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Nov 5, 2007 12:25 PM

Looking for same vibe as West Town

I'm a huge fan of West Town Tavern (especially in the fall) and I'm looking for something similar -- intimate cozy atmosphere, seasonal menu, tucked away...

I'm not looking to replace, just add to my bag of restaurant tricks. I have a friend coming in town tomorrow and I've already taken him here twice. He too loves it but I'd like to show him something else.

Any suggestions?

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  1. I haven't been to WTT, but the description you provide - "intimate cozy atmosphere, seasonal menu, tucked away..." - sounds just like North Pond. It's reasonably intimate, with two smallish dining rooms; they specialize in local, fresh, seasonal ingredients (and Chef Bruce Sherman's contemporary American cuisine is absolutely delicious); and it's tucked away in Lincoln Park (the park, not just the neighborhood), I bet nobody who hasn't been there even knows that it's there. But oh, what a setting! At the edge of its namesake pond, with the city skyline looming over the opposite shore. I think anyone you take there will be impressed.

    There are other places, too, although none has the spectacular setting of North Pond. I think the food at one sixtyblue is spectacular - perhaps the best of all the casual fine dining restaurants in the entire Chicago area (high praise indeed, and I mean it) - and it's two miles west on Randolph Street from downtown, not exactly where you would expect such a wonderful place. I'm not sure I would describe it as intimate or cozy, but the tables are nicely distanced from each other and it's not overly noisy. On Saturday I sat at a table facing the open kitchen and that was fun to watch.

    Another possibility is Lula, in Logan Square. Big on fresh ingredients, and tucked away in Logan Square. The food is quite good, maybe not quite at the spectacular level of the previous two places.

    And there's always Sweets and Savories, in the west end of Lincoln Park. The unlikely storefront makes the nice restaurant inside surprising. Again, the food is quite good.

    All are tucked away in unexpected locations, and all have delicious food. But if I had to rank them for quality of food, and their ability to blow me away...

    1. one sixtyblue
    2. North Pond
    3. Sweets and Savories
    4. Lula

    North Pond gets extra points for its exquisite setting.

    4 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      North Pond is much more elegant then West Town. Lula a little too neighborhoody. For me, the closest vibe is Bistro Campagne. To me, it is the Frenchier version of all American West Town Tavern. They have a nice wines by the glass list, and also a great Beligan beer list.

      1. re: nsxtasy

        1. one sixtyblue
        2. North Pond
        3. Sweets and Savories
        4. Lula

        All great restaurants worth visitng, but I would say WTT is more similar to Sweets and Savories and Lula than Northpond or 160 Blue. Both are more homey neighborhood atmosphere with excellent food. Lula suffers a little from getting very crowded and not having a reservation policy, so waits can be long at busy times. And there have been complaints about the cooler-than-thou attitude of the waitstaff although on my visits they have been just fine.

        1. re: wak

          2 places come to mind-- Meritage on Damen, and Erwin on Hallstead (or is it clark I think) Both places offer a similar menu in terms of quality of food for the price point... both are fairly laid back and neighborhoody-

          another place that comes to mind is Jacks on Broadway and Belmont--

          Personaly I like west town the best of the 4, but have had good meals at all three
          happy dining

          1. re: coopercj

            WTT is one of my FAVE places... Bistro Campagne is a good call, but I had a really "meh" experience there 2 weeks ago, in terms of service, at WTT is so great for that homey feel with fantastic food.

            I think, even tho it feels much more modern, Sola is a good comparable. The atmosphere is similar even tho the look is different.

      2. I'd look into Jane''s tucked away on Cortland just west of Ashland. The menu is a little different than WTT (which I love!), but the food is good.

        Also, check out May St. the same neighborhood as WTT, and the food is GREAT (for both lunch and dinner!).