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Suggestions - daughter and daddy wknd

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Looking for food suggestions for a three-day weekend. Dad (me) and my 9-year old daughter. She's not finicky and an aspiring foodie. We are staying on Michigan Ave and will not have a car. I haven't been to Chicago in years, so I have no idea. We live outside Kansas City, so no steak or BBQ suggestions, please.

2 Breakfasts
2 Lunches
2 Dinners

THANKS!

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  1. When will you be coming? This would help generate appropriate responses. For example, if you were coming in the spring or summer, I would suggest taking a water taxi over to Chinatown for a meal or a day or suggested to-go eats for a picnic in the park, seaon permitting.

    1 Reply
    1. re: CorinneM1

      Oops! Arriving the afternoon of Friday, January 16 and leaving the afternoon of the following Sunday. Just looking for a "Chicago Experience" to share with her.

    2. Two great breakfast places in the West Loop - Lou Mitchell's and Ina's. The first is a Chicago institution.

      Is she an American Girl fan? If she is (and from her age she could be), you need to take her to the American Girl store. They serve lunch and tea and there are special seats for the dolls. You definitely need to reserve in advance. If you will be here on Friday/Monday in time for lunch, you should go to the Berghoff Cafe in the loop. A smaller version of a Chicago classic (now closed) with great German food (try the sauerbraten), but only open on weekdays.

      For dinner close to Michigan Ave., I would recommend Bistro 110, a nice bistro-y french place with delicious roasted garlic for the bread and all the French classics. Good for an aspiring foodie. Greektown is also a good choice not too far away. I like Santorini; the food is a notch better than the others. Red Light on West Randolph is also good. Pan-Asian food under the direction of Jackie Shen, one of Chicago's greats.

      Hope this helps.

      1. I have two more questions that will help to make the most appropriate recommendations:

        1. May I ask where on Michigan Avenue you are staying, either the hotel name or the approximate address? The reason I ask is that there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance no matter where you're staying, but they vary depending on which part of Michigan Avenue you'll be around. North Michigan Avenue includes the "Mag Mile" stretch from Oak Street south to the river, the next mile or so (down to around Congress) is generally considered part of the Loop, and the next stretch is considered the South Loop; all three stretches have numerous hotels and restaurants.

        2. What kinds of food DO you like? Here are some possibilities to consider:

        a. High-end "haute cuisine" fine dining (dress-up)

        b. Mid-priced "casual fine dining" including:
        - contemporary American
        - Italian
        - French bistro
        - upscale ethnic
        - seafood
        - (steakhouses are excluded)

        c. Lower priced "cheap eats" including:
        - storefront ethnic (including Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Mexican)
        - pizza (including Chicago-style deep-dish pizza)
        - faster food (including our local Chicago hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches)
        - (barbecue is excluded)

        Breakfast places tend to break down into:
        - places specializing in breakfast foods (pancakes, egg dishes)
        - high-end luxury restaurants with big buffet brunches on Sundays
        - places that do a la carte brunches on Sundays

        We have places where you can get great food and a real Chicago experience in all of these categories! Of course, this list does not cover *every* type of food in town, but will help you express your preferences for one type of food over another.

        If you can let us know where you're staying, and which of these various types of food you'd most like to make sure are included, we can provide suggestions of places that are geographically most convenient and will meet with those preferences!

        3 Replies
        1. re: nsxtasy

          1. WE ARE STAYING AT THE HYATT REGENCY AT 151 E WACKER. I'M OPEN TO WALKING OR A SHORT CAB RIDE.

          2. What kinds of food DO you like? Here are some possibilities to consider:

          a. High-end "haute cuisine" fine dining (dress-up) -- I'M THINKING OF THIS FOR SATURDAY NIGHT. SHE IS NINE, BUT LOVES TO COOK. PROBABLY TOO LATE FOR A CHEF'S TABLE RESERVATION FOR NEXT SATURDAY, I SUPPOSE.

          b. Mid-priced "casual fine dining" including:
          - contemporary American
          - Italian
          - French bistro -- YES. SHE LOVES ALL THINGS FRANCE.
          - upscale ethnic
          - seafood
          - (steakhouses are excluded)

          c. Lower priced "cheap eats" including:
          - pizza (including Chicago-style deep-dish pizza) -- THINKING ABOUT LOU MALNATI'S (OR SIMILAR) FOR FRIDAY NIGHT.

          - faster food (including our local Chicago hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches). -- THINKING OF HOT DOGS FOR LUNCH ON SUNDAY BEFORE WE HEAD TO THE AIRPORT.

          Breakfast places tend to break down into:
          - places specializing in breakfast foods (pancakes, egg dishes)
          - high-end luxury restaurants with big buffet brunches on Sundays
          - places that do a la carte brunches on Sundays
          MAYBE SOMETHING VERY CASUAL AND LOW KEY.

          EVEN THOUGH SHE IS ONLY NINE, SHE IS NOT PICKY AND IS ADVENTUROUS. THANKS!

          1. re: topekahawk

            Great! That helps a lot!

            Keep in mind that "walking distance" varies with the weather. I'll try to give you a rough guide though, in terms of approximate blocks from the hotel, and you can decide whether it's walkable or a cab makes more sense.

            a. High-end "haute cuisine" fine dining (dress-up)

            The "chef's table" or "kitchen table" available at some of these restaurants might not be available, but it won't hurt to ask. Other than that, don't rule any place out just because it's short notice! Opentable.com , the reservations service that many restaurants use, is one quick way to check availability, but even if it shows a place as full, sometimes you can still get a reservation by calling them. And sometimes the concierge at the hotel can help.

            Chicago has 6-10 high-end dressy restaurants, all of which are excellent (but expensive). Ones reasonably close to your hotel include:

            TRU (contemporary) - www.trurestaurant.com (six blocks north, one block east)
            Avenues (contemporary) - www.peninsula.com (seven blocks north)
            Everest (French/Alsatian) - www.everestrestaurant.com (eight blocks south, five blocks west)
            Spiaggia (Italian) - www.spiaggiarestaurant.com (13 blocks north)

            These places can get very expensive, as much as $200-300/person including moderate alcohol and tax/tip (obviously the cost with no alcohol for your daughter will be less). If you're looking for a relative bargain in this group, Everest offers a special limited 3-course pre-theater menu at 5:00/5:30 for $50. By comparison, Avenues has 4-, 8-, and 15-course menus for $75, $115, and $145, respectively, and TRU offers 3- and 9-course menus for $95 and $145, although items at TRU are also available a la carte.

            If you need a closer place as a backup plan in the case of inclement weather, Aria ( www.ariarestaurant.com ) is a somewhat more casual pan-Asian restaurant in the Fairmont Hotel right across the street from the Hyatt Regency, and it's quite nice, and classy.

            b. Mid-priced "casual fine dining" including:
            - French bistro

            Brasserie Jo ( www.brasseriejo.com ) is excellent. (one block north, four blocks west) The owner is Jean Joho, who also owns/runs Everest, mentioned above among the high-end places. If you decide to go to Everest and want to try a French bistro from a different chef, the recommendation above of Bistro 110 ( www.levyrestaurants.com ) by easknh is also good, although it's a bit further than Brasserie Jo; it's nine blocks north of the hotel.

            - pizza (including Chicago-style deep-dish pizza)

            The closest location of Lou Malnati's, on Wells Street, is not as close as some other places; it's one block north and seven blocks west. For single-crust "pan" pizza, the original Uno and Due are four blocks north and two blocks west. You can get double-crust "stuffed" pizza much, much closer; from the hotel, Giordano's on Lake in the Prudential building is right across the street to the south, and Bacino's on Wacker is right across the street to the west. At any of these places, keep in mind that you can view their menu on their website and phone ahead with your pizza order, to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake.

            - faster food (including our local Chicago hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches)

            Gold Coast Dogs ( www.goldcoastdog.com ) is one block west and two blocks south.

            Breakfast places tend to break down into:

            For casual and low key, I recommend Fox & Obel, two blocks north and three blocks east. Fox & Obel is our premier upscale gourmet grocery store, with the finest in meats, fish, cheese, prepared foods, and baked goods. In the rear of the store is a cafe where you can get anything from a cup of coffee to a complete meal, made to order. They do excellent omelets, and I love their cinnamon swirl rolls, bran muffins, etc. I haven't tried everything on their menu, but you can view it by going to their website at www.fox-obel.com and clicking on CAFE. The atmosphere is just your basic coffeehouse but the food is great.

            One other thing you should be aware of is, in the vicinity of your hotel, some of the streets have two levels, one on top of the other (Upper Wacker and Lower Wacker, Upper Columbus and Lower Columbus). So in terms of directions, in certain places you need to be on the proper level to get where you're going.

            On the south side of the river, around the hotel, most of the pedestrian-friendly access is on the upper level, including the main dropoff/pickup entrance of the hotel. So if you want to walk to Michigan Avenue, or to some of the places mentioned above in the immediate vicinity of the hotel (Giordano's, Bacino's, Aria), the best way to do so is from the upper level, where all the sidewalks and entrances are connected. The lower level is more auto-friendly and includes the entrance to the hotel's parking garage. If you look at the map and decide you want to cross the river on Columbus Drive to walk to Fox & Obel, you should know that Columbus Drive crosses from the lower level, so you would need to get down to that level inside the hotel to walk out to Lower Wacker and Lower Columbus Drive to do so. (There's an Upper Columbus Drive but it ends at Wacker and does not cross the river.)

            Similarly, on the north side of the river, some of the restaurants mentioned below (Brasserie Jo and Lou Malnati's) are along Hubbard Street. Hubbard Street crosses UNDER Michigan Avenue; once you cross the river, you will need to find the stairway to walk down to Hubbard Street. Illinois Street (one block north of Hubbard, and on which Fox & Obel is located) also crosses under Michigan Avenue and you will need to take stairs down to that street. Illinois does intersect with Columbus Drive, though, one block to the east.

            Hope that makes sense (so you don't wonder why you can't find one of these streets while you're walking down Michigan Avenue).

            HTH - Feel free to ask more questions, and enjoy your visit!

            1. re: nsxtasy

              WOW! Thank you very much for the time and effort you put into such suggestions. I appreciate it very much. Clearly, you type faster than my 40 WPM. At least I hope so! I will post my reviews of my restaurant visits for all to see in a couple of weeks.

        2. I would also suggest the Four Seasons for lunch - kids are treated like royalty, I always bring my daughter there for a special dad's weekend lunch. Also, for a toned down version of Spiaggia, try Cafe Spiaggia (still great food and not nearly as stuffy a setting). Another French spot is Bistro Margot on North Wells, about a $10 cab ride from your hotel.

          2 Replies
          1. re: seavej

            Yup. The high-end restaurants often have a knack for treating kids well. I observed the best, most exquisite service of my life at Everest. One of the things that happened is that the wait staff noticed that the sun was in the eyes of the five-year-old at the table next to mine, and they approached and asked her, rather than her parents, if she would like for them to lower the window shades. Priceless. (Kids will also be impressed by the view there, looking out over the city. And if she enjoys all things French, it's the finest French restaurant in the city.)

            Anyway, from the Hyatt, the Four Seasons is eleven blocks north; the high-end restaurant inside is called Seasons. You didn't mention that you were looking for Italian, but if you are... Cafe Spiaggia is excellent for moderately-priced Italian, but it's rather far, 13 blocks north of the Hyatt. If you're looking for a good moderately-priced Italian place but one much closer to the Hyatt, consider Coco Pazzo Cafe ( www.cocopazzocafe.com ), which is five blocks north and one block east. Bistrot Margot is in Old Town, which is not near the Hyatt Regency (too many blocks to count), especially when there are several equally excellent French bistros so close to the hotel, as previously noted.

            1. re: nsxtasy

              Just a brief report on the weekend eats. Because of the snow and cold (-23 windchill), we went casual the whole weekend.

              Friday -- Pizza at Gino's East. We shared the small pepperoni. It was good, but not the outstanding that I expected. Sauce was fresh and tomatoey, but a little cooler in the middle than I expected. Salad was underwhelming, but the balsamic vinaigrette was good.

              Saturday -- lunch at Portillo's. Probably the best meal of the weekend. The Chicago hot dogs were delicious and beefy, not mealy like some can be. Service was surprisingly friendly as well. Fries were disappointing. They seemed mass produced and not fresh-cut. Dinner was tapas at Cafe Ba Ba Reeba. Was thinking Iberico, but thought this atmosphere would be more fun for my daughter. Tapas was a 7 out of 10. I really like Jaleo in Washington, DC, and this spot was not as good. The cold potato salad was bland with very little flavor. The venison with mole over couscous was good, but a little overcooked. Bacon-wrapped dates were delicious (the best of the meal). Pork tenderloin skewer was good as well. It came with a horseradish sauces that was not overpowering. For dessert, we shared the bread pudding and it was delicious.

              Sunday --
              We had a late breakfast at Lou Mitchell's. We got there around 9:45 and the line was 5-deep outside the door. As we stood there, freezing, a server brought out free hot donut holes to snack on. That was a nice touch. Once inside, we sat at the counter. Our server, Maria, could not have been nicer and more patient. I had eggs, sausage, hash browns and a pancake. My daughter had the French toast with peaches. My scrambled eggs were fluffy and delicious. The sausage links were think and meaty (not fatty). The hash browns were obviously fresh cut and not bagged. We had a good view watching them make fresh OJ. They use the pulp to make fresh orange marmalade. I will definitely stop here again.