First Time in Chicago
I am going to be in Chicago for a week, staying in downtown at the Embassy Suites near the lake and am looking for food suggestions. I have never been to Chicago and will be relying on public transit and my feet to get around.
I am looking for low to moderate priced options; love ethnic food and am an adventurous eater. Are there any places that I absolutely shouldn't miss?
Quick recommendation - get out of the downtown area. Since youre staying in a tourist area, most of the quick options will be chains or heavy foot traffic. Get on the L and head north, or a cab. for great turkish - A La Turka on North Lincoln Ave is a must. Just south of Belmont Ave. Any cabbie worth his odor will know where it is.
In the mood for German? If so, dont listen to the masses - Chicago Brah Haus is good for beers but the food leaves something to be desired. Try Glunz Bavarian Haus on Lincoln and Warner. Small place, great setting and fantastic beers and food. Jim the owner makes everyone feel at home.
Jilly's on Cortland in Bucktown is also great for Americana!!
Yes, you must get out of downtown. What most people outside Chicago don't realize is that Chicago truly is a neighborhood town that is separate and distinct from downtown.
What kind of ethnic food do you want? Most of the food in Chicago is "ethnic".
For "can't miss", you MUST have Chicago-style pizza. You can get delicious double-crust, stuffed pizza from Giordano's (also Edwardo's and Bacino's), and if you like pan pizza, check out Lou Malnati's or Gino's East. The closest locations to your hotel are 730 N Rush St for stuffed pizza at Giordano's, or go to 162 E Superior St for pan pizza at Gino's. For more comments on Chicago pizza:
Brunch and breakfast are often bargains. For breakfast or lunch, I recommend the cafe at Fox and Obel, which is practically next door to your hotel, if you're at the Embassy Suites at 511 N Columbus Drive. (They also have a location at 600 N State St, and both are near the lake.) Fox and Obel is Chicago's premier gourmet grocery store - worth visiting in its own right, just for that. In the rear, they have a cafe where they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with omelets, salads, and sandwiches made to order. Not much on atmosphere - basic coffeehouse - but the food is good and not all that pricey compared with restaurants in the area. You can view their cafe menu, including prices, by going to their website www.fox-obel.com and clicking on CAFE, then clicking on Cafe Menu.
For Greek food, go to Greek Town, a short cab or bus ride away. There are lots of opinions about the best place in Greek Town and you can read many of them at www.chowhound.com/topics/119233
This topic has a bunch more recommendations for quintessential cheap eats around town:
If you like Greek food you should probably go to Greektown also. "great ethnic food" I always think of Chicago's great authentic Thai restaurants also. Chicago Brauhaus is a great German destination.
If you name some cuisines you especially enjoy I'm sure you''ll get more recommendations.
One of my favorite places to get lunch downtown is Indian Gardens. They have a great buffet with a lot of options. Meat and veggie friendly for around $10-15 per person. Lunch buffet from 11:30 -3:00
Indian Garden Downtown
247 E. Ontario Street, 2nd Floor
Chicago IL 60611
The reason I asked what type of ethnic is because you can find almost anything.
For Vietnamese, you can head to Broadway and Argyle to find the Vietnamese section.
We went to Noon O Kebab a couple weeks ago and it was good, not great. It's Middle Eastern (although Reza's is closer to downtown and probably more convenient).
In Greektown, the restaurants are very hit or miss. So if you make it there (take the blue line to UIC Halsted), I recommend Venus (actually Cypriot food) just off Halsted on Jackson, Santorini for seafood, and Artopolis for a more bakery, sandwiches, soups kind of place. Outside of greek stuff, I agree with the recos for Sayat Nova. Pretty atmosphere, cheap, and great food. If you can get to Logan square (blue line to Logan), Lula Cafe is really nice, though not ethnic, with organic local ingredients and a range of entree prices. Good luck!
Had lunch at Coco Pazzo on St. Clair today and it was very good. Agree with the Sayat Nova recommendation. Bandera is also an option.