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May 20, 2008 10:19 AM

6 Weeks left in Chicago - Where to go?

We will be moving from Chicago at the end of June and I've been working on my "Where to go before leaving Chicago" list.

As I've posted before - twice, to be exact - I feel like we've exhausted many of the casual fine dining/fine dining varieties in town and am looking for either the new, not-to-be-missed places or holes-in-the-wall that may not be on my radar.

Most cuisines are acceptable. We have not yet been to Chinatown, surprisingly, but otherwise have gotten around pretty well in the two short years we've been here. We live in the Lincoln Park/Lakeview area but will certainly go anywhere. One of our more recent "adventures" out of the city was to Vie in Western Springs and had a wonderful meal all around.

Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions (which can, by the way, be for breakfast, brunch, lunch, snacks, or dinner!).

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  1. Casual with stellar fare and Holes in the wall are my middle names. Just suggestions: Let me know if you want specifics.

    Holes in the wall:
    Indian up on Devon?
    Maxwell St. Market?
    Argyle st for pho?
    Real char grilled steak tacos / burritos @ Las Asadas, Carniceria Leon, El Asadero, or La Pasadita
    Homey Mexican at Taqueria Oaxacana, or Nuevo Leon
    Lawerences Fisheries
    Sol De Mexico?
    Greektown joints.

    1. If you're looking to try additional casual fine dining places and you're willing to go to the suburbs, two of the very best meals I've had in recent years were at Michael in Winnetka and at Tallgrass in Lockport. I've also had consistently outstanding dinners at Chef's Station and Oceanique in Evanston.

      If you haven't been to all the "splurge" places, this is your chance: Alinea, Everest, tru, Trotter's, Avenues, NoMI, moto, Spiaggia. If you want to try a new "spluge" place, L2O, the new seafood-oriented place from Laurent Gras and LEY in the old Ambria space, just opened and reports are extremely positive.

      You should definitely go to Chinatown. Try Lao Sze Chuan.

      If you haven't been to the best Mexican places, like Flamingo's Seafood in Mount Prospect (my top pick), this is your chance.

      My favorite choices for breakfast are Walker Brothers, Bongo Room, and M. Henry. All great.

      1. For Sze Chwan cuisine. I think I would vote for Double Li over Lao Szechuan, although they both have some exceptional dishes. For instance, Tony's 3 chili chicken at LSC is one of the best chicken dishes in town. However, overall I like the food and ambience at 2Li better. You can't go worng with either, Stay away from the pot stickers and other dumplings type appetizers at either place, And 2Li does much better at noodles. Like I said Tony's 3 chili chicken (at LSC) has to be one of the top 3 spicy chicken dishes in the city, but the dry chili chicken at 2li blows lsc away.

        1. If I wanted to extract the last essence of Chicago before leaving I would focus not so much on what is fashionable and cool (which can be found in any big city) but on the ethnicity that is so very Chicago. 1) Devon Avenue walking west from Western for Indian and Pakistani, not just food but all kinds of stores for browsing. 2) Czech/Bohemian---is Bohemian Crystal still in business a western suburb (somebody help me out here---I think it's in Western Springs? 3) Chinatown, where you haven't been. 4) Red Apple (Milwaukee below Belmont) for home-cooked Polish smorgasbord food, then a stop across the street and down a block at Avon Liquors for a bottle Polish Cherry. 5) Neighborhood around Kedzie and Lawrence for Arabic (groceries as well as restaurant) or N Clark from Foster to Bryn Mawr for Middle Eastern restaurants and take-home stuff (Pars Grocery on Clark, also Middle Eastern Bakery just west of Clark on Foster), plus Swedish Bakery and a deli, Edgewater Produce for Mexican, and a fancy Italian pastry shop whose name I've forgotten but you can't miss it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Querencia

            The name of the Italian pastry shop is Pasticceria Natalina. It's just a block or two north of Swedish Bakery.

            1. re: Querencia

              Swedish Bakery! YES!! Creme Bismark (or whatever they are called.) The Swedish Bakery's custard filled bismark is to dunkin donut's boston kreme as a grand tasting course menu at Alinea is to a whopper value meal.

              1. re: Querencia

                Yes, Bohemian Crystal is open (in Westmont, just off rt 34). Lots of rib-sticking food (pork, duck, dumplings, etc.) at low prices. (Try the pork "grandma style.")


              2. A new, not-to-be-missed place for you to try before you leave is Table 52. While it may be impossible for you to get a dinner reservation there, you can quite easily walk in for lunch or make a lunch reservation. Table 52 is the restaurant of Art Smith, former personal chef to Oprah Winfrey. You'll love the complimentary goat cheese biscuits, house chicken dish and hummingbird cake.

                Have you explored all the bbq places in Chicago? If not, try Smoque and Smoke Daddy, my personal favorites.

                Another place I love that most people don't know about is Raw Bar, near Wrigley Field. They serve delicious Persian food and on most nights have great live music.

                And, lastly, Chicago Pizza Oven and Grinder Company. You must go if you've never been. Pizza "pot pie" style...get it wheat-meat-mushrooms, and try the house salad and mediterranean flat bread.

                1 Reply
                1. re: msilverman

                  Thanks! But I wanted to just add in that we actually have dinner reservations at Table 52 for this coming Saturday night... Very excited! We were able to walk in one day for lunch back in December and it was phenomenal. Will be eager to see how dinner service is! Great recs - thanks for posting.