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Mar 21, 2008 07:56 PM

Cool Spot on N. Michigan

In town on business staying at Omni @ 676 N. Michigan. Need one rec for cool bar/restaurant near hotel for entertaining a very low-key person and one rec for a foodie restaurant that I can eat alone and not feel totally weird. Cab okay for solo night but near hotel also a plus. Thanks!

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  1. For the cool bar/restaurant, classy and luxurious, I recommend NoMI, in the Park Hyatt, a couple of blocks north of the Omni. Another place I like in that vein, classy but a bit more casual (and a bit less expensive) than NoMI, is the Lobby restaurant, in the Peninsula on Superior, a block north and a half block west from the Omni. If either of you likes chocolate desserts, the Lobby features "the Chocolate Bar" on weekend evenings; it's an all-you-can-eat buffet of perhaps forty chocolate desserts, in smallish portions so you can try a lot of them (not cheap, around $32) - but you don't have to get the Chocolate Bar to eat or drink there. Another option is to have a drink in the Lobby, then head downstairs to Shanghai Terrace, a very upscale Chinese restaurant in that same hotel.

    For the solo night, go to Avec. They have communal seating, which means *everyone* goes there expecting to sit with people they don't know, and have a good time. And while they don't accept reservations and wait times can be long on Friday and Saturday evenings, they are often shorter for a solo person. Also with the holiday and the bad weather, they may not be as busy as usual. Mediterranean cuisine, a little over a mile southwest of the Omni.

    7 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      You were kind enough to answer my last post when I was in Chicago at the Westin! So, thanks again. For my bar night, I really want something Local in Feel, not at a hotel. We both travel a lot and end up at the hotel bar for lack of anything easier. I was hoping for a fun, tapas-like bar where we can have a couple of drinks, chat and order some tasty food. I keep hearing about Rush Street - something I should look into?

      1. re: fulloflife

        In that case, there are two tapas places in the vicinity of the Omni:

        Cafe Iberico -
        1492 Tapas -

        Cafe Iberico is further - six blocks west of the Omni, whereas 1492 Tapas is a block north and a block and a half west. Cafe Iberico's food is maybe slightly better and is also more local in flavor; it's one of those "no reservations" places that locals go, like Avec. Another, similar place, local in feel, is Quartino, a "small plates" Italian restaurant a couple blocks west of the Omni. I think either Cafe Iberico or Quartino may be exactly what you're looking for. Quartino (as well as the hotel restaurants I mentioned above) accepts reservations on (although, for the same reasons as I mentioned for Avec, reservations may not be an issue this weekend).

        Rush Street has bars mixed in with restaurants (e.g. Giordano's for pizza, Gibson's* for steaks, Hugo's* for seafood); feel free to check it out if you like. It's the next street over (to the west) from Michigan Avenue; the stretch most people refer to is the part north of the Omni.

        *Interesting note: Quartino is owned by its executive chef and the owners of Gibson's and Hugo's.

        1. re: fulloflife

          Contrary to how it is in most cities, some of Chicago's best restaurants and bars are in hotels. Nsxtasy wasn't just phoning it in to recommend NoMI or any of the places in the Peninsula. They are all legitimately good, and truly are destinations for Chicagoans, not just people staying in those hotels.

          1. re: leek

            Agreed. My friends and I spend many an evening at NoMI--preferably on the terrace in the summer. The lower-end hotel bars are typical business/tourist, but the high-end places here in Chicago (Park Hyatt, Four Seasons, Peninsula) make a big effort to cater to locals.

            Another good spot for casual bar dining (solo or in a group) is Lux Bar on Bellevue across street from Gibsons. The food is very good, breakfast is actually great, and the scene is local.

            1. re: leek

              Agreed here too, and it's an excellent point.

              FWIW, I made those additional non-hotel suggestions, not because of how local the original hotel suggestions were, but rather, because the original suggestions were more along the lines of low-key and classy, whereas the subsequent post by the OP made it sound like he/she is looking for something a bit more bustling and casual.

              1. re: nsxtasy

                Thanks all to chiming in. Any thoughts about Sayat Nova?

        2. I love NOMI for drinks. i do not love 1492 Tapas. If you are going to be around Michigan Ave. the most interesting restos are in hotels. Blackbird would be a good option for dinner.Also Powerhouse, one of my new favorites.