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Mar 16, 2009 11:56 AM

Best restaurant near Midway Airport

My flight arrives at 10:30 AM at Midway Airport and departs from there at 3:30 PM. I would like to go somewhere for lunch in a neighborhood where I could walk around in addition to having a great meal. I am comfortable taking a cab or subway to get to the location 15 - 30 minutes. I don't know Chicago geography at all other than my appetite for the best food that Chicago has to offer. I am not interested in pizza or dogs. I love places where the chef has flawless execution. Any guidance you might have would be wonderful.

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  1. Your best bet is to hop on the orange line el to downtown (about 25 min ride) or, even better, Chinatown (about the same time frame - transfer to the red line at Roosevelt). Slim, slim pickins near the airport. Giordano's is close, but I would hate for that to be the one place you stop by in our fair city.

    7 Replies
    1. re: sis2catbat

      okay. I'll hop on the orange line to downtown. I have to meet a client who is traveling from WI for lunch. If I want a swanky place with amazing food, where should I go?

      1. re: cookingfest

        I'm partial to Catch 35 (35 West Wacker Drive) or Smith & Wollensky (which I know is a "chain" to a degree, but it's really fabulous).

        Either way, get off the Orange Line at State and Lake and walk north one block to Wacker Drive. Turn left for Catch 35, or keep walking straight across the river, where you'll find S&W.

        Catch 35 is seafood, Smith & Wollensky is steak. (Although I've had the most gorgeous filet mignon at Catch 35 too).

        1. re: cookingfest

          Most of the places that are "swank" are either north of the Loop or, if in the Loop (like Everest) don't serve lunch. Places that have excellent food and a good atmosphere for business, near the Orange Line would include:

          1. Mercat ala Planxa in the Blackstone Hotel on Balboa St. Get off the Orange Line at Roosevelt Ave and walk north along State St. 4 blocks, and east on Balboa between Wabash & Michigan.

          2. The Gage, on Michigan Ave., across the street from Millennium Park and just north of the Art Institute. Get off the Orange Line at Van Buren/Harold Washington Liabrary & walk east along Van Buren to Michigan, and then head north. (You can stay on the Orange line beyond there, while it circles in a clockwise direction around the Loop, until you reach the Madison stop on Wabash, but I'd get off sooner and walk if it's a nice day).

          3. Custom House in the Hotel Blake, on Dearborn just south of Congress. Take the Orange Line to the Van Buren/ Washington Library stop, and walk south on Dearborn, to the other side of Congress.

          1. re: masha

            How about Mado, Cafe des Architectes or Blackbird? I didn't want too stuffy. Along with your choices, which would allow me to eat great food and walk around in case I had time to kill before going back to Midway airport? I cannot thank you enough for guiding me in the right direction.

            1. re: cookingfest

              Mado is in Wicker Park, which is a neighborhood several miles to the northwest of the Loop. Probably not all that feasible.

              Blackbird or Cafe des Architechtes would be feasible. For Blackbird, take the Orange Line to the Clark/ Thompson Center stop, and then either walk or take a cab to Blackbird; it's maybe 6 blocks from the stop. For Cafe des Architectes, get off at State & Lake, and then either walk (north of the River about one mile, but a nice walk if the weather & time permit), or take a cab.

              1. re: masha

                If you're going to Blackbird on the Orange Line, the Washington stop is slightly closer to the restaurant than the Clark/Lake stop, so get out at Washington. Walk one block north and then it's about six blocks west, so figure about a 10-15 minute walk. I would be more inclined to go there than Cafe des Architectes, which is slightly less convenient to public transit. (Both have excellent food.)

                Just note that you won't have a lot of leeway if your flight gets in late. If you arrive on time at 10:30, you'll probably walk off the plane around 10:40, be boarding the Orange Line around 10:55-11:00 (it's a bit of a walk down the concourse and then through the parking garage to the el stop), getting off the train at Washington around 11:30 and arriving at the restaurant 11:40 or so. If you leave the restaurant at 1:00, you'll board the train around 1:15, get off the train at Midway around 1:45, and get to security around 2:00. All perfectly do-able. But you may want to have a backup plan just in case your flight arrives more than half an hour late. (Giordano's, which specializes in the double-crust "stuffed" version of deep-dish pizza and is my favorite pizza in the entire world, has a location at 63rd and Cicero, half a mile south of the main terminal at Midway. Cicero is a VERY busy street, so you might want to take the #63 or #63W bus to get there, rather than walking. Call ahead with your pizza order so you don't have to wait 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake.)

                You'll find good maps of our transit system on the CTA website at

                1. re: nsxtasy

                  You are so kind. I will go to Blackbird and follow your directions. I already love Chicago thanks to the people.

      2. I have a layover next week at CMDWY and was also wondering where to grab a bite. I don't have as much time as the original poster. My flight arrives at 3 pm and departs at 645, will I have enough time to go anywhere outside of Giordano's right in that area?

        Thanks for the advice!

        1 Reply
        1. re: swicks

          As you note on the other board, that leaves you about 2.5 hours away from the airport - best case, IF your arriving flight is on time - and at the absolute worst commuting time of the day. 2.5 hours does not give you enough time to go downtown, eat somewhere, and get back to the airport. Not at that time of day. The problem is not just that you have less time between flights than the original poster in this topic, but also that it takes a whole lot longer to get around during the late afternoon commuting rush hour than it does in the middle of the day during non-commuting hours.

          If your arrival pulls up to the gate at 3:00 pm - and that's a big "if" - your most optimistic time line, using the quickest method of travel in each direction, looks something like this:

          3:10 walk out of plane into concourse
          3:20 catch cab
          3:50 arrive at restaurant downtown
          5:15 finish dinner and depart restaurant
          5:25 board el train
          5:55 el train arrives MDW
          6:10 reach security in terminal (after walking from el station through parking garage)
          6:20 get through security
          6:30 walk up to departure gate

          The problem with that time line is not just that the airline might not board you if you only arrive 15 minutes before the posted departure time, but that there is no room for any kind of delay in any of those steps, which is a very risky assumption.