alinea or moto
Help me decide between moto or alinea. Love great food, great service and great design/interior, Please update the condition of both highly praised restaurants. I've read men need jackets at alinea? Does anybody think alinea or moto have slipped? I will be in town for two additional days/nights, any other suggestions. How about a great spot for Sat. lunch?
I was just at Moto a few weeks ago and it was very good. Moto is definitely the more avant garde of the two restaurants. Alinea, while still cutting edge, is quite a bit more refined. I also much prefer the service at Alinea. I've found that service can be hit or miss at Moto (this is mainly due to the fact that everyone who works at Moto rotates through both the front and back of the house).
Thanks for the great replies. I forgot to mention that I've been to Blackbird and mk and loved both. I loved the buzz at Blackbird, is Moto or Alinea more suited to my tast? I'd rather not have to wear a jacket, seems to conotate stuffy. For my other night thinking: Sepia, one sixtyblue, maybe North Pond?
Again other suggestions welcome. Lunch/brunch on sat does not need to be top table. Seeing that I don't like empty dinning rooms, I'd prefer a popular and busy choice that serves good food. Maybe outdoor seating since it will be early May.
I love both one sixtyblue and North Pond, but for entirely different reasons. Both have excellent food, but I think it's better at one sixtyblue, just one "wow!" dish after another. one sixtyblue has contemporary, hip decor that's very pleasant - especially since it's spacious enough that you don't feel like you're right on top of the people around you - but the setting of North Pond in the middle of Lincoln Park is really unique. If you're in the outer room, you get to look out on the namesake pond with the city skyline looming over the opposite shore, and even the inside room with the open kitchen along one side is fun. These are two of my favorite places to eat in the city. (I haven't been to Sepia.)
Again, I think Frontera Grill is a fine choice for brunch on Saturday. Arrive when they open to avoid the possibility of waiting; they don't accept reservations, except a handful of same-day ones when they start answering the phone at 8:30. It's the one place that's almost guaranteed to be popular and busy, even at Saturday lunchtime. There aren't many places that do a special brunch menu on Saturdays, and some of the few that do (e.g. Sola, Lula) are away from downtown. But if you'd consider a normal lunch menu, there are lots of places open for lunch on Saturdays, including most ethnic places - Lao Sze Chuan in Chinatown would be a good choice, and I know they do a decent business at Saturday lunch - as are all the deep-dish pizza places, many steakhouses, Cafe Spiaggia or Coco Pazzo Cafe for Italian, Atwood Cafe for American, NoMI for upscale dining, etc. I'm not sure which of the rest of these would be busy for Saturday lunch (probably the pizza places, not sure about the others); for many restaurants, it's the least busy time of the entire week.
At Alinea and moto, Chefs Achatz and Cantu are both at the very top of their game. Slipped? No way. There are far more differences between them than differences. moto is more on the leading edge of molecular gastronomy than anyplace else in town - but if moto didn't exist, we would be saying the same thing about Alinea. Alinea gets more praise (best restaurant in America, according to Gourmet magazine) but moto is excellent too. And yes, a gentleman will feel inappropriately attired without a jacket at Alinea, not at moto.
As for other suggestions, for dinner as well as Saturday lunch, it all depends on what you're looking for. Are you looking for another top table / top chef? If so, consider Everest (Jean Joho), tru (Rick Tramonto), or Avenues (currently transitioning from Graham Elliot Bowles to Christopher Duffy), all of which are jacket-appropriate. For Saturday lunch, NoMI (Christophe David) is open (jacket optional). However, if you're looking for more variation in your culinary itinerary, you might consider something different - anything from a casual contemporary American restaurant (e.g. one sixtyblue, North Pond) to Italian (Coco Pazzo, Cafe Spiaggia) to one of our many ethnic places (name a type of food, we've got it and we can recommend places that are superb).
Personally, I think you'll be touching four of Chicago's top food highlights if your itinerary consisted of dinners at Alinea and one sixtyblue, did Saturday brunch at Frontera Grill, and did another lunch at one of our top places for deep-dish pizza (e.g. Lou Malnati's, Giordano's, etc).