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Oct 23, 2008 08:38 AM

New to Chicago

Hi. I'll be in Chicago the first weekend of November with a small group of friends. We're seeing Wicked on Friday night and would like a dinner suggestion for before the show and a drinks/apps place for after.

We also would like a brunch spot for Sunday; I saw one post that suggested Between... any other highly recommended places?

We're foodies... so excellent quality and preparation are the real priorities... doesn't have to be fancy service or atmosphere... charm and character are appreciated.

Thanks so much for any advice... I can't wait to explore Chicago!!


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  1. I've eaten dinner at Boutique and wasn't crazy about it...just one data point however, and it wasn't brunch. Two places that I've been wanting to try for brunch are M. Henry and Sweets and Savories. I have not been to M. Henry, but Sweets and Savories is one of my favorite places for dinner, so I would guess their brunch can't be all bad! You should be able to find some posts about both places that might help you make up your mind.

    If you feel like trying something different, I'm partial to dimsum in Chinatown (at Shui Wah) or Vietnamese food on Argyle (Tank Noodle) for my brunches. Both are easy trips on the red line if you feel like exploring some of Chicago's Asian neighborhoods!

    As for post-show appetizers and drinks, Avec is my favorite for a little late night treat. It's open late (I think 1am on weekends) and serves great food (small plates) to go along with some great wine.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jn2001

      I must agree that Sweets and Savories for dinner is excellent. I can't imagine the brunch being anything but great.

    2. Starting with the dinner recommendations.

      Wicked is playing at the Oriental Theatre, on Randolph between State and Dearborn. It will be convenient for you, and save you headaches and worries about making the show, if you have dinner somewhere close by. Starting with the closest, and moving outward...

      Petterino's is a steakhouse at Randolph and Dearborn next to the theater. They have items in many price ranges, from the $10 burger, to seafood and chicken items in the teens, to steaks in the twenties and thirties. You can see their complete menu on their website at (the "print friendly PDF" version shows prices).

      Atwood Cafe is one block south in the Hotel Burnham, offering contemporary American food with entrees mostly in the low twenties. Nice place, with a view of people walking by outside the big windows. You can see the complete menu (with prices) on their website at

      Catch 35 is a seafood restaurant two blocks north of the theater, with most seafood entrees in the twenties. You can see the complete menu (with prices) on their website at

      If you're interested in something in the categories of "inexpensive" or "authentic local specialties", you might consider Pizano's on Madison (two blocks east, two blocks south), for authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza.

      All of these except Pizano's accept reservations on If you go to Pizano's, you can phone ahead with your pizza order to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for it to bake.

      These same places are suitable for drinks after the show, and again, the convenience of a nearby location applies here as well.

      Now, for brunch.

      There are literally hundreds of places where you can have brunch, all over the city. They tend to fall into three broad categories: lavish buffet brunches; restaurants that serve breakfast specialties all week long; and restaurants that serve a special a la carte menu for Sunday brunch. Between falls into the third category, and it's just wonderful. Check out the menu on their website at It's every bit as good as the menu sounds!

      However, there are lots more places for brunch, in all three categories. I love M. Henry, which serves breakfast all week long, but it's in Andersonville, quite far if you're staying downtown. In the same category, Bongo Room has two locations, one in the South Loop, and I love their pancake specialties. It's also worth noting that places that serve breakfast all week long, including M. Henry and Bongo Room, get very busy, with long waiting times to be seated on Sundays (less so if you arrive early). Many of the places with lavish buffets and a la carte brunch menus accept reservations, which enable you to avoid this problem. If you have a specific preference, for a particular kind of brunch and/or if you can tell us where you will be staying so we can suggest someplace close by, we can tailor recommendations to your specific needs. If you need ideas, check out the lengthy topic on breakfast/brunch places at which has quite a few specific recommendations.

      3 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        Nsxtasy makes a good point about location. Nothing worse than getting stressed at dinner before going to the show. That said, I think you could expand the cirumference a little and consider some additional places. I like Atwood and Catch 35 but might not recommend Petterino's, depending on what you hope for. Petterinos is a perfectly decent Italian/steak place where many people go before theater, but I am not sure it is what you are looking for.

        Not far north are two options that might suit you better: Aigre Doux and Naha. Both use excellent ingredients and execute well. And they aren't more than a 15 minute walk or 5 minute cab.

        If you don't mind venturing out of downtown after the theater, a fun place for after dinner drinks and snacks might be Bin Wine Bar in Bucktown. They have good charcuterie boards, wine, as well as a full bar. Also a fun atmosphere.

        For burnch, I am a big M Henry fan, but it is far from downtown. If you don't go to Atwood for dinner, I think they have brunch (they used to, at least, and it was pretty good).

        1. re: what I want

          I think "what I want" (have to use quotes for that username!) and I are mostly in agreement. Obviously it's up to you whether to trade off the convenience of a nearby location against a place that may have slightly better food. I agree with his/her comments about Petterino's, and also agree that Aigre Doux and Naha are more exceptional than Atwood Cafe (although Atwood is very good too). Which way to make the trade-off is up to you, of course!

          For drinks after the theater, he/she mentions Bin Wine Bar. If you would prefer to keep within a short distance of the theater, you should be aware that the same folks who own Bin Wine Bar in Bucktown (3-4 miles from the theater) also have a similar restaurant/wine bar just a couple blocks north of the theater, called Bin 36. So it would be easy to walk over there when the theater lets out. For more info, see their website at

          Atwood Cafe does still do Sunday brunch; they also do breakfast the other six days of the week. You can see their menus on their website. I've been there for breakfast and it was very good. Again, though, you do not state where you will be staying. This information would be helpful, as there are places doing Sunday brunch all over the city and suburbs, and you may as well choose one that's convenient to where you will be starting the day.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            Thanks so much for the suggestions! I believe our hotel is near the Oriental Theatre (someone else made the hotel reservation since I'm a bit unfamiliar with the city). It sounds like Atwood could work well for brunch. Can't wait to try the great suggestions!

      2. Thanks to all of you for the excellent suggestions! This will make my friends very happy... I'm leaning toward either Aigre Doux or Naha for pre-theatre dinner and toward Avec for post-theatre apps/drinks. I need to research the brunch options further because you all gave me so many good recommendations! I also might have to go to Chinatown for the Dim Sum recommendation... Thanks again for all the suggestions!

        2 Replies
        1. re: vanneneff

          Avec is great . . . just don't be surprised if you have to wait a bit, even after a show. And hopefully you won't be put off by communal dining.

          Aigre Doux vs. Naha - I'd choose Naha any day. I think the food is outstanding. Aigre Doux is good, maybe even very good. But both times I've been to AG there have been small glitches (generally with food quality, but also minor service gaffes) that keep me from getting too excited.

          As for dim sum, Shui Wah and Phoenix are my top 2 - Phoenix for more traditional cart service, although I often prefer the quality at Shui Wah.

          1. re: BRB

            That's funny; my experience has been exactly the reverse! I'd choose Aigre Doux any day, although Naha is very good too. You can read a detailed report about one of my dinners at Aigre Doux at