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Chicago Recommendations.

topawers Jul 15, 2008 10:29 AM

Hello! My wife and I just moved to Chicago about a month ago. We've already been to some restaurants, but I'm looking for a good place to take my parents to when they visit a couple of weeks from now.
I'm juggling a number of names already. We were in Naha once but didn't have dinner, we just caught up with some friends who dined there to have an after dinner drink, but it seemed like a nice place to eat at. Plus, our friends said only good things about their experience.
Anyway, my parents are really contemporary (I mean they're not traditional nor conservative at all), they're 55 and 50 (so you can get the picture), and we all mainly like unpretentious places, good food, nothing too fancy or classy (at least nothing that falls into snob), and a good environment and ambience (no low conversation, piano or sax music or anything boring).
Another place I'm considering is Takashi.
We've already been to (and liked) Sushi Wabi, Meiji, Le Colonial and Riccardo Trattoria. And my parents have been to Coco Pazzo, Le Colonial, Tru, Gibsons and others in their previous visits to Chicago.
Oh, I almost forgot, money... We're looking for something reasonably priced. Meaning no Charlie Trotter's, Alinea, Tru, Les Nomades, et al. Let's stick to the 50-70$ p/pax (w/out wine) ballpark.

So, it's pretty much the impossible mix, cool/good/price, but I'm sure that Chicago has it and you guys can help me.



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  1. c
    carriet RE: topawers Jul 15, 2008 11:17 AM

    Frontera Grill and Topolobampo are good choices if you like Mexican. Try to make reservations asap, though. And my sister recently tried Mercat a la Planxa, which is supposed to be great for tapas.

    2 Replies
    1. re: carriet
      topawers RE: carriet Jul 15, 2008 11:36 AM

      Thanks! I forgot to mention that we are Mexicans, hahaha... so those are automatically discarded. Any others?

      Thanks again!

      1. re: topawers
        CorinneM1 RE: topawers Jul 15, 2008 06:25 PM

        Don't discard Mercat so quickly. It is not mexican. It is a tapas place.

    2. j
      jbontario RE: topawers Jul 15, 2008 12:52 PM

      I really like Aigre Doux and Naha, both in River North and in the casual fine dining. Both lean mediteranean and you will not be disappointed (search my other posts for these two and chowhound "nsxtasy" for great info on tons of chicago finds).

      For a little off the beaten path, my family always likes to shoot over to little italy for the original Rosebud.

      1. c
        CorinneM1 RE: topawers Jul 15, 2008 12:57 PM

        Check out the recent reviews here for Mercat a la Planxa. I believe that this would fit in well with your price range, cool atmosphere and quality food. The I believe that the tapas tasting with wine parings is right around $70 and they also offer a roasted pig for a party of 4 or more people for $42 per person. Its located in the Blackstone hotel. Comfortable, not snobby or stuffy but upbeat and fun.

        1. CookieEater RE: topawers Jul 15, 2008 01:58 PM

          what about West Town Tavern? I didn't get to go when I was in Chicago but it fits into all your criteria. It might be lower than your price range, I don't know if that's a good or bad thing for you.

          1 Reply
          1. re: CookieEater
            topawers RE: CookieEater Jul 16, 2008 08:03 AM

            West Town Tavern looks great, as does Sweets and Savories.
            Any of you guys can give me word on Takashi, Avec and Boka?

          2. j
            jbw RE: topawers Jul 16, 2008 06:27 AM

            Give Sweets & Savories a look. They've got a $29 prix fixe thru July:


            2 Replies
            1. re: jbw
              phr208 RE: jbw Jul 16, 2008 08:14 AM

              what's included in this prix fixe?

              1. re: phr208
                jbw RE: phr208 Jul 16, 2008 12:51 PM

                It's a special 3-course menu, with 3 or 4 selections for app, entree, and dessert. The selections are off of the main menu, and when we were there some of there specialties were included; i.e., Kobe burger, bread pudding. In general, we found it to be a great value.

            2. f
              ferret RE: topawers Jul 16, 2008 07:13 AM

              The Gage is a good choice. Nice varied menu, not inexpensive but also not too high. It's also right across from Millenium Park so you can walk off dinner.

              1. t
                topawers RE: topawers Jul 16, 2008 08:23 AM

                West Town Tavern looks great, as does Sweets and Savories.
                Any of you guys can give me word on Takashi, Avec and Boka?

                5 Replies
                1. re: topawers
                  bucktown2129 RE: topawers Jul 16, 2008 01:14 PM

                  avec is still the best casual restaurant in chicago. price range is what you're looking for

                  1. re: topawers
                    jbontario RE: topawers Jul 16, 2008 07:53 PM

                    Have yet to eat at Takashi, but I ate at his restaurant, Tribute, in the Detroit area a few times. It was phenomenal.

                    1. re: topawers
                      chicgail RE: topawers Jul 17, 2008 10:35 AM

                      I ate at Takaski just a couple of weeks ago. The food was excellent. The prices were not over the top. My only comment would be to skip dessert and instead go up the street to Hot Chocolate.

                      Hot Chocolate is also delightful, but I prefer it for lunch or brunch.

                      1. re: chicgail
                        topawers RE: chicgail Jul 17, 2008 02:45 PM

                        Just out of curiosity how much did you pay at Takashi?
                        And speaking about lunch, do you know any nice (casual) lunch spots for a Saturday afternoon? Preferably around the downtown area (Gold Coast, Streeterville, River North...)

                        1. re: topawers
                          chicgail RE: topawers Jul 17, 2008 04:30 PM

                          I think Takashi was somewhere between $110 - 130 for the two of us for appetizers and entrees with a couple of glasses of wine and desserts (that we wouldn't order again).

                    2. w
                      wak RE: topawers Jul 16, 2008 08:41 AM

                      I throw in my vote for Mercat. It fits in well with the previous places you mentioned, and combines the environment/hipness/cuisine combo, although it will fall into the top end of your price range, and likely less than Naha would be. It's in a big, almost loft like room in an old Chicago Hotel overlooking Grant Park. Very stylishly designed with an excellent variety of tapas. I like the small plate format since it gives everyone the chance to sample all the dishes, and of the 20 or so dishes I have tried all were at least good and many outstanding. Service is also quite good.

                      Alternately, Sweets and Savories is much more casual but another good choice.

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