Valentine's Day Weekend
First, I have to say that I adore this site! There are some posts similar to mine, and I'm going to read through them, but I want to ask for a little advice.
My boyfriend and I will be in Chicago for a couple of days (Valentine's weekend) for a conference, staying at the Seneca on 300 E Chestnut. We're both looking forward to eating some good Spanish, Italian, and/or Greek food. We're also hoping to find a good wine bar and a tea shop/coffee shop that specializes in tea. We're definitely going to explore away from our hotel, but we're also wondering if there's anything in the vicinity that's worth trying.
Thanks so much!!
There is good Spanish a few blocks from your hotel, at Cafe Iberico - www.cafeiberico.com However, they don't take reservations (for groups under six people) and they can get very busy on weekends. If you'd prefer to go to an excellent Spanish/tapas place that recently opened up about a mile and a half south of your hotel and takes reservations, go to Mercat a la Planxa - www.mercatchicago.com
For Italian, two of our best are just a few blocks from your hotel. Spiaggia is a very high-end, expensive, dressy place, one of the half dozen or so top restaurants of any kind in the entire city. Its sister restaurant next door, Cafe Spiaggia, is perhaps our best moderately-priced Italian restaurant. You'll find info about both at www.cafespiaggia.com
Mercat a la Planxa, Spiaggia, and Cafe Spiaggia all accept reservations on Opentable.com You may also find information there, as well as on the restaurants' own websites, about any special menus and plans they have for Valentine's Day. Needless to say, reservations will be essential for the 14th, and I suggest making them right away.
For Greek food, head over to Greek Town, a mile west of the Loop (the Loop, Chicago's commercial downtown area, is about a mile south of your hotel). For a discussion with recommendations as well as links to websites for all the Greek restaurants in Greek Town, see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/119233
For a wine bar, Bin 36 ( www.bin36.com ) is in Marina City, maybe 3/4 mile from your hotel; I'm not aware of anything in the immediate vicinity of the hotel. As another option, although not a wine bar, the Signature Room ( www.signatureroom.com ) is on the 95th Floor of the John Hancock Building right near your hotel, and if the weather is nice, it's a great place to grab a drink and look out at the city and the lake.
Just to point out, Iberico is dirt-cheap; Mercat a la Planxa is distinctly not. For Italian, Volare is close, and Cafe Spiaggia is terrific. Might be tough to get a reservation over the weekend, though.
Iberico does get mobbed on Fri. and Sat., but if you get there early, it's no problem. At about 7, the mobs descend and it can be a two-hour wait for a table.
Bin 36 is great for wine and cheese. Pops for Champagne is near your hotel and interesting looking (never been there) and Redhead Piano Bar is a nice place for a late night drink and some trad jazz/cabaret.
re: Pete Oldtown
>> Iberico does get mobbed on Fri. and Sat., but if you get there early, it's no problem. At about 7, the mobs descend and it can be a two-hour wait for a table.
That description applies to weekends that aren't Valentine's Day. Given that this year the 14th falls on a Saturday, places are likely to be more mobbed than usual, even at times that would be easy on other weekends. Reservations are essential if you don't want to risk a lengthy wait.
>> Bin 36 is great for wine and cheese. Pops for Champagne is near your hotel
From your hotel, Pops for Champagne is about twelve blocks away (roughly seven blocks south and five blocks west). Bin 36 is another five blocks or so directly south of Pops.
you should definitely hit Argo Tea, which is a Chicago chain that specliaizes in all types of cold and hot tea drinks. I think the food at Mercat is far superior to that of Cafe Iberico. It also has more ambience, if that is something that is important to you. Other good Italian is Merlo on Maple--but you can;t go wrong with Cafe Spiaggia.