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Not to miss during visit

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My family is planning a vacation to Chicago. Will be staying "downtown"
What are your suggestions for "do not miss eats"

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  1. As the term "downtown" encompasses a several square-mile area, and their are thousands of eateries, I'm going to assume that you're staying somewhere around Michigan Avenue and River North, as that's where most of the hotels are.

    It sounds like you'll be travelling with your children, which depending on their age, probably requires a trip to Portillo's on Ontario (note: yes, it is now a chain, but this is the mothership of the name). There are places in town that do better hotdogs, cheddar-burgers, and Italian Beef, but Portillo's is probably among the best for all of them, so if you want to get a sampling of all of Chicago's street food in one trip, this is the place.

    Most of the other places I could reccomend depend on budget. If you're looking for a nicer, upscale meal, places like MK, Kevin, Aigre Doux, Custom House, Naha, Blackbird come to mind.

    Another "authentic" Chicago eating experience would probably be a trip to Taylor St. in Little Italy - I'd probably go to Francesca's.

    Hard to give concrete suggestions without a few more details.

    6 Replies
    1. re: mattlap_2000

      you are correct as to location. Child is late teens. Yes we are "tourist" and this is a first visit. Will be doing the "tourist" things. We don't mind and upscale dinner a few times.

      1. re: bigDAVE

        Yes, go to Portillo's for a beef sammich, combo sammich, hot dogs and burgers.

        I'll throw in Frontera Grill for upscale Mexican food in a safe touristy location.

        Depending on where you are from, you have probably heard that you should try stuffed or deep dish pizza (or both.)

        Again, depending on where you're from, we have a decent sized chinatown.

        If you enjoy indian foods / culture, you MUST get to Devon avenue (2000 ish west and beyond. For mapping purposes, I would suggest Devon and Western) you simply MUST go. If you do like Indian foods, you can get some recs here on where to go. Just ask.

        Are there any ethnic foods that interest you? Again, depending on where you are from, you can be pointed in the right direction better for what you like, and what you might be able to get better, or just as good in your own area.

        1. re: gordeaux

          We are from south florida. Have heard of "deep dish" (UNO's) but stuffed crust sounds like my son. We do travel, so we like ethnic foods. Only tried Indian food once. Just left San Francisco, good Chinese!

          1. re: bigDAVE

            S Florida? Still same recs. I'd definitely do pizza - both thin crust and stuffed or pan. BTW - just a regional thing here - it's just called stuffed pizza - not stuffed crust. It is actually like a pie - two crust layers with cheese, and fillings in between, and a layer of sauce on top.

            If you liked Indian food, I'd HIGHLY suggest you try some here. Also, I really think you should try Fontera for acclaimed chef Rick Bayless' take on higher end Mexican food at Frontera Grill.

            1. re: bigDAVE

              Yeah, Deep Dish is another quintessential Chicago thing. We have the original Uno's (though it's likely better than the ones you went to), and it's sister, Due's.

              However, I think you'd be better off with Gino's, Giordano's, Lou Malnati's, Pequod's, or anything else mentioned when you do a search of "Chicago Pizza" on this site. I personally prefer Gino's, but if you ask 100 people, you get 100 different opinions on this topic, so, I'd just pick one of the big-boy's listed above.

              1. re: bigDAVE

                Toss in head to Greek Town for an fun, loud and family friendly meal. My recommendations are Santorini for seafood or Parthenon--must try the Saganaki (flaming cheese).

        2. This topic has a lot of good advice for visitors from out of town, including "can't miss" items and links to discussions of specific types of food:
          www.chowhound.com/topics/457215