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alinea, moto - reservations / chi lunch questions?

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my wife and i are likely going to be in chicago the weekend before thanksgiving, and i was thiking of going to alinea one night for dinner, and moto the other night. yeah, i know what the costs are of both, but the knockout food reviews are so enticing.

so, here's my questions.

-> i saw through this link (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/397556) that alinea takes reservations 2 months out. is moto the same way? i would try calling on sept 1 to book for both places, or is that too early?
-> do we have to let them know that we'll have the tasting menu when we phone reservations? if so, do we have to let them know which tasting menu? since we're coming from the east coast, we would NOT be looking for an 8pm sitdown, for example.
-> what are the dress requirements? i know per se is men jackets...but wd-50 is just nice casual.

lunch - knowing that i'll be going to those places for dinner, any suggestions on lunch in the vicinity of monroe/state street station? i don't like sausage or hot dogs; it could be a generic dive place with a small meal, or even as simple as a chicago style pizza place that's overlooked.

finally - i'm not into the arts, the bears and don't need to see the CBOT/CME. what's some good things to do in chicago on a friday and saturday? i'm comfortable with nyc subway, so public transportation isn't a concern.

thanks for any help from a hudson valley (ny) hounder...

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  1. It's a lot easier to get a reservation at moto, though we got a last minute reservation at alinea.

    At alinea you're going to need to tell them you want the grand tour if that's what you seek as you need a longer reservation- moto i believe you do not need to do that.

    moto is significantly more casual as jeans are allowed, alinea does not allow jeans or sportswear.

    I've eaten at both and am happy to answer any other questions you might have. I've also done every menu at moto (5,10 and gtm) and the grand tour at alinea, so i can answer questions you have related to that.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jpschust

      I'll bite. What do you think is the best experience at Moto? I am a recent transplant to chicago and it is the next on my list. We did the 12 course at Alinea and that was great- I'm certain we will go back so I didn't feel the 24 was necessary.

      However, I would like your opinion on if the GTM is the best choice for the best moto experience.

      Thank you!

      chico

      1. re: Chico

        It really depends how far out on a limb you want to go- the quantity of food is similar- and its a LOT of food any way you cut it, but the bigger the menu you go the more experimental it's going to be. If you really like mollecular gastronomy go with the GTM, if you want to back off a bit, go 10. Skip 5 unless you're conservative in terms of science and food.

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. thanks for the responses, jps and chargenda. a couple followups:

        jps - my wife would also be going with me, and can't eat most seafood. i assume that they have options for that (as well as vegetarian?). i know wd-50 basically has multiple options for each course depending on vegetarian/seafood/etc.

        also - for her, is it nice pants or dress as well?

        i checked out the sample menus / pix on the alinea website, and it looks so awesome. plus, i recently watched iron chef (first time i've ever watched the show) for cantu's show, and it was real neat to watch how he cooked the stuff up. it's now a matter if i convince my wife to go for the largest tasting menus or the mid size ones.

        chargenda - any specific neighborhoods? in nyc, for example, i recommend people walk around the village and lower east side to get a sense of the fun environment and the history. though i'm hoping it wouldn't be too cold there in mid november.

        thanks...

        1. re: bob gaj

          For her it's nice pants or even nice jeans.

          If you tell them in advance what you can/can't eat they will tailor the menu specifically to you- same goes with alinea. I suggest doing so at the time of reservation and then reconfirming a day or two prior to your reservation.

          1. re: jpschust

            By the way, I wanted to clarify this, when I talk nice jeans- I don't mean levi's- I mean designer jeans- think trendy.

      2. Folks, please keep your suggestions focused on where to eat well in Chicago. General tourist tips are beyond the scope of Chowhound's mission, and will be removed.