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Coming to Chicago Area in May... where to eat?

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Hubby and I will be attending a wedding over Memorial Day weekend in Oakbrook. We plan to stay on a few days and just be tourists- head to downtown Chicago, cruise along the shore etc...

Any recommendations would be wonderful- Our host/hostess provided us with a few suggestions, but they were mostly the larger chains. Where has the best "Chicago deep-dish pizza?"

We have never been to Il/Chicago and want to have a wonderfully gastronomic experience as your city has to offer- (not too expensive or fancy please... we are not the rich folks of Oakbrook only the lowly invitees!)

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  1. By staying downtown you limit the amount of value dining available. Seeing as it is your first visit to Chicago, I would keep my visit to the downtown area as well. The best dining option downtown for someone not looking to spend a lot of money is

    Frontera Grill http://www.fronterakitchens.com/resta... .
    Should be able to get a full meal with drinks under 150$

    Bongo Room is a great breakfast spot in the South Loop
    Try a Chicago Style Dog with everything
    Deep-Dish tends to be overated.
    Little Italy on Taylor and Greektown on Halsted are both close to downtown both are well priced and both have solid food (no fine dining or mind blowing experiences
    )Check out www.chicagoreader.com and click on restaurants. There are many search and limiting options. It will give you a good idea of how much things cost too. Chicago has some incredible avant-garde restaurants, consider saving up and splurging. Alinea, Moto, Trotters, Everest, Schwa, and many more. Reservations are always required downtown unless you are eating during the week or at 4:30 or 10:00

    1. check out "avec" on randolph street...excellent food, cool space, no reservations, so get there early. reasonable prices...my favorite in the city for the price.
      also, a new spanish - catallan - restaurant in the blackstone hotel just south of the loop.
      called mercat a la planxa is supposed to be excellent...haven't made it there yet.
      if you want excellent japanese, kaze is amazing - in roscoe village on roscoe and seeley...
      have fun!

      1. I agree that the one "can't miss" 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 (my personal favorite), 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.

        We have some wonderful contemporary American, casual fine dining restaurants. IMHO the very best ones fairly near downtown are:

        one sixtyblue - www.onesixtyblue.com
        Blackbird - www.blackbirdrestaurant.com
        Aigre Doux - www.aigredouxchicago.com
        Custom House - www.customhouse.cc
        North Pond - www.northpondrestaurant.com

        North Pond, in addition to having wonderful food, has an exquisite setting, too. It's right in the middle of Lincoln Park (the park, not the neighborhood), on the pond (the building used to be the place where people would rent ice skates in winter), with the city skyline as a backdrop at the opposite end of the pond. It's about three miles north of downtown, an easy cab or bus ride ( www.transitchicago.com ).

        If I had to recommend just one of these places, it would be one sixtyblue for the food, and North Pond for the atmosphere, but there are lots of such excellent places; these are just the very best IMHO.

        We also have some excellent mid-priced Italian restaurants, notably Cafe Spiaggia ( www.levyrestaurants.com ), Coco Pazzo ( www.cocopazzochicago.com ), Vivere ( www.vivere-chicago.com ), and Trattoria No. 10 ( www.trattoria10.com ).

        And, we have some excellent Mexican restaurants. Before you start thinking, "Oh, we have those at home", please realize that these feature very creative provincial Mexican cuisine. Take a look at the menus on their websites and you'll see what I mean. Ones near downtown include Frontera Grill and Topolobampo ( www.rickbayless.com/restaurants ), Salpicon ( www.salpicon.com ), and Adobo Grill ( www.adobogrill.com ). For more details on our Mexican restaurants, see www.chowhound.com/topics/463572

        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

        So those would be my first recommendations. You can find more detailed discussions about specific types of food here in these other topics:

        Fine dining:
        www.chowhound.com/topics/368683

        Steakhouses:
        www.chowhound.com/topics/359377

        Seafood:
        www.chowhound.com/topics/370202

        Italian:
        www.chowhound.com/topics/360990

        Pizza:
        www.chowhound.com/topics/327474
        www.chowhound.com/topics/319254

        Thai:
        www.chowhound.com/topics/491970

        Greek:
        www.chowhound.com/topics/119233

        Barbecue:
        www.chowhound.com/topics/360674
        www.chowhound.com/topics/453036

        Tapas:
        www.chowhound.com/topics/370492
        www.chowhound.com/topics/366524

        Burgers:
        www.chowhound.com/topics/382781

        Hot dogs:
        www.chowhound.com/topics/364427

        Quintessential Chicago:
        www.chowhound.com/topics/372986

        Brunch and Breakfast:
        www.chowhound.com/topics/364403

        Bottom line, if you're downtown for a few days, I think you could go to Lou Malnati's or Giordano's for pizza for lunch one day, hit one sixtyblue or North Pond for dinner, stop in at Fox and Obel, and you'll be having some of our best eats.

        1. Welcome to Chicago!
          Assuming you have at least 2 days, here's what I would do if I was a food tour guide for friends on a budget. Many ideas have been already recommended, so I've incorporated them with ideas of my own. Notice, no deep dish pizza...please.

          Breakfast - Fox & Obel, then you can visit Navy Pier and then Trolley or walk to Michigan Ave.

          Lunch near Michigan Ave - Bistro 110 (Casual French) or Coco Pazzo Cafe (Casual Italian and sandwiches) there are some chains like Friday's too- all have patios for people watching.

          Dinner - 6:00 PM margaritas and snacks at the bar at Frontera Grill - a good way to enjoy this busy, busy place without waiting 2 hours. Then head across the street to Naha a lovely fusion restaurant for your dinner very pretty and peaceful and the chef was just nominated for a James Beard Award.

          Day 2

          Breakfast - Bongo room or old Lou Mitchell's both fun and funky. You can head to Millenium Park or museums by a short cab ride from both.

          Lunch - The Gage or Park Grill both near Millenium Park and Art Institute

          Dinner - Coco Pazzo in River North, great Italian, seafood and steaks, best risotto in Chicago (Chicago Mag) and you can order 1/2 portions of risotto and pasta.
          Then after dinner, drinks at the newly opened Rebar at Trump International Hotel for a glass of bubbly. (The restaurant Sixteen is open but very expensive.)

          Have a great time...let us know