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Jul 7, 2008 09:19 AM

Visitors looking for Chicago Seafood and Latin American restaurants this weekend.

Husband's friend and his wife are coming in early afternoon on Saturday and are staying at the downtown Hyatt on Wacker. We'll be with them Saturday and Sunday.

Here's what we know:

They are mostly interested in a good seafood meal and also something "Chicago". Not necessarily pizza or dogs (although we may try to slip in an Italian beef someplace), what they had in mind was"Oprah's chef's place", Table 52.
I had no luck getting reservations there, though. FYI, that would be the very upper limit price-wise. Our constraint, not theirs.

They are very interested in Latin American food (their favorite restaurant at home is Cuban/Columbian) and asked us about Carnivale. Is this the best choice?
Their hearts are not set on these places, they're just the ones they've heard of that sounded good.

*Really* wanted to take them to Flamingo's Seafood but their visit is going to be a quick one and they prefer not to go that far and I don't think that will change. Based on what I've read I think they would have loved it, though.

So far I'm thinking that a relaxing seafood dinner on Saturday might work out as they will be worn out after a long travel day and the architecture river tour on what will probably be a very hot afternoon.
Then something bolder (Latin American?) can happen on Sunday before an early evening Second City show.

Maxwell St Market on Sunday morning for our "Chicago" thing?

He would like to find great ribs and will do this after we've parted. He's only heard of Carson's but should I steer him to Fat Willy's or Honey 1 perhaps?

One more thing, they'd like to see some beach. Is there anyplace relaxing with a nice view to go for a drink? Of course we'll walk on the beach but I think it would be that much more enjoyable if we could find a spot to take a break, cool off, and enjoy the lake view.

Thank you very much for your help. I tend to over think things and have already spent hours on the computer. Trouble is I don't really know them and want them to have a wonderful time with great meals that will leave them wanting more of Chicago!

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  1. For Latin food, I would go to Nacional 27. It's a LEYE so it is always great and doesn't usually have bad days--mellman won't allow it. Their cocktails are also wonderful and the vibe is much better than Carnivale (my opinion).

    For seafood, I have never ventured out to Flamingo's and won't likely--here's why. Since we are not on an ocean all of our fish/seafood, other than perch, whitefish and walleye, are flown or trucked in. As such (and I used to work at the family's fish distributor business) a vast majority of the fish you eat in Chicago is "frezen." In other words, by the time the salmon, tilapia, whatever non exotic flown in today fish gets here, it's been packed and repacked on ice for at least 72 hours and is likely partially if not totally frozen. So I know it sounds trite, but anywhere other than McCormick and Shmick, Nick's, 35 and the high-end Japanese places you are not getting wonderfully fresh fish. So now that I am done there, pick the flavors you want and you'll be happy. I've had the whole fried catfish at El Barco, it was nice and the atmosphere is VERY casual. The ceviche at Frontera is always a favorite and, I know people are going to disagree, but the perch at Shaw's is always very good.

    Carson's is average at best. For babyback fall apart, I only eat them for the sauce ribs since the meat tastes like nothing, I am a fan of Smoque Daddy. I hear honey 1 is very good though.

    On the beach there is Beachstro and Castaways--neither relaxing, but fun for a beer.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jbontario

      Thank you very much for your reply. I see what you mean about seafood. Also agree about Shaw's, I've always enjoyed my meals there.
      It looks like we may get to Table 52 after all so maybe the seafood lover will find something delicious there so the seafood meal and "Chicago" angles would be covered.
      Maybe we'll find time to sit at Frontera's bar for drinks and ceviche. I think they'd enjoy that and I know I would as I haven't been there yet.
      I really like the looks of Nacional 27 too, will add that to our list of possibilities. I guess I'll try to determine if it's the vibe or the menu that appeals at Carnivale and go from there.

      As for ribs, I think Monday is his day for that so I'll suggest Smoke Daddy and also Fat Willy's to him, Smoque and Honey 1 are closed Mondays. Not sure where he'll be that day.

      Love knowing about beer stops on the beach, thanks for mentioning Beachstro and Castaway's. Hadn't heard of either.

      Thank you again, it's very nice of you to give so much info! I'm getting excited, I think we have some very good options and should eat well this weekend and show off Chicago well enough.

    2. I know that you stated that it would be difficult to take them to Flamingos due to the time and distance....*BUT* I have to put in my two cents here. We went last night due to reviews here. This was our first time and I could not be happier. This was one of the best meals that I have had in a very long time. This far outweighed any fish dish that I have had in the city. "Frezen" as it may be, I don't care. It was flavorful, wonderful and the dishes were unlike anything that I have ever seen offered. I can't wait to tell my friends and family and I am looking forward to bringing people here in the very near future. And yes, I can compare this to Nick's and McCormick and Shmick. Agreed the fish is fresher at places. But they are nowhere near as creative as Flamingo's offerings.

      Prices are comparible to downtown, but the portions are easily 2x the size. If you are able to sway your team to go, I highly recommend the seabass with a macadamia crust entree, the traditional gauc and crab cake appetizers. The 3 leches cake was very good as was the coconut flan.

      Yes the decor is boring, but the service was spot on and food was solid and therefore it was a very comfortable dining experience.