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Staying at Hotel Blake for HIMSS conference, suggestions on eats

This is my first time in Chicago, Im staying at the Hotel Blake on Dearborn and Harrison. I will be here till Thursday.

I love all kinds of food, but we dont have a car. We will be spending a lot of time down at the McCormick Convention center. Its just me and my business partner, we dont have a lot of cash to blow but still like to eat well.

So, bring on the suggestions! and what menu items to try at the resturants

Ive already got my eye on a few things

Lou Manaltis
Fox and Obel

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  1. Need to find a place to get
    Chicago HotDog
    Italian beef sammich w/ au jus

    1 Reply
    1. re: defrag4

      Luke's at S. Wells and W. Jackson is nearby. They close early, though, as do most loop lunch places.

      By coincidence, my brother just arrived last night for the same convention. We're going out tomorrow. You're right near the Red Line, so you really have a lot of Chicago available to you without even having to switch trains.

      The best Viet places are a few steps from the Argyle St. stop. TAC Quick, a very different Thai place (very authentic, with a translated menu aimed at actual Thais) is right at the Sheriden stop. All very cheap.

    2. Custom House is at the Hotel Blake. It will be a splurge, but well worth it. For breakfast, Yolk (Michigan Avenue) or Bongo Room (Wabash) are good choices. Eleven City Diner (Wabash) is also pretty decent.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ms. chow

        nice, i was reading about Custom House before, didnt realize it was right underneath me!

        1. re: defrag4

          A good place for lunch near McCormick place is Manny's. it's a fairly short walk (or cab ride) or youcan get there by taking the CTA' #3 and #12 buses.

          http://www.mannysdeli.com/

      2. Yup, Custom House is a good recommendation. Mercat a la Planxa is within walking distance of the hotel and is also worth considering.

        For places near McCormick Place, see the discussion at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/368426 (Note that Cuatro is not open for lunch, though.)

        For hot dog recommendations, see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/364427

        3 Replies
        1. re: nsxtasy

          Sorry, I'm a vote against Custom House. The food is trendy but only okay, and the service is forgetful. Don't spend that kind of money when there are better places in Chicago.

          1. re: brendastarlet

            Well, I disagree, based on my recent dinner there. I thought the food was very good indeed, far better than "only okay". I absolutely loved their sweetbread appetizer and the braised bone-in short rib main course (served with horseradish cream puffs, a nice touch). OTOH I thought the desserts were disappointing. The service was just fine, what you would expect from a good casual fine dining restaurant in its price class ($75-100/pp including moderate alcohol, tax, and tip). I would not call it one of the very best contemporary American restaurants in Chicago - an honor I would reserve for Cafe des Architectes, Aigre Doux, and North Pond - but I think Custom House is still very good indeed, and worth considering, especially taking into account its proximity to anyone staying at the hotel. Also keep in mind that it's open for lunch as well as dinner. www.customhouse.cc

            1. re: nsxtasy

              Never mind-blowing, but the food at CH from my experience has always been solid, interesting, and consistent from dish-to-dish (maybe a little less so on desserts as mentioned above). I've always found the service to be highly professional, and in my experience, I've never needed to remind anyone of anything. For my money, a destination restaurant for interesting American food based around meat, and especially for business meetings; certainly one of the top restaurants at that price point in the South Loop.

        2. I see that folks are recommending places that you'll have to ride to via the CTA and you mention that you're not rolling in wealth. Beware that recent changes to CTA fare structure mean that if you pay cash you pay through the nose, $2.25 per ride WITH NO TRANSFERS eg if you need 2 buses to get there you pay $4.50. Last week my out-of-town guest paid 5($2.25) = $11.25 bus fares for a brief post-lunch jaunt. REMEDY: go to the Jewel supermarket, N State & Grand, and buy a CTA pass to cover the days you need. CTA website provides details. This can cut your travel-around costs by >50%.

          1. Do NOT go to either Bongo Room or Yolk. Both serve mediocre food at best and cater to tourists with not much idea or appreciation towards food.

            You are slightly south of many good restaurants in Chicago. The places I recommend will require a bit of walking or hopping on the train or the bus, but are well worth your travel time (they really aren't that far from you).

            Pricier recommendations:

            Custom House
            Blackbird
            Avec* (really good)
            Topolobampo

            Moderately Priced:

            Lula*
            Fonda del Mar
            Hot Chocolate (for dessert)
            Hot Dougs
            Lao Sze Chuan

            4 Replies
            1. re: fooodeee

              >> Do NOT go to either Bongo Room or Yolk. Both serve mediocre food at best and cater to tourists with not much idea or appreciation towards food.

              Wow, I couldn't disagree more. First of all, Yolk and both locations of Bongo Room are located away from the tourist hotel areas, and their customer base is locals, not tourists. As for the food, I think Bongo Room is SUPERB, a unique original serving creative pancake specialties. I love their pancakes! My favorites have been the blueberry pancakes with almond panna cotta cream, and the pretzel pancakes with white chocolate sauce. I really doubt that you can find either dish anywhere else in the city. Yolk's food is decent - not uniquely creative like Bongo Room, but if you're looking for utterly conventional breakfast foods like omelets, they do a good job. That's why both places are so busy, especially on weekends but even during the week; because they both offer EXCELLENT food and have a solid reputation among local Chicagoans who comprise the vast majority of their business.

              >> You are slightly south of many good restaurants in Chicago.

              There are plenty of good restaurants in the immediate vicinity of the Hotel Blake where the OP is staying, including Custom House, Mercat a la Planxa, and Everest, all of which are within a couple of blocks or so.

              >> The places I recommend will require a bit of walking or hopping on the train or the bus, but are well worth your travel time (they really aren't that far from you).

              You recommend Custom House. Since this is in the same hotel where the OP is staying, please explain why you think it requires travel time.

              >> Pricier recommendations: ... Avec* (really good)

              Opinions on Avec vary; I, for one, am not particularly fond of the food there. But I sure would disagree with its characterization as "pricier". In fact, it's significantly less expensive than Lula and Fonda del Mar, which you have listed as "moderately priced".

              1. re: fooodeee

                Well said, nsxtasy about Bongo Room and Yolk. These are 2 of the better brunch places in the city. Yolk has decent, normal brunch fare, but the breadth of the menu is incomparable. It is also openly a new location in my neighborhood. Can't wait.

                Yes opinions vary on Avec. I would disagree though that it is significantly less expensive than Lula. At Lula, one could get a really excellent, cheap meal if ordering off the cafe menu.

                Also, is this thread still relevant seeing that the OP had already been and gone?

                1. re: ms. chow

                  >> Well said, nsxtasy about Bongo Room and Yolk. These are 2 of the better brunch places in the city. Yolk has decent, normal brunch fare, but the breadth of the menu is incomparable. It is also openly a new location in my neighborhood. Can't wait.

                  Where is Yolk opening a second location?

                  >> Yes opinions vary on Avec. I would disagree though that it is significantly less expensive than Lula. At Lula, one could get a really excellent, cheap meal if ordering off the cafe menu.

                  Dinner entrees average in the mid twenties at Lula, whereas the large plates at Avec are mostly in the mid teens. Last time I ate at Avec, I ordered a small plate (starter), a large plate (main), and a dessert, and with non-alcoholic beverage and tax/tip it came to just over $40. At Lula, a similar 3-course meal typically comes to $70 or so.

                  >> Also, is this thread still relevant seeing that the OP had already been and gone?

                  Often people check out topics well after the OP has come and gone. For example, I could see how someone staying at the Hotel Blake might find this topic when doing a search on their hotel name.

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    Yolk has signs up just south of Wells and Chicago. In these times though, we'll see when it eventually opens.

                    The good thing about Avec and Lula is that one can order many different ways. Lula has the whole cafe menu side, which is equally excellent. A bowl of soup for $4 and the tagine for $9. That's good and cheap food. At Avec, one can get as much food or as little. I never go the one appetizer, one entree, one dessert route at Avec. But i agree, if this was Rachel Ray doing $40 a day, one can still get a pretty good meal at Avec.