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One notch below Moto, Trotters, Avenues etc..?

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Looking for 2 great meals in Chicago this Thurs/Fri... Moto, Trotters, Avenues and some of the others sound fantastic, likely for one nite- if so, which restaurant?

Also looking for a place with great bistro-ish menu... food with love, prepared simply (perhaps), smallish/romantic space... up for any cuisines...love to eat ;)... tend to lean towards Med/French/New-American/Latin vs Asiatic... maybe a notch below in price than the 'heavies'...

Looking for any quintessential Chicago spots...

If a pizza is chosen for a night- what are the top couple Chicago pies (deep/stuffed)? Good salad, good Red wine and great pizza....??

Quick trip to Chicago for a Seacoast NH Chowhound, along with a new girlfriend ;) Both adventorous eaters with a love for local cuisine......

Thanks,
Christian

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  1. For pizza...

    Pequod's.
    Only Pequod's. None of that other touristy trash.

    Get a Pequod's pie.. with no more than 2 toppings. Do NOT order anything but pizza as all else there sucks...well... get some beer but do NOT get salad.... >>gack!<<< no salad there as I have never been served such defiantly awful brown, obviiously rotting greens anywhere else.... but go for the godly, godly 'za.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lebelage

      I 100% agree with the Pequod's call..however have also tried The Art of Pizza down the road on Ashland and I'm currently torn between the two...have a good trip but look out for a city full of green wearing drunks if its this weekend..myself included:)

    2. For the splurge places, this is how I would rank them in overall quality, keeping in mind that all are outstanding and you can have a wonderful experience at any of them:

      1. Alinea - Grant Achatz - www.alinearestaurant.com
      2. Avenues - Graham Elliot Bowles - http://chicago.peninsula.com
      3. Everest - Jean Joho - www.everestrestaurant.com
      4. Charlie Trotter's - Charlie Trotter - www.charlietrotter.com/restaurant
      5. Tru - Rick Tramonto - www.trurestaurant.com
      6. NoMi - Christophe David - www.nomirestaurant.com
      7. Schwa - Michael Carlson - www.schwarestaurant.com
      8. moto - Homaro Cantu - www.motorestaurant.com
      9. Spiaggia - Tony Mantuano - www.levyrestaurants.com

      Notable differences among them? If you can get a reservation at Alinea and money is not an issue, GO! Moto has the most avant garde, "molecular gastronomy" cuisine. Everest has a spectacular view and, along with Schwa, costs significantly less than the others (figure $150-200/pp including tax/tip and moderate alcohol (BYO at Schwa), vs $250-300+ at the others). Spiaggia is the sole Italian entry.

      For the less expensive night, I think our casual, contemporary American restaurants are marvelous, generally in the $80-110/pp range, and I would give top picks as

      1. one sixtyblue - www.onesixtyblue.com
      2. Blackbird - www.blackbirdrestaurant.com
      3. Aigre Doux - www.aigredouxchicago.com
      4. North Pond - www.northpondrestaurant.com

      All of the above are in the city. If you're going to be in the suburbs, say so, as there are some equally wonderful casual/contemporary restaurants there as well.

      Given you're looking at this week, your choice may be limited by where you can get a reservation (but don't rule anyplace out without at least checking). You can check availability and make reservations at opentable.com for all of the above except Alinea, Schwa, and Blackbird.

      For the best deep-dish pizza, there are two principal types: the double-crust "stuffed" pizza of Giordano's, Edwardo's, and Bacino's, and the single-crust "pan" pizza of Lou Malnati's, Gino's East, Pizano's, and the original location of Uno's and Due. All of these are excellent, and very similar to each other within each type. Giordano's is my absolute favorite, but I think any of them is a good representation of our great pizza. (I don't care for Pequod's and its "burnt crust" pizza.) All of these have multiple locations across the Chicago area, and you can find a list of locations on their websites, with the obvious website addresses. Also, with the one exception noted, all are consistently good from one location to another. I would choose whichever of these is near where you're located; let us know where you'll be for recommendations that are close by. Oh, and wherever you go, you can look at the menu on their website and phone ahead with your pizza order to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes for it to bake while you're there.

      1. Check out the review below which I posted last night about Mercat a la Planxa, which just opened. Price and quality are amazing.

        1. For a notch (or two) below Trotters et al. we really liked Boka. Next door to Alinea on Halsted. Great service, creative food, decent wine list.

          For fun Latin, we like Carnival or Cafe 28 (Irving Park).

          Enjoy!

          1. I was going to recommend Mercat as well--recent opening with great reviews.