Did we make the right choice? Review our food choices!
A couple of New Yorkers spending a couple of days in Chicago this weekend. Here are our food plans, would appreciate any feedback. (We've heard mixed things about Twin Anchors but essentially we wanted to get some good ribs but have limited means of transportation)
Breakfast - Hackneys
Dinner- Twin Anchors
Breakfast - Sola
Dinner - Any sushi suggestions?
Quite honestly, I don't think you're going to experience the best Chicago has to offer if those are your choices...
Breakfast - Hackneys - Yes Hackney's serves breakfast, but that's not the draw...If you're looking for a decent burger, good selection of beer and the infamous "onion loaf" then Hackneys is a pretty good do for lunch. For breakfast I'd probably go to the Original Lou Mitchell's on Jackson; the food's pretty good and the joint is definitely "real" Chicago.
Dinner- Twin Anchors - I guess we all have different ideas on what makes a "good rib". TA makes traditional Midwest style boiled, basted and broiled ribs. Some call this fall of the bone style, others call it meat Jell-O...I call it crap. Chicago is not the great rib mecca the guide books tout it to be. If you must have ribs, there's a bare bones (no pun intended, just no booze, no table service) joint called Honey 1 that in IMO produces a passable rack, not as good as one might find in KCMO, Memphis and these days NYC. Transportation to Honey 1 is not a challenge.
Lunch- Giordano's - Giordano's makes a tasty enough "stuffed" pizza, but if you must have a traditional, Chicago Style Deep Dish pie then Lou Malnati's is the place.
Breakfast - Sola - Never been so I can't comment...
Dinner - Any sushi suggestions? - Plenty of good sushi in town...at the higher end there's Mirai, Katsu and Sushi Wabi and a plethora of good to very good neighborhood dives like Tampopo and Midori.
Don't worry too much about getting around...we have reliable, efficient, user friendly mass transit and plenty of taxis.
re: Vinny Barbaresco
Vinny is pretty much dead on target with the observations on Hackney's & Twin Anchors. I would go so far as to say Honey1 was a major disappointment for me and would opt to skip the whole Chicago rib scene. But if its Chicago ribs you crave, then Barnelli's does a much better job than Twin Anchors.
Sushi is not one of Chicago's stronger food items either, after all, we are over 1000 miles from either of the major oceans! Most of the best fish in town is flown in, but seriously, if your in NY this is a no contest food item between the two cities.
I do however disagree with Vinny on Giordano's though: Giordano's is a great pizza, and for lunch it's a good option as well. But if you do eat at any Chicago pizza place for lunch, then don't plan on eating for the rest of the day! It's a giant meal, IMO deep dish pizza is probably best for dinner. One more thing, Lou Malnati's its also good, but IMO highly overrated and not as good as Giordano's. Read the pizza thread, its a war of strong opinions you'll have to decide on your own.
More feedback, mostly in agreement with Vinny and abf005.
First comment - you don't mention where you will be staying. And with limited means of transportation, there are lots of alternatives we can suggest that will be closer to that location, if we know what it is. Yes, Chicago has good public transportation, but if you're staying in Glenview, there are breakfast places there that I wouldn't recommend if you're staying in downtown Chicago, and vice versa.
Let's start with breakfast. I agree that Hackney's is not known for its breakfast. If it's known for anything, it's the loaf of fried onion rings, the French dip (roast beef sandwich), and burgers. And I really don't think of it as the best of Chicago's "cheap eats" scene, although it's good at what it does. Similarly, I think there are places that do a better Sunday brunch than Sola. Theirs is okay, but it's really nothing great. (They do a fine job for dinner, though.) Just to cite one example in the same neighborhood, I think Magnolia Cafe's Sunday brunch is much better than Sola's.
There are a lot of breakfast and brunch recommendations in the topic at www.chowhound.com/topics/364403 The complicating factor is that you will be here on a weekend, when the places known for their breakfast - Bongo Room, Kitsch'n, Orange, Wishbone, Flo, M. Henry, Walker Brothers - are very busy. If you're going to one of these, go on the early side, or plan on waiting. Lou Mitchell's is in the Loop, and is a longtime Chicago favorite, but more so for the atmosphere and history; I don't think the food is any different from elsewhere. If you're staying in the Loop, it's a good choice. If you're staying in the northern suburbs (or even if you're not), I think Walker Brothers is the best breakfast in the entire Chicago area; don't miss the apple pancake! But there are lots more good suggestions in that previous discussion topic.
Pizza for lunch is a great idea. There are lots of opinions about which Chicago pizza is best; just pick one. I think Giordano's is an excellent choice, with their wonderful double-crust "stuffed" pizza, and it is my favorite Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. But I think that Lou Malnati's (along with Gino's East) is also very good. Any of these is a great choice. abf005's advice about portion sizes is good, too; you can really stuff yourself and not have much room for dinner. I think you can do pizza for lunch, but just don't compel yourself to eat a lot (it's difficult when the pizza is great and hot and right in front of you, though). Read more at www.chowhound.com/topics/327474 and www.chowhound.com/topics/319254
With one weekend in Chicago, I would not waste a dinner on barbecue. Period. We have *some* good barbecue, but there are things we do much, much better. And I would say the exact same thing about sushi. Get barbecue or sushi in other towns. In Chicago, I would advise spending one dinner at one of our wonderful "casual contemporary" places like one sixtyblue, Aigre Doux, Blackbird, Oceanique, Chef's Station, Michael, Naha, Sweets and Savories, North Pond, Vie, Sola, Magnolia Cafe, Custom House, etc. For the other dinner, I would suggest maybe something fun and/or ethnic, such as a Greek place in Greek Town, or tapas, or Italian (I know, you have a lot of Italian at home), or a steakhouse, or seafood.
Here are links to more detailed discussions that may help:
Fine dining and casual contemporary:
You'll find links in those other discussions to the restaurant websites of all the places I mention here.
Also note that many of Chicago's better restaurants accept reservations via opentable.com
For Breakfast, I'd suggest Tweet. Get the quiche or smoked salmon.
For Lunch, you have to go to Hot Doug's. Get a Chicago Dog for sure, but also one of their game dogs or other specialty dogs. Get the duck fat fries if you are there on a day they do them.
Pho on Argyle street is a good break in the action as well for lunch, or breakfast.
Dinner at The Hop Leaf will get you amazing beer and solid food; get the sausage plate for sure.
Oh, and Lula cafe, for brunch or dinner is top-notch, definitely recommended.
As for the places you are planning on, I can't really say. I know that, not being born in Chicago, I don't really care for Chicago-style pizza. Coming from New York, I'm curious if you will, either, but definitely think you should try it for a true Chicago experience. The others on this post will certainly be able to tell you more about where to go for that for sure.
Welcome to Chicago, and have fun!
We'll be staying near Grant Park. My boyfriend grew up in Chicago, hasn't lived there in many years but is adamant about having three food experiences, Chicago-style pizza, ribs, and peanut donuts from Dunkin Donuts (which don't exist in the Northeast). Our thinking is basically we arrive in the morning and need to grab breakfast near the hotel before heading to a Cubs game. Then we were planning on doing ribs the first night.
Next day, we'll be with the family which is why we're doing Giordano's during lunch, they wanted to do pizza with us and are leaving in the evening. We figured as much that pizza would be filling, hence a light sushi dinner, though we're welcome to any other places a light dinner could be found.
Only have time for breakfast on Sunday and Sola was suggested. Also open to suggestions for that, but something that would be near Grant Park/Buckingham fountain and/or on the way to O'Hare (we're taking the train).
Thanks a million!
Thanks for the explanation. That helps put everything into perspective.
If you *must* do ribs, there are plenty of places to consider, mostly places that have opened since your BF lived here. If he's set on returning to Twin Anchors because of his memories there, go for it. If he's open to other barbecue places, you might want to look through this topic: www.chowhound.com/topics/360674
You don't mention which end of Grant Park you're staying in. I'm not trying to be picky, just trying to make sure you understand distances, because one end is almost a mile from the other end and that changes which places are most convenient.
For breakfast: If you're at the south end of Grant Park, such as at the Hilton Chicago (720 S Michigan), then get breakfast at Orange on Harrison, which is just a few blocks walk away. If you're at the north end of Grant Park, such as at the Hyatt Regency, Swissotel, Fairmont, etc, consider breakfast at Heaven on Seven (Wabash location) or the Atwood Cafe, again just a few blocks away. The Gage is a new gastropub in that area, and they open at 10 am on Saturday-Sunday; I assume they have a brunch menu but I haven't been yet.
For Sunday brunch before heading to O'Hare, Sola is really not at all convenient. It's six miles straight north of the city, NOT on your way to the airport. If you'd like to do Sunday brunch on your way to O'Hare, I recommend Lula. If you are on your way to the airport via the el's Blue Line, Lula is just one block south of the Logan Square stop (just the other side of the park and the statue). Lula specializes in local and natural foods. It's a real neighborhood place, with a nice outdoor dining space if the weather is nice. They do a great Sunday brunch. This is an awesome choice (although it may be a bit awkward if you're carrying a lot of luggage).
If you'd like to do Sunday brunch closer to your hotel, so you don't have to lug your luggage, the previously-mentioned options - Orange on Harrison in the south Loop, Atwood Cafe and the Gage at the north end - are still options for brunch on Sundays; Heaven on Seven is closed.
For pizza, I still think Giordano's is a great choice for lunch, if you're at the north end of Grant Park; they have a location in Prudential Plaza on Lake St. If you're at the south end of Grant Park, Edwardo's has a location just a few blocks from the Hilton Chicago and their stuffed pizza is very similar to Giordano's. Call ahead to order your pizza if you don't want to wait 30-45 minutes for it to bake.
Following up on my previous paragraph about dinner suggestions - alternatives to barbecue or sushi... Of the "casual contemporary" places I mentioned, Custom House is near the south end of Grant Park, a short walk from the Hilton Chicago; one sixtyblue, Aigre Doux, and Blackbird are all a short cab ride away (all within about two miles). So is Greek Town (you could even walk it) and many of the steakhouses and seafood restaurants.
Orange on Harrison - no website; 75 W. Harrison St., 312-447-1000
Heaven on Seven - www.heavenonseven.com
Atwood Cafe - www.atwoodcafe.com
The Gage - www.thegagechicago.com
Sola - www.solarestaurant.com
Lula - www.lulacafe.com
Giordano's - www.giordanos.com
Edwardo's - www.edwardos.com
one sixtyblue - www.onesixtyblue.com
Aigre Doux - www.aigredouxchicago.com
Blackbird - www.blackbirdrestaurant.com
I live right near Twin Anchor and I haven't gone there in years. They've been coasting forever, and the ribs are usually overcooked and just so-so. It IS a Chicago institution, though, so if boyfriend has his heart set, it's still a fun place. Just be prepared to wait if it's busy.