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3 Girls in Chicago!!

b
baymom Mar 30, 2009 04:22 PM

We are going on a girl's weekend in Chicago the end of May. We want a good steakhouse. Gibson's looks good but a little pricey. Should we bite the bullet? Is it worth it? Or is there a better steakhouse that is less expensive. We are looking for a Chicago experience!! We will be dowtown at the Renaissance.

  1. b
    baymom Mar 31, 2009 11:29 AM

    I don't know if 3 married women would enjoy that. Maybe I should start over and look for different restaurants. We were thinking steaks because we were in the Midwest. We live near the Gulf of Mexico so seafood is no big deal. What is a good (not to be missed) restaurant in the under $30 range that would be fun for three married women on a girl's weekend.

    9 Replies
    1. re: baymom
      l
      lbs Mar 31, 2009 11:37 AM

      I'd check out:

      Frontera (http://www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/grill.html

      )

      Parenthon (http://chicago.metromix.com/bars-and-...) Get the sagnaki - flaming cheese which was supposedely invented in Chicago

      1. re: lbs
        b
        baymom Mar 31, 2009 12:01 PM

        Wildfire's menu looks good. Would this be worth one of our nights or not?

        1. re: baymom
          l
          lbs Mar 31, 2009 12:19 PM

          Eh - not a fan of Wildfire. I'd rather Gibson over Wildfire.

          1. re: lbs
            l
            lbs Mar 31, 2009 12:29 PM

            And to expand on why I'd pick Gibson over WF (sorry work beckoned) - I liked the scene at Gibson better. It was more jazzed up and lively. I thought that WF had more of a "safe place for the grandparents" vibe to it. If you do go to Gibson, ask for the room out by the patio. You can get a street view and it is fun to watch people, etc.

            1. re: lbs
              chicgail Mar 31, 2009 01:43 PM

              Gibsons is a better steak, but steaks there are not in the $30 or under range.

          2. re: baymom
            f
            ferret Mar 31, 2009 12:48 PM

            Wildfire is competent, as a chain should be. It'll give you as much of a feel of Chicago as Outback Steakhouse will give you a sense of Perth (as in: not at all).

            1. re: baymom
              b
              bfreed Apr 1, 2009 01:49 PM

              Well I have to put my vote out there for Wildfire. It's a steakhouse that doesn't take itself too seriously (martini flights!) and while not inexpensive, you don't feel that you HAVE to be on an expense account (Morton's) to partake in the fun. If I was going out with my girlfriends, I would definitely want a place to feel comfortable, and I think Wildfire does that better than any other steakhouse in Chicago (many of which I've been to - on an expense account - though never Gibsons).

          3. re: baymom
            nsxtasy Mar 31, 2009 02:08 PM

            There is so much more to Chicago food, I generally avoid recommending steakhouses here to people unless that is their favorite food. Not that they aren't good - they're as good as anywhere - but you can find good steaks in any major city in the country. That's not true of many other cuisines that we do extremely well. So whether you're looking at fine dining or cheap eats, local specialties or ethnic cuisines, there are a lot of kinds of foods here that are not always easy to find elsewhere. And yes, we have very good seafood too - but since you get that at home, there are other kinds of food to enjoy while you're here. (It's also worth mentioning that steakhouses are not generally in the under $30 range.)

            Here are some of our best foods that won't break the budget:

            Italian - Cafe Spiaggia is maybe our best, mid-priced Italian restaurant, with dinner entrees in the mid-twenties and even cheaper for lunch. It's about a mile north of your hotel. www.cafespiaggia.com Two other excellent Italian restaurants are within a ten minute walk: Vivere ( www.vivere-chicago.com ) and Coco Pazzo ( www.cocopazzochicago.com ). For more Italian recommendations, see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/360990

            Pizza - Deep-dish pizza is a local specialty that you can't get elsewhere. It comes in two main varieties: the single-crust "pizza in the pan" of Uno/Due, Pizano's, Gino's East, and Lou Malnati's, and the double-crust "stuffed" pizza of Giordano's, Bacino's, and Edwardo's. Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due, the originals, are a five-minute walk north of your hotel; Bacino's is even less, a block away. For more pizza discussion, see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/327474 and http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/319254

            French bistros - These are a great choice for inexpensive, upscale dining. Brasserie Jo is a three minute walk north of your hotel. www.brasseriejo.com For more French bistro recommendations, see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/602957

            Mexican - We have great Mexican food. It's NOT the enchiladas and carne asada they serve in Mexican restaurants all over the country, but rather, very creative regional cuisine. Take a look at the website menus to see what I mean. Frontera Grill (recommended by lbs below) and Topolobampo (its sister restaurant next door) are a 5-10 minute walk northwest from your hotel; they started it all here and are still excellent. Note that Frontera takes very few reservations and waiting times to be seated can be long; Topolo accepts reservations. www.rickbayless.com/restaurants For more Mexican discussion, see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/463572

            Greek - The Greek restaurants in Greek Town, about a mile west of your hotel, are inexpensive, good, and fun. For links and discussion see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/119233

            Tapas - There are two restaurants serving "small plates" that are moderately priced, both ten minute walks north of your hotel. Quartino ( www.quartinochicago.com ) serves Italian small plates, and Cafe Iberico ( www.cafeiberico.com ) serves traditional Spanish tapas. Note that Cafe Iberico doesn't accept reservations and wait times to be seated can be lengthy on weekends. For more tapas discussion, see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/370492 and http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/366524

            Chinese - If you don't mind hopping in a cab or onto a CTA train, there's great Chinese food in Chinatown, notably at Double Li and Lao Sze Chuan. Three miles south of your hotel. For discussion see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/594324

            Contemporary American - These restaurants serve some of the very best food in the city. My favorites are both a 10-15 minute walk from your hotel: Cafe des Architectes ( www.cafedesarchitectes.com ) and Aigre Doux ( www.aigredouxchicago.com ). They tend to be a bit more expensive than some other kinds of food, but there are bargains to be had; for example, Cafe des Architectes offers a special 3-course menu for around $30 on Sunday and Monday evenings.

            Breakfast/brunch - We have lots of great places for breakfast and Sunday brunch. A couple are within a five-minute walk of your hotel. David Burke's Primehouse serves their "American dim sum" brunch on Sundays, 22+ dishes cooked to order and served as 7-8 courses with unlimited seconds, $35 plus they have alcoholic drinks with unlimited refills for $10. www.jameshotel.com Atwood Cafe has a lovely breakfast every day. www.atwoodcafe.com For more discussion, including a detailed report on brunch at Burke's, see the brunch discussion at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/364403

            Also - One other place worth visiting, about a ten minute walk from your hotel, is Fox & Obel. 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. If the seating is crowded, there's more seating on the opposite side of the store. www.fox-obel.com

            Also, wander a few blocks south of your hotel and get some popcorn at one of the locations of Garrett's. My favorite is their caramel popcorn with roasted cashews, but I know one of their biggest sellers is the mixture of caramel popcorn and cheese popcorn. www.garrettpopcorn.com

            There are many, many other kinds of restaurants all over town, many of which are excellent: Thai, Eastern European, barbecue, burgers, Jewish delis, Indian/Pakistani, Vietnamese, etc. Let us know if any of these interests you and we can provide recommendations.

            As for Wildfire, it's a decent steakhouse. Not our best, but it's a good value. I agree with ferret; I would hate to think that you would Wildfire as the basis of judging the food that Chicago has to offer. But for that matter, if you're considering steakhouses because you think that's the only thing Chicago does well, you're missing about 95 percent of the picture. If you want a good steak during your visit, by all means go for it - but consider some of the other great foods you can find here too!

            Feel free to ask more questions!

            1. re: nsxtasy
              c
              chicago09 Apr 1, 2009 02:04 PM

              I'd suggest heading to one of the neighborhoods, maybe Bucktown (The Bristol) or Lincoln Square area (Sola, Chalkboard, Tullulah). If you want Table 52, you need to call 30 days in advance to get a reservation.

          4. a
            amoncada Mar 30, 2009 07:55 PM

            Gibson's shares the same kitchen with Hugo's Frog Bar, plus the menu is virtually the same, only a few dollars less expensive (I think). Why not hang out for a drink in the bar at Gibson's while you wait for your table nextdoor at Hugo's. Either way, both are quintessentially Chicago. It's a great place to people watch too, especially from the outdoor sidewalk seating. FYI: The appetizer and dessert portions are HUGE!

            3 Replies
            1. re: amoncada
              chicgail Mar 30, 2009 08:20 PM

              Ah, people watching and dining in the heart of the Viagra Triangle. Sorry to bring my cynical eye to the party.

              1. re: chicgail
                b
                baymom Mar 31, 2009 06:17 AM

                ?? Not a good place to people watch?? Would love to hear more...

                1. re: baymom
                  chicgail Mar 31, 2009 06:52 AM

                  It's a great place to people-watch. Seriously. Rush St., where Hugo's and Gibson's are located, is sometimes called the "Street of Dreams" (or the Viagra Triangle) for good reason.

                  The steaks are darn good at Hugo's and Gibson's. It's just that many of their patrons -- at least up until the current economic crisis -- have been men, both local and tourists, who are a little past their prime with a little too much money to burn, a little too much power to show off, and a yen for women half their ages.

                  I'd say that's good people watching.

            2. nsxtasy Mar 30, 2009 05:04 PM

              There are lots of excellent steakhouses in the Chicago area. Your hotel is right in the middle of a whole bunch of them. Gibson's is excellent, but it's about a mile away; with half a dozen other excellent steakhouses within a quarter mile of your hotel, and still more not much further, I wouldn't bother going all the way up to Gibson's. Here are the ones within 1/4 mile of your hotel:

              Smith & Wollensky
              Morton's (on Wacker)
              Keefer's
              Petterino's
              Sullivan's
              Ruth's Chris

              All of those are within 1/4 mile, so they're all no more than about a five minute walk. If I had to name one steakhouse worth going beyond this radius for, it would be David Burke's Primehouse, which is still within 1/2 mile, or under ten minutes walking. David Burke's is notable because it's got contemporary decor rather than your typical "men's club" decor, and a bit more varied menu; the dry aged steaks are great. OTOH if you're looking for "real Chicago atmosphere", then you might lean towards Gibson's or Gene and Georgetti's.

              You can read lots and lots of opinions about Chicago steakhouses, and find links to the websites for all of the major ones, in the discussion at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/359377

              3 Replies
              1. re: nsxtasy
                b
                baymom Mar 30, 2009 05:35 PM

                I've been to Smith & Wollensky, Morton's and Ruth Chris. I was trying somewhere I haven't been to. Of the 3, David Burke's, Gibson and Gene and Georgetti's which should we choose?

                1. re: baymom
                  nsxtasy Mar 30, 2009 05:53 PM

                  I think it depends what you want. All have very good steaks. Here are some of the differentiating factors:

                  David Burke's - best steaks, contemporary decor
                  Gibson's - "best place to see and be seen" where you might spot local power brokers; busiest and most crowded; best display of RAW MEAT when ordering
                  Gene and Georgetti's - best "old fashioned" place that looks like it hasn't changed in decades

                  Just like Table 52, Gibson's is one of the most sought-after reservations in town; if that's where you'd prefer, make your reservations well in advance. (Most of our nicer restaurants, including Table 52 and Gibson's, accept reservations on Opentable.com ).

                  1. re: nsxtasy
                    b
                    baymom Mar 30, 2009 06:05 PM

                    Thanks!!

              2. l
                LadyintheKitchen Mar 30, 2009 04:40 PM

                I say bite the bullet and try Gibson's, Morton's, or Lawry's. You definitely get what you pay for...and it is soooooooooooooo GOOD!!!!

                3 Replies
                1. re: LadyintheKitchen
                  b
                  baymom Mar 30, 2009 04:48 PM

                  ok. do you like Table 52?

                  1. re: baymom
                    nsxtasy Mar 30, 2009 05:20 PM

                    You're aware that Table 52 is not a steakhouse, right? They serve traditional American/Southern style food. Make your reservations in advance, as they are hard to come by. www.tablefifty-two.com

                    Table 52 is another place that's a bit over a mile away. If I were staying at the Renaissance and I wanted upscale contemporary American food (more contemporary than Table 52), I would choose Aigre Doux, about a ten minute walk from the hotel. www.aigredouxchicago.com If I wanted a place that's even closer, I'd be looking at Atwood Cafe, about two blocks away in the Hotel Burnham. www.atwoodcafe.com

                    1. re: nsxtasy
                      b
                      baymom Mar 30, 2009 05:32 PM

                      I knew Table 52 was not a steakhouse. just getting your opinion. i liked the menu. it looked yummy. probably because we are from the South!

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