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Jul 23, 2007 04:56 PM

Need Input on Itinerary

We are going to Chicago for a wedding. We want to hit some places that offer quintessential Chicago fare and/or indicative of the local craft beer scene. We are limited in our schedule by the wedding, so we would also love to hear about any places near the places below:

Dinner at Alinea
Drinks at the Red Head Piano Bar

Lunch at Piece Brewery
Dinner at Scoozi (rehearsal dinner)
Drinks at Hopleaf, the Map Room or Clark St. Ale House

Brunch at Frontera Grill
Dinner at Ritz Carlton (wedding)
Drinks at Hopleaf, the Map Room or Clark St. Ale House

Lunch at Pizano's Pizza (going to the AI)

Any input?

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  1. Good choices. I would stick to Clark St Ale House Sat, assuming your wedding will end late. It is much closer than Map Room or Hopleaf to the Ritz. If it is nice out you could even walk it from the Ritz (prob 20 - 25 min walk).

    1. May I suggest, since you'll presumably be dressed formally, to try someplace like NoMi after the wedding. It's a 5 minute walk (at Park Hyatt) and if the weather is nice, NoMi has a wonderful outside terrace bar on the 7th floor. Not cheap, but one of my favorites. The local craft beer scene here is nothing like out west, so I would not necessarily recommend a 20+ minute cab ride to Hopleaf or Map Room. Thanks to nationwide distribution, you can get nearly every great beer anywhere in the country.

      1. While there may not be as many craft brewers in Chicago as some other areas, we do have a pretty active brewing community. If you are looking for "brew on premises" establishments, then unfortunately (with maybe the exception of piece), most of the better brewpubs are outside the city. However, there are quite a few remarkable midwest micro-brews brews made in the general area and adjacent states (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan), which are not available nation-wide. In fact, due to archaic and restrictive distribution laws in Illinois, some favorites from neighboring states are no longer available in Chicago (Bell's of MI and New Glarus of WI).

        Two of the most interesting local breweries are 3 Floyd's in Munster Indiana (just over the border) and Two Brothers in Winfield. Both of these companies turn out some outstanding specialty brews which are only available locally. Some of the Michigan made beers (from Bell's, Acadia, New Holland, Founder's) are worth trying also.

        If you want to get a feel for the Chicago and midwest brew scene, then the MapRoom is the only place to go. That is where the serious hop-heads congregate, including many professional and amateur brewers. Tell the knowledgable bartenders what you are interested in, and they will undoubtedly put together a nice sampling of what's available. The Map Room usually has a couple of unusual local brews on tap. For instance, they are currently featuring cask-conditioned Hop-Juice from Two Brothers, along with their Cain and Ebel rye on draught.

        Surprisingly, the Rock Bottom brewery downtown (which is much closer to where you will be), often has some pretty interesting seasonal beers available. Although it is a chain, the local brewmaster steps outside of the prescribed corporate guidelines and produces some very nice specialty styles. Just stay away from the over-filtered and under-flavored chain standards (steer clear of the food also).

        The same goes for the pub at the Goose Island brewery, which is now associated with the venerable Siebel Institute of (brewing) Technology, America's oldest brewing school. Although GI's distribution has graduated to the national (and international) level, the founding family still takes brewing very seriously and the brewers make some great small-batch recipes only available in their pub (and unlike Rock Bottom, the food is very passable).

        For a good liquor store with a pretty comprehensive beer selection, visit Sam's, although most Binny's are generally pretty good also (Illinois law also prohibits liquor stores from warehousing beverages, so each store in a chain must make individual purchases from distributors). Chicago is home to several large beer importers, so we have many unusual Eastern European beers available at some of the smaller liquor stores and ethnic grocers. My current favorite discovery is a very tasty lager from Croatia called Karlovacko.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Roger Spark

          I should have noted that the Map Room does get pretty crowded on weekend nights (as do most bars in the city), and it is probably not the kind of place you would want to wear a tuxedo (although it has been seen before). They do start serving at 11AM, in case you want to knock back a few on your way to the festivities.