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Nov 5, 2007 06:25 AM

Philly CH in town for three days

Hi all,

My wife and I will be in town in a couple of weeks for a few days. We will be staying in a hotel near Millennium Park.

For one evening, my parents will be joining us from Madison, I would like to take them to a nicer (up to $30 entree) type place. They especially like places that go for the whole local/organic chez panisse style new american food. Any thoughts?

For the other nights, my wife and I would like to sample the best of the area around the hotel/short cab ride. This can be hole in wall or upscale. in particular, any good authentic tacos?

cheers and thanks


and let me know when you are coming to philly, I will return the favor.

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  1. For a place with your parents, I recommend North Pond. It emphasizes local and natural ingredients, and the cuisine of Chef Bruce Sherman is outstanding. Furthermore, it has an exquisite setting, right in the middle of Lincoln Park (the park, not the neighborhood), on the pond (the building used to be the place where people would rent ice skates in winter), with the city skyline as a backdrop at the opposite end of the pond. It's about three miles north of downtown, an easy cab or bus ride ( ).

    Several other places reasonably close to downtown with excellent new American food include:

    one sixtyblue -
    Blackbird -
    Aigre Doux -
    Custom House -

    There are lots more all over the city and suburbs, but IMHO these are the best mid-priced ones reasonably close to downtown.

    As for Mexican, we have some wonderful restaurants of different types. For very creative provincial Mexican cuisine near downtown, we have Frontera Grill and Topolobampo ( ), Salpicon ( ), and Adobo Grill ( ). If you have a car, I recommend Flamingo's Seafood in Mt. Prospect, near O'Hare ( ); the food there is superb, the best Mexican food I've had in the entire Chicago area. For tacos and other more conventional, authentic Mexican food, go to the Pilsen neighborhood, to restaurants including Nuevo Leon on 18th Street ( ).

    For additional recommendations, check out the ones I just posted in a similar query from out-of-town visitors yesterday, in the topic at

    2 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      blackbird sounds familiar. is that the place next to avec?

      1. re: rabidog

        Yes, Blackbird is next door to Avec. They have the same ownership, too. Blackbird accepts reservations and has conventional seating; Avec does not accept reservations and has communal seating, and is somewhat less expensive.

    2. hahaha... i was just about to start an identical thread... this philly hound is visiting chicago next week, too! i'm staying at the palmer house hilton downtown, i will have a car.

      ISO two places open sunday for a late lunch and therefore a late dinner, absolutely any cuisine is OK (faves are indian, vietnamese and thai) except for a steakhouse, and any price is OK. willing to travel, too.

      5 Replies
      1. re: rabidog

        You like Indian, you say? We have Indian!!! LOTS of Indian!!

        Pakistani with some vegetarian choices as well:
        Khan BBQ
        Chicken Boti, broasted chicken, Potato & Cauliflower curry with accomp breads and sauces. This is always a winning dinner for me, and worth the travel effort if you enjoy things of Indian culture since you will be right smack dab in the middle of our Indian section of town. Walk along the street, and grab some sweets or mango kuhlfi, find a spice shop to take some home:
        Khan B.B.Q
        2401 W Devon
        Chicago, IL 60645

        For Thai, my fave is TAC Quick. the plates are a buck or two more than the standard Thai dives, but IMO, they are worth more. Your car will come in handy for both of these recs, but I think they are both worth the drive considering your other choices of the ethnic foods you enjoy by your hotel.
        Tac Quick
        3930 N Sheridan Rd
        Chicago, IL 60613
        (773) 327-5253

        Both are extremely casual, but IMO offer really good food.

        1. re: gordeaux

          good call on each of your rec's

          Khan BBQ is really good, and TAC Quick is also good.

          1. re: gordeaux

            aw man, such a shame i'm only in town for two days!!! chicago is my absolute favorite foodie town, and i get to visit frequently, however i never feel my stays are long enough to really get worked up into a chow hurricane (expanding the gut and everything). three years ago on a trip i was on a penang curry kick, and had thai several nights in a row. from mapping addresses just now, i am pretty sure the two places were arroy and spoon thai. at one of the many thai places, i remember a sunken table you swing your legs under, and essentially sit on the floor - was that one of them? i think this time i might focus on pakistani specialties (especially finding out you have a whole section of town for it - something i haven't experienced in philly!)... but hard to tell what i'll be craving come sunday. i'll put all these places in the GPS, and see where i end up. thanks for all the recs - sorry to hijack the OP's thread! :) let us know if any of you wind up in philly for any reason...

          2. re: rabidog

            Lots of places are open Sundays. For lunch, a lot of them are serving from a special Sunday brunch menu (including North Pond). Lots of cheap eats type places, including Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, are open all day. If you're looking for something nicer, and it's at an odd hour, one thing you can do is use to search for all restaurants accepting reservations at that time. Not that *every* place in Chicago is on but many, maybe most, of the nicer places are.

            For a list of many of the nicer places serving dinner on Sundays, see the topic at

            For Indian, there are lots of places on Devon Avenue (6400N) between Western (2400W) and Sacramento (3000W). Lots and lots. Same thing for Vietnamese, where there are lots of places on Argyle within a block or two of the Red Line stop. In both these neighborhoods, it's easy to just go and walk down the street, reading menus and reviews in the windows, and pick whatever sounds best to you.

            For recommendations in the immediate vicinity of the Palmer House Hilton, see these topics:

            1. re: rabidog

              If you love Thai food, you've come to the right place. My favorite is Spoon Thai . . . others love TAC Quick (both are outstanding). But skip the standard Thai restaurant fare at both and order off of the translated Thai language menus for the best treats. Here are links to both: Spoon: and TAC:

              Vietnamese: Head up to Argyle between Broadway and Sheridan for lots of good restaurants, bakeries and food stores. Tank Noodle at Broadway and Argyle is excellent. Hai Yen is a tad more upscale. Also, Nhu' Lan Bakery just opened near me at 2612 W. Lawrence and their Banh Mi are excellent -- my favorite being the pork belly and pate which is amazing.

              Indian - just head up to Devon, mostly between Western and California . . . so many restaurants, pastry shops, groceries, etc. Recently, I've had a couple of excellent meals at Uru-Swati (vegetarian). Khan BBQ at the corner of Western and Devon is also very good.

              Parking is very accessible by Spoon Thai, a little more difficult by TAC, a little difficult on Argyle, and pretty easy on Devon.

              If I had to choose any, I'd say make sure to hit Spoon . . . the items on their translated menu are phenomenal (their standard Thai fare merely good).

            2. In terms of something comparable to Chez Panisse, I would probably rank North Pond as #1 and Blackbird as 1A. That being said, I prefer Blackbird, but I think North Pond is more of what you're looking for. And don't get me wrong, the food is excellent and the setting is beautiful.

              For good tacos, you're going to have to drive a little bit. My first rec would be to go to the Maxwell St. Market Sunday morning. You can have a feast there, and it's not a long drive from downtown.

              Also, here's a recent link on Mexican food in Chicago: But if you just want tacos I would say head to the little dive called La Pasadita on Ashland Avenue, just south of Division (around Bucktown/Wicker Park, not far from downtown, and accessible by the El). Great tacos, but make sure to go to the tiny one on the East side of the street (there are two bigger ones on the west side of Ashland). Here's a link with some photos and comments:

              If there's something other than tacos that particularly appeals to you, let us know.

              1. to the OP, i sure hope you have more time in the city than i did!!!

                as usual, i had a ton of places (too many for the amount of time i had) mapped out, and plans changed. rather, on sunday night i headed over to the house of some local friends for apps and dinner, and i can't complain - they're wonderful in the kitchen. (one is the chef over at adelle's)

                monday, after the business day, i headed out on the town for a long walk... thought about the frontera grill, but they were closed. by this time, i was pretty hungry and debating what to do for dinner. i started walking back to my hotel to grab the car and find that indian mecca, but on the way i passed by the mambo grill which had too cute an ambiance to pass up, and a fairly empty bar with other patrons eating, and caparinhas on the drinks menu to boot. so i had several powerful and sweet drinks, and had a lovely tilapia topped with a yellow curry.

                i'd wanted to keep it light because i was supposed to head out to a second dinner with aforementioned friends, but our plan to hit the gage on michigan ave was a bust - by the time we got there, the kitchen had closed.

                either way, i'm glad that all of these places are saved in my GPS for the next time i can come visit, which hopefully will be soon... and hopefully with a repeat of the past few days' weather! didn't even need my jacket! thanks for all the recs... my stomach will keep on growling til i can get back.