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Lunch gathering...with difficult constraints

Good morning all,

I have a difficult problem to propose, that may not have a solution. I figured if Chowhound can't solve it, no one can.

Senario: This weekend a group of us are going to the Chicago autoshow. The group is blending of different social circles, so I thought lunch would be a good place to have everyone meet everyone else. The group is about 10-12 in size and lives all over the city and suburbs.

Usual Problem: People are always 10-15 mins late because they got lost, got caught in traffic, etc.

Is there a casual place with good food downtown or near McCormick where a group can meet and eat some good food? Seems like a place that will allow folks to trickle in over a 10-15 mins window and be ok with it.

Seems implausible I know, but I figured I would check in here and see if there is something I am not considering.

Thanks for any advice you might have.

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  1. 10-15 minutes is not a big deal at all.

    This topic has a fairly complete listing of a variety of places close to McCormick Place:

    I recommend Cuatro (see that topic for address and a link to its website). The food is excellent "Latin fusion" and it's just a few blocks from McCormick Place, an easy walk.

    1. Chinatown is very close to McCormick Place and is particularly fun with a large group, as you can sample lots of things. My personal favorite is Moon Palace. There are large tables in the back, that should accomodate that many. And, I am sure that there will be no problem if your group trickles in. I've been there before with large groups arriving in multiple cars and they've never made us wait to be seated until everyone has arrived.

      1 Reply
      1. re: masha

        It's also just a quick trip on the #21 Cermak bus from Chinatown to McCormick Place too & don't need to worry about the outlandish parking prices there.

      2. masha has given you sound advice

        1. Check out Greek Town. Pretty close to McCormick Place and free valet parking at most of the restaurants. My favorites are Athena, http://athenarestaurant.com/ and Costa's, http://www.costasdining.com/chicago.htm

          5 Replies
          1. re: Payton Chicago

            Greek Town isn't that close to McCormick Place. McCormick Place is three miles south of the Loop and Greek Town is one mile west of the Loop. There are many, many places closer to McCormick Place than Greek Town.

            1. re: nsxtasy

              True, but it doesn't take that long to get from Greektown to McCormick Place, and the free valet parking means that it is not a big deal to park in Greektown, eat lunch, and then get back in the car and head to McCormick Place.

              1. re: SuzMiCo

                Except that then you're going to pay for parking a second time at McCormick Place (or pay for cabs both ways). It's quicker AND cheaper to walk to Chinatown or Cuatro, or to walk or take a much shorter cab to the other places in the South Loop mentioned in the other topic. If you're at McCormick Place, there's just no need to go around or through the Loop all the way to Greek Town when there are so many equally good choices for good food nice and close by.

                For example, here are some great choices, MUCH closer to McCormick Place than Greek Town, and perfect for a big group for lunch:

                Zapatista (Mexican)
                1307 S. Wabash Ave.

                The Bongo Room
                1152 S. Wabash

                Edwardo's Natural Pizza Restaurant
                521 S. Dearborn St.

                1. re: nsxtasy

                  I agree that there are MANY places closer than greektown..places off of mi ave in the loop are your best bet. that being said, if youw anted to do greek town, you can take the bus from west loop for $2 directly to chicago auto show--so much more convenient than driving and parking miles away...

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    The question wasn't about whether or not Greek Town is close to McCormick Place, they were just asking for suggestions. No need to get so nit picky on proximity and such ;) I love this board but sometimes posters go a bit too far with what they think is "right". It's all about opinions folks!

            2. I will second Moon Palace..We always go there after an event at McC Pl. & meet up with friends. None of us ever get there at the same time..
              Moon Palace
              216 W. Cermak Rd. , Chicago
              Tel: (312) 225-4081
              Parking across the street(east) is like $1.50, with validation.

              1. I know I recommended Moon Palace but just realized that the OP is speaking of going this weekend, during the Auto Show. I just realized that this weekend also kicks off the Chinese New Years celebration, with the Chinatown Parade on Sunday. So, you may want to check first to see if you can reserve, as a table for 10-12 this weekend in Chinatown may be a challenge.

                1. Hmmm... first thanks for diving into this topic. Your ideas have all been helpful. Here is where things stand right now.
                  - Chinatown looked like it was right on the money, but I called and got the impression it is going to be a busy time this weekend (thanks for the follow-up masha, you saved us). I mean you have to go all out when its the year of the pig (er boar) right?
                  -Cuatro looked great, but it looks like they no longer serve lunch according to their website. Which is a bummer since it had such promise.
                  - Since we all live in the area, we have hit up Greektown and the pizza places plenty, so that made the sales pitch to the group a little difficult.
                  - Our play right now is going to be the bongo room. It was a little farther than we hoped but the menu looks like that great mix between casual and different. I am going to call and see if they are ok with the trickle in theory.

                  Thanks again for the help and let me know if there is something I missed. Cheers.