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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:


          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.

            2. Re the chicken, maybe another poster can say whether Pollo Campero is still active in Brickyard Mall. According to their website the chicken is pressure-fried and not rotisseried but it is a Guatemalan place that marinates the chicken so it may be similar to what you want.

              I also moved to Chicago from DC and can tell you that among delights awaiting your discovery are Middle Eastern, Polish, and Indian. Middle Eastern: go the strip of North Clark that runs north of Foster for several blocks (Reza's, Andies, Pars Grocery, and the Middle Eastern Bakery and Grocery on Foster just west of Clark). Polish: look in phone book for Red Apple and Tatra Inn. Indian: Devon Avenue running west of Western Avenue, dozens of places offering ad lib lunch buffet for about $8---Viceroy of India is good---also try Udupi Palace for good vegetarian. However, you can forget about seafood until you make a trip back to DC/Baltimore. Another point is that while Chicago used to have a good bakery in every neighborhood and now has almost none, it still has more and better than DC. Try Swedish Bakery on North Clark near Balmoral or Dinkel's Bakery on N Lincoln just above Belmont. Last but not least, Chicago has two things DC has never heard of: great public transportation (so you can get around to restaurants) and prompt snow clearance from streets. You may remember Richard Cohen's statement in the Washington Post that "local folklore states that if a single flake of snow falls, no bread will ever again be baked in Washington" thus pre-snowstorm buying raids in supermarkets occur. Forget all of that because here they can clear the streets faster than DC can sell out of bread and milk.

              Welcome to an actual city.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Querencia

                Pollo Campero is fried chicken. Peruvian chicken is rotisserie chicken. You can get a whole meal (chicken, fries, drink) for about 3 dollars.

                We need more places like that in Chicago. None come to mind that are truly Peruvian.

                HOWEVER, there are some great Puerto Rican places that do some similar things with chicken in the Humbolt Park area. There's a true hole in the wall called Tropical Taste (I think) that does a great roast chicken and rice for cheap. It's on North Avenue just west of Spaulding.

                While youre at it, look into getting a jibarito (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jibarito). Betcha can't get that in DC.

                1. re: rubinow

                  > We need more places like that in Chicago. None come to mind that are truly Peruvian.

                  Chicago has had Peruvian cuisine for many years. I remember going to a couple of Peruvian places here in the late 1970s. Current Peruvian places in the listings include:

                  Ay Ay Picante Peruvian Cuisine
                  4569 N. Elston Ave.

                  Rinconcito Sudamericano
                  1954 W. Armitage Ave.

                  Rios d' Sudamerica
                  2010 W. Armitage Ave.

                  Taste of Peru
                  6545 N. Clark St.

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    Those are Peruvian restaurants. No doubt about that. I've been to a few of them. I guess I didn't make myself clear: there are no places that are true Peruvian "total hole[s] in the wall" chicken places as the original poster described. In Peru, those kinds of places are all around, and cheap. I can't think of anything like that here in Chicago.

              2. As a frequent traveler to both coasts, I totally disagree with those who disparage the availability of fresh seafood in Chicago. Nowadays fish and seafood of all sorts are flown in to Chicago and other major cities from the oceans around the world, and it is absolutely fresh. The finest restaurants in Chicago work with their seafood suppliers just like they do their suppliers of meats and produce and other ingredients to ensure the maximum freshness and taste, and the results speak for themselves. You can find delicious, wonderful fish and seafood all over Chicagoland, in restaurants specializing in it such as Oceanique, Scylla, Hugo's Frog Bar, Shaw's Crab House and McCormick and Schmick's, as well as other high-end restaurants with a broader menu, and it is every bit as fresh and delicious as you will find in restaurants in DC, New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. I grew up near the ocean, and I know what fresh seafood tastes like. Many years ago, it was rare to find fresh seafood away from the oceans, but that is no longer true.

                Incidentally, DC is not "right on the Atlantic". It takes about as long to truck seafood from the Atlantic Ocean to DC, as it does to fly it from the Atlantic Ocean to Chicago.

                1. Rundown by category, I suggest doing a search on any of these names here and at LTHForum.com:

                  Top quality sushi in a homey atmosphere: Katsu, or Sakuma in the NW burbs.

                  Peruvian Chicken-- for some reason this is something that's hit in DC and miss in Chicago. I think there's an interesting assortment of South American places, and some have good chicken, but they mostly have better cheap steak. Maybe Brasa Roja, or Mr. Pollo.

                  BBQ-- Chicago BBQ is its own style, not nearly as Southern-influenced as you're probably used to. Try Honey 1, Uncle John's, or Smoque, but don't expect to find exactly what you left in DC.

                  Steak, that's too subjective. Yes, it's a great steak town. Will you find one you fall in love with, who knows? Check out David Burke's Primehouse, Custom House.

                  Pizza-- Spacca Napoli, Frasca, Follia, Grupo di Amici. But perhaps you've heard there are other styles of pizza in Chicago-- you might want to try one of those, too.

                  1. For sushi I recommend Kuni's in Evanston. However - these aren't huge pieces of fish the size of a hot dog, which I think is a good thing. A Japanese guy I know says that Kuni's is Osaka style, for whatever that is worth. Anyway, the fish is very good, it's not about the scene, it's just about good fish. Evanston is the next town North from Chicago, and Kuni's is very close to the Main street stops on the El and Metra trains.

                    511 Main St.

                    1. Chicago has a plethora of high quality sushi restaurants. Try a bunch and you'll find something you enjoy. I personally like Tsuki, but I haven't had a chance to try many of the actual quality places.

                      For chicken: You should try El Llano. It's a Columbian place, they have one on Clark and one somewhere else. It's amazing rotisserie chicken, with sides like plantains and potatoes. It's just fantastic. I've never had the Peruvian rotisserie chicken, but this stuff is addictive like crack.

                      1. Thomas, when Robyn and I make the move from DC to Chicago in the next few years I'm looking to you for help. Tonight we are headed to 2941- so try Alinea to replicate that :)

                        1. To nsxstasy: I don't mean this question in a snotty way but am sincere---if you can point me to a Chicago seafood buffet like Phillips' in DC or at Harborplace or Captain George's used to be in Williamsburg and Richmond, or a good local Crab Imperial or crab cakes like at Buddy's in Annapolis, or scalloped oysters like at the dear old Cozy in Thurmont MD, or padded oysters at the New Market MD Firehouse Dinner, or even a crabcake on a cracker like at Faidley's at the Lexington Market in Baltimore, I'm waiting to hear. And is seafood here really as fresh as on the coast? I have never had a single sea scallop here that tastes like even the same phylum and genus I've had at any greasy spoon in Massachusetts (example, the Miss Florence Diner just north of Northampton, where the scallops were swimming in the ocean two hours ago...). But, and I say this from the heart, if you know of a local source, do tell.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: Querencia

                            I haven't been to any of the DC/MD places you mention (although I've been to other places in the area, such as O'Brycki's, Jean-Louis, and the Inn at Little Washington) so I can't compare styles here to the exact places you mention.

                            The seafood buffets I've had here have not been good. Not that the seafood hasn't been fresh, but seafood just doesn't take well to sitting around on a buffet (vs prepared to order and served immediately). The places here that do seafood buffets are not the good ones. But perhaps the ones in DC/VA are different from here.

                            Shaw's has excellent crab cakes. I can't swear that their style is like the places you mention, but they're very good. Crabmeat imperial doesn't show up on menus around here. Styles of cooking may differ by region, so you may find that certain dishes you're seeking aren't typically on the menu in the Midwest.

                            I'm not a big fan of oysters, but there are numerous recommendations for oysters in this topic on seafood in Chicago:

                            The big problem with sea scallops, IMHO, is that it's now considered trendy for restaurants to serve them undercooked, with the insides translucent and mushy, and this doesn't bring out all the flavor. I prefer mine "cooked through" (i.e. cooked just to the point when they are opaque all the way through, but not a moment longer), which is how I specify them when ordering. And even when ordered this way, they only get done this way about 30 percent of the time. When they are, they are very tasty. I love scallops but I usually don't order them for this reason. So in the case of scallops, the problem isn't freshness, it's how they're cooked.

                            Yes, I've found that the seafood here really is as fresh and tasty as on the coast (and I'm a big seafood fan; this is usually what I order at nicer places). This includes not only lake fish, but ocean fish. Go to Oceanique or Scylla or Shaw's, or just about any of the top fine dining restaurants, and I think you'll find that it's fresh and delicious. Every fish and seafood dish I've had in my numerous times at Oceanique has been pure perfection. Within the past week or so, I've had excellent sea bass at Mitchell's Fish Market in Glenview, and excellent skate (a daily special) at Pete Miller's in Evanston.

                            1. re: nsxtasy

                              For that matter, I just had the trout of my life at Bouchon in Las Vegas, so proximity might not count for quite as much these days when it comes to fresh fish. For that matter, I still recall a long conversation with a Sushi Chef in Tokyo about 10 years ago when he told me that most of the Tuna sold at Japanese sushi restaurants is imported from the US East coast since Tuna is overfished in Japan and they can' t source it locally.

                              Not that real fresh seafood isn't of a higher quaility, but maybe its more that there is a longer tradition of seafood cuisine on the coasts which leads to higher quality restaurants. Which gets back to nsxtaxy's original point that you'll have more luck trying to uncover Chicago's top cuisine than trying to find something similar to you old stomping grounds.

                              1. re: nsxtasy

                                I agree as well I have seafood in the Midwest that has been on par with what I have had on the coasts - you have to remember unless someone at the restaurant caught it themselves (I have had this in Alaska and it was excellent) that the seafood has spent some time out of the water on ice - there is probably only a few hours difference between what is served on the coasts and at the finer restaraunts in Chicago - to add to nxtasy's list I would also add:

                                Catch 35 - IMHO I think the best seafood restaurant in Chicago - http://www.catch35.com/
                                Bonefish Grill - a chain like Mitchell's with excellent seafood - http://www.bonefishgrill.com/home.asp

                                1. re: weinstein5

                                  Bonefish Grill is a nationwide chain (I know some people here don't like chains, but it's possible for chains to turn out excellent food). I've been to several of its locations, both here and elsewhere, and it's been very good and fresh. I prefer some of the preparations on Mitchell's menu better, but they are both good and similar in style. In the Chicago area, Bonefish has locations in Skokie, Algonquin, Schaumburg, and Northbrook.

                                  In addition to the previously mentioned Oceanique, Shaw's Crab House, Mitchell's Fish Market, Catch 35, and Bonefish Grill, other seafood restaurants I've enjoyed and recommend include Tin Fish, Hugo's Frog Bar, and Parker's Ocean Grill.

                                  Oceanique (Evanston) - www.oceanique.com
                                  Shaw's Crab House (Chicago, Schaumburg) - www.shawscrabhouse.com
                                  Mitchell's Fish Market (Glenview) - www.mitchellsfishmarket.com
                                  Catch 35 (Chicago, Naperville) - www.catch35.com
                                  Bonefish Grill (Skokie, Algonquin, Schaumburg, Northbrook) - www.bonefishgrill.com
                                  Tin Fish (Tinley Park, Oakbrook Terrace) - www.tinfishrestaurant.com
                                  Parker's Ocean Grill (Downers Grove) - www.selectrestaurants.com/parkersocean
                                  Hugo's Frog Bar (Chicago, Naperville) - www.hugosfrogbar.com

                                  1. re: nsxtasy

                                    for the love of god stay away from McCormick and sh*t. That place is absolutely an abomination to fish. The only time it's worthwhile is for its late night specials at the bar, most of which don't even include fish. The only other thing worth eating on their menu is the white chocolate bread pudding.

                                    1. re: jpschust

                                      It's been a while since I went there, and it was very good at the time. Since I haven't stopped by lately, I've removed it from my post. (But the white chocolate bread pudding sounds wonderful!)

                              2. re: Querencia

                                But but but - Phillips' is crap, and almost all of the crab they serve is NOT from the Chesapeake, it's from Indonesia. Back when I was a teeny child, and there was only one Phillips' - the original in Ocean City, MD - yes, it was good. But nowadays? Please!


                              3. jpschust...Ha, I dunno if I can quite afford Alinea yet, but I'll make sure to post any standout restaurants I find once I move. Even considering doing a blog since I'll be trying a ton of new places once I get out there.

                                1. I was at 2Amys three weeks ago and Spacca Napoli yesterday and while I think that 2Amys is very good, Spacca Napoli comes much closer to producing true Neapolitan pizza. So, if you like 2Amys, you are likely to love Spacca Napoli.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: profjmm

                                    Like 2Amys, Spacca Napoli is certified by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association that the OP mentioned. The complete list of U.S. certified members is shown on the association's website at http://pizzanapoletana.org/shownaz.ph...

                                  2. Forget about crab cakes, except, perhaps, at the highest level. I've yet to find anything outside the Mid-Atlantic region to even get within several hundred yards of Faidley's (and if I did I'd probably think I was paying far too much for it in comparison). Soft-shelled crabs is something else I've crossed off my list. I ordered one once at Shaw's and I thought they were returning the glove I had lost there the year before.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: jbw

                                      Regarding the soft-shell crabs, you yourself said that the one on the tasting menu at Chef's Station last June "was small but one of the tastier soft-shells I've had outside MD". Maybe you just forgot how much you liked them there? The best I've had around here are at Oceanique, which is also in Evanston and serves some of the very best seafood in the entire Chicago area (not just my opinion, but also that of those voting at Zagat).

                                      As for the crab cakes, all I can say is, I totally disagree. I grew up near the Atlantic Ocean and I've been to many seafood places along the East Coast, everything from casual shacks at the beach to elegant places in the cities. I've dined at Shaw's numerous times, and I think their crab cakes are excellent, and they're also very, very good at many other places around Chicagoland.

                                      One of the problems with crab cakes, though, is that different places serve them in different styles. Some places use different kinds of crabs than others, some places use more breading than others, etc. So you might prefer one style more than another. In which case it's really just a matter of personal preference.

                                      1. re: nsxtasy

                                        Yes, the soft shells were good at Chef's Station, and I was pleasantly surprised to have them on the tasting menu, since I would not have ordered them a la carte given my experience with them elsewhere. But note the qualification ("outside MD").They were tasty but small, definitely of appetizer size, and it would have taken at least a half-dozen of them to equal the heft of a typical Obrycki's sandwich.

                                        And perhaps there is a crabcake that compares favorably in value/quality with Faidley's to be found in the Midwest (or Kinkead's in DC, for that matter). Admittedly, I'm no longer au courant in that matter since I've given up trying to find it. I wish others luck in their efforts, but caution them not to set expectations too high and to be prepared for disappointment.

                                      2. re: jbw

                                        I think that there is definitely great seafood to be had in Chicago, but I have to agree with jbw on the crab cakes. After having one in southern Maryland this past summer, I can't find anything even close here.

                                        1. re: jbw

                                          I concur with nsxtasy on crabcakes in Chicago. I'm an East Baltimore transplant that is always on guard when a restaurant touts "Maryland style crabcakes." My dining mates often get a kick out of the interrogation I have subjected many a waiter as a screening procedure to avoid total disappointment. "What kind of crab? Where's it from? What's in the binder?" Two places in Chicago have nicely met the challenge for me -- Devon Seafood Grill and Shaws. I've also had decent crabcakes at other Chicago restaurants, but they were not Maryland style. I also find that most of the upper end Chicago steakhouses have excellent seafood, including Joe's Seafood, Prime Steaks & Stone Crab, Nine, and Smith & Wollensky. Now if only I could get my Old Bay steamed crabs fix. I'd steam my own, but the small female blues I see at many a local Asian market only cut it for crab soup.

                                        2. I grew up in Chicago and while I've been living in DC for 6+ years, I have to say that I still really miss the food in Chicago-regardless of what Tom Seitsema writes, DC's dining scene still has a long way to go (I'm not talking about haute cuisine, of those I think most mayor cities have their fair share).
                                          I'm not sure if you'd be able to find something resembling Urban BBQ in Chicago. I think that the BBQ in DC seems to be more in the vein of a southern "meat and three" types of places whereas I find that BBQ in Chicago is more about ribs, and pork ribs at that. If you're looking for good ribs, Hecky's in Evanston is definitely a hole-in-the-wall, take-out only place.
                                          You're more apt to find a greek lemon chicken in Chicago than a peruvian one. Speaking of greek diners, you'd be hard pressed to find one on the east coast south of Jersey whereas there is a bounty of them in Chicago. I can always count on getting a good diner breakfast when i'm in Chicago. If you're interested in good chicken, try the wings at Harold's (mostly on the southside) or "tong dock" (literally, whole chicken) from a seedy Korean bar. They are marinated chickens which are then fried for a long time in specially made fryers and take about 30 minutes to fry. The chickens come out crisp on the outside (without benefit of batter or dredging in flour) and very, very moist on the inside and are served with cubes of vinegared daikon cubes. I wish that i could give you the name of one of those bars in the city but I'm afraid that I've never stepped foot into one, my family always carries out.
                                          You won't find many papusas or empanadas in Chicago but you will find wonderful Mexican as well as Tex-Mex. Also, the Argyle neighborhood has a larger and more extensive array of Vietnamese food than Falls Church. The Chinatown in Chicago is definitely worth exploring (unlike our sad excuse for one in DC) with wonderful bakeries and restaurants (Phoenix for dim sum and Happy Chef for unusual late night snacks-snails in black bean sauce).
                                          While I love the pizzas at 2 Amys I've never felt the need to seek out neopolitan pizza in CH. Try a thin CH style pizza (cut into squares) or the ubiquitous deep dish (I really enjoy Lou Malnatti's in Skokie).

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Jule

                                            Somewhat unrelated but...I think that this article in the NYTimes does a better (albeit not exactly complete) job of explaining what Korean fried chicken is about. I'm partial to the minimally seasoned chicken, served with salt+pepper. You know you've found the right chicken if they serve you a plate of sweet/sour/crunchy cubes of daikon.


                                            1. re: Jule

                                              "You won't find many papusas or empanadas in Chicago "

                                              I respectfully disagree. See, e.g., http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic....

                                            2. Welcome to Chicago! My parents and brothers all live in DC, I visit often. My mom introduced me to Crisp and Juicy. Mmmm.... It is now a must have on every visit! I have searched to find something similar here and have not yet been able to do so. :( Chicago has a lot to offer, I hope that you enjoy getting to know this wonderful food city!

                                              1. I have two places for you.
                                                For Neapolitan pizza, try Spacca Napoli.

                                                For sushi, try Katsu.
                                                There are a lot of pretty good sushi restos in the city that are more trendy, but Katsu is your no-nonsense, traditional Japanese style sushi. Not only is the fish the freshest, but the skill of the chefs are superior to all the others in their knife skills as well as their rice-ball making skills (both seasoning and texture of rice balls are made to Japanese trained chef standards). All the other places (and I have been to all the other places) pale in comparison.

                                                1. So....been to a couple places and here's what I think so far. Love the food here....really, really, awesome stuff. Although a bit heavier than I'm used to. Went to Agami last night for sushi, and had a great meal (with less then great service...). Cuts of fish were HUGE, and very fresh. Also tried two of their "Signature" Maki rolls, which were a little bit intimidating, but still very good. Excited to try some more Sushi places. Typically like more traditional sushi places, but my girlfriend wanted to go somewhere a little classier for valentines day. All in all a good experience.

                                                  Also tried "The Bagel" which was good. Huge portions, excellent potato pancakes, and pretty good ruebens and matzo ball soup. Excellent service, great atmosphere, and nice manager. Will certainly be stopping here again.

                                                  We're going to try to get some dim sum this weekend, and I'm hoping to try Spacca Napoli sometime within the next week. Thanks for all the awesome replies so far. I have about a dozen places I am eager to try from all of your responses.

                                                  1. So I have been at my friends place for quiet a while in Lincoln Square, and I finally found a nice 1 bedroom in Lincoln Park, right near the Fullerton El stop that I am moving into in about a week. Anyone have any recommendations for this area (Right at N. Lincoln and W. Fullerton)? A lot of places looked very "college-y"...really looking for some nice ethnic/unique stuff that won't clog my arteries.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: thomasec

                                                      Yes, that's the nature of that area, around Fullerton and Halsted. Lots of night life and such, influenced by the presence of DePaul. It's a good area for dining, not necessarily for what's in the immediate vicinity, but because it's easy to travel from there to anywhere on the north side, by public transit (el and bus) as well as by car. You're not too far from some nice fine dining restaurants, many of which lie up and down Halsted, like Alinea, Erwin, Jack's, and X/O. For authentic ethnic dining, you need to travel to the neighborhoods where ethnic eateries predominate (e.g. take the Red Line to the Argyle stop for Vietnamese, etc).

                                                      1. re: thomasec

                                                        In the lake-front communities you need to get to at least 4000 north for much real ethnic food. The areas south of there have too high rents and few residents from the various ethnic groups. The Brown Line from the Fullerton el stop will take you to some great ethnic options without parking hassles. Lincoln Square has good Thai options near the Western stop (Spoon, Opart and Rosded). The western part of Lincoln Square (Rockwell stop) plus most of Albany Park (Kedzie and Kimball stops) have many good options which do not necessarily contain a lot of saturated fat. Kedzie from 4500 to 4900 north is very diverse with many great options. Search on lthforum.com for Kedzie, Lawrence or Albany Park to find more options than you will have time to check out. The scene is very dynamic with new restaurants popping up every month while others close.

                                                      2. Welcome to Chicago! I moved here from DC two years ago and 2 Amys was my absolute favorite neighborhood spot! I've been looking for a similar place in Chicago and I've heard that Trattoria D.O.C. is comparable, but I haven't been. Thanks to all who recommended Spacca Napoli, I'll have to give it a try. I wanted to add my recs for sushi and seafood places:

                                                        Sushi: Sushi Wabi and Izumi (both on Randolph in the west loop) are fun and delicious, but pricey. You might prefer Toro (right near you on Clark and Wrightwood) which is a great, affordable BYO!

                                                        Seafood: Bob Chinn's in Wheeling (if you have a car, you should make the trip, it is well worth it!), Catch 35 (loop), Roy's at State and Superior (yes, it's a chain, but the butterfish is to die for), and Joe's Stone Crab (loop).

                                                        Happy eating :)

                                                        1. I too am a recent DC transplant and miss Two Amys and Peruvian chicken, as well as the quality cheap and convenient Asian and Latino restaurants in my old backyard (Silver Spring/Wheaton and environs). We went to Trattoria D.O.C. last night and were VERY disappointed. We tried the Margherita and it was more like mediocre NY style pizza than Two Amys, lots of cheese, slid off the crust, soggy crust, and tasted mostly of salt. The Napoli was the same. In fact, all the pizzas looked pretty much the same. I'm looking forward to trying Spaccia Napoli. I'm not a big fan of Chicago pizza, sorry guys!

                                                          What I've found here is that good cheap ethnic cuisine seems to be more centered around ethnic neighborhoods, rather than spread out in a melting pot like it is in the DC suburbs. If you want Indian, you go to Devon Avenue. There's good Chinese in Chinatown, but the general quality on the North Shore is not what I'm used to, to put it mildly. It's much easier to find good, casual Greek places than it is in DC, and it's easier to find a burger cooked medium rare. Beer and a brat are great. As you said, the ethnic food here is heavier than we're used to and more meat-centered. There's a lot of Japanese, so your sushi search should be successful. And I've found nice, reasonably priced seafood, including live BLUE CRABS, at the H Mart in Niles, which makes the one in Wheaton look like a slum. Just add some vinegar and Old Bay seasoning for a touch of home! If you can't find crabs, try it on shrimp. Serve with some nice local beer.

                                                          I would LOVE any chatters' recommendations on Vietnamese restaurants near Arglye! I've been very disappointed in the Vietnamese food here, big bland pieces and too sweet everywhere we've been. Thanks!