O"Hare layover, afternoon, no car, eat well?
Will be in O'Hare for @ 6 hours before European flight 11am-5pm. Where should l go to eat? Preferably public transportation, though would rent a car if necessity calls. Restaurant fussy or messy. Market high end or great local, whatever
Perhaps you want to narrow your focus. Even just going by staying close to public transit, there are a LOT of places to eat. Chicago is a big city, my friend ;)
You can definitely take the El in, it goes right to the airport. Allow enough time to get back, it's taking up to 1.5 hours from the loop to the airport right now due to slow zones and track work, and if you're flying from the International terminal, that's a bit of a hike from where the El lets you out.
You'll be taking the Blue Line, so we'll want to find you places along the blue line. One such is Lula Cafe. Get off at the Kedzie stop and walk across the "square." It's oriented toward "farm fresh" foods, local cheese, eggs, meat, etc.
2537 N Kedzie Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647
> What about a Chicago Beef place with great giardinaire?
From O'Hare, take the CTA Blue Line TWO stops, to the Cumberland stop. It will take you less than five minutes from the el stop to walk north to Higgins and:
Al's #1 Italian Beef
1036 W. Higgins Rd.
Park Ridge IL
The CTA Blue Line el (that's our subway, much of which is elevated) has a stop right in the middle of the terminals at O'Hare. The first stop after you leave O'Hare is Rosemont.
To me, the most famous and best local specialty in Chicago is our Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. Giordano's (specializing in double-crust "stuffed" style pizza) is about 3/4 mile north of the Rosemont CTA stop, at Higgins Road and River Road. If you're feeling adventurous, you could walk there (cross over the expressway on River Road) - but you'll be stuffed afterwards, so keep that in mind for the return trip. ;) If you don't feel like walking the 3/4 mile, the Pace #221, #223, and #230 suburban buses travel between the el stop and that intersection (the #221 and #230 continue on River Road while the #223 turns onto Higgins). Phone ahead with your order if you don't want to have to wait 30-45 minutes while you're there for your pizza to bake.
9415 West Higgins Road
For something a bit more unusual as well as delicious, Flamingo's Seafood has spectacular regional Mexican cuisine, emphasizing seafood dishes. It's the best Mexican food I have had outside of Mexico. This is NOT your conventional Mexican restaurant; check out the menu on their website. You can get there by taking the CTA to the Rosemont stop, and then catching the #606 Pace bus which goes up Algonquin. Get off at Busse Road and Flamingo's is a few doors north.
1590 S. Busse Road
Mt. Prospect IL
Steakhouses aren't unique to Chicago at all, but we have a couple of excellent ones within walking distance of the Rosemont el stop. (I am omitting Morton's because they are not open for lunch or in the afternoon.)
Gibson's Steakhouse is the best-known steakhouse in Chicago these days, and they have a location just under half a mile south of the Rosemont el stop. Picture a fancy bustling steakhouse where they bring you a platter to show you the various HUGE cuts of meats to order, and that's Gibson's. The steaks are very good, too.
5464 North River Road
Rosemont IL 60018
Slightly further, Rosewood is located right next to Giordano's (see above for directions); you can read a report on a visit there at www.chowhound.com/topics/494170
9421 West Higgins Road
Giordano's, Flamingo's, and Gibson's are open all afternoon, seven days a week; Rosewood is open all afternoon Monday through Friday.
Wherever you go, make sure to allow enough time to return to the airport and arrive however far in advance of your boarding time you need.