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Trendy/Scene w/ Great Food

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Looking for a Friday night restaurant with good food and even better scene to impress out-of-town twenty-something guest in river north/lincoln park/wicker park areas. Contemplated Japonais, but have been there a number of times so seeking to maybe do something different. Went to Sepia last week, and while good scene, about half of the dishes my party had were just average. Have never eaten in the upstairs lounge portion of Mirai - too smoky or acceptable for dining? What about Aigre Dioux (haven't been) - fun enough for 20somethings or too stuffy? Blackbird, Otom, Spring? Suggestions?

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  1. Boka might fit the bill: http://bokachicago.com/.

    1. Spring, while wonderful, might be a little bit sedate. How about DeLaCosta? Not exactly within your stated geographical boundaries, but the food is great and there's certainly an attractive scene.

      1. For a fun and lively atmosphere on a Friday night (and the same vibe as Japonais) I'd check out Avec, Crust, Sushi Wabi, Blue Water Grill or Tizi Mellou

        1. Sushi Samba Rio was a great experience for me when I went there...look into it if you are interested. There is nightly entertainment. http://www.sushisamba.com/top.html Always a great scene! Boka also is good!

          4 Replies
          1. re: sleopold

            I haven't been to Boka in years, but it strikes me as being very college-y. I remember the food being good, but everything is served family style and very casual atmosphere. Not at all trendy in my opinoin

            As for Sushi Samba, I've been to this place a half a dozen times. It's average in my book- but if your 20-something is all about a silicone and pretense, they might like it. The other places I suggested are much more hip

            Also, upstairs at Mirai is not too smokey- only about a 1/3 of it is designated a smoking section

            1. re: blondie60614

              You sure you're talking about Boka (on Halsted)? It's a pretty nice restaurant. They call it contemporary American.

              Buca, the Italian place, is college-y and family style. Boka is not.

              -----
              Boka
              1729 North Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614

              1. re: rubinow

                Haha.. oops! Yes, I was thinking of Buca. Sorry.. blonde moment!

              2. re: blondie60614

                Boka college-y? Family style portions? Casual? You've got the wrong place. In any event, here are some recent comments that I and others have had.

                http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic....

            2. Moto is more scene than Otom it seems.

              How about drinks at The Violet hour? Sceney on the weekend, but not without the stuff to back it up.

              3 Replies
              1. re: jpschust

                Thanks for the suggestions! SushiSamba is out as I've never thought the food to be inspiring (same goes for DeLaCosta - despite both restaurants being great for drinks/scene). Boka seems like a good choice from everything that I've read. But I'm really curious about Avec, and would love to try it, I just don't want to make someone who just got off a long flight wait too long for a table (no reservations) - can anyone advise what sort of wait we'd be looking at around 8 on a Friday? Also, does Tizi still draw a crowd or has it been forgotten?

                And schust, does Violet serve food, or is just a great place to grab a cocktail?

                1. re: medihound

                  As you can tell from my attached review, I did not love Boka (good scene though). I only thought it was decent.

                  Avec is great but it's tiny -- you might want to call them and explain your circumstances. Otherwise, you could be waiting quite some time. Avec's sister -- Blackbird -- is even better . . . one of my few favorites in Chicago.

                  Blackbird offers a great focus on locally grown seasonal ingredients and pork belly, my personal favorite.

                  I like the food at Mirai -- I hate the service and I can't imagine the service with a large crowd (and don't want to).

                  If you're Friday dinner is weeks or so away, you might be able to try Schwa or Green Zebra. Schwa's decor is anything but trendy, although the attitude and food make it trendy (food is amazing) and the BYO aspect with minimal corkage seals the deal. Green Zebra is mostly vegetarian, but very upscale and on the trendy side and the food is fantastic. Both are very small though.

                  1. re: medihound

                    Violet serves food, though it's mainly heavy apps and sandwiches- that said the food perfectly fits the cocktails in that your focus remains on the drink.

                2. Violet Hour for cocktails, sure.

                  For dinner? one sixtyblue would be my top choice. Blackbird and Aigre Doux are also worth considering. I would avoid Avec, not only for its no-reservations policy, but also its communal seating (which may be fun, but can also be dreadful).