Recommendations for adventurous foodies, please!
I lived in Chicago a few years ago and am returning for a visit this weekend. I'd love some great recommendations for the best current restaurants. We are staying in Wrigleyville and we especially love cheap and ethnic, but are willing to pay $ and commute for delicious food. Thanks so much!
She asks for "cheap and ethnic" so she gets recommendations for Alinea and Moto :)... or to go way out of the way to Bridgeport, Chinatown, or Devon.
For cheap, ethnic, and extremely fine cuisine you won't do better than Chicago's authentic Thai restaurants. Nearest to you are TAC Quick under the Sheridan red-line el stop and Thai Avenue on Broadway just south of Argyle. Most of the other Thai places around wrigley are ameri-thai style, not very authentic.
There's also a nice selection of vietnamese restaurants on Argyle, for a few blocks either side of the Argyle red-line el stop.
Most of the restaurants listed above are BYOB friendly. A nice simple riesling matches the cuisine perfectly, and a good basic wheat beer is good with it too.
Riques Regional is a great recommendation in mexican cuisine. Also for mexican and somewhat closer, I love Nuevo Mexicano on Clark a couple blocks north of Diversey. Please avoid the garish "Ceasars" with their big smaltzy margarita sign, the food is mediocre.
For very nice moroccan in wrigleyville try Andalous on Clark north of School St.
For pizza and tasty ameri-italian, try Pizza Capri at the intersection of Belmont and Sheffield. Also for italian, Tuscany on Clark north of Addison isn't bad.
For "creative haute American" food, Erwin's is very nice on Halsted between Diversey and Belmont.
For great bars with all kinds of wonderful microbrews on tap, try Sheffields at Sheffield and School St. or go up to Andersonville to the aforementioned Hop Leaf. For a Scotch/Irish jones, The Duke of Perth on Clark north of Diversey is kind of interesting with all-you-can-eat fish and chip specials a couple days a week.
These are the places I can think of which are either in your neighborhood or reasonably close by.
I would skip Raw Bar. It used to be one of my favorite places put has slid downhill considerably over the last few years.
Obviously Alinea is at the top of the food chain and is somewhere all true food lovers should go at least once. Moto certainly would fit the bill for adventurous.
Sweets and Savories and One Sixty Blue are both very good restaurants, but I wouldn't consider either one adventurous (unless S&S happens to have foie gras ice cream when you're there).
With some advance notice, you could do omakase at Tsuki. They'll fly in special ingredients and do off menu items. Tsuki usually has some pretty interesting stuff that isn't available at most sushi places in Chicago (ankimo, fluke fin, fugu), so I think you could get as "adventurous" as you want with omakase there.
1441 W. Fullerton
Certainly, some of the most creative cuisine in town, at the high end, comes from Alinea, as well as similar places like Tru, Schwa, and Charlie Trotter's. However, those places have a price, typically as much as $200-300 per person, sometimes more, depending upon your alcoholic preferences. Places like Sweets and Savories and One Sixty Blue are not as unusual in terms of the concepts in their dishes, but the execution is excellent, the food is still to die for, and you'll pay maybe half as much or less as the bigger names. The atmosphere at the latter is also more casual (no jackets and ties, etc). I'm not saying one type of place is better than the other, just different, and it's worth giving some consideration to which you would prefer.
If you're considering these places and you're not sure what you would like, I would suggest checking out their websites, particularly their menus:
Charlie Trotter's www.charlietrotters.com/restaurant
One Sixty Blue www.onesixtyblue.com
Sweets and Savories www.sweetsandsavories.com
FWIW, I thought the word "adventurous" in the title described the people, not the restaurants they are looking for. Perhaps the OP can provide more specifics regarding exactly what they're looking for.
Well it's supposed to be freezing this weekend so bundle up!
Since it's supposed to be cold, I'd get a nice big bowl of pho at Tank Noodle on Broadway and Argyle (red line stop - Argyle). That's cheap and ethnic and delicious. Also in that general area, I'd go to the Hopleaf Bar (Clark and Foster) and get some mussels, frites and some awesome beer and idle an evening away. Go early as it gets crowded. Also, that whole stretch of Andersonville has undergone a transformation in the last couple of years. You'd be surprised if you haven't been in a while. Lots of selection to choose from. On Sheridan and Argyle, there's a Mexican place - Riques Regional. It's not a storefront place, but it's BYOB and the food is generally very good. I like the chef alot. Saturdays you can get a pre-fixe meal from a certain region of Mexico for around $20 - app, entree, and desert
Anywhere on the strip of Clark in Andersonville
As for cheap and ethnic go to TAC - Thai Authentic Cuisine on Sheridan and Irving Park. Make sure to ask for the Thai translated menu.
I second Moto, very creative (to say the least) and expensive.
For amazing food at a great cost check out Sweets and Savories
http://www.sweetsandsavorieschicago.com/ 8 incredible courses for $60.
re: Payton Chicago
For delicious food without the sky-high price tag of the "big name" places, go to One Sixty Blue, west of the Loop. The food is incredibly good, the atmosphere is very hip. VERY nice place, highly recommended.
One Sixty Blue
1400 West Randolph St.
The Raw Bar in Wrigleyville on Clark street is a must! This place is way underrated! Plenty of incredible Persian and Egyptian spiced red meat, chicken, and seafood options. Cool atmosphere as well.
Also check out Pancho Pistolas at 700 W. 31st street just east of Halsted in Brideport. The best Carne Asada in town. Lot's of other great choices as well. Nice exposed brick space with fun local crowd.
Viceroy of India couple of blocks west of Western Avenue on Devon is outstanding. The Saag Paneer/creamed spinach with cheese, masala dosa/south indian stuffed pancake with potato, onion, and spices, tandoori chicken, curried chick peas, curried califlower and potato, etc, etc are standouts.