Solo diner - near Northbrook Hilton
I'm going to have an evening to myself in a few weeks at the Northbrook Hilton. There was a request for a solo diner in Northbrook two years ago that I found in the archives, but perhaps there's something new.
I am willing to drive say 15-20 minutes. I would prefer to keep the meal under $100 including wine/tax/tip but could go over some. The plan for right now is the Steak/Seafood Tramonto restaurant but I welcome suggestions.
Tramonto is great. All 3 of the options there are good so it depends on what you want. THere is an Osteria, a steak house, and sushi upstairs in the bar.
Others have given very good options as well. Since you will be here at an wonky time from a weather standpoint, you never know what you will find when you get here. If it is nice, not far from your hotel are 2 very good restaurants in Highland Park.
1. Hot Tomales (Cheap but fun)- Traditional mexican fair that if nice out, you may be able to get a table outside.
2. Next door is Cafe Central, a french style bistro which I have enjoyed every time I have been there.
3. Ron of Japan- Japanese steakhouse (Good food, but better atmosphere)- Nice thing is they will seat you with random people since you are going to be alone. Somethimes that can be fun
4. Franchesca's Hole in the wall- (CASH ONLY and no reservations)- Great home style Italian food.
5. Next door (also cash only)- Charlie Bienlich's- Fantastic Hamburgers
All of the above will find you with locals, and reasonably priced food with a good atmosphere.
Most of the places in Highland Park are 15-20 minutes from your hotel, a bit further than the places previously mentioned.
Again, many people hear "Northbrook" and they assume you are referring to the cluster of hotels next to the Edens Expressway, at the opposite end of Northbrook from your hotel.
Any good restaurant should have no problem accommodating a solo diner and making him feel at home. And I don't think there is any place in the entire area where you are likely to go much over $100, with the possible exception of Le Francais.
It's also worth noting that both of the previous posts do not seem to be aware of the location of your hotel, which is understandable, since most people think of the eastern end of Northbrook and its cluster of hotels when they hear the town name. Northbrook extends from Milwaukee Avenue on the west, to the Edens Expressway on the east. The Northbrook Hilton is in the west end of Northbrook, on Milwaukee Avenue just south of Willow Road (Palatine Road), and Wheeling is just up the road. The recommendations provided above are all on the other side of Northbrook, 10-15 minutes away, whereas everything in Wheeling is within 5 minutes. You'll find a recent discussion of dining options in Wheeling at www.chowhound.com/topics/381573
In your own hotel is a well-known and highly-regarded restaurant called Allgauer's. Do not ignore it or write it off as "only" a hotel restaurant; it has been a favorite among non-hotel-going locals for many years. They are particularly known for their Friday seafood buffet and Sunday brunch. I've found that they are consistently very good, and its logistical convenience is obvious.
If you're interested in steaks, there are lots of excellent options in the area. Pete Miller's is in Wheeling. Carson's (which has excellent ribs as well as excellent steaks) and Stoney River are both in Deerfield, and Wildfire is in Glenview. On the other side of Northbrook are Morton's and the Palm as well as the previously-mentioned Ruth's Chris (which I'm not that fond of).
For casual fine dining in a New American/French genre, I had a spectacularly terrific dinner recently at Michael in Winnetka, as reported in this topic: www.chowhound.com/topics/119164
For more formal French dining, Le Francais is excellent, although it may exceed your budget. Another outstanding French restaurant in the area, and not quite as expensive, is Le Titi de Paris, in Arlington Heights.
For great seafood, I recommend Mitchell's Fish Market in Glenview. This is one of a cluster of restaurants in the Glen Town Center, a newly-developed shopping/entertainment district on the site of a former Naval Air Station. Bob Chinn's is in Wheeling and also has fresh seafood, but I greatly prefer the preparations at Mitchell's.
For a sports bar with fresh seafood, there's Players Grill in Highland Park.
For burgers and a "brick" of onion rings, Hackney's is in Wheeling, right next to Le Francais.
I find the previously-mentioned Prairie Grass Cafe to be excessively noisy and crowded.
All of the above are less than 15 minutes of your hotel, except for Michael, which may take up to 20.
Allgauer's (Northbrook) - www.northbrookallgauers.com
Pete Miller's (Wheeling) - www.petemillers.com
Carson's (Deefield) - www.ribs.com
Stoney River (Deerfield) - www.stoneyriver.com
Wildfire (Glenview) - www.wildfirerestaurant.com
Morton's (Northbrook) - www.mortons.com
The Palm (Northbrook) - www.thepalm.com
Ruth's Chris (Northbrook) - www.ruthschris.com
Michael (Winnetka) - www.michaelrestaurant.com
Le Francais (Wheeling) - www.lefrancaisrestaurant.com
Le Titi de Paris (Arlington Heights) - www.letitideparis.com
Mitchell's Fish Market (Glenview) - www.mitchellsfishmarket.com
The Glen Town Center (Glenview) - www.theglentowncenter.com
Bob Chinn's (Wheeling) - www.bobchinns.com
Players Grill (Highland Park) - www.playersgrill.net
Hackney's (Wheeling) - www.hackneys.net
Prairie Grass Cafe (Northbrook) - www.prairiegrasscafe.com
Holy moly, thank you for that list.
I'm glad you mentioned Allgauer's - their menu certainly looks interesting and I will consider it. It sounds like a toss up between that and Tramanto.
I've been to Le Titi a few times and have never had a bad meal - my wife and I ate there on Super Bowl Sunday this year and were, quite literally, the only people in the restaurant. It was a unique experience.
I haven't been to the Tramonto restaurants in Wheeling yet, so I have no opinion on them, except that, depending on traffic, it can take more than 15-20 minutes to get from Northbrook to Wheeling.
Another option is Prairie Grass Cafe on Skokie Blvd. in Northbrook. The food is very good, and there is a huge bar area, so I don't think it would be uncomfortable to go there by yourself.