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Jan 16, 2008 12:21 PM

Weekend in Chicago...need restaurant recs

My husband and I are going to be in Chicago for a long weekend this weekend. We are staying at the Westin on Michicgan Avenue, Near North area but will be spending a good amount of time in Lincoln Park,Lakeview and River North. I would love to try Alinea and Blackbird but my husband likes less foodie options. He loves pizza so we definitely need to try that one day but we will also need breakfast/brunch recommendations as well as lunch and dinner. We will be there for 3 nights and four days so any suggestions any of you can make that will give us a great taste of Chicago will be greatly appreciated.

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  1. if you want italien, I would go to Francescas for sure. It is the best inexpensive italien, and there are numerous locations all over the city (but get there early as they fill up very quickly!) Steakhouse? go to wildfire, gibsons, or rosebud- all good solid choices. I prefer more "foodie" type places myself, but it's a start.

    1 Reply
    1. re: danser2

      For a casual and inexpensive lunch, go across the street to L'Appetito, at the base of the Hancock Building. It's an Italian deli, with fresh food. My favorite is the meat arancini: fried risotto balls with ground meat and melted cheese in the middle! Their paninis, soups, pizzas, and other sandwiches are all good. Afterwards, you can browse their small grocery section for authentic Italian treats.

    2. This discussion is a useful place to start: In it you'll find links to numerous discussions of particular kinds of food, including pizza, breakfast/brunch, etc. You'll find links for less exotic cuisines such as steakhouses, Italian, seafood, etc.

      For pizza, you are close to the Rush Street location of Giordano's for double-crust "stuffed" pizza, and the State Street location of Pizano's for single-crust "pan" pizza. Both are excellent (although Giordano's is my personal favorite).

      For Italian food, Cafe Spiaggia is excellent and is only a block away from the Westin. Cafe Spiaggia is a moderate-priced Italian restaurant, not to be confused with its sister restaurant next door, Spiaggia, which is one of the very best restaurants in the city but is priced accordingly.

      For breakfast/brunch, I recommend the Original Pancake House on Bellevue Place, and its huge, puffed-up apple pancake.

      If seafood is appealing, the Westin is very close to Hugo's Frog Bar, which is quite good. It is also the sister restaurant to Gibson's Steakhouse next door, so it's a place where, for example, you can get great seafood and your husband can get a great steak.

      In addition to the links, you'll find several specific recommendations in that other topic, including one sixtyblue and North Pond for contemporary American cuisine. Even those who are not foodies will appreciate not only the food at North Pond, but also its exquisite location in the middle of Lincoln Park (the actual park, not just the neighborhood of the same name) facing its namesake pond with the city skyline looming over the opposite shore. In a similar vein, if you're interested in a splurge restaurant like Alinea, but one that your husband might enjoy, I recommend Everest. The food is wonderful but not as "out there" as Alinea, and - like North Pond - even a non-foodie can enjoy the setting, in this case due to its location on the 40th floor of the Midwest Stock Exchange and the view from the dining room of the entire city spread out below.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nsxtasy

        This is great, thanks for the recommendations!

      2. If you're going to be eating in Lincoln Park/Lakeview, I would recommend Sappori for Italian (particularly if your husband isn't an adventurous eater). It's not the most authentic Italian restaurant in the city, but it's certainly not a "red sauce" place either.

        Sapori Trattoria
        2701 N Halsted, Chicago, IL 60657

        1. Avec (same owner as Blackbird) is a little less foodie, but I actually like the food better there than Blackbird.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jlklp

            The food at Avec is excellent, but there are several things you should know about Avec if you're considering going there: They don't accept reservations; during the week and off hours are not too bad, but at prime times on the weekend, waiting times to be seated can be substantial (usually well over an hour). They have communal seating, so you may be seated with strangers - which usually works out fine, but at least be aware of it. And it's VERY NOISY.

            Blackbird, its sister restaurant next door, accepts reservations and you will have your own table; it's rather noisy, but not quite as bad as Avec. The food at Blackbird is excellent, but I think the food at one sixtyblue is even better (although foodwise, these are two of the very best casual dining restaurants in the city, maybe even *the* best, so we're splitting hairs).

          2. A great place for breakfast in the city is Tempo. I like Lou Malnati's or Pizza Uno for Chicago style pizza--both located downtown. If you can twist your husbands arm, I would suggest going to Blackbird.