Recent Week in Chicago
We just came back to Brampton, Ontario from a week vacation in Chicago and we wanted to thank everyone for all their comments on this awesome board. Just by reading the reviews from this site, we were able to set up a varied and exciting food itinerary. Food is a big part of our vacations, even though we're casual foodies (love food but are not overly adventurous or refined in our judgment of food – we either like it or don't like it – my wife is much more adventurous and refined).
We also found a fantastic resource for restaurant info at the city's Visitor Information Center in the Chicago Cultural Center. There is a booth there staffed by a very knowledgeable and personable gentleman who really seemed to know his food and freely offered opinions and advice.
Below is a summary of our restaurant adventures:
Fox and Obel – Had lunch here at this busy café and loved the veggie panini (nicely toasted baguette which blended well with the grilled veggies) and tasty with homemade chips. I can see why people like the soup as the Tomato Basil soup was excellent. In fact we enjoyed everything including apple pie, Coconut Cream Tart, and Red Cupcake.
Bongo Room in Wicker Park – Had lunch here and enjoyed the hip, relaxed décor. Banana Chip Pancakes with White Chocolate Sauce was awesome (flavours just work) while the Pear French Toast was pretty good. Hash Browns really tasty - potatoes tasted like potatoes and nicely cooked fried onions. Very good coffee and organic tea selection.
Here are our reviews for the Mexican restaurants:
- Taqueria Moran – Had lunch at this casual restaurant and enjoyed the gorditas with pork crackling, fish tacos, chicken tacos, and chicken burritos. All food freshly cooked with great texture and flavour. A very satisfying meal.
- Frontera Grill – Had dinner in this noisy and crowded restaurant with very a very knowledgeable waiter. Good brisket and chicken Pollito a las Brasas (tasty deep Mexican flavours). The Jamaica tea drink was very sweet but also sour and tasty.
We enjoyed both the casual and higher end of Mexican food, but especially loved the Moran restaurant due to great, plentiful food and easygoing atmosphere (and it was really reasonable). At Frontera, we only had entrees and drinks (saving ourselves for The Lobby Peninsula Chocolate Bar that night) so that was a factor in our experience of this restaurant. Since there is not much Mexican fare where we live, we felt that we had finally experienced authentic Mexican food. Thank you Chicago Chowhound people.
Okay, here's our take on the deep dish pizza which was a main reason for going to Chicago (Note that for comparison and because we like it we only sampled cheese pizza with no other toppings):
- Lou Malnati's- Casual with great service. Excellent buttery crust with perfectly balanced of layers of ingredients. Tied with Pizzeria Due for our favourite.
- Pizzeria Due- Old time pizza place with old time, friendly service. Very tasty and crispy crust.
- Giordano's - Basic chain restaurant décor with decent service. Dry but tasty crust, lots of cheese. Awful Greek Salad. Good pizza but we liked Lou’s and Due better.
- Gino's East - Comfortable pizza place atmosphere with good service. Crust in our opinion was the least tasty and for this reason it was our least favourite.
Heaven on Seven - Fun, casual atmosphere. Attentive, friendly, and quick service. Ample portions featuring variety of hot sauces. Good jalepeno corn muffin with honey butter; fried chicken lacked crunch and flavour but I enjoyed the flavours of the cajun talapia. We would have liked to try some of the house made desserts, but we did not have time.
Khan's BBQ - Clean, bright restaurant with attentive service. Broasted Chicken (like fried chicken), BBQ spicy Chicken Boti, a little different Aloo Gobi, Naan (garlic Naan not so great), and amazing Parathas. These dishes were cooked very well and great tasting. Coming from a town with many Indian restaurants, we were very impressed with this place.
Petterino's - Nice place with cartoon caricatures of famous people cover the walls. Good service. All we had was desserts, which weren't bad.
Signature Room at 95th – We got what we came for which was great views of the city. The service was decent but unfortunately, the greeter was not very nice. Small, average buffet with no poultry entrée that day (in my opinion, a little misleading in the online menu) but decent enough chicken dumpling soup, OK salads, decent risotto and really nice bread & crackers. The main carved ham entrée did not look too tasty so we did not sample it.
Soupbox - Small place with very friendly, relaxed service. Very tasty Tomato Basil Soup as well as Chicken Rice soup. I love soup and these homemade soups hit the spot.
The Lobby at the Peninsula Hotel - Elegant, formal dining room with good service. The chocolate buffet bar was varied and beautifully displayed with exquisite flavours. Jazz trio added to the pleasant atmosphere. Overall this experience was definitely a highlight.
One Sixty Blue - Busy trendy upper-scale restaurant with knowledgeable waiters and excellent service. Unbelievably awesome Leek Gnocchi with leek emulsion and black périgord truffle (one of the best things I've ever tasted). Interesting and delicious Raw Beet Ravioli appetizer. WAGYU Short Ribs with marrow crouton, Wild Mushroom side dish, Chicken and Biscuits with foie gras sauce, and sticky toffee date cake were other dishes that we sampled and enjoyed. We were nearly an hour late for a 9:30 reservation (just where is Randolph Street?) and the staff were still very professional and accommodating. This was a lovely end to amazing culinary adventure in Chicago.
Thanks again Chicago Chowhound.
That was a great report. To other chicago chowhounders, onesixtyblue also has leek gnocchi, chicken and biscuits AND the stick toffee cake on their restaurant week menu ($32 for three courses). To say that I am excited would be belabouring the point.
Great report - and I'm a local! In fact, I'm lucky enough to live near Taqueria Moran. My husband and I are frequent diners there. Our favorites are the El Pastor tacos with onion, cilantro and lime and the chilaquiles with verde sauce and chorizo. Mmm, I'm hungry just thinking about it!
I'll have to try Khan's BBQ. The broasted chicken sounds delicious.
I'm glad you went to Tacquria Moran. That's what 99% of the Mexican places are like in Chicago (although Moran is consistently hailed as one of the best) and it just goes to show that you don't need to go someplace fancy to get really good Mexican food.
BTW: Khan's BBQ is a Pakistani restaurant, so it's a little bit different than Indian. Khan's is really good, though, and I'm happy you liked it..