Where is the must dine spot while visiting?
I'm visiting Chicago on a business trip next Monday and Tuesday. Last time I went, I tried a few deep dish pizza places that were "must-see's". I heard the Drake hotel is a good place to visit but is it a spot to dine at also?
This time I think I want to go to a dinner place that's:
- not too expensive (less than $50 for 2 courses, no alcohol)
-friendly for a single female diner (prefer eating at the bar when I'm alone)
-lastly, near where I'm staying (near W.Adams and S. LaSalle to walk or take a cheap cab)
Sorry for all the requirements!
Thought of a couple of other places for you. I'm pretty sure you can eat at the bar at both of these:
Shikago - right next door to your hotel. Asian-fusion. I've been for lunch and it was very good, but I haven't been for dinner.
A Mano - About a 5 minute cab ride from your hotel. Italian small plates, and one of my favorite newer restaurants.
Both should be within your price range.
190 S. LaSalle
335 N Dearborn St
Wow these are all great! Thanks so much for the detailed and prompt replies. I love small plates and I don't mind having an early dinner that prix fix. This makes me much more excited for my trip!
nsxtasy, I'm having a business lunch at The Village with colleauges. Never heard of it but they made the arrangements. Is this part of the Italian Village complex you were talking about?
Yes, the Village is one of the other restaurants in the same complex. Vivere is more the "fine dining" restaurant there, the Village and la Cantina Enoteca are the other two restaurants. The Village is... well, it's okay for a business lunch. If there's any way you can switch them to Vivere... ;) Feel free to check out the menus for all three at www.italianvillage-chicago.com
You mentioned steak, seafood, and Italian. I think we've covered Italian. Custom House can do a good steak, and it's the only such place I'd recommend within a short walk of your hotel. The good conventional steakhouses are north of the river, in the River North, Gold Coast, and Michigan Avenue areas; for recommendations see www.chowhound.com/topics/359377
For seafood, we have numerous places that aren't too far away. All three of these places are around the east-west portion of the Chicago River at the north end of the Loop, so they're maybe a 10-15 minute walk from your hotel:
Fulton's on the River - www.levyrestaurants.com
Shaw's Crab House - www.shawscrabhouse.com
Catch 35 - www.catch35.com
(There's a seafood restaurant a block or two from your hotel called Nick's Fishmarket, but I do NOT recommend it.) You'll find more discussion of our best seafood places at www.chowhound.com/topics/370202
If you feel like doing more deep-dish pizza, Giordano's has a location right near your hotel, at 223 W. Jackson. They feature a double-crust "stuffed" pizza that's my favorite pizza in Chicago. Phone ahead with your pizza order to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake. www.giordanos.com
About Avec - it's fine for during the week, terrible for weekends. They don't take reservations and you may wait as much as 90-120 minutes to be seated on weekends. During the week it's generally okay except right before the opera, and sometimes Thursdays can be pretty busy there. Oh, and they only have the bar and communal tables for eight, and the seating is very uncomfortable (hard wooden seats all around). One local restaurant reviewer wrote why women wearing pants with low waistbands should not sit at the bar with its bar stools with no backs. ;) The food is okay (frankly, I wasn't overly impressed in a recent visit) but the value is excellent. It's a 15-20 minute walk from your hotel. www.avecrestaurant.com
You'll find lots more recommendations and links to topics for specific kinds of food in the discussion at www.chowhound.com/topics/457215
Since the OP will be going on a Monday or Tuesday, I don't think the wait should be an issue at Avec.
Also, you'll find that most opinions of Avec are far more positive than nsxtasy's. It's one of my favorite restaurants in the city, and it's also a pretty major hangout for those in the restaurant industry.
Also, I don't find the seating that uncomfortable. Then again, I come with my own "natural padding" ;)
Yes, the wait shouldn't be an issue on a Monday or Tuesday.
I don't know, on my recent visit to Avec I had fish a la naige, duck confit, beef short ribs, and some sort of bread pudding. All were okay, reasonably tasty, but there was no dish that really impressed me as particularly great, either. Maybe my expectations were the problem; I thought that the food would be really great, like at Blackbird, its sister restaurant next door. It wasn't. But at least it was less expensive.
Sitting at the bar (in my case, at a time when people weren't lined up waiting to be seated) was pleasant enough, other than the uncomfortable seating (hard wooden barstool with no back). The little boxes (that's what they really are, not chairs or seats) on the insides of the eight-tops would have been even worse; the wall side of the eight-tops might have been marginally better. Still, I thought the seating was the most uncomfortable I've experienced in a restaurant that I can remember, anywhere.
I hate when people say this, but I'm not sure you ordered as well as you could have.
Some of the can't miss items there are:
Chorizo stuffed dates - out of this world and are one of the few items that never come off the oft-changing menu.
The daily salumi selections are also really good.
Whatever preparation of pork shoulder they are doing. It's slow cooked for hours and hours and is always delicious.
The foccacia with tellagio and truffle oil is always good too.
I ordered the things that sounded best *to me*, things I would be most likely to enjoy. I don't think "you ordered the wrong items" is a valid excuse for food that fails to "wow", at Avec or anywhere else.
They served bread, but it wasn't focaccia; it was like a country Italian, and it was quite good (and warm). What's tellagio?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think jestein means taleggio, a creamy italian cheese from lombardy (and one of my favorites)
It looks similar to brie, but with much deeper flavors- meaty, nutty, slightly salty. the richness of the cheese offsets the earthy pungent tone to make for an incredibly delicious experience- and a great pairing for italian reds such as Barbaresco, Chianti Riserva, Taurasi, Valpo Ripasso...
Avec would be a really nice choice for you. I love eating alone at the bar. The menu is mostly small plates, so you'll be able to try a few things and stay under $50 without alcohol. It's about a 5 minute cab ride from your hotel.
615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661
Here are some recommendations within walking distance of your hotel.
Everest is about a block away, and it's one of the finest restaurants in the entire city. The food from Chef Jean Joho is spectacular; the service is amazing, efficient but friendly (I'm sure you will be well-served as a single female diner); and the view is thrilling (it's on the 40th floor of the Midwest Stock Exchange building, with the city spread out below). Normally, it would be well above your stated budget; however, they have a pre-theater special of 3 courses for $50, available at 5:00/5:30 every night they're open except Fridays. This is the only restaurant I'm mentioning that is dressy (e.g. gentlemen all wearing jackets); all the others are "business casual". Highly recommended. www.everestrestaurant.com
Custom House is 3-4 blocks away, and it too is excellent. It's from award-winning Chef Shawn McClain. There's an emphasis on meats, but they have other items as well. It might be somewhat above your stated budget, but they too have a 3-course pre-theater special, 3 courses for $46 at 5:00/5:30. www.customhouse.cc
There are also two excellent Italian restaurants in the Loop, which should be within your budget. 2-3 blocks from your hotel is Vivere, the finer dining option in the Italian Village complex. They usually have a special of beef short ribs served over polenta, and it's "to die for". www.vivere-chicago.com A couple blocks further is Trattoria No. 10, also very good for Italian food. www.trattoria10.com
The Drake is not very highly regarded for dining these days.
For more of an overview of "must dine" and other options, see the discussion at www.chowhound.com/topics/457215
Have a great time here, and feel free to ask more questions!