of arriving guests by name. If you're looking for a great steakhouse (and seafood) restaurant that nobody ever heard of, this is it.
Black Ram Steak House
1414 Oakton St.
Des Plaines, IL 60019
2. If you think your group would like real Chicago-style pizza, go to Giordano's and order the stuffed pizza. They are the only major Chicago-style chain with a location right near O'Hare. They also regularly win more reader surveys and critical raves in both the local and national media than any other pizza place in Chicago. They're downscale, so they fit the "no pretensions" theme. They may be somewhat noisy (I'm not familiar with this particular location).
9415 West Higgins Road
3. Gibson's Steakhouse is the best-known steakhouse in Chicago these days, and they have a location near O'Hare. However, Gibson's is ALL about the pretensions; picture a fancy bustling steakhouse where they bring you a platter to show you the various HUGE cuts of meats to order, and that's Gibson's. The steaks are very good, too. (If you're looking for an unsung place with better food, including steaks, I think Black Ram is better, but if you're looking for a famous place that people can brag about having gone, then maybe this is your ticket.)
5464 North River Road
Rosemont IL 60018
4. If you're looking for something a bit more creative - which might be more appropriate for food professionals - I've heard good things about David's Bistro but have not been there myself.
Southeast Corner of Wolf & Central Road
623 N. Wolf Rd.
Des Plaines, IL 60016
Gibson's is located right next door to your hotel. The others are all 2-3 miles away.
I'd probably go a few miles further and hit Lou Malnati's instead of Giordano's. They prepare different types of Chicago-style (Lou's is deep dish, giordano's is stuffed), but among the two I give the edge to Lou's. There's a location a few miles away in Elk Grove Village (on Higgins) and in Park Ridge (on Northwest Highway).
None of these are very exciting choices, though.
Some ethnic and more obscure choices:
Kurumaya, an izakaya in Elk Grove Village. Especially if you can find someone willing to translate the specials, I think this might be a good fit.
For Korean you can head up to Pusan in Mount Prospect.
Tony C recommends these places and a couple others over in this thread from November: