I'm visiting Chicago in July, staying downtown, with friends and family. We've never been there before and I was wondering about good "hole in the wall" places. My fiance and I especially like traveling just to try new restaurants, especially ethnic cuisine. So far my boss, who used to live there, mentioned Gino's and The Greek Islands. Does anyone else have suggestions? I looking for breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas.
If you have a car go SuperDawg. It's a Chicago institution. http://www.superdawg.com/
A chain with good dogs and Italian beef sandwiches is Portillo's. There's one right downtown.
Mr. Beef on 666 N. Orleans. I just went there for the first time and although it is also a venerable Chicago institution I wasn't wowed with the Italian beef but the Italian beef and sausage combo sandwich was pretty good.
We just went to Lou Malnati's and Giordano's for pizza and although both have their admirers and detractors we found both to be virtually identical. It's been a while since I've been to Gino's East for pizza but I remember liking it more. The reality is you can't go wrong with any of them.
I went to Greek Islands a couple of months ago and it was a pretty good place. Had a lamb kabob and the table shared pastichio and moussaka which is good to share because they are so rich. We also went to Athena in mid-May and sat in the courtyard to eat. Nice outdoor space.
We were given some Greek pastries from Pan Hellenic Bakery and they were DELICIOUS. THe various baklavas were sinful.
In Chicago steak IS ethnic cuisine so you should have meat. There are so many places to go you'll just have to check the board and narrow it down. We just were at Gibson's which is in the "viagra triangle" and it was truly a scene. The meal came to about $300 with drinks (for 4) so not an inexpensive night but doable.
In the Loop go to Lou Mitchell's for breakfast. Just a joint with HUGE portions, reasonable prices, and crusty waitresses.
Just make sure you cover all your Chicago food bases: Pizza, hot dogs, Italian beef, steak, and booze.
Use the El and the Metro trains too. They're cheap and easy like a college girl in Cabo.
Lou's and Giordano's are not the same. Aside from taste differences, Lou Malnati's serves single crust deep dish and Giordano's serves stuffed deep dish (crust on the bottom and another crust between the cheese and the sauce). You can find many musings on the preferences among pizza places and the benefits of deep dish vs. stuffed in past threads on these boards.
Personally, I prefer stuffed crust, generally from Giordano's or Edwardo's.
There are some outstanding Thai restaurants in Chicago - most often recommended are TAC Quick Thai, Sticky Rice, and Spoon Thai.
This link is also worth checking out - many of the best ethnic/local neighborhood restaurants in the city, including reviews, photos, etc. Spoon and Sticky Rice are both on the list.