I'll be in Chicago next weekend and would love a few recommendations- anywhere great for drinks/apps plus amazing bakeries or markets.
I loved Tru (when in the mood for a 5 hour formal dinner) and really liked his more casual italian enoteca. Alinea was a great experience and North Pond was pretty good. Avec was fantastic and I love Hot Chocolate. This time i'm most interested in bistro-y places-- fab food and drink but not too fancy (or $$$). Would also check out any fantastic hole-in-the-wall mexican.
thanks for any ideas!!
You should check out Old Town Brasserie. The food is at an exceptionally high level (the chef used to be at Le Francais), but is very reasonably priced (especially given the quality). Appetizers around $10, mains in the mid-$20's. If you're coming next week, I suggest calling for reservations now as it's pretty popular at the moment.
Old Town Brasserie Market
1209 N Wells, Chicago, IL 60610
Well, I think the one "must" 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, 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.
For its bakery section as well as in general as a market, 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
A few ideas in the "inexpensive bistro" genre... For French bistros, Bistro 110 ( www.levyrestaurants.com ) and Kiki's ( www.kikisbistro.com ) are excellent, and not overly expensive. For Italian food, Cafe Spiaggia ( www.levyrestaurants.com ) and Coco Pazzo Cafe ( www.cocopazzocafe.com ) are both quite reasonable in price and excellent. There are plenty of other moderately-priced bistros (French, Italian, and otherwise) all over the city, so if there is any particular neighborhood where you will be, let us know and we can advise you about what's close by.
For other types of less expensive restaurants, you might want to check out the following discussions by type of food...
Brunch and Breakfast:
For two more types of ethnic food, go to Devon Avenue (6400N) between Sacramento (3000W) and Western (2400W) for Indian food, and go to Argyle Street (5000N) around Broadway and the Argyle stop on the CTA Red Line for Vietnamese food. In both neighborhoods, you can walk down the street, check the menus posted outside, and pick whatever place sounds best to you; I've found that that strategy seems to work out well.