Ultimate Chicago Food Weekend
I moved out of Chicago about 18 months ago and miss it terribly. I am thinking about having an all out weekend in the city during August. Here is my plan for the ultimate food weekend. Please help me perfect the plan:
Fly from New York to Chicago. Check into hotel (any suggestions? I loved a recent stay at Trump, but would consider others)
Dinner at Moto (wish they served lunch). I haven't eaten here before, but it is pretty up there on my list of places I want to go.
Can't figure out lunch. Any suggestions?
Dinner at Alinea (have wanted to return since my visit two years ago. better than any meal I have had in New York since---including per se)
Brunch at Hot Chocolate (all time favorite place to eat)
Check out of hotel and fly back to New York
I am assuming Moto is more fun than Tru and at least almost as tasty as Charlie Trotter, is that true?
Moto wasn't even close to Trotter or TRU, fwiw. I was quite underwhelmed.
For a lunch - take nsxtasy's advice and check out Cafe Spiaggia......amazing for the price.
Also, that isn't an ultimate food weekend.......you're missing breakfasts and bakeries. ;-) I just posted a thread of my (expansive) thoughts on Bleeding Heart, Over Easy, Trotter's, Tru, Bongo Room, Cafe Spiaggia, and Moto.
uhockey, you hit one of our best breakfasts on this trip, but you need to work more on your bakery itinerary. :) I haven't been to the one you hit, but based on your description of it, I think you'll be WAY more impressed if you try to work Vanille Patisserie and/or Fox & Obel into your itinerary next time! I was just at Vanille a few days ago, and if the words "mousse cakes" make you salivate, you've got to try their entremets!
And FWIW, I had mentioned Cafe Spiaggia as a possible location for dinner during the OP's itinerary. Not that he/she couldn't go there for lunch; that's certainly a possibility. But I was using it primarily to illustrate a place that would serve as more of a contrast with Alinea than Moto would. (Other places I also mentioned, such as Mundial Cocina Mestiza, could easily be substituted as a second dinner, with or without a lunch at Cafe Spiaggia also on the itinerary.)
Bunch of questions here...
>> Check into hotel (any suggestions? I loved a recent stay at Trump, but would consider others)
You'll have to ask elsewhere about hotels, as the Chowhound Team frowns on discussions here that aren't related to food and beverage.
>> Dinner at Moto (wish they served lunch). I haven't eaten here before, but it is pretty up there on my list of places I want to go.
>> Dinner at Alinea (have wanted to return since my visit two years ago. better than any meal I have had in New York since---including per se)
If I were coming here for a weekend and only had two dinners, I wouldn't do Moto and Alinea. They're too similar - they both emphasize molecular gastronomy, with unusual cooking techniques and combinations of ingredients - and I would look for more variety in my eating plans. It's like coming here and having your two dinners at TAC Quick and Spoon Thai, or at Coco Pazzo and Cafe Spiaggia... well, you get the idea. I would try to put together a culinary itinerary for the trip with some variety - upscale and cheap eats, high-end and ethnic, etc., especially for the two dinners. Obviously, this is your choice, and it may indeed be your preference, in which case by all means go for it. But in case you hadn't thought about this, well, it's something to think about. Just for example, here are some possibilities for two great dinners that give more of a yin and a yang:
Alinea and Cafe Spiaggia
Moto and Mundial Cocina Mestiza
North Pond and TAC Quick
See what I mean? Again, though, this is entirely up to you, and if you really want to do Moto and Alinea, go for it!
>> Can't figure out lunch. Any suggestions?
What type of cheap or ethnic eats do you miss the most when you think about when you lived here? Deep-dish pizza? Chicago hot dogs? Thai? Mexican? Greek? Whatever you miss the most, and wouldn't want to devote an entire dinner to, that's what I would do for lunch. (Most cheap or ethnic eats are open for lunch on Saturdays.)
>> Brunch at Hot Chocolate (all time favorite place to eat)
This, I really don't understand. I've eaten at a lot of different places for brunch in Chicago (you can read numerous reports of my brunches at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/364403 ) and I just don't "get" the big deal about brunch at Hot Chocolate. Not that it's bad, but I can't think of a single thing they do that's any better than anywhere else, except maybe their namesake beverage, and for me that's not a high point of brunch. The brunch food (both savory and sweet) is far better at M. Henry or Bongo Room, the baked goods are far better at Vanille Patisserie or Fox & Obel, there are places that are cozier, etc. I mean, if you love it, by all means go back - but that's one brunch place I just don't get.
>> I am assuming Moto is more fun than Tru and at least almost as tasty as Charlie Trotter, is that true?
It depends on how you define "fun". Moto is really more of a "shock and awe" type place, rather than a "wow that's delicious" type place, if that makes sense. Yes, it's more casual than TRU or Trotter's or Alinea, and does more unusual things with the food, but I wouldn't necessarily describe it as more fun.
For Saturday lunch, while I still feel that my previous advice (to have what you miss most) applies, I'd like to note one specific possibility for that meal in your itinerary. Frontera Grill is open for brunch on Saturdays. 'nuff said. :)
In another topic someone recommended not stuffing yourself too badly or too late in the day for lunch the same day as a dinner at Alinea. That's good advice and worth repeating here.