Last Minute Trip to Chicago! Need HELP
Hi! I have been to Chicago several times and am returning for a quick trip this weekend with my fiance!! Will be in town Saturday through Monday, hoping to have a few great meals. On past trips I have been to Tru, Spiaggia, Avec and a few others-and loved everything! This will be my fiance's first time in Chicago and I want it to be special. We livein LA and are in our mid 20's, we are staying at the W-City Center. Could you guys PLEASE recommend a few great restaurants? We need good dinner options for Saturday and Sunday and any other breakfast, brunch or lunch suggestions you have. What is amazing and new? I know it is last minute and might be hard to get reservations, but would still like to try! Thank you so much!
For breakfast or lunch on Monday you should consider Lou Mitchells, at 569 West Jackson, which is only a few blocks west of the W-City (on the other side of the expressway). It's a diner-style restaurant that's been around forever.
As to a less expensive but excellent restaurant for Saturday, you should consider Perrenial in Lincoln Park. I am not sure that I would call the food "amazing," but it was excellent the one time that I ate there. It's got a young vibe.
THIS WEEKEND??? Oh, what fun! And I mean that seriously! Here are a few of our very best choices for each meal.
The W City Center is in the middle of the Loop, so we'll take that in mind when specifying distances. I'll also refer to Opentable.com regarding availability; as you're probably aware, it's a great way to look up availability for a whole bunch of restaurants, especially at the last minute or on days (e.g. Sundays) when some places are closed. If you've never used it before, it's a really easy way to make reservations from your computer.
Since you've been to Tru and Spiaggia, it sounds like you would enjoy a meal at one of our "top tables", expensive places that are dressy (i.e. jackets required). These are listed in the fine dining topic at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/602985 Everest ( www.everestrestaurant.com ) is one of the very best, and it's only a couple of blocks south of your hotel. It's very romantic and features great food, exquisite service, and a view of the entire city from the top of the Midwest Stock Exchange Building. Availability is wide open for tomorrow night.
If you would prefer a restaurant that is more casual and less expensive, you might consider Aigre Doux ( www.aigredouxchicago.com ), which is about a ten minute walk (6-8 blocks) north of your hotel, across the street from the Merchandise Mart. Sublime contemporary American food. And their availability is wide open for tomorrow night. Another choice for contemporary American cuisine in a somewhat casual atmosphere is Atwood Cafe ( www.atwoodcafe.com ), in the Hotel Burnham, about 5 blocks northeast of your hotel. They have openings tomorrow night at 6:30 and earlier, and at 8:00 and later, but not in between. This would also be a good candidate for brunch or lunch.
North Pond ( www.northpondrestaurant.com ) is my top pick here. They serve contemporary American cuisine. The big attraction is the location; it's in the middle of Lincoln Park, and in the middle of the park itself, not just the adjacent neighborhood of the same name. It faces its namesake pond, with the city skyline rising over the opposite shore - very romantic! It's about 3 miles north of your hotel, a short cab ride. They serve an a la carte brunch on Sundays, and availability on Opentable is wide open.
David Burke's Primehouse ( www.jameshotel.com ) also deserves a mention, maybe a mile northeast of your hotel. They serve their "American dim sum" Sunday brunch. Think of it as 22 dishes served in 7 courses, all cooked to order with unlimited seconds. You can read my detailed report on my brunch there a few months ago in the brunch discussion at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/364403 Availability for this Sunday is wide open.
Custom House ( www.customhouse.cc ) is about an 8-10 minute walk south of your hotel and features contemporary American cuisine with an emphasis on meats. Availability for Sunday night is wide open.
Mercat a la Planxa ( www.mercatchicago.com ) is also about a ten minute walk southeast of your hotel and features Spanish tapas. Availability for Sunday night is wide open.
Red Light ( www.redlight-chicago.com ) is about a mile west of your hotel and features pan-Asian cuisine, one of our long-standing "all-around fun" type places. Availability is wide open for Sunday.
Salpicon ( www.salpicon.com ) is a couple miles north of your hotel and offers creative Mexican cuisine. Availability is wide open.
Blackbird ( www.blackbirdrestaurant.com ), the sister restaurant of Avec next door, is one of our most well-known contemporary American restaurants, and it's about a ten minute walk northwest of your hotel. Availability for Monday lunch is wide open.
La Sardine ( www.lasardine.com ) is a casual French bistro about a ten minute walk northwest of your hotel. They only take reservations on their own website, not on Opentable, so I can't quote availability.
Giordano's ( www.giordanos.com ) offers the double-crust "stuffed" variety of authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza, and the location on Jackson is a block south of your hotel. Pizano's ( www.pizanoschicago.com ) offers the single-crust "pizza in the pan" variety, and the location on Madison is about 6 blocks northeast of your hotel. Phone ahead with your pizza order to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake.
So those are some of your best choices. Feel free to ask more questions, and enjoy your visit!
Wow thank you so much for the reply! I really appreciate all of your input! I made a reservation at Alinea for Sunday night (so excited!!!), so I am looking for a less expensive, but still amazing place for dinner Saturday. Maybe Aigre Doux? I would love to go to Avec, but don't want to wait since they don't take reservations...any other suggestions? North Pond sounds great for brunch on Sunday. Monday would be a great time to check out something local, like Giordano's...Thanks again!!
Alinea is a great choice - the best of the best! It's a very different experience from Everest, much more avant garde, even theatrical, versus the traditional French-Alsatian experience at Everest.
Aigre Doux is thoroughly excellent. The only reason I hesitate is that your itinerary already has quite a bit of contemporary American cuisine, with North Pond and even Alinea (granted, it's contemporary American combined with an emphasis on molecular gastronomy, but still...) As long as you don't mind doing another contemporary American place, Aigre Doux is a great choice. If OTOH you want something different, you might instead consider for your Saturday dinner one of the choices I previously mentioned for Sunday. Mercat a la Planxa is booked for any reasonable time, but there are desirable openings for Red Light (pan-Asian) and for Salpicon (Mexican). Another option is Italian; Vivere ( www.vivere-chicago.com ), the finer dining restaurant in the Italian Village complex, is wide open for Saturday night, and it's really excellent - and about two blocks walk northeast from your hotel. If you're looking for food that's going to knock your socks off, I would lean towards Aigre Doux or Vivere rather than Red Light or Salpicon - not that the latter two are bad, they're very good, but you're more likely to consider Aigre Doux or Vivere "amazing".
Definitely do NOT go to Avec on Saturday night. For one reason, you've already been there, and for another, waiting times to be seated on Saturday nights are typically in the 90-120 minute range!
I didn't really say anything about Monday breakfast, since you'll have eaten at Alinea the night before. However, there are a couple more special places worth considering for breakfast (or lunch, or just to check out).
Bongo Room ( http://chicago.menupages.com/restaurantdetails?restaurantid=13028 ) is a restaurant that specializes in breakfast. They have two locations; the closer one is at Wabash and Roosevelt, a little over a mile southeast of your hotel. Their pancake specialties are awesome! They rotate the menu, but my two favorites have been pretzel pancakes with white chocolate sauce, and blueberry pancakes topped with almond panna cotta sauce. The standard order size consists of three HUGE pancakes; it doesn't mention it on the menu, but you can also order a one-third or two-thirds portion at a reduced price, either for the smaller appetite or to try more than one dish.
If you go to Bongo Room, and if you enjoy artisanal chocolates, a few blocks north of there is Canady Le Chocolatier Ltd. www.canadylechocolatierchicago.com
The other place you might enjoy, either for breakfast or just to check it out, is Fox & Obel ( www.fox-obel.com ), a mile northeast of your hotel. Fox & Obel is Chicago's premier gourmet food store, with the highest quality everything - fresh meats and seafood, cheeses, prepared foods, and baked goods. Some of their best baked products include their yummy cinnamon swirl rolls, the world's best bran muffins, excellent croissants, etc, as well as refrigerated pastries and such. You can get them all for carry-out at the bakery counter. Or, in the rear of the store is a cafe where you can get anything from a cup of coffee and a muffin to a complete meal, made to order. It's just your basic coffeehouse atmosphere, but the food is excellent.