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May 1, 2008 11:58 AM

First timer -Chicago (from NYC)


We are visiting Chicago for the first time(3 days). We live in NYC and want to explore Chicago neighbourhoods (no museums, no sears towers or anything related to usual must sees). We are looking for cafes, restaurants,bars in various neighbourhoods that would allow us to explore(good food is a must but at moderate to cheap prices). We will be there in mid May and will most probably stay near downtown(depends on priceline).

Thank you,

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  1. Do you have a specific question that we can help with? Because what you have described doesn't give us a whole lot to go on. You are asking about any kind of good food at moderate to cheap prices, anywhere in a city that has millions of people and thousands of restaurants. Imagine if someone asked the same question about New York City! There are too many possibilities to answer your question.

    You might want to look through these previous discussions about various kinds of food; maybe that will help you narrow down your search...









    Hot dogs:

    Quintessential Chicago:

    Brunch and Breakfast:

    5 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Hi! Sorry I was very vague. I wanted to get an idea of the neighbourhoods first.. For example Bucktown and River North keep coming up. Any suggestions there? Or any other neighbourhoods we should try?

      1. re: suetibu

        There are many, many wonderful neighborhoods all over the city, with lots of food options in each - Rogers Park, Lincoln Square, Edgewater, Uptown, Andersonville, North Center, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Old Town, Gold Coast, Bucktown/Wicker Park, River North, Michigan Avenue, West Loop, South Loop, Loop, Hyde Park, etc. All have worthwhile dining options of various sorts, and most offer a variety of cuisines, from haute cuisine to cheap eats to ethnic delights etc. Asking for a food neighborhood in Chicago is like asking for a food neighborhood in New York City. You could pull one or two of the neighborhood names out of a hat and find some mighty fine food there (as a search of topics on this forum will attest).

        However, if there is a particular kind of food you like, especially ethnic food, there are probably specific parts of the city where you can find many places serving it. If you like Indian food, the stretch of Devon Avenue (6400N) between Western (2400W) and Sacramento (3000W) is littered with subcontinent restaurants. We have some wonderful Mexican restaurants, with creative provincial Mexican places all over the city, and concentrations of conventional Mexican food in Pilsen and Rogers Park, among other places. It's just a matter of what particular kind of food YOU enjoy.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Hi Thank you.. We are looking for affordable lunch/dinner options as we explore Chicago neighbourhoods..But I think I should do some research about our tentative schedule and then look here or ask for affordable options here...

          1. re: nsxtasy

            Hi! Thank you. Will take note. Any recs for mexican restaurants?

            1. re: suetibu

              We have some TERRIFIC Mexican restaurants, including some around downtown (Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, Salpicon), others in city neighborhoods (Fonda del Mar, Mixteco Grill), still others in the suburbs (Flamingo's Seafood in Mount Prospect, Xni-Pec in Cicero). You can find details about them, including directions by public transportation, in the discussion at

      2. Good neighborhoods that have good food options include:

        Argyle area (Red line to Howard, get off at Argyle) - a huge amount of storefronts with Vietamese and Thai options. People like Sun Wah, Tank Noodle, Thai Avenues, etc. You may want to do a search on that.

        Once you explore the Argyle area, you can walk up to Andersonville (about 4 blocks from Clark street) which was Swedish originally but now is more hodgepodge. The Hopleaf (bar which specializes in amazing beer selection from Beligan and elsewhere and mussels plus other fantastic food) is a good bet. There is a good Middle Easter Bakery and a whole variety of restaurants. SEARCH ANDERSONVILLE

        1 Reply
        1. re: lbs

          Thank you. Exactly what I was looking for..

        2. Used to live in NYC so I know where you're coming from. I don't disagree with the previous posts, but you're talking +/- 30 minute travel times from downtown to Andersonville or Argyle St. Like going to Upper West side for a Zabar's excursion from the Battery. The following are within 15 minutes and $10 - $12 cab rides of Magnificent Mile (Michgan Ave) or the Loop:

          For a Village feel, check out Wicker Park/Bucktown -- a couple places I like are Hot Chocolate, Club Lucky, and Feast. Lots if boutiques, bars and music venues. Very fun on weekend if you're in the 25-35 crowd. Centered around the six-way intersection of North Ave, Damen, and Milwaukee. Can take the Blue Line "L" directly here.

          For a SoHo (10 years ago before it was totally gentrified) check out West Town/Uranian Village -- a couple recs are West Town Tavern, Bob San, and Adobo Grill. Division St is the main drag to walk here and there are nice boutiques and bars to just stop in.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jbontario

            Thank you jbontario. Will note these places. Very helpful. Do you have any recs for greek food/mexican food? Also any french?

            1. re: suetibu

              We have really good mexican food--not the typical enchilada mess you get elsewhere

              High-end white table cloth = Tobolobambo (while I dislike the snooty maitre de, the food is great). It's worth it if you can get a reso.
              Mid-level = Zocalo (W Ontario St), Frontera Grill (Topo's casual cousin), and Adobo. Very good moles and the trio of quacamole at Zocalo is something I really like. Also, Zocalo is usually packed with a hispanic crowd which I think means it's pretty good.

              Greek restaurants are generally all the same to me--walk down Halstead Street between W Monroe and W Jackson and pick which ever looks nicest to you. If good weather, Pegasus has a wonderful roof deck.

              To check out any of these places, check out

              1. re: suetibu

                Yes, we have numerous restaurants in Greek Town. Everyone has his or her favorite, but you'll find that they have a lot more similarities than differences. You can find a detailed discussion with website links to all the places, and many recommendations, at

                As noted above, we have some TERRIFIC Mexican restaurants, including some around downtown (Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, Salpicon), others in city neighborhoods (Fonda del Mar, Mixteco Grill), still others in the suburbs (Flamingo's Seafood in Mount Prospect, Xni-Pec in Cicero). You can find details about them, including directions by public transportation, in the discussion at

                As for French... When people mention "French", they typically mean either casual mid-priced French bistro/brasserie type places, or expensive "splurge" restaurants with haute cuisine. Depending on which you mean...

                French bistro/brasserie recommendations:
                Bistro 110 -
                Kiki's Bistro -
                Brasserie Jo -
                Bistro Campagne -

                "Splurge" restaurants:
                1. Alinea - Grant Achatz -
                2. Everest - Jean Joho -
                3. Charlie Trotter's - Charlie Trotter -
                4. Avenues - Curtis Duffy -
                5. Tru - Rick Tramonto -
                6. NoMi - Christophe David -
                7. Schwa - Michael Carlson -
                8. moto - Homaro Cantu -
                9. Spiaggia - Tony Mantuano -

                Everest is the only one of these that is really French. All of these are expensive, although Everest has a pre-theater special, $50 for 3 courses at 5:00/5:30 every night they're open except Fridays.

                Since you're coming from New York, I wouldn't spend any time on our Italian places. Not that they're not good, many of them are, but you can get plenty of Italian food at home.

            2. If you're in the Lakeview/Wrigleyville/Roscoe Village area on the North Side, I recommend Terragusto Cafe at 1851 W. Addison ( It's a great, small BYOB serving very authentic Italian cuisine featuring fresh pasta made daily, local organic ingredients, etc.

              3 Replies
              1. re: jbentley4

                Thank you everybody. We finally got a hotel in Northbrook(restaurant convention erased any hopes of staying downtown) and rented a car so we will be driving/taking metra into chicago on all 3 days..
                Right now I have on my list:
                thai(TAC quick, Spoon) to compare to Sripraphai,
                greektown(sounds unique),
                la pasadita(sounds interesting),
                A mano (roman food,$5 pizza-5:7PM and downtown),
                deep dish pizza(something downtown- giordanos?),
                fox and obel ( cheap lunch),
                Hopleaf(husband is crazy about belgian beer),
                W hotel bar(for views)
                Pops for champagne(jazz)
                __ Piano bar(forget the first name)

                What do you all think?

                1. re: suetibu

                  They are mostly good choices. I'm not sure I would go to TWO different Thai restaurants, just from the standpoint of variety, but if you really love Thai food, then maybe.

                  Greektown is... well, I'd put it this way. First, it's not the kind of authentic ethnic neighborhood where most people living there are that particular ethnicity (unlike, for example, Devon Avenue where many Indian/Pakistani people live in the surrounding neighborhood, or Argyle Street with Vietnamese). It's more like a stretch of Halsted Street with a concentration of authentic Greek restaurants, rather than an actual neighborhood. The food is good, but I don't think it's so good that the food is the highlight; the attraction is more in the fun atmosphere, with the flames from the saganaki shooting into the air ("Opa! Opa!"). Also it's a very good value, with a concentration of reasonably priced restaurants within walking distance of the Loop. Hope that makes sense - if that sounds like what you're looking for, go for it.

                  I think Giordano's is an excellent choice for our deep-dish pizza. They have many locations in the city, including downtown neighborhoods and outlying neighborhoods, as well as the suburbs. The Niles and Morton Grove locations are closest to Northbrook. Note that the Edens Expressway (I-94 from Northbrook south, US-41 from Northbrook north) is under construction and a real mess at most times of day, and the Tri-State Tollway (I-294 from O'Hare to Northbrook) is also under construction, although the congestion isn't quite as bad as the Edens.

                  Fox and Obel, Hopleaf, Pops - good choices.

                  I'm not familiar with the view from the W hotel bar. I know the view of Michigan Avenue from NoMI ( ) is very nice, and for a sky-high view, have a drink at the Signature Room at the top of the John Hancock Building ( ).

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    Thank you nsxtasy. I meant to say that we would try 1 of the thai places. Yes I am starting to get the same feeling of greektown as I read more about it. Thank you for the heads up on the highway. I am going to have to do some research on alternative routes. I have a fear of heights and hence have to stay away from signature room. Thanks again.