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Oct 17, 2008 06:39 PM

Fri Lunch Downtown/Sat Dinner NW

We'll be Chicago for a long weekend, staying in Arlington Hts. We plan to take the train downtown Friday to play, eat, and drink before heading back to the hotel in the late afternoon. Food and wine are our primary motivaters, but we enjoy culture of all types--from funky to philharmonic. Seeking recommendations for great lunch near any interesting sights. We've done the Art Institute before, and Sears Tower but otherwise are Chicago-novices. We 've been to Toplobompo, Frontera Grill, and Bin 36 on other visits (all years ago)

1st Question: If you had 3 or 4 hours to eat, drink, and see something cool kind of on the way to/from the train in downtown Chicago, where would you go? Assume you enjoy all types of food, but are particularly fond of Thai, seafood, and anything that's tough to find in Dayton OH. Cru sounds good, but maybe just for wine instead of lunch? Any great food/interesting sights near Cru?

2nd Question: If you had a car, but didn't want to travel more than 10 miles or so from Arlington Hts (near the track), where would you go for dinner on Saturday eve? For this meal, one person can't eat spicy, and one isn't really a red meat eater (no steakhouses), but all other options including ethnic are on the table. Main criteria is excellent food. Years ago, we generally ate at a tapas place near the train station, but don't even know if it's still there.

Thanks, Chicago hounds. Your suggestions are appreciated!


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  1. No one has any suggestions for either question? I can provide more info if necessary.


    1 Reply
    1. re: Niki in Dayton

      Thanks, folks! I appreciate all of your suggestions and will report back when we return. We'll only have time for a few meals on our own, as we're attending a social function and many events and meals are part of the program, however, I'm sure the meals we do get to pick will be the better for your advice!

    2. Do you still want to do downtown attractions/eats or are you wlling to take an El once you get off the metra? If so, I'd recommend getting on the Blue line and exploring the Wicker Park/ Bucktown area. Or taking the Brown line and going to the Lincoln Square area. If you go the Lincoln Square route, get off at Western. Some of the top-notch Thai places are on that stretch. Search Spoon Thai on this board.

      1. Give me some time to think about downtown...I lived in the city for several years and sometimes just being spontaneous ended up with the best results. Just being downtown is awesome in itself.
        But I am fond of a Tapas restuarant right off the tracks in downtown Arlington Heights called La Tasca. They do not take reservations so just go a little early and then explore the area.

        1. There are two spots right in Arlington Heights which I would definitely recommend. Yanni's Greek Restaurant has EXCELLENT food and a wonderful atmosphere, which would make for a great Saturday evening dinner. We have gone multiple times to Greek town to eat and other Greek places and none measure up. It has tons of fish specials and other food for the non-red meat eater.

          Try visiting Mitsuwa Japanese marketplace in Arlington Heights (in the same parking lot area as Yanni's). It has a grocery store and food court. It has unusual stuff that I bet would be hard to find many places, Dayton included.

          1. There's so much to see right in downtown Chicago - the museums (especially the Art Institute; the "museum campus" with the Field Museum of Natural History and the Shedd Aquarium aren't far), the parks (our new Millennium Park is exquisite and worth an hour, easily), etc. You can find lots of information on local attractions in the Chicago Tourism and Visitors Bureau website at If you look through there and find yourself going to some particular part of the city, let us know and we can provide nearby lunch recommendations for you.

            Most downtown restaurants are open for lunch; a few quick suggestions include Blackbird ( ) in the West Loop near the train stations, Pizano's ( ) on Madison near the Art Institute and Millennium Park for Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, and Park Grill ( ) at the entrance to Millennium Park for American cuisine including soups, salads, excellent burgers, entrees, etc.

            Arlington Heights has recently developed its downtown area (right next to the train station) and several excellent restaurants are located there. altThai ( ) is one of the best Thai restaurants in the suburbs. Fuego ( ) has very good, creative Mexican food. Both are only a block from the train station. Another Mexican restaurant not too far from AH is Flamingo's Seafood ( ) in Mount Prospect. I've been to Yanni's, mentioned above, and it's good for Greek food. Both Flamingo's and Yanni's are away from downtown AH though.