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May 8, 2009 11:06 AM

Fun & trendy lunch spot, still a bit casual

I'm looking for some fun, trendy-yet-casual lunch options downtown, preferably serving alcohol. No stuffy french bistros or the like, as we'll be coming straight from the airport and ready to relax.


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  1. Where, downtown? "Downtown" covers quite a wide area, from the Gold Coast and Mag Mile down to the South Loop.

    Depending on which downtown neighborhood you'll be heading to, I recommend the following places for a fun, trendy, casual lunch...

    Magnificent Mile:
    Cafe Spiaggia (Italian) - www.cafespiaggia.com
    Cafe des Architectes (contemporary American) - www.cafedesarchitectes.com

    River North:
    Frontera Grill/Topolobampo (Mexican) - www.rickbayless.com/restaurants
    Nacional 27 (Latin fusion) - www.nacional27.net
    Cafe Iberico (tapas) - www.cafeiberico.com
    Quartino (Italian "small plates") - www.quartinochicago.com
    Bin 36 (wine bar) - www.bin36.com

    Park Grill (American) - www.parkgrillchicago.com
    The Gage (gastropub) - www.thegagechicago.com

    South Loop:
    Custom House (contemporary American) - www.customhouse.cc
    Mercat a la Planxa (tapas) - www.mercatchicago.com

    West Loop:
    Blackbird (contemporary American) - www.blackbirdrestaurant.com
    Red Light (pan-Asian) - www.redlight-chicago.com
    Carnivale (Latin fusion) - www.carnivalechicago.com

    Incidentally, French bistros are not at all stuffy - quite the contrary! The whole idea behind French bistros (and any other kind of bistros), as opposed to fancier, more formal restaurants, is that they are supposed to be casual, moderately-priced, friendly neighborhood-type places. Just to cite one of our best as an example, I've never heard anyone refer to La Sardine ( www.lasardine.com ), in the West Loop, as "stuffy", LOL!

    1. Thanks- this looks good. I think Mercat a la Planxa is exactly what we're looking for.