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Oct 2, 2007 10:57 PM

Any PHX hounds know Chicago's scene? [Moved from Southwest board]

I'm heading to Chicago Thursday and I've spent a lot of time on the Chicago board but I thought it might be helpful to ask local hounds where they love to eat in Chicago. My theory is that if you love the local places I love, then I'll love the Chicago places you love.

So, if you happen to have spent time in Chicago, please list 3-5 PHX area faves and whatever Chicago faves you have. Thanks!

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  1. Are you going to go to Alinea or Moto and give us a recap? : )

    1. what kind of restaurants are you looking for and what part of the city will you be staying in?

      5 Replies
      1. re: Molto E

        I'm up for any type of restaurants anywhere in Chicago. Right now my list includes Avec, The Brown Sack, Japonais, Table Fifty-Two, Coalfire, Hot Doug's and Lula Cafe. Since time is tight and my list is long, I thought I should skip Rick Bayless since I have Barrio and Los Sombrero's in PHX.

        1. re: hungryinaz

          Skip Japonais. It tends to be more about the scene than the food. If you really want sushi, I would recommend either Mirai or Tsuki.

          1. re: jesteinf

            Mirai and Japonais have the same exec chef...

            1. re: jpschust

              That doesn't really mean a whole lot to me. I've had vastly different experiences at both places.

          2. re: hungryinaz

            I do not think it is disrespectful to Barrio or Los Sombrero's, but Bayless is at a different level (IMO). I have not eaten at The Brown Sack or Table Fifty-Two...if you ever get to Bianco then pizza could get skipped...Hot Doug's is definitely unique especially coming from the Valley...What meal are you looking for at Lula, on Mondays, I think they have a tasting that I hear is good but I would go for Blackbird if you can

        2. This topic is a good place to start:

          In it, you'll find some recommendations for local favorites, as well as links to in-depth discussions about particular kinds of restaurants.

          10 Replies
          1. re: nsxtasy

            If you like Mrs White's Golden Rule you'll love Wishbone.

            Bob Chinn's Crab House in Wheeling, just north of Chicago is awesome. Coming from the desert, seafood is always a welcome option. Despite the Red Lobster appearance, the selection here is great!

            Ed Debevic's is also in Chicago for those you want the nostalgia of the old Phoenix location. Not like this is a chain. Chicago is the original, and Phoenix is the only other location they had.

            1. re: ValleyFever

              I really don't care for Bob Chinn's. The seafood is fresh, but I find their preparations unappealing. Among the classic seafood restaurants, I far prefer Mitchell's Fish Market in Glenview, and in the city, Shaw's Crab House, Hugo's Frog Bar, and Fulton's on the River. And for some of the very best seafood in the Chicago area in a more contemporary vein, Oceanique in Evanston and Spring in Wicker Park.

              1. re: nsxtasy

                Crab is crab to me. I don't need it to look fancy, and rarely eat sides, so Bob Chinn's worked for me.

                I could see your point of I was looking for something other than just good crab, but coming from the desert, i was looking for fresh crab and a wide selection.

                They have King, Snow, Dungeness, Kona, and Stone. Nothing in PHX like it.

                1. re: ValleyFever

                  I also enjoy Bob Chinn's fow what it is, a place to crack some great crabs,and drink some cold beers.

                  The Kona crab they have I cannot find anywhere else in Chicagoland, and it is excellent

            2. re: nsxtasy

              Thanks. I've actually already read that thread as well as many others on the Chicago board. I was just trying to weed things down by asking Phoenix area locals what faves they had in Chicago. I was hoping to match tastes with a Phoenix local and then use their Chicago favorites.

              1. re: hungryinaz

                I've spent some time in Phoenix, although I live in Chicago. Favorites are Richarsons, Cowboy Ciao, Roaring Fork, and for more causal Los Dos Molinos, Wild Thaiger, and Arriba on Camelback. I've been to quiet a few other places as well. let me know if any of that matches up with your faves and I'll let you know if I can think of any good matches in Chicago.

                1. re: wak

                  Definitely - I love Richardsons, Cowboy Ciao, Roaring Fork and Los Dos Molinos. Have not been to Wild Thaiger or Arriba. Your Chicago picks don't have to be Chicago versions of AZ places, just any place you love to go. Thanks!

                  1. re: hungryinaz

                    Wild Thaiger is along the lines of malee's, and Arriba is hatch chili inspired mexican. I love em both.

                    1. re: hungryinaz

                      I usually start by recommending our Mexican/Latin restaurants, but given that you come from Phoenix you might prefer something that you can't get in your own back yard.

                      One thing I have not found in Phoenix is quality Italian food, so you might conisder Coco Pazzo, Cafe Spaiggia, or Merlo on Maple. There is also Spaiaggia's main restaurant, but that is a very high end, formal, jacket required dining experience.

                      There are also a lot of very good French Bistros in Chicago, once again something I have not seen in your parts. Le Bouchon is a small, crowded, homey bistro with excellent food. I prefer La Sardine which is more of a traditional Bistro look and more spacious, but if you want something with more bustle and character, Bouchon is an option. Also, my recent favorite has been Brasserie Jo which has more Alsatian influence. ONe of Chicago's top French Chefs also opened the Old Town Basserie in the past month on Wells St. Have not been there yet but initial reports are very positive. Another nice thing about the location is that before or after the meal you can walk up Wells street which is a very nice stroll. You go past the Spice House, which is worth a long visit if you like to cook, and at the corner of Wells and North is the Second City comedy Club which always fun.

                      Avec has superb food. Everything I have ever ordered has been outstanding. Its a very modern space so would be a good balance to more traditional dining options.

                      Northpond Cafe seems to have really come together over the past few years. Its a much more traditional midwestern/arts and crafts style building overlooking a park specializing in locally sourced ingredients.

                      You mentioned Lula's Cafe which is a wonderful, neighborhood restaurant in Logan Square. The kind of place that really has a feel of a local hangout, but serves excellent, very reasonably priced food. Not sure how easy it is to get there if you don't have a car.

                      I wouldn't bother with Hot Dougs unless you are a hot dog fanatic or happen to be in the area. Its not very convenient to downtown.

                      Japonais stands out in my mind more for the interior design and social scene than the food. Its a neat place to see, and almost worth the price just for that.

                      I think Wishbone is a great place for breakfast/brunch.

                      A great inexpensive dinner would be a trip to Spoon Thai. Very authentic menu of Thai specialties you rarely find in the US. Its BYO, so you can pack a few bottles of wine if you want to drink.

                      Finally, if you are OK spending $500 on dinner for two and can get a reservation, I would get the 12 course dinner at Alinea with wine pairings. That is in fact the Christmas present that I am giving myself this year. That will give you something to tell all your friends about back home.

                      1. re: wak

                        Lula is across the Square from the Logan Square Blue Line stop and so is very easy to reach by public transportation.

              2. The Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park in Chcago is super delicious. Plus they have a greeaaat atmosphere. Plus you can walk to the lake from there. Plus the subway takes you right to it!

                1. I am a transplanted Chicagoan living in Phoenix... I go back to Chi-town 3 or 4 times a year. In Phoenix I like Tarbells, Roaring Fork, Postino, Los Dos Molinos, Durants... In Chicago my favorites are Twin Anchors for ribs, Lou Malnati's for pizza, and Emilio's for tapas. I have heard great things about Avec but have not been there yet, maybe on the next trip back. For Mexican there is a cute place in Lakeview called Que Rico with killer margaritas...