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suggestions for wknd visit, one of us is a vegetarian

Hi Chicago chowhounds!

We're coming from Boston to spend the weekend. Staying near the magnificent mile/navy pier area. (I know embarrassingly little about the city!)

Going to try to do Moto or Alinea on Saturday night, so want much more casual (and much more cheap!) suggestions for Best-of-Chicago dining for the rest of the weekend. (Basically Friday dinner and Saturday and Sunday lunch. And maybe some snacks.)

I know we want one of the meals to be Chicago's best pizza. I'll search the boards for consensus/debate on that. What other chowish, Chicago-y gems should we try? We truly like all types of food but one of us is a not-super-strict vegetarian. Proximity to good museums, sites etc. would be great, but, let's be honest, the trip revolves around the food.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Chicago's best pizza, in my opinion, has to be Gino's east. I'm sure others would debate this!
    I've heard Jane's in Bucktown is good for vegetarian dinner.
    M. Henry's on north Clark has a GREAT brunch with many vegetarian options. Expect a wait during brunch time. they have a nice side cafe for having coffee and waiting.
    You might have trouble finding vegetarian downtown near the Mag Mile. (this is a pizza and steak city!). 1492 Tapas is on the Gold Coast, though, and has, of course, many vegetable tapas.

    1. For vegetarian fare (and also pleasing non-vegetarians), one restaurant stands out above all others, and it's just a short cab ride away:

      Green Zebra
      1460 W Chicago Ave
      Chicago, IL 60622
      (312) 243-7100
      www.greenzebrachicago.com

      For Sunday brunch suggestions, check out this topic:
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/364403
      Most of the "fine dining places" are in the Mag Mile area, and Kitsch'n River North is nearby. Most of the others are a short cab ride away.

      For pizza, I like Giordano's ( www.giordanos.com ), which serves a "stuffed" (double-crust) pizza. Many folks like Lou Malnati's ( www.loumalnatis.com ) or the aforementioned Gino's East ( www.ginoseast.com ) for a single-thick-crust, "pan pizza". All three have locations in the Mag Mile area.

      One other "destination" for food lovers is Fox and Obel, which is right near Navy Pier and is our local upscale food store (a la Balducci's or Dean & Deluca in New York). Fine foods of all sorts, and they also have a nice little "order in line and they bring it to you" cafe in the back that might be suitable for breakfast or lunch.

      Fox & Obel Food Market
      401 E. Illinois Street
      Chicago, IL 60611
      312.410.7301
      www.fox-obel.com

      1. the lula cafe is a great option for veggie friendly/affordable food (entries around $10). lots of seasonal organic/local farm produce and meats. great options for all diets. the specials are always delicious!! located in logan square, right off the logan square blue line stop. they serve breakfast lunch and dinner. arrive early, there is always a wait. (and if the hostess says 45 minutes, she really means 15)

        rodin in bucktown serves brunch on weekends. same price range, with vegan options. the best bloody mary in town. the nariyala rice pudding is awesome, and definately try the vietnamese coffee and doughnuts.

        1. Its a bit of a cab ride away, but I have had lots of luck with vegetarian friends at the May Street Market. Not strictly vegetarian like Green Zebra, but it has a wide variety of vegetarian options. Both of those can be on the more expensive end, although nothing like Alinea. www.maystreetmarket.com. From recent experience, I'd call either of them a few weeks in advance to make sure you get the time you want. May Street Market seems to have gotten very popular recently.

          Closer to mag mile and less expensive are a few Indian places with lots of veggie options: the Indian Garden at 247 E. Ontario, 2nd Floor, has very good Indian food - but I'll warn you that the decor is a little odd and the service leaves a lot to be desired. I always make sure to order an extra drink when the waiter stops by because you can never be sure when he'll be back. That said, the food is quite good as long as you can deal with the service. There is also India House on 59 West Grand. Never been there, but I've strolled by many times and it always looks good - a little pricer, but the waiters seem to come without being accosted. Or Klay Oven a few blocks to the west is our regular place - 414 N. Orleans.

          1. Let's face it, you're in the mag mile/ navy pier area for just 2 days... that's really not going to give you much time to get away from that area, and you're already planning a dinner at Moto or Alinea...

            For your other meal, since you've never been to Chicago, I'd just recommend you wander over to Rush Street and see what you can get into.

            There's a ton of restaurants and bars in the area, alot of nightlife, etc. Some of it's very chowish, some not so much. It's sort of like "greenwich village meets the upper east side" to get sort of a feel of it.... but very close to your mag/mile location. The "heart" of this very walkable area would be around Rush/State or Rush/Chestnut, Rush & Oak, etc... Plenty to do, plenty to eat, close to you. With a warm feeling on what will probably be cold days. Enjoy.