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Lunch and Dinner on Per Diem 3 nights/4 days

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I am headed to Chicago from Monday 1/22 - Thurs 1/25 for work. I am not familiar with the area and am really looking forward to finding some good dining spots near the office and the hotel. The office is on Van Buren and the hotel is the Hyatt on Wacker. I'd like to avoid the cold as much as possible so anything that is close on foot or a brief cab ride away is perfect. I'm on a per diem so moderately priced fare is best. Are there particular streets/areas near the hotel that I could check out? Particular not-to-miss restaurants that are not too expensive? Any suggestions are appreciated!

Chrissie

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  1. If the office on Van Buren is close to Wabash, a fairly short walk will take you to my 2 favorite Loop lunch places, Heaven on Seven: http://www.heavenonseven.com

    and the Oasis Cafe: http://www.oasiscafe1.com/menu.html

    Both are quite reasonable and distinctive. Heaven on Seven is a New Orleans inspired restaurant on the 7th floor of an office building. It's always crowded at noon, but the crowd has pretty much cleared out by 1:30. It has several branches around the area, (one on North Michigan and relatively close to your hotel) but the Wabash one is the original, and I think, the best.

    The other is the Oasis Cafe, It's a counter in a food court, but that shouldn't put you off. The food is authentic middle eastern and very good.

    1. Your office is in the south end of the Loop. For lunch, I recommend Giordano's for Chicago-style stuffed pizza, since they have a location in that immediate vicinity. This is your chance to enjoy a uniquely Chicago-style lunch you can't get back home. You may want to call ahead with your order, as the larger stuffed pizzas can take 30-40 minutes to bake. Also, the number of servings indicated on the menu for each size pizza assume it's for dinner (and they are generally accurate); for a lighter lunch (to avoid overstuffing yourself), consider ordering slightly less pizza for your party than the number of servings shown on the menu would imply.

      Giordano's
      223 West Jackson Blvd.
      312-583-9400
      www.giordanos.com

      For dinner, your hotel is just east of Michigan Avenue, at the south end of the Magnificent Mile. There are many, many restaurants in the Mag Mile area (although the better ones tend to be expensive), so many that it's tough to come up with just one recommendation. Maybe Shaw's Crab House if you like seafood; it's a short walk from your hotel:

      Shaw's Crab House
      21 East Hubbard
      312-527-2722
      www.shawscrabhouse.com

      Another dinner option would be to go to Everest at the end of the work day, before returning to your hotel. Everest is one of the finest restaurants in Chicago (THE best, IMHO) and it's very close to your office. The food is exquisite, the service is impeccable, and the view is amazing (it's at the top of the Chicago Stock Exchange building). It's rather expensive (although not as bad as Tru, Alinea, etc). Your timing may work out to enjoy their pre-theater menu for ~$50. That may sound like a lot, but it's a bargain for a restaurant of this caliber. The pre-theater is available at 5:30 every day the restaurant is open except Fridays; it's also available on Saturdays at 5:00 in addition to 5:30. (Everest is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

      )

      Everest
      440 S. LaSalle St., 40th Floor
      Chicago, IL 60605
      www.everestrestaurant.com

      I'm sure the concierge at the hotel can provide lots more suggestions, in addition to whatever is posted here.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nsxtasy

        Nsxasty - I'm glad you edited your post to include the right pre-theatre Everest hours. Good Job!

      2. Another lunch choice, if your office is on West Van Buren (i.e, towards the Sears Tower) would be "Around the Corner," which is on Franklin just north of Van Buren. It has soups, salads, burgers, etc. It is about 1 block from the Giordano's, mentioned above -- especially as tuffed pizza may not be the best lunch choice, if you need to work afterwards.

        As to dinner, I'd recommend Russian Tea Time, which is on Adams, just west of Michigan Avenue, near the Art Institute. Depending on the size of your per diem, it may be more in the range of what you had in mind.

        Other good dinner choices within a few blocks of the Hyatt (all, south of the river, like the Hyatt) are Catch 35, the Atwood Cafe in the Hotel Burnham, Trattoria No. 10 and Petterino's. While some of the choices on those menus may exceed your per diem, you probably can find some acceptable choices, such as pasta, at each.

        1. I second the recs for Catch 35, Atwood Cafe, and Trattoria #10.

          Other good dinner restaurants near your hotel include:
          - Bin 36 (mostly known for its wines and wine flights, but the food is good, too)
          - Vermillion - Indian/Latin fusion. Really good, creative food, but often slow service.
          - Zest (in the Inter-Continental on Michigan) - I've never been for dinner, but their lunches are really good (especially the lobster club) and I haven't found it to be overpriced the way hotel restaurants often are.
          - McCormick & Schmick - it's a chain, but their seafood is very good.

          If these are beyond your per diem budget, some cheaper options include:
          - Mambo Grill - really good, not terribly expensive Latin food. I highly recommend the mojitos.
          - Fox & Obel Cafe - this is the cafe attached to a gourmet grocery store. I've never had anything there I didn't like. Also, its across the street from the River East movie theaters, if you have some time to kill in the evening.
          - Star of Siam - good, cheap Thai food.

          1. You may want to check out the KDK resturant group. Opera and Marche have a $25 special (pick any app, entree, and dessert) . I have been to both with clients and it's quite good. I like the atmosphere of the KDK resaurant groups. It's a cab ride from your hotel. Opera's special runs on Sundays and Tuesdays and Marches is on Monday and Wednesdays.

            Marche
            833 West Randolph Street
            Chicago, IL 60607
            312.226.8399

            Opera
            1301 S. Wabash (on the corner of 13th and Wabash)
            Chicago, IL 60605
            P: 312.461.0161
            F: 312.461.0181

            1. These are wonderful suggestions, thank you! I will be on West Van Buren (550 W.) for work. I'm a Baltimore native and the thought of visiting a "crab house" outside of Charm City scares me :-), but I do love seafood and have heard of Shaw's a few times from Chicago natives. Baltimore's restaurant scene is feeling old at the moment so I'm excited to get out to Chicago and breath new life into my dining!

              2 Replies
              1. re: chrissiedee

                Well, Shaw's really isn't a crab house like Baltimore has, nor is it trying to be. Even in season, we hardly ever see Blue crabs. And you'll probably get a chance to try different seafood than back home if you go to Shaw's. Try a lake fish like Whitefish.

                1. re: chrissiedee

                  Chrissiedee, I am also from Baltimore. Shaws is not a Baltimore crab house in the sense that you can order steamed crabs with beer, served on newspaper. However, of the various restaurants in Chicago, its crab cakes come closest in my opinion to those served in Baltimore.