Less Than Two Years Old In Chicago
My anti-ch boyfriend, who moved from Chicago to New York two years ago, is taking me to Chicago for a long weekend. We're going to visit his old haunts and sample the stuff NY lacks (good Polish sausage, deep dish, great Mexican).
I would like to find a place to take him that is less than two years old and where the food is amazing. I don't have anything specific in mind, just a place that won't break the bank. It doesn't have to be super cheap but not ridiculously expensive either. I'm not particulary interested in atmosphere - just food. Lunch or dinner is fine.
Please help me help my boyfriend to finally give chowhounds the respect we deserve!
Chicago has some wonderful casual contemporary restaurants that have opened in the past two years. I think Aigre Doux is terrific; read my report at www.chowhound.com/topics/365436 (I think it's a lot better than Sweets and Savories.)
Incidentally, I think Avec is a terrible recommendation for a weekend visit. Quite aside from the fact that it's more than two years old - it was reviewed in the Tribune in 2003 - their no-reservations policy means that you could be waiting for a long, long time to be seated. That works for locals who want to go someplace during the week on the spur of the moment, but waiting for more than an hour (sometimes a LOT more) isn't worth it. And sitting at a table with a bunch of people you don't know can be fun, but it can also be a disaster.
Avec and S&S are so very different I think it depends upon what you're in the mood for. Avec is simpler in approach, much louder, focus on small plates, great salumi and the like, sometimes a long wait for tables and mostly communal dining.
S&S is quieter, perhaps less in style but they offer a wonderful tasting menu. I have found that the regular menu does not do them justice. If you go, put yourself in the chef's hands and enjoy. It's excellent.
Avec is great but about 4-5 yrs old. Volo & Sweets and Savories are also excellent, but if you really want to amaze him, take him to one of the places doing seasonal American - North Pond Cafe, Custom House, Blackbird - or try to get into Schwa for either tasting menu.
You can combine "great Mexican" and "< 2 years old" by going to Sol de Mexico (fantastic moles) or Xni-Pec (more casual; excellent Yucatecan food). Both are far enough away from downtown that you would need a car to get there, though.
Spacca Napoli would be another possibility for your new spot, though if you are doing deep dish pizza you might not want Neapolitan pizza during the same trip.
I haven't been to Schwa myself but many, many people rave about it. If your trip is soon, though, it might be impossible to get a reservation.
1769 W Sunnyside Ave, Chicago, IL 60640
Restaurant Sol de Mexico
3018 N Cicero Ave, Chicago, IL 60641
3755 Grand Boulevard, Brookfield, IL 60513
1466 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
If you're looking for great Mexican, and you like mole sauces, Sol de Mexico is a fantastic choice. It's a cute little spot, out of the way, but serving the best Mexican food Chicago has to offer. And it won't break the bank -- all entrees are less than $20 . . . this is one of Chicago's true gems and it's only been open about 1 year.
That's kind of a vague request, but I might suggest Avec, although I'm not positive its less than 2 years old. If you search you'll find a lot of postings about Avec. Outstanding food, although the atmosphere is a little non traditional - long communal benches that seat around 10 people each. It can be a lot of fun.
If you want a more traditional dining experience, I have had a couple great meals at May Street Market (not to be confused with the May Street Cafe).
Boka also opened within the past couple years.