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Feb 13, 2009 07:41 AM

suggestions - looking for character

Looking for a place in the vicinity of downtown that is:

1. Interesting/Unique (see Avec)

2. A decent value (see Tango Sur)

3. Solid (A chef that take pride in his restaurant and makes everything to prefection)

Could some people please post some of their favorite restaurants that fit this description. It is broad; but I am open minded.

Please no chains and no restaurants whose websites play new age/lounge music.


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  1. I'm not sure I know of any restaurant where everything is made to perfection.

    That being said, I had an outstanding dinner last night at The Bristol. Very interesting menu (our meal included such things as chicken hearts, sweetbreads, and roasted marrow bones) and pretty reasonably priced. There were 4 of us. We shares 12 dishes plus each of has a cocktail and the total per person (including tax and a generous tip) was $50.

    The Bristol
    2152 North Damen
    (773) 862-5555

    1. Here are some places that come to mind:

      1. Contemporary American - Sweets and Savories (in Lincoln Park) - note extra value on Mondays with BYO and $10 off the tasting menu -

      2. French Bistro - La Sardine (in the West Loop) - note extra value on Tuesdays, $25 for 3 courses -

      3. Chinese - Double Li (in Chinatown) -

      4. Mexican:
      Mundial Cocina Mestiza (in Pilsen) -
      Fonda del Mar (in Logan Square) -
      Mixteco Grill (on Montrose) -

      1. Well, if you like Avec's style you'll surely like Blackbird's, although you'll have to determine if its prices fit within the parameter's of "decent value," a highly subjective criterion:

        2 Replies
        1. re: jbw

          Value is the reason why I specifically didn't mention Blackbird. They are still charging in the low thirties for most entrees, and in this economy, that represents a very *poor* value. I'm not singling out Blackbird in this regard; that price has been somewhat standard for nice and well-regarded contemporary American restaurants, including Aigre Doux, Naha, North Pond, etc. But for the same $30-33 price as just an entree at these places, you can get a complete three-course meal at La Sardine or at Sweets and Savories, and *this* price range is where you'll find the value now. This price range is what you'll also find for the upcoming Restaurant Week promotion (with $32 for 3-course dinners); the finer dining places offering value are now the ones where you can find 3-course dinners for $30ish even when there's no Restaurant Week going on.

          S&S recently revamped their menu, with significantly lower prices (most entrees now in the mid teens). one sixtyblue changed their menu with the recent change in executive chefs, with entree prices in the mid twenties replacing those in the thirties. I think you're going to see more such places lowering prices in order to survive. Maybe some places that continue to charge higher prices are still able to bring in sufficient business; of course, they're welcome to charge whatever they want, and people will eat wherever they want to eat. But those looking for value will find it elsewhere.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            I'd put Mercat a la Planxa in this category - great/unique atmosphere, excellent dishes (everything I've tried so far was great), and a decent value if you are ordering and sharing (plus if I recall they offer many wines by the glass)