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May 23, 2008 12:47 PM

Visiting Chicago this summer - where to eat???

I'm very excited that I will spend a little under one week in Chicago in July (just after Taste of Chicago), and I want to try as many Chicago specialties as possible.

I do not not yet at which hotel we'll be staying, but it will be downtown.

Can you recommend places for breakfast, inexpensive lunches, Chicago-only specialties (I do know about deep-dish pizza, but since I've never been in Chicago, I'd like to know where I can get the best), and a few nicer places too (can't afford alinea, alas).

Thanks a lot for you help, and I'll report back when we return!


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  1. Blackbird, Avec, Lula Cafe

    1. The designation "downtown" traditionally meant inside the Loop (within the circular confines of Chicago's elevated commuter train). It sometimes now includes North Michigan Avenue or the Magnificent Mile; areas east and slightly south of that and even River North, north of the Chicago river, but generally a bit west. So if you can, get a bit more specific.

      Notable breakfasts (beginning in the south end of the Loop):
      Bongo Room
      1152 S. Wabash Ave.

      75 W. Harrison

      Original Lou Mitchells (featured in the quick fire on Top Chef last week)
      565 W. Jackson

      You won't want to miss Hot Dougs which is both west and north of "downtown," but well worth the trip. Chicago is known for its hot dogs, but this takes it to a whole new level. You've never had sausages like these.
      3324 North California

      And for Italian Beef Sandwiches try one of these (you will see plenty of debate on these boards about which is best.) In any event, get it with both hot and sweet peppers.
      Al's Italian Beef
      169 W. Ontario
      or the original at 1079 W. Taylor St.

      Mr. Beef
      666 N. Orleans

      A schlep, but the real deal IMHO
      7500 W. North Avenue
      Elmwood Park

      1. You must have lunch at Blackbird, and you must order the porkbelly sandwhich. Trust me. It's a religious experience.

        If you can get a reservation for dinner at Schwa, do so. They have a smaller tasting menu if money is an issue.

        You'll find incredible, authentic and inexpensive Mexican food at Maiz. (You will have to take a bus or cab there. It's a few miles west of downtown, but worth it) There is no web page but reviews can be found on Yelp: They only take cash.

        I agree that you can't miss Hot Doug's. Again, you will need to take public transportation, but it's so worth it.

        Cold Comfort Cafe in Wicker Park has a huge selection of cheap sandwhiches and the BEST tuna fish sandwhich in the world. It's a very small location, but if you can overlook that you will get a great lunch. You'll also enjoy walking around the neighborhood and window shopping after lunch.

        As for bars, try to get to the California Clipper late Friday or Saturday night. If fact, you could walk there after a late dinner at Maiz. It's just across the street. This is a neighborhood classic, and I guarantee you'll never see another bar quite like it. They always have really cool, unique music. I think a movie was recently filming there, too.

        Have fun!!

        1 Reply
        1. re: sharris76

          There was a report on another board on May 23 that Cold Comfort had closed after nine years.