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Jun 26, 2008 10:01 PM

Casual Fine Dining

I grew up in Chicago, and am just returning to the city after 2 years in DC and 3 years in Boston. People in Boston often asked me to compare the city to Chicago, and I staunchly maintained the position that Chicago was superior in all ways. However, there seemed to be far more "casual fine dining" restaurants in Boston (well, in Cambridge, actually) than in Chicago. I did some searches and found the discussion where an SF hound contended that the same was true of San Francisco, and having spent a summer there, I tend to agree.

While I know "casual fine dining" means different things to different people, here's what I'm looking for: a restaurant with excellent food with entrees in the $20s (if one steak/lobster/other luxury entree is in the $30s, that's fine). It can be any cuisine; however, I'm not looking for recommendations for Khan BBQ, Spoon Thai, Xni-Pec, or other inexpensive holes-in-the-wall. While I love those places (I made a point to keep up with the cuisine here on my visits home!), they don't have the atmosphere that one is sometimes looking for when it's not really a special occasion, but you want to dress up a bit and have a "date night."

If any hounds are familiar with Boston, something like EVOO would be perfect; Rendezvous, Blue Room, Green Street, and (sort of) West Side Lounge would also fit the bill. It really does seem that most of the Chicago restaurants mentioned when people make requests like this have entrees in the $30s. Thus far, according to online menus, Sweets & Savories, May Street Market, and Lula Cafe fit the bill. Any other thoughts?

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  1. I like:

    West Town Tavern
    1329 West Chicago Avenue
    Chicago, IL
    tel 312-666-6175

    4343 N. Lincoln Ave.
    Chicago, Il

    Bonsoiree Cafe
    2728 W. Armitage Ave. at N. Fairfield Ave. Just east of N. California Ave

    5316 N. Clark St.
    Chicago IL 60640
    p. 773.506.9990

    May Street Cafe
    1146 w. cermak

    Vermilion(on the more expensive side of things)
    10 W. Hubbard

    123 N Jefferson

    I will think of more, but that should be a good start for you!

    1 Reply
    1. re: mitch cumstein

      Are any of these open for lunch? For example, West Town Tavern is near where I'm staying but they only do dinner.

    2. Cafe Matou, esp. if you do their daily bistro special - 3 courses for $22 or $25 or so,,,

      Cafe Matou
      1846 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, IL 60647

      1. Consider Terragusto for an Italian version. Their special chef's dinners are $35-$45, and it is BYOB:

        1. Avec
          Brasserie Jo
          Coco Pazzo
          Spiaggia Cafe
          Le Colonial

          Sweet and Savories and May Street Market as you mentioned are quite good.