Visiting Chicago in a week, need recs.
My girlfriend and I are visiting Chicago next week and staying at Affinia the ex Fitzpatrick at 166 E. Superior St. I am in need for some good places for all meals, we will be using public trans, walking and very little cabs I hope. I would like to spend about a $100 dollars for one nice meal on Saturday night, but the rest I'd like to keep on the modest to cheap eats. We are planing on eating at Ed Debivic's , Gino's East and Mercat a la Planxa. Thanks for any info you can give me.
I'm a bit confused. Are those three places the ones you are happy with, or are you looking for additional recommendations to supplement them with? How long will you be here? Is Mercat a la Planxa intended to be the more expensive, nice meal on Saturday (the only one for which you're willing to spend $100 for two people), and are you just looking for more recommendations for less expensive places in addition to Ed Debevic's and Gino's East? You're aware that Ed Debevic's isn't great food, and it's a place to go primarily for the "shtick" of wisecracking wait staff etc, right?
Here are some reasonably-priced ideas I would consider, in addition to the places you have already mentioned:
- One nice dinner at Cafe des Architectes ( www.cafedesarchitectes.com ) on a Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday evening. It's one of our very best casual contemporary American restaurants, and on those nights they feature their "neighborhood friends" dinners, three courses for $29. Just three blocks or so walk from your hotel.
- One breakfast at Bongo Room, take a CTA bus down Michigan Avenue to Roosevelt Road (12th Street)
- Another breakfast in the cafe in the rear of Fox & Obel, our premier gourmet grocery store ( www.fox-obel.com ), and a ten minute walk from your hotel
The rest of my recommendations will work for either lunch or dinner. Note that at the nicer restaurants, there is a separate lunch menu that is almost always cheaper than the dinner menu, which allows you to go to places that might otherwise be out of your price range.
- Mexican food at one of our creative Mexican places, such as Frontera Grill or Topolobampo ( www.rickbayless.com/restaurants ), in River North within walking distance of your hotel, or Mundial Cocina Mestiza ( www.mundialcocinamestiza.com ), at the 18th Street stop on the CTA Pink Line
- Italian food at Cafe Spiaggia ( www.cafespiaggia.com ), five blocks walk from your hotel
- French bistro food at Brasserie Jo ( www.brasseriejo.com ) or La Sardine ( www.lasardine.com ) - note that La Sardine has a special, three courses for $25 on Tuesdays, and for $27.50 on other weekdays, but Brasserie Jo is walking distance from your hotel and La Sardine isn't.
- Chinese food in Chinatown at either Lao Sze Chuan or Double Li, near the Cermak/Chinatown stop on the CTA Red Line
- Greek food in Greek Town, just west of the Loop; for recommendations see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/119233
- Thai food at TAC Quick, at the Sheridan stop on the CTA Red Line
- Vietnamese food at one of the restaurants along Argyle Street near the Argyle stop on the CTA Red Line
- Indian/Pakistani food on Devon Avenue between Western and Sacramento; take the CTA Red Line to the Loyola stop, and transfer to the southbound #155 bus which turns west onto Devon
- Chicago-style hot dogs and/or Italian beef sandwiches. Both Al's #1 Beef ( www.alsbeef.com ) and Portillo's ( www.portillos.com ) serve both, and both places have locations on Ontario a few blocks west of Michigan Avenue, a 5-10 minute walk from your hotel.
You might find good info on http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/613729
Nsxtasy is always really nice and helpful but a lot has already been said on the subject so you might want to read what has been written first, especially for your one nice dinner. From what I've read before, I will definately be going at Mercat a la Planxa... When I get back, I will post my appreciations on all the places I will have tried so check it out in the middle of next week.
If you need more suggestions for your one nice dinner, in addition to Mercat a la Planxa (which is a good choice), the places I mentioned above for contemporary American (Cafe des Architectes), Mexican (Frontera/Topolo and Mundial Cocina Mestiza), Italian (Cafe Spiaggia), and French bistro (Brasserie Jo and La Sardine) will all do nicely. Another couple of excellent choices for contemporary American are Aigre Doux ( www.aigredouxchicago.com ) and North Pond ( www.northpondrestaurant.com ). You can also consider a steakhouse (I recommend David Burke's Primehouse, a couple of blocks from your hotel, www.jameshotel.com , or for more steakhouses see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/359377 ) or a seafood restaurant (such as Shaw's Crab House, 4-5 blocks from your hotel www.shawscrabhouse.com ). There are lots more excellent places in each of these categories, but these are the ones I consider the best.
Note that if you're not taking advantage of any special deals (such as mentioned above for Cafe des Architectes on Sundays through Tuesdays), it's easy to exceed $100 for two people including moderate wine/alcohol and tax/tip, and you may be spending as much as $150-200 for the two of you, depending on the quality/quantity of wine/alcohol. Most of these places have sample menus showing prices on their websites, and most have regular-priced dinner entrees in the mid twenties to around thirty dollars.