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Apr 6, 2008 05:25 PM

Coming to downtown Chicago

We will be in Chicago from a Thursday to Sunday, later in April. We are looking forward to your great city with its world class museums, chow and people. We will be staying at the Hilton on 720 S. Michigan. Looking for lunch near (or at) the Art Institute (probably spend 2 days there). Would like a great, dry aged steak. Would like a dinner at a "new American regional cooking" style restaurant (Chicago's "Chez Panisse" if you will). Would like some good local fare; pizza, Italian, hot dog/sausage sandwiches/heart stopping fries- you know the drill for that one. BTW, my wife won't do the tasting menu thing, so Trotters and Alinea (?sp) are out. Good wine/beer options are a plus for me. Thanks.

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  1. OK. Did a little research on the pizza and the dogs. I want a deep dish, not stuffed pizza with great crust and great sausage. I think I have the hot dogs covered.

    How is the smoking situation in restaurants? The entire west coast and much of the rest of the west is smoke free. So that is very much our preference.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Tom Hall

      Here are links to some decent discussions -
      General Discussion - - general restaurants
      Pizza -,

      In terms of smoking as of Jan 1 - the whole state of Illinois is smoke free in public places - I believe there are some exceptions but they are few and far in between

      1. re: Tom Hall

        Here is what we did. We ate at Mercat a la Plancha and had a fun and fine meal of small plates. We went to David Burke's Primehouse and shared sauteed spinach, 28 day aged porterhouse and stuffed baked potatoes done 4 ways with a WA state syrah. Great food and service. Last night was at Custom House and I had the short ribs which were outstanding. Again, just wonderful food and service. The friendliness of the locals and the quality of the waitstaff was a real delight everywhere we went.

        We also went to a hotdog stand east of O'Hare- it was a hoot watching my wife trying unsuccessfully to get catsup. I really appreciate the help and look forward to returning soon.

      2. Near the Art Institute of Chicago:: The Gage - high-end Irish Pub; Park Grill - very good with great outdoor seating--make a reservation its VERY touristy. I have not been but one block north of your hotel (in the Blackstone Hotel) is Mercat a la Planxa--I hear it's great.

        Steaks: there is a huge range of opinions. David Burke's Primehouse used to be my favorite, but last time I was not blown away. Other places are usually wet-aged, but many are adopting the dry-aging. I know it's a NYC import, by McCormick and Schmick is very good and has a great outdoor dining area on the river. Should be nice in a few weeks.

        3 Replies
        1. re: jbontario

          "I know it's a NYC import, by McCormick and Schmick"

          You mean Smith & Wollensky, right. Anyway, the above suggestions are good.

          A couple to add:

          American regional in the South Loop: Custom House
          Sausage-heart-stopping fries: You can't do better than Hot Doug's, particularly on weekends when they fry their fries in duck fat, but it is a bit out of the way.

          Search and ye shall find more info on both of the above. (Other search terms for restaurants in the area: Loop, Hilton, Art Institute.

          1. re: jbw

            A yes, a slip of the keys--Smith and Wollensky has the nice outdoor dining area.

          2. re: jbontario

            Wow. Very few dry aged prime steaks in Chicago? That really surprises me in THE city we who live in the western US assume to be the mecca of beef.

            Good news on the smoking (NB I am NOT anti-smoker; I just don't want it with my food).

          3. At the art Institute I highly recommend Russian Tea Time. It's across the way on Adams. I had never eaten Russian food before, but it was fantastic.

            1. For steakhouses, see the discussion at

              For contemporary American cuisine, one of our best is Custom House ( ), just a few blocks from the Hilton. A couple of others will require a short cab ride - one sixtyblue ( ) and North Pond ( ).

              For pizza, per your preference for single-crust "pan" pizza rather than double-crust "stuffed" pizza, Pizano's on Madison is a block north of the Art Institute.

              For Italian, Vivere ( ) and Trattoria No. 10 ( ) are both walkable from the Hilton and from the Art Institute.

              For hot dogs, see For really heart-stopping fries, you can travel to geographically-inconvenient Hot Doug's for their duck fat fries.