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Sep 2, 2007 11:33 PM

under the radar and anti-scene in River North

I know about all the "BIG" places if i wanna blow my wad or see and be seen. But where do I go when I don't want to be seen or spend a small fortune. Anything good, good gastropub, cheese/bread, sandwich.....someone who knows how to a chicken that will make you feel like you can still be surprised.


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  1. Brett's Kitchen (open for lunch only)
    Dublins - Great, great food!! Gastropub for sure. Also open til 4am 365 days a year. Can get crowded, but the food is delicious

    Also right around the corner in River West is La Scarola and West Town Tavern which are both low key - and serve great food

    1 Reply
    1. re: blondie60614

      I'd agree with West Town Tavern, but not La Scarola which I think is very much overrated - although its a fun crowd to watch.

      I used to recommend Pepper Canister a lot, although I have not been there in a while. You can check out the menu here:

      Or check out Coal Fire Pizza on Grand.

      In the area, you could also stop by the Matchbox which is one of the most beloved local bars in town.

      Some nice ethnic options as well if you are interested - Klay Oven, Kan Zaman, Tokyo-Ginza Sushi. Zocalo has a good $25 Sunday special. Rezas is OK.

    2. Kiki's Bistro, for great French bistro food at a reasonable price.

      Kiki's Bistro
      900 N. Franklin
      Chicago, IL 60610
      312 335 5454

      3 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        Was at Kiki's last Friday and wasn't enthralled. My friends had the halibut, which I tasted, and it was pretty good, but I could make better roasted chicken and steak frite at home. The crowd was 50+, which is fine for us, but not if you are looking for something younger.

        1. re: jubilee

          You may well have recounted the three most recent meals I had at Kiki's.

          Like Cyrano's, the old-line bistro just a few blocks away, Kiki's time has come and gone, I'm afraid.


          1. re: Erik M

            I've had better luck at La Sardine and Brasserie Jo recently, although I am interested to check out Roland Liccioni's Old Town Brasserie which must be scheduled to open any day now.

      2. Also may want to try:

        Tony Rocco's River North: a family owned--Tony is owner Karen's son--Italian on W Ontario. Great atmosphere, very good mama's Italian with a little flair. Phenomenal lasagne and great house salad. I really like the Chicken Sorento for any Wednesday nite dinner.

        I also really like to eat in the bar at Wildfire where the full menu is available. We often go just for the chopped salad and sweet baked potato. You won't feel bad not ordering a steak or other major entree if you don't take up a regular table for an hour.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jbontario

          Interesting about Tony Rocco's. I've walked by many times but not made it in yet.

          FYI - I've been to Zocalo a couple times in the past few weeks, right by Tony Rocco's - and have been pleasantly suprised.

          We also eat at the bar at Wildfire frequently for a chopped salad and a burger. I had a nice meal at the bar at Coco Pazzo a couple weeks ago.

        2. As far as gastropubs go, you definitely want to hit Hopleaf in Andersonville -- They offer a great selection of hard-to-find Belgian beers, great mussels and frites, and overall some very good food. Be warned it's always crowded so you might have to wait for a table.

          Laschett's Inn at 2119 W. Irving Park is another great place for beer and very good authentic German food.

          If there's a particular type of cuisine you're looking for other than pub-type food, let us know.

          1 Reply
          1. re: BRB

            BRB....I really appreciate this reco due to my recent obsession with all things Belgian...especially of the Trappist variety..