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Moving from D.C. to CHI and looking for places similar to home..

So I'm relocating to Chicago next week for my job, and while I am extremely excited to try a bunch of new restaurants in the mid-west, I am going to miss a few places that I go to on a regular basis here in D.C. I was wondering if anyone was familiar enough with both areas that they could offer me some recommendations for restaurants in Chicago that may be similar to the following places that I have come to love around D.C:

Sushi Sono (Columbia, MD), has bar-none the best sushi I have ever had. The freshest and biggest cuts of fish I have ever seen, fresh wasabi, daily specials flown in from Japan, and really reasonable prices. I have no problem driving 45 minutes from Rockville to get there. This isn't Nobu, or some other upscale and expensive place. This is more of a traditional Japanese restaurant with the freshest ingredients possible...is there anything comparable to this in the Chicago?

Crisp and Juicy (All over D.C.), for the best Peruvian chicken. My favorite place for carry out. Their chicken is on a rotisserie all day, and it is completely drenched in seasoning. There hot sauce is awesome, as are all of their sides (yukka fries, yellow rice, beans, plantains, etc..). This place is a total hole in the wall, lacking any real decor, with a half chicken and two sides coming out to about $8. Going to realllllyy miss this place.

Urban BBQ (Rockville, MD), more for the atmosphere and owners. I'm sure there are really great BBQ places all around Chicago, but are there any that aren't menu/sit down, and offer a friendly, community type of feel. Memphis style BBQ is a MUST.

Ray's the Steaks (VA) is the one I'm most worried about, which is odd considering Chicago is known for their steaks. I have eaten at both Gibsons and Mortons in Chicago, and they don't even come close to this steak house in Virginia. Perfectly cooked steaks, with complimentary sides...I have NEVER had steaks this good anywhere. What's even better is that the prices are extremely reasonable, particularly for the D.C. area, with most steaks staying under the $30 mark (and this includes sides). It's a really bare bones type of steakhouse, where the emphasis is on the food. If I can find steaks as good as this in Chicago, I think I will be OK. I took a group of friends from Chicago here when they visited, and they all said it was the best steak they had ever had.

2 Amy's (D.C.) is traditional neapolitan style pizza that is certified by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association. Really thin crust, excellent buffalo mozzarella, and great small plate appetizers like raw beef, roasted Spanish almonds, and friend cheese and risotto balls. I see that Spacca Napoli in Chicago is certified by the VPNA as well. Anyone have any thoughts on Spacca Napoli, or know of other places that might be similar to what I'm looking for?

Thanks for any input. I appreciate it a ton, and look forward to coming to Chicago!

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  1. Several of the topics you ask about were covered in recent discussions here on Chowhound, and you might want to check those out for advice:

    Sushi - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/362763
    Barbecue - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/360674
    Steak - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/359377
    Thin crust pizza - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/363490

    There are lots of other previous topics here on those same subjects (which you can find using the search function); these links are to the most recent discussions.

    Furthermore, please don't mind me saying this, but I hope you are also planning to try Chicago restaurants that AREN'T exactly like the ones you had in DC. You will undoubtedly discover places and kinds of food that are new to you, that you like just as much (or more) than what you're accustomed to. We have ethnic restaurants of all kinds, some of the best fine dining places in the country, wonderful deep-dish pizza, etc. There's so much to try here, and so many good places to keep going back to, that I would hate to think you might be missing out on much of our dining scene by spending your energy looking for places exactly like those somewhere else.

    Hope your move works out and you end up loving Chicago (and our restaurants) as much as most of us do!

    1. I agree with nxstasy that you are probably taking the wrong approach. I understand the desire to find something like an old favorite in a new city. I've found that my favorite places in my new city tend to be completely different in cooking style than my old faves, but have an atmosphere I love or an amazing dish I can't get enough of.

      What neighborhood are you moving to? We might be able to help you find some amazing places close to your new home.

      1. I am incredibly excited to try some new places...I guess I was more looking for people who are familiar with both areas to give me some advice on some good places to try in Chicago if this is what I like in DC. I have been a regular at these 5 places for years, so I think it's a good judge of what kind of food I would enjoy, that's all.

        1. For traditional Neapolitan pizza, you will not be disappointed with Spaccanapoli. Here's some discussion:

          http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?...

          1. As for the sushi, I'd be surprised if you find it as good in Chicago. DC is right on the Atlantic and I've never thought CHicago was as competitive with the coasts when it comes to seafood anything. This from someone 10 years in Florida who knows fresh seafood...

            But you will find sushi in Chicago...

            As for the BBQ.... I'm not a major BBQ fan, there are some real gourmets in this City who have located a couple places they go around to taking pictures of the "smoke rings", etc. They are sort of Chicago's answer to the KC Barbecue Society, on a smaller scale. And if you lurk the threads you'lll find them. Then there are more commercial type "rib joints" that a BBQ purist probably isn't going to be that impressed by.

            As for the Pizza, there's a couple Neapolitan options that will probably fill your bill well enough, and of course there's a whole world of Chicago style that you probably can't help but like, it does grow on you...

            Steaks... you'll find great steaks in Chicago, might take a few visits to find your favorite places but you'll find them.

            NOW, the real key is what another poster said... there's great food of all varieties all over this city... it's probably best to have fond memories of restaurants in other cities and then just go exploring Chicago for what it does best....

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chicago Mike

              Mike- you'd be surprised. Chicago's sushi, especially Mirai, is significantly better than any sushi in the DC area.