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24 Hour Layover in Chicago

Next week we'll be in Chicago for a day only on our way to Europe. Any suggestions for a nice, but not too pricey (no $100 per person or more meals) place to get a good meal Friday evening (? neighborhood Italian, or other good suggestion). We will be staying at an aiport hotel, but if we can take public transport downtown easily to get to a restuarant that would work well.

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  1. The problem I see with this is the transportation issue -- the "rapid" part of transportation to/from the airport right now isn't -- there are some issues that would give me pause before sending a hapless traveler on what could be a very long ride ESPECIALLY before heading off to Europe. Very few of the airport hotels are walking distance for the CTA. Take a cab. Most cabbies LOVE to drive from the O'hare area downtown. It should not be criminally expensive. Probably under $20...

    Ok, that is out of the way. You say you can spend under $100/person. On Italian that can buy some really nice dining. :

    Coco Pazzo -- top flight Tuscan /rustic Italian in a big loft type space that is not too trendy or loud
    300 W. Hubbard St.
    312-836-0900

    Cafe Spiaggia -- more affordable twin to the place with out the "cafe" in front of its name. musch less formal. Portions are smaller, but quality is excellent. Great staff,
    980 N. Michigan Ave.
    312-280-2750

    Bice Ristorante -- a "survivor" that has been treating customers to fresh Italian for almost 20 years.
    158 E Ontario St
    312-664-1474

    Make reservation NOW!

    4 Replies
    1. re: renov8r

      In my experience, a taxi from O'Hare to the River North area is easily $35. I would hate to set expectations that aren't met.

      If you want to skip downtown, I've heard good things about Bistro Campagne in Evanston lately, although I haven't tried it since Michael Altenberg left.

      1. re: chicgail

        Bistro Campagne is in Lincoln Square, a ways south of Evanston. It's in a really nice space, but I was underwhelmed by the food. On the other hand, I think I'm in the minority: it's been well reviewed.

        1. re: Dedalus

          Sorry, You are correct. I was thinking of Campagna in Evanston. Both kitchens used to to headed by Michael Altenberg who left Campagne a couple years ago. I've heard good things about the new chef there.

          1. re: chicgail

            FYI - it takes a particularly long time to get from O'Hare to Evanston (compared to other places the same distance away) by both el and taxi. I would stick to places downtown, on the blue line, or near O'Hare.

    2. Not trying to argue, but I live near Montrose & Pulaski & I took a taxi last year from the airport & it was $25. I am 9 miles from downtown. I'm just a sayin' it'll be more than $20.
      I say it all the time, I love Sabatino's. It's not far from the Blue Line(about 2 blocks west). The Blue line should be o.k. although, I have been taking Metra lately.
      Decent neighborhood Italian joint, service has always been good, hoppin' place, although when we go we feel young.(we're all 40'ish). My husband always jokes that he feels like he should be wearing a silk suit w/a pinky ring.
      http://www.sabatinoschicago.com/

      3 Replies
      1. re: louweezy

        Louweezy....this looks like it might work well. We are staying at Sofitel which I read is just a sky bridge from the blue line. It seems convenient to Sabatino's. Which stop would we get off for this restuarant? Do we need reservations if we will be going around 9 pm? Thanks for the suggestion. I'll have to get a pinky ring for my boyfriend...heh, heh

        1. re: nchagwa1

          I'm going to respectfully disagree. Sabatino's IMHO is your rather ordinary neighborhood Italian joint. Maybe nicer than some, but not anything special.

          You might want to consider Tuscany on Taylor St. or either Mia Francesca on Taylor St. or Francesca's Forno in Bucktown/Wicker Park (also on the Blue Line). Someone else suggested Coco Pazzo on Hubbard, but Coco Pazzo Cafe is even closer to you on St. Claire and Ontario. I had a recent lunch there with my college roommate.

          1. re: chicgail

            Yeah, if you really have a thing for basic, red-sauce Italian, Sabatino's would be a good bet. It's unpretentious and fun in a cheesy sort of way. Nothing wrong with that, but you have better options if you're after good food. I liked Forno, but it is easily the loudest restaurant I've ever been to. It was relatively new when I went, so maybe they've found a way to dampen the noise. But, wow.

      2. I am not sure where you are staying but some of the hoels are close to the Blue Line el and some can drop you off. I suggest you check with your hotel.

        I would take the blue line to the Damen exit (wicker park/Bucktown). To get there take the direction away from ohare and to get back to ohare. Or take a taxi back.

        I have attached a link for the stop.
        http://centerstage.net/virtual-el/dam...

        3 Replies
        1. re: Scooped

          Most of the airport hotels have shuttle bus service to O'Hare. You can always take the shuttle back to the airport and pick up the Blue line from there.

          And, there are some decent neighborhood places in the areas near O'Hare, for which cabfare ought not be too prohibitive. One of my favorites is Don Juan, which has creative Mexican (something you probably will not be eating in Europe).

          1. re: masha

            Cab fare from Midway to downtown was $30.00, wouldn't Ohare be more?

            1. re: sarge

              You will not be disappointed if you take the blue line into downtown, hop off at Jackson Station and hop onto the red a few blocks down to Roosevelt, and get off and go to Gioco on Wabash. Excellent Tuscan that won't break the bank. It was the best meal we had in Chicago. We thought it better than Cafe Spiaggia

        2. The nice thing about the Damen stop is the area. There are wine bars, stores, clubs and resturants. If you have time to kill this is a great selection. On a Frisay night it will be full of a thirty something crowd.

          1. I do not see why you would need to head down to the Loop or Evanston (which is a pain to get to from O'Hare with public transportation).

            Search this forum for Edison Park, Park Ridge, and Rosemount and you'll get plenty of good recommendations that are within 20 minutes of O'Hare.