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Apr 10, 2007 08:13 PM

WANTED! Most Unique/Crazy Dining experience

I'm going to Chicago this weekend and staying around Mag. Mile and am looking for the most unique, fun, crazy, different dining experience. I know each city has their own gem, I want to find Chicago's. Cheap or expensive it doesn't matter as long as the milieu is awesome and the food is even better. Thanks a bunch.

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  1. Someone has to be able to answer this better than me but some thoughts:

    - Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues

    Mildly Crazy/Kind of Touristy:
    - Billy Goat Tavern - Made famous by the SNL cheezborger skit
    - Ed Debevics - waiters cop attitude with the guests - food pretty standard diner fare

      1. Well, a lot of things might be called different, and even crazy, but it all depends on what you're looking for.

        Certainly Alinea, often mentioned as possibly the best restaurant in the country, would have to be considered unique, fun, crazy, and different. Also expensive, since it will cost $250-400 per person or more, including tax/tip and reasonable alcohol. Actually, I think you could make a case (as elrushbo does above) that *any* of the finest dining chefs/restaurants/experiences in the city - most of which are about half the cost of Alinea - could qualify:

        1. Alinea - Grant Achatz -
        2. Avenues - Graham Elliot Bowles -
        3. Everest - Jean Joho -
        4. Charlie Trotter's - Charlie Trotter -
        5. Tru - Rick Tramonto -
        6. NoMi - Christophe David -
        7. Schwa - Michael Carlson -
        8. moto - Homaro Cantu -
        9. Spiaggia - Tony Mantuano -

        Everest also combines fine cuisine with the view from the top of the Midwest Stock Exchange building. For an even better view (on a clear day or evening), there's the Signature Room on top of the John Hancock Center; just don't expect the food to be comparable to the very best places in the city.

        Some of the newer "fusion" type cuisines could be considered fairly unique. Some kinds of fusion cuisine have been around for a while, although not necessarily in Chicago - for example, I wouldn't be surprised if French-Asian cuisine was around at least since the time of France's activities in Indochina in the 1950s - but some of the other fusion combinations are newer and more unique. In this category, consider Vermilion, a combination of Latin American and Indian (Asian subcontinent) cuisine.

        If you consider French fries fried in duck fat to be unique/crazy, there's always Hot Doug's.

        Medieval Times, in Schaumburg/Hoffman Estates, could be called unique/crazy, if you enjoy eating food while watching a medieval jousting tournament. Not that the food is exceptional in any way, but it can be fun. Same thing for other forms of dinner theater (murder mystery, Tony and Tina's wedding, interactive dinner theater, etc) as well as dinner cruises on Lake Michigan, etc.

        2 Replies
        1. re: nsxtasy

          I don't really know what I'm looking for either :-) I've eaten at a lot of places around the country/world and will be in Chicago for the first time this weekend. Every city has to have that one place that is unique seen in no other place in the world. I love all your suggestions! Thanks

          1. re: HungryWagz

            What about Avec? Blackbird is one of the best new restaurants in Chicago, and the owners set up a smaller, more casual place next door called Avec. Long communal tables, so be prepared to meet the neighbors. No reservations. Very clean, modern look. Excellent inventive food.

            Or if you don't mind spending the cash and can get in, maybe the 12 course menu at Alinea? Definitely with the wine pairings. It will cost you a few hundred $, but molecular gastronomy is the newest new thing in Chicago, and Grant Achatz is said the be the best. There is also a 24 course menu, but that can take 5+ hours to finish.

            Or for a more lively atmosphere, Greek Town. Or Second City mentioned below - here they have a great new show - preceeded by Obriens (Irish) or Topo Gigio (Italian) or Adobo Grill (Mexican). All very good, if not wildly unique restaurants. Lots of other options in that area.

        2. I think Moto is probably your best bet for "unique" and "different". I'm not 100% sure what you're looking for, but I doubt any of the high-end places in town are going to work for you.

          For "fun" and "crazy" there are probably a bunch of options depending on what you actually mean by this (maybe some other restaurants in other cities that would fall into this category would be helpful). Some of the places in Greektown can get pretty crazy, with bustling atmospheres and flaming cheese.

          ETA - It's not dinner, but seeing a show at Second City is always fun. There are a bunch of good restaurants in the area (North and Wells), so let us know if that would interest you.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jesteinf

            We're going to be in the area of North & Wells Tuesday night and need somewhere for a quick meal... on a tight schedule! Any suggestions for a place with good food, but not stuffy? I love any type of ethnic food, but my guests aren't as adventurous.

            Thank you!

            1. re: wineaux

              In that area Salpicon (Mexican) is my favorite.

              1252 N. Wells St., Chicago, IL 60610

              1. re: wineaux

                For a quick meal, I would go to Old Jerusalem (Wells & Schiller). It is good, quick, cheap Middle Eastern food.

                Other places for a quick bite:
                - Nookies (Wells, 2 blocks N of North) good, quick diner food.
                - Fresh Choice - nothing special, but decent sandwiches and good soups if you are running really late.

            2. > Every city has to have that one place that is
              > unique seen in no other place in the world.

              If there is any one kind of *food* that is unique to Chicago, it's our famous deep-dish pizza. It may not be a crazy dining experience, but you're not likely to find comparable pizza elsewhere. The nearest locations to Michigan Avenue are Giordano's, for double-crust stuffed pizza, on Rush Street, and Gino's East, for single-crust pan pizza, on Superior Street. You'll find lots of opinions on Chicago pizza in these topics: