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What are the one-weekend in Chicago must-haves?

kittychow Mar 12, 2007 12:38 PM

I’ll be in Chicago for just two nights. I’ve been many times by my friend joining me has never been before.

A little about the trip and one must-have:

Must have steak – I love eating steak in Chicago. It just feels right. I don’t want to reignite the best-steak-in-Chicago debate. I’m looking to go to some place I can’t get back at home in Boston. This condition eliminates, Ruth’s Chris, The Palm, Morton’s, Capital Grill, and Smith & Wollensky. Right now I’m leaning toward David Burke’s Prime House, Saloon, and Gibsons. I want an amazing steak and atmosphere I won’t find at home.

I’ll be going to see the White Sox while I’m in town. Is there anything near there that I should check out before the game? Think indulgent, heart attack inducing snacks and beer.

The rest of the time we’re pretty open. A terrific Sunday brunch would be nice to find. We also like cozy pubs with surprisingly good food. Some place where pouring a perfect pint is standard. Are there any good sexy lounges for after dinner drinks and chilling that aren’t packed with students? (We’re in our 30’s). Ideally we’ll land in a good neighborhood with a restaurant in mind and then stroll around looking for additional spots to check out. We’re staying at the Hard Rock – I’m not sure if there’s anything interesting to check out around there.

  1. r
    relis Mar 14, 2007 09:18 AM

    My favorite Chicago brunch spots:

    Lula Cafe in Logan Square http://www.lulacafe.com/
    This is also a great place for drinks or an nice dinner.

    Cafe Selmarie in Lincoln Square http://www.cafeselmarie.com/
    Lincoln Square is very charming and a nice place to walk around.

    Tweet off Argyle (a Vietnamese area) http://www.tweet.biz/

    Milk and Honey in Wicker Park http://www.chowhound.com/topics/380165
    Division is also a good bet for bars.

    1 Reply
    1. re: relis
      r
      relis Mar 14, 2007 09:32 AM

      oops, Milk and Honey link is: http://www.milkandhoneycafe.com/assem...

    2. m
      millerbeachbum Mar 12, 2007 05:41 PM

      If you have a car check out Hot Doug's, pure heaven of encased meats. On Friday and Saturday the hand cut fries are cooked in duck fat--so good. I have had people mention Hot Doug's to me all over the country when I tell them I am from Chicago.
      I Iike Gibson's because the food is really good and so is the people watching. Before heading to Gibsons (or pregame)check out Melvin B's which is down the street. It is full of locals in the front beer garden, we get done with beach volleyball and head over to have a few drinks (4-8pm)before heading home to shower and go out.
      Check out Castaways on top of the Beach Boathouse at North Ave Beach, get a bite to eat, a frozen drink, listen to a band and get the best view of the city. My cousins are from Boston and they can't believe how much fun the lakefront and beaches are.( we are in our 30's) You get to experience Chicago like the locals.
      I would also check out the Lincoln Park/Lakeview neighborhoods. Jump on the Red line or a quick cab north and check out Cullen's Pub, really good pub food and nice atmosphere where a real Irishman will pour you a great pint. The Music Box theater is a few doors down and it shows foreign, classic and art movies.
      Try Orange, Toast or the Bongo Room for a great breakfast.
      For a great Chicago treat try Manny's deli for lunch or Lou Mitchells for breakfast. Both are Chicago institutions since the 1940's. At Lou's the Sunday brunch line is long but they give you mini-muffins while you wait and Milk Duds when you leave.
      Check out Metromix.com and plug in any of these names to get directions etc.
      Have fun.

      1 Reply
      1. re: millerbeachbum
        chigirl71 Mar 12, 2007 06:55 PM

        I second Lou Mitchell's for breakfast. A Chicago classic.

      2. nsxtasy Mar 12, 2007 05:29 PM

        Note my new comment in the steakhouse topic about making reservations in advance for your steakhouse dinner. Some of our steakhouses can get booked up further in advance, even at off-hours and weekdays, than our top fine-dining restaurants.

        1. chigirl71 Mar 12, 2007 05:24 PM

          As far as steak goes in Chicago you cannot go wrong with Gibson's. It's always where I take my non-Chicagoan friends when they come in town and want steak, it's a true Chicago steakhouse. Le Passage is an upper-scale lounge type place just south of Gibson's on State St. You gotta have a dog and/or a polish at Comiskey. Go White Sox! Have a great time!

          1. m
            maurice Mar 12, 2007 04:58 PM

            There are lots of good options near U.S. Cellular Field aka the Cell aka Sox Park aka Comiskey II.

            JIMBO'S is still fighting the expiration of their lease, but I doubt that will end well for them. Somebody mentioned PUFFER'S tavern on Halsted. It's under new ownership and now called MITCHELL'S. I haven't been in there since the change, but the previous owners did not sell food. Also on Halsted is the oldest tavern in the city: SCHALLER'S PUMP, a real old-school place with an old-school menu and a good-sized parking lot. COBBLESTONES on Pershing is another good tavern with food and parking. Other neighborhood taverns include CATCHER'S, FIRST BASE, and SHINNICK'S.

            If you're going to a day game, you can start off with a late breakfast at the BRIDGEPORT RESTAURANT. You can get similar diner fare at the RAMOVA GRILL, just down the block.

            For a more substantial meal with drinks, a frequent Chowhound rec is PANCHO'S on 31st St. Italian options include FRANCO'S on 31st and the CONNIE'S flagship on Archer. For a more unusual ethnic option, there's HEALTHY FOOD Lithuanian Restaurant on Halsted.

            For something quick and simple, there's FREDDIE'S, MAXWELL ST. DEPOT, and SOUTHSIDE SHRIMP HOUSE (all on 31st) and RICOBENE'S (on 26th St.). You'll also find a number of the taco / burrito joints that are typical to Chicago, including TAQUERIA SAN JOSE on Halsted. For ice cream, there's SCOOPS on 31st.

            Hole-in-the-wall PHIL'S PIZZA on Halsted is moving to a big, new space on 35th St.

            Sox Park also is close to Chinatown and Bronzeville, and not too far from Pilsen.

            1. m
              marilyn9 Mar 12, 2007 02:44 PM

              David Burke's is great. My friends from the east coast like to get ribs when they are in town...lots of options.

              For the Sox game, suggest Puffers which is near to the park. Owned by a couple neighborhood guys with great beer and apps and good music on the weekend. If your hometown team is in the American league you might want to keep that quiet at Puffers.

              1. o
                Original Kman Mar 12, 2007 02:41 PM

                kittychow - pickings around "Comiskey Park" (still can't accept the new name) are (by comparison to the northside) somewhat slim for your desire for heart-attack snacks and beer (and made less so by the sad, recent, demise of Jimbo's). Questions - when is the game (day/night weekday/weekend?) and what is your mode of transport? If driving then not too far from the park (and still walkable just not real close) I'd suggest trying the Kevin's Hamburger Heaven location at 4056 S Western Ave, 773-847-4947 . Old school hamburgers, beer (and booze) is served, open 24 hours and even karaoke Thurs-Sunday for those desirous of a quick trip through bizarro-world.

                Date and time of the game will dictate the viability of various downtown spots within easy "L" distance for pre-game heart-hammering and beer-binging.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Original Kman
                  kittychow Mar 13, 2007 11:45 AM

                  Thanks! I'll be on in Fri. April 27th for the evening game. I won't have a car though...

                  Marilyn, thanks for the tip. I'll be sure to keep it under wraps that my heart belongs to the AL RED Sox. (I can already hear the boos). Fortunately I'm a hardcore BB fan and truly appreciate both leagues as well as the beloved Cubs and White Sox. I think I'll be able to hold my own and keep my trap shut. :)

                2. j
                  jesteinf Mar 12, 2007 01:52 PM

                  If you want a steak go to Primehouse. Without a doubt the best steak I've had in Chicago. Last time I was there I had a 40 day dry aged bone-in ribeye that absolutely blew away any other piece of steak I've had in this town (I think sometimes you can get the same cute aged 50-55 days). Also, the Kobe beef carpaccio is fantastic for an appetizer.

                  1. nsxtasy Mar 12, 2007 12:54 PM

                    Check out this recent discussion on steakhouses in the area:
                    www.chowhound.com/topics/359377

                    and this one on Sunday brunch:
                    www.chowhound.com/topics/364403

                    This discussion on lounges/clubs for 30-somethings just started:
                    www.chowhound.com/topics/378744

                    And if any one food is a "must have", unique to Chicago, it's deep-dish pizza. See:
                    www.chowhound.com/topics/327474
                    www.chowhound.com/topics/319254

                    There are lots of things right around the Hard Rock Hotel at 230 N Michigan Ave. Lots of restaurants within walking distance, etc. Make sure to check out our new, beautiful Millenium Park (with "the bean" sculpture, the obelisks with faces, etc). The Art Institute, our largest art museum, is further south, and the Magnificent Mile starts just north of the hotel.

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