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Feb 18, 2009 06:56 PM

Pre Blue Man Group dining for a 15 year old?

We're surprising our 15-year old goddaughter by taking her to see BMG next weekend. Would like to take her to prior to the show. Doesn't necessarily have to be too close to Briar Street Theatre, but would like it to be a special place. Not too stuffy. Something fun. Maybe in the $30-$50 pp range. She is still coming down from the high of performing in the Inauguration Parade in Washington last month, so it might be hard to beat something that exciting!! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. Just down the block is Jack's on Halsted, a neighborhood American bistro type place. It might be fun for her to eat at a distinctly "grown up" place. A bit further but still within walking distance are Ann Sather's, for Swedish food ( ) and Erwin, another "grown up bistro" type place ( ).

    2 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Thanks for the suggestions. After much thought, I'm thinking of having a pre-theatre lunch (we're going to the 4:00 performance) and was thinking of something with a view of the city, along with decent food. Then, stop somewhere after the show for dessert. I thought Hot Chocolate may be a good choice for dessert, but am stumped on the lunch with a view part of the day.

      1. re: wineaux

        What about the Signature Room, on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building? As long as there are no low-hanging clouds, the view is spectacular!

        Another possibility is NoMI, the only one of Chicago's high-end restaurants open for lunch. It's on the second floor of the Park Hyatt and has huge floor-to-ceiling windows facing the Water Tower.

        So the question is whether you want the view from high above, or up close. (If it's strictly a matter of the best food, no contest - choose NoMI.)

        Both of these places are on the "Magnificent Mile" stretch of Michigan Avenue.

        After the show, for dessert, I recommend going to Bittersweet Pastry, which is open till 7 pm, which should be late enough for you. It's about a ten minute walk from the Briar Street Theater (i.e. no need to re-park the car), and they have some pretty good pastries.

    2. Thanks once again for the suggestions. I definitely like the idea of Bittersweet Pastry for dessert after the show. I've narrowed the list down to 4 places and for various reasons. Custom House, Flatwaters, Grand Lux Cafe (more for the view) and Cafe Spiaggia. If you've been to all of these, which would you recommend for making a wonderful afternoon for a special 15-year old??

      3 Replies
      1. re: wineaux

        Custom House and Cafe Spiaggia are both excellent, not only for the food - contemporary American with an emphasis on meat at the former, Italian at the latter - but also for the "grown up" atmosphere for your goddaughter. In choosing between the two, location may play a role, with the Custom House in the South Loop and Cafe Spiaggia at the north end of Michigan Avenue. There's not much of a view at Cafe Spiaggia; IIRC one or two tables have a nice view of the lake but most of the room doesn't. Custom House is a corner site at street level with big windows on two sides, so you can see people walking and cars driving; even the center of the dining room is raised slightly so you're still aware of the streetscape.

        I've been to Grand Lux Cafe, which was perfect for that situation (with an unruly six-year-old); however, I wouldn't recommend it for a special teenager. It's a very very large, rather noisy place, designed to handle huge crowds, and the food is decent but it *is* a chain. I'm not sure what "view" you're referring to; there is no view, only a mob scene. I haven't been to Flatwaters.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Custom House sounds perfect.... as does Bittersweet Pastries. Unfortunately, the latter closes @ 6:00 on Sundays, and since we're seeing the 4:00 BMG performance, that won't work. Any other suggestions?? I definitely like the look & menu of Bittersweet better than Hot Chocolate.

          Your suggestions have been great... thanks so much!

          1. re: wineaux

            Then Hot Chocolate might be your best bet.

            The only other place I can think of is Fox & Obel, our premier gourmet food store downtown, just north of the river and a few blocks east of Michigan Avenue. They have a cafe in the rear of the store where you can order anything from a cup of coffee to a full meal. It's your basic coffeehouse atmosphere, not at all fancy. They have some of their delicious baked goods in the cafe, or you can get anything at the regular bakery counter and eat it in the cafe. They also have seating in the atrium on the opposite side of the store. Open till midnight every day. If you have a car, you can skip the pricey valet parking, and instead park in the high-rise just east of the store on the left, which is free with a $20 purchase; you can validate your parking ticket at the customer service desk at the store exit.

      2. Yoshi's is right down the street from BMG. I took my teenage daughter there and she was delighted. It's sort of Asian fusion, at your price point, and the rooms are beautiful. Not the hippest place in town, but very nice and convenient to BMG.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Pete Oldtown

          Yoshi's looks wonderful.... except that she doesn't like Japanese or seafood. However, my daughter is vegetarian, loves sushi & lives in the city, so next time I venture in to visit her, this will be on our list of places for Mom to treat the starving college student to a nice meal!

          Thanks for the rec!

          1. re: wineaux

            So, I just called Custom House to make reservations only to be told that they are only open for dinner (their website says otherwise). Any last-minute suggestions for a special lunch with a teenager? The problem I've run into is that so many places are not open on Sunday afternoon!

            1. re: wineaux

              David Burke's Primehouse, for their American dim sum brunch. See the brunch discussion at for my detailed report on their brunch a few months ago.

              Other possibilities include North Pond or Cafe des Architectes for their a la carte Sunday brunch, or NoMI or Seasons for their sumptuous buffet brunches. North Pond and NoMI have the view of the city you were looking for. North Pond is in the middle of Lincoln Park, and the city skyline towers over the opposite shore of its namesake pond. NoMI faces the Water Tower and Michigan Avenue. Cafe des Architectes only faces Chestnut Street but the big curving glass windows on one side of the restaurant are beautiful, especially in daylight.

              Most of the other steakhouses and seafood restaurants are also open for lunch on Sundays, serving from their regular (i.e. non-brunch) menu.

              A quick and easy way to see who's open and has openings for reservations is to check on

              If this is for tomorrow, note that places participating in Restaurant Week may still also be offering their special Restaurant Week menu, 3 courses for $22 (lunch) or $32 (dinner), since that promotion was extended to March 6.

              Also, note that some restaurants are open all afternoon, while those serving a brunch may shut down at a certain time. When I ate at Burke's, I arrived around 1:00-1:15 and finished up around 3:00. That seemed just about perfect, because they were wrapping things up around that time. You may want to consult with any particular restaurant if there is a certain time you would like to finish and proceed to your show, to make sure it ties in with their serving hours. Hope that makes sense.

        2. Here it is - 9:30 & still searching. Seems our timing is making things difficult also (4:00 show time - lunch @ 1:30 - 2:00 depending on where we dine).

          Even though I really didn't want to do a brunch...... David Burke's looks interesting & we may end up doing that. Any comments on Sweets & Savories brunch?

          2 Replies
          1. re: wineaux

            I've only eaten dinner at S&S, but I've heard generally positive reports about their brunch, which is a la carte.

            You've got a lot of good choices (and I peeked at opentable yesterday and it looked like reservations for brunch/lunchtime today were pretty easy to come by).

            1. re: nsxtasy

              You could try Bandera on Michigan Ave. I believe they are open for lunch and they have a fine burger and roast chicken among other tasty treats. Ask for a table with a view of Michigan Ave. Enjoy your day with your Godchild.