Great but Casual near the Peninsula
Hi we are coming in from NY to visit our kid in school, we dine out often in NY so we eat all cuisines. We are staying at the Peninsula, we'd like two great Chicago resturants that are not chains, typical to Chicago or just overall great, and no jacket and tie requirement (just taking carry on). I'm thinking of the Frontera Grill please give me other suggetions. Also we'd like it near or relatoively close to the hotel. Thanks
Frontera Grill is a good choice; just keep in mind that they do not accept reservations (except for a handful first thing in the morning, same day when dining), so you can either arrive shortly before they open, or be prepared for a possibly long wait to be seated. Topolobampo, its sister restaurant next door, accepts reservations in advance and is somewhat more expensive. You can check out the menus on their website at www.rickbayless.com/restaurants
For contemporary American cuisine, within walking distance of the Peninsula, a couple of very good places are MK ( www.mkchicago.com ) and Naha ( www.naha-chicago.com ). I think the food is even better at two other places that would require a short cab ride, at least in winter: one sixtyblue ( www.onesixtyblue.com ) and Blackbird ( www.blackbirdrestaurant.com ), which are roughly 2.2 and 1.2 miles away. These are my two favorite casual fine dining restaurants in the city (with a slight preference for one sixtyblue). One more place that's about a 3-mile cab ride is North Pond, which is wonderful not only for its contemporary American cuisine, but also for its location in the middle of Lincoln Park, facing its namesake pond with the city skyline looming over the opposite shore. www.northpondrestaurant.com
The Lobby restaurant, right in the Peninsula, also serves very good contemporary American food in a pleasant setting. Thursday through Saturday evenings, they also feature the Chocolate Bar, an all-you-can-eat buffet of 30-40 chocolate desserts, in smallish portion sizes so you can try a lot of different ones. I find that many are just okay but at least a few are wonderful. Not cheap, around $32 for dessert.
Typical to Chicago is our Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. Very close to the Pen are Giordano's www.giordanos.com on Rush Street, for double-crust "stuffed" pizza, and Gino's East www.ginoseast.com on Superior, for single-crust "pan" pizza. This would make a good choice for lunch, but don't fill up, and observe the portion sizes suggested on the menu. Two slices and you will walk away full. You can phone ahead with your pizza order to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake.
Do not pass up Frontera - one of my favorites.
Also nearby and great is Cafe Spiaggia
This is right next to - and in fact has the same kitchen, of Spiaggia (jackets required, expense account place). Casual, great food and just a couple blocks north from your hotel.
Heaven On Seven 600 N. Rush (Cajun Creole)
Pane Caldo 72 E. Walton (Northern Italian)
John Hancock Building Signature Room or drinks in the evening
Mike Ditkas 100 East Chestnut (American, burgers salads)