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Dec 9, 2008 07:47 AM

Lunch and Dinner suggestions for girls weekend in Chicago

I will be in Chicago in January to celebrate my friends 30th birthday. We already have plans to see an afternoon show and have before-dinner-drinks at the Hancock Building. Any suggestions for lunch prior to the show and dinner after our visit to Hancock? We like all kinds of food and are willing to spend more than we normally would since it's her birthday :)


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  1. Here are a few suggestions within a five-minute walk of the John Hancock Center:

    Avenues (contemporary fine dining) -
    NoMI (contemporary fine dining) -
    Spiaggia (Italian fine dining) -

    Cafe Spiaggia (Italian) -
    Hugo's Frog Bar (seafood) -
    Saloon (steakhouse) -

    All are open for both lunch and dinner, except Avenues and Spiaggia, which are dinner only.

    Also note that some restaurants close for vacation in January, and I've heard NoMI will be doing some upcoming renovations, so It's a good idea to make reservations so you don't just show up and find that a place is closed. All of these accept reservations on

    2 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Thanks so much for the tip about vacations occuring in January. I'll check out the links you've provided!

      1. re: Madtownbride

        Here's a little bit more information about these places.

        Avenues, NoMI and Spiaggia are all very dressy, i.e. gentlemen wear jackets. Cafe Spiaggia, Saloon, and Hugo's are all business casual (and you could even get away with nice jeans).

        Prices are shown on the menus on their websites, except for Avenues, whose menu is shown on the Peninsula Chicago website, but without prices. The prices at Avenues for the 4-, 8-, and 15-course dinner are $75, $115, and $145, respectively.

    2. For cocktails after dinner, I recommend the Violet Hour in Wicker Park (it'll be a cab ride away from downtown or just take the blue line to Damen). There's a few new hotel bars open downtown that have fabulous views of the city (which you will have at the Hancock) and are a little less touristy: Vertigo Sky Lounge and I can't seem to think of the other one.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Eaterlover

        If you go to Violet Hour, you should be aware beforehand that it is really, really hidden, almost impossible to spot from outside, even if you know the address! Even the door itself blends with its exterior panel. They do this intentionally, to make it look like an old-time speakeasy.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Nsxtasy is totally right. There's usually a line of people trailing out from a clapboard wall (that's the first indication you're on the right track). It also help to get to VH earlier than 10pm since the wait can extend easily into an hour.

        2. re: Eaterlover

          Thanks for the Vertigo Sky reco. I'm not sure if she has her heart set on the Hancock or if she really just wants the view. I'll suggest it though!

          1. re: Madtownbride

            The Signature Room at the 95th (in the John Hancock Center) is THE place for a view of the city from above. It's the perfect place for a drink before or after dinner nearby.

            1. re: nsxtasy

              Ha ha! Ok, that settles it :)

              My friend just suggested Roy's Fusion for dinner...said she's been wanting to try it. Any thoughts? I did a search on here and didn't find anything horrible, so that's a start!

              1. re: Madtownbride

                Roy's is a national chain ( ). While I don't share the prejudice against chains that some folks feel, I also feel as though a national chain isn't really representative of our local culinary offerings and restaurant scene. After all, if you can eat from the same menu at Roy's in New York, Texas, California, and of course Hawaii where they originated, there really isn't anything Chicago-specific about it. It's like visiting here and going home to tell people that during your visit you ate at Ruth's Chris or Cheesecake Factory. If you had an extended stay here and were already trying a variety of our restaurants, then it might make more sense, but since you're just here for a weekend, I think it's better to try places you can only find here and not elsewhere. Hope that makes sense.

                1. re: Madtownbride

                  Yes, it is a chain...although I think that the menu varies a bit from city to city, at least from what I've seen because I've eaten at many of them. Despite being a chain, it remains one of my favorite fish places. I agree with nsxtasy that it certainly doesn't represent Chicago at all, but if your friend really wants to go there, rest assured that you will eat very good food.

                  1. re: chicagofoodie84

                    Thanks to you both for your comments! I completely understand your point about coming to Chicago and eating at a place that doesn't really represent the unique things Chicago has to offer. In fact, I would be hard-pressed to go to a chain in a city I had never (or rarely) visited. I lived in Chicago for a couple years and still visit quite often, so this birthday trip is not my only shot to experience true Chicago food. I'm ok with eating at a chain in this case, as long as the food is good. I promise to always love Chicago and to not go to The Cheesecake Factory while I'm there ; ) Thanks again!

              2. re: Madtownbride

                The Signature Room at the 95th, at the top of the John Hancock Center, is THE place for a view of Chicago from above, perfect for a drink before or after eating dinner nearby.

            2. drinks at the hancock are nice but drinks at the trump hotel are fabulous. hancock has spectacular views but is the bar is dated with bad drinks. the bar at trump( next to SIXTEEN restaurant)has wonderful views of the city and river and killer cocktails-not inexpensive but potent so you won't have to drink too many. for dinner i think you would like a lively and festive since it is your birthday. i suggest sushisamba rio(fusion japanese/south american) or bluewater grill(modern seafood,sushi)both are a short cab ride from trump which is close to the theatre district. and if you want a good steak,smith and wollensky is right across from trump so you can walk. p.s. eat a light lunch and save the calories the evening!!!!!

              1 Reply
              1. re: amaliax

                Well, the view from the Hancock Center "trumps" the view from the Trump Hotel, as it's "head and shoulders" above. ;) However, if you are not going to be near the Hancock Center, let us know as we can give you recommendations for some top places that haven't been mentioned yet.

                Also, so as not to confuse you, the biggest concentration of theaters in Chicago is in the Loop, and they are quite spread out (more so than, say, in the Theater District in Midtown Manhattan). The Trump Hotel is located at the south end of the "Magnificent Mile" of North Michigan Avenue, a short walk from some theaters (e.g. Chicago Theater), but almost a mile from others (e.g. Auditorium Theater, Orchestra Hall, Lyric Opera). If you would like recommendations for restaurants near your theater, let us know which one it is and we can help.