Chicago for a Week
I am going to spend the better part of a week in Chicago next week (from March 8) and wonder if I could trouble you for some ideas of places to be sure to visit for some good meals. I live in China, so no Chinese, please, and will be staying in the Loop area. I already have plans to go to North Pond for dinner, but other than that, I'm pretty open! Don't need to break any banks, but an occasionaly splurge would not be amiss. Thanks in advance!
There's a new place right outside the Loop called Powerhouse. The chef used to be at Alinea (the best restaurant in Chicago, if not the US) and Naha (another excellent Chicago restaurant which you should think about going to). I would describe the food as haute steakhouse (even though the focus really isn't on steaks, if you know what I mean) or, more broadly, contemporary American.
Powerhouse Restaurant and Bar
215 N Clinton St, Chicago, IL
Well, I think the one "can't miss" specialty in Chicago is our Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. There are a lot of places serving great pizza here, and the chains (with the exception of non-downtown locations of Uno's) do quite a good job of maintaining consistent quality across many locations. Take your pick - double-crust "stuffed" pizza from Giordano's (my personal favorite), Edwardo's, or Bacino's, or single-crust "pan" pizza from Lou Malnati's, Pizano's, Gino's East, or the original location of Uno's - you can't go wrong with any of these. You can phone your order ahead of time if you want to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake; you can find their menus and locations on their websites. All the above chains have locations within a mile of the Loop; locations within the Loop itself include several locations of Giordano's, and Pizano's on Madison.
We have some wonderful contemporary American, casual fine dining restaurants. IMHO the very best ones fairly near downtown are:
one sixtyblue - www.onesixtyblue.com
Blackbird - www.blackbirdrestaurant.com
Aigre Doux - www.aigredouxchicago.com
Custom House - www.customhouse.cc
North Pond - www.northpondrestaurant.com (Great choice!)
We also have some excellent mid-priced Italian restaurants, notably Cafe Spiaggia ( www.levyrestaurants.com ), Coco Pazzo ( www.cocopazzochicago.com ), Vivere ( www.vivere-chicago.com ), and Trattoria No. 10 ( www.trattoria10.com ).
And, we have some excellent Mexican restaurants. These are not your typical, conventional Mexican restaurants (although we have those, too), but rather, places that feature very creative provincial Mexican cuisine. Take a look at the menus on their websites and you'll see what I mean. Ones near downtown include Frontera Grill and Topolobampo ( www.rickbayless.com/restaurants ), Salpicon ( www.salpicon.com ), and Adobo Grill ( www.adobogrill.com ). For a summary of our best and most creative Mexican restaurants, see the discussion link below.
Fox and Obel is worth a mention, too. It's an upscale gourmet grocery store, just a wonderful place to shop for prepared foods as well as basic ingredients. They also have a cafe in the rear that's open day for a meal or a snack. www.fox-obel.com
There are lots more places, particularly in outlying neighborhoods where you find more ethnic places (Thai, Indian, etc) but they involve some traveling from downtown (30-60 minutes via public transportation).
So those would be my first recommendations. You can find more detailed discussions about specific types of food here in these other topics:
Brunch and Breakfast:
Enjoy your stay!