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Canadian visitors sampling Chicago chow

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Visiting Chicago three nights over Easter.

Thursday night, debating between either Frontera Grill or Topolabompo -- other suggestions for first night, location not a consideration.

Friday night, tickets for an 8pm performance at the Symphony Centre and wondering about Custom House since it's near the hotel, Palmers Hilton and the Centre -- any other suggestions or is this a good choice?

Saturday, debating between Avec or Blackbird and One Sixty Blue.

First time visit Canadian Chowhounds looking for a selection of regional/American cuisine, not overly formal or not necessarily in the top 10 I've seen posted. Plan to make reservations on Opentable asap.

Quick lunch bites while out and about in the city to further get the flavour would be welcomed.

Thanks.

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  1. Frontera Grill & Topolobampo are co-located & I think you can order from either menu (at least I did one time). No reservations at Frontera - I've had no wait, tolerable wait, and intolerable waits. Maybe getting late to get a reservation at Topolobampo?

    2 Replies
    1. re: drake

      If you call early that day, you can get a reservation at Frontera. I really recommend that place. It was one of the best meals I had

      1. re: lbs

        I agree!

    2. Avec, Blackbird, and 160 Blue are all quite good. Avec is a smaller, more informal option, with communal seating on long tables, and no reservations accepted. The wait can get long if you go during prime weekend hours. Blackbird and 160 Blue are much more formal, although not overly so - no jackets required and you could show up at either one in jeans, although you'll also see some people in a coat and tie.

      Of the three, I prefer 160 Blue. I find everything about that place outstanding, but you won't really go wrong at any of them.

      1. I would do Frontera for lunch because of the potential for a long wait at dinner.

        1. Between Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, you could go either way; both are excellent. However, whichever way you go, I strongly recommend making a reservation as soon as possible. Topolobampo accepts reservations on www.opentable.com which shows availability at 6:15 and 8:45 but not in between, although the restaurant may have availability not showing on opentable. At Frontera Grill, as noted by lbs, you can make reservations the same day as you're dining, so if that is your choice, call them when they open in the morning. www.rickbayless.com/restaurants

          Custom House is excellent in every way. There are other choices that are a bit closer to Orchestra Hall, but Custom House is worth walking the extra few blocks. www.customhouse.cc If you're interested in considering other suggestions closer to Orchestra Hall and the Palmer House Hilton, see these topics:
          www.chowhound.com/topics/386448
          www.chowhound.com/topics/370730

          Avec, Blackbird, and One Sixty Blue are all excellent places. I agree with wak; if I had to choose one, it would be One Sixty Blue, but the others are fine too.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nsxtasy

            Note that Custom House also has a pre-theatre 3-course dinner at $46. Good bargain.
            Here's their site: http://www.customhouse.cc/index.html