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Oct 15, 2008 09:43 AM

New Yorker Coming to Chicago for 1st Time

Hi all,

I am coming to Chicago for the first time in a couple of weeks and am very excited about checking out the city. I get in around 8:30 on Friday night so I would need a place to eat with my GF on the later side and places for the rest of the weekend. I am looking for the great places that locals enjoy such hot dogs, Italian beef, or anything else and a place to have a nice dinner that's not Alinea. Anything really, brunch, lunch, dinner, and late night. Please help me out!

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  1. Chicago is a big city - like New York. Where are you staying? This will help to give you restaurant choices. Please remember our pizza is very different from yours - so give ours a try!

    4 Replies
    1. re: littleida

      I believe I am staying in the Gold Coast. There is nothing I won't try.

      1. re: clashfan

        For authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza, Giordano's on Rush (for double-crust "stuffed" pizza) and Pizano's on State (for single-crust "pan" pizza) are both within walking distance. Order ahead to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake. and

        For the nice dinner, I recommend North Pond, a quick cab ride away (about a mile and a half north). It offers great contemporary American food (from James Beard-nominated Chef Bruce Sherman) in an exquisite and unique setting in the middle of Lincoln Park, facing its namesake pond and the city skyline towering over the opposite shore. A very special place in our city.

        For something a bit more casual, go to Salpicon, for creative provincial Mexican cuisine, walking distance from the Gold Coast. (This is NOT your "enchiladas and tacos" type food!)

      2. re: littleida

        From a New Yorker who's lived in Chicago for 17 years - skip the deep dish pizza - never found a New Yorker who liked it.
        I love brunch at Frontera Grill on Saturday morning. Try their version of eggs benedict - mesa, black beans, spicy sausage cream.
        A new restaurant, Perennial, is very good.
        Old Town Brasserie is lovely - and there is entertainment.

        1. re: sh827

          > From a New Yorker who's lived in Chicago for 17 years - skip
          > the deep dish pizza - never found a New Yorker who liked it.

          Here's one. I grew up in the New York area, eating the "fold it to eat it" pizza that IMHO represents true mediocrity. Once I tried the delicious deep-dish pizza here, there was no going back for me. Whether it's the double-crust "stuffed" pizza at Giordano's, or the single-crust "pan" pizza at Lou Malnati's, I love them both; I think they are sheer heaven, even after I've lived here for years. When I go back to where I grew up, I never bother with New York style pizza - you can keep it.

          If I have to name one local food specialty that visitors should NOT miss while they're here, it's our deep-dish pizza. Yum!

      3. Whatever you do, just make sure you try a Chicago Hot Dog, an Italian Beef and some Chicago pizza while you are here. Those are the three essentials for Chicago.

        My personal recommendations are:

        For stuffed pizza, you really cant go wrong with any of the famous, most talked about places such as Giordanos, Ginos East or Uno/Due. Just choose one closest to you.

        For Italian Beef, Portillos is heads and shoulders above anywhere else in my opinion, Their gravy is like liquid heroin it's so good. Be sure to tell them to "dip" the sandwich if you like lots of gravy or "juice" like I do. It's fabulous.

        For hot dogs, it's hard to find a bad place here. Portillos will also do a good dog. Just make sure you get one "with everything on it" and you'll be in Chicago Dog heaven.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Illuminatus

          Note that the term "stuffed pizza" usually refers only to the double-crust pizza served at places like Giordano's, Edwardo's, and Bacino's, and not to the single-crust "pan" pizza served at Gino's East or Uno/Due (or Pizano's or Lou Malnati's).

        2. Later meal -
          Avec is my favorite for those later meals because it's open late. If you show up around 10, you can still expect a wait, but I'd guess it's a shorter wait than if you came at dinnertime. It's communal seating, no reservations accepted, small, and bustling, and I love the food.

          Maybe for something a little different than standard Chicago fare, you can take the el north to Argyle (red line - Argyle stop) and grab a casual meal at one of the many Asian (mostly Vietnamese) restaurants in this area. Sun Wah and Tank Noodle are my favorites here.

          5 Replies
          1. re: jn2001

            I'll second Avec. As a New Yorker who does a lot of business in Chicago, I always drop in to Avec. Not over the top expensive, but with imaginative food and good service. Also I always seem to meet other New Yorkers there; either bartendors or patrons. Not that you're coming to Chicago to meet other New Yorkers, but I always think its interesting to bump into someone from "home".

            I've heard that Hot Dougs for hot dogs is an interesting place to go to on Sundays; it closes at 4 I think.

            Sweets and Savories very good for dinner or brunch; it's outside the downtown area.

            Smoque is a good BYOB BBQ place outside of the downtown area as well.

            No matter where you go you're apt to have a great time. Chicago is a great city; a nice juxtaposition to New York.

            1. re: mgh

              Note that Hot Doug's is closed through October 28.

              I've never been impressed with Avec. Even aside from its no-reservations policy, long waiting times, and uncomfortable seating, I've been consistently disappointed by the food.

              1. re: nsxtasy

                I have a reservation at Blackbird on Saturday night. Is it any good? I have heard different things. I am actually going to end up eating at the W Lakeshore Thursday night because of what time I am getting in. Any recommendations for brunch places on Saturday near there?

                1. re: clashfan

                  Blackbird is very good, one of our best contemporary American restaurants. While I may have occasionally mentioned a few things I don't like about it for purposes of comparison with other restaurants, the food is consistently excellent and it's a very nice place. So there's no cause for concern; go and enjoy it!

                  There are not very many places that offer brunch on Saturdays (although there are quite a few that are open for lunch with their regular lunch menu). I know of three places within a mile or so of the W that serve brunch on Saturdays. Two are in luxury hotels and their brunch is relatively expensive: NoMI ( ), in the Park Hyatt, which has an a la carte Saturday brunch that's different from their Sunday buffet, and David Burke's Primehouse ( ), in the James Hotel, which serves their "American dim sum brunch" on Saturdays as well as Sundays. Frontera Grill ( ), the Mexican restaurant, serves brunch on Saturdays only. All three display their brunch menus on their websites.

                  Another option for Saturday brunch (or any other meal) is Fox & Obel. Fox & Obel is our premier gourmet grocery store, and it's located just a couple of blocks from the W Lakeshore. In the rear, they have a cafe where they serve food all day long. It's not fancy, just your basic coffeehouse atmosphere, but the food is excellent. You can check out the cafe menu on their website at

                  1. re: clashfan

                    I've been to Blackbird a number of times and think its OK. The service is excellent. As an out of towner myself the wait staff always give me excellent recommendations for other places to try. The food at Blackbird isn't really to my liking. It may just be my palette, but everything tastes shall I say it...specific. What I mean is that they take a high quality piece of fish, meat or poultry and add very interesting ingredients that in my opinion take away from the actual taste of the original food. On the one hand they are highly imaginative with this approach, but on the other hand you may be surprised at the out come. Don't get me wrong, they prepare the food expertly. Be this as it may going to Blackbird is a good experience. I've always been made to feel like royalty when I eat there. Like I said maybe the food isn't right for my palette. You may find the food is excellent.

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