HOME > Chowhound > Chicago Area >
What have you made lately? Tell us about it
TELL US

Pizza, Mex, Thai Questions based on Specific Locations

d
dietndesire May 11, 2009 09:34 PM

Hello,
Will be based near Blue Line stop near N Milwaukee and W Division. Parties of interest will be at one of the W Hotels, N Lakeshore or W Adams(my apologies if my poor info makes this more difficult).
I am willing to walk fair distances and also will use public transportation.If something is super fantastic I will go somwhere towards the burbs but I would like to keep that to a reasonable minimum. Not, 30 min bus ride, plus walking, plus waiting, plus this, that and the other.In general would like to keep it closer(30min one way Max) to at least one of my stated locations.
The preference for take-out possibility applies to all.

1.Pizza-Would go for Deep Dish somewhere that I can get it to go.I have read about pre-ordering, waiting for seating, etc. I am not doing all that. SO, the best where I can pickup a pie within geographic constraints of the above.
2. Mexican and Thai choices that are at least among the best(if not the best).No upscale choices since that is a total waste,ie, no Rick Bayless unless he has something really good that is only marginally more than the other top choices.
3. Any bakeries/patisseries that are superior to Fox and Obel? Seems the latter gets the nod which does not inspire great confidence.
4. Where to buy good fruit/veg and maybe meat near my N Milwaukee and W Division location?

I hope that my questions are clear and if there is no good answer to something, I prefer no answer than best available yet still rubbish.
I really have no sense of the layout of the city since I have not been there in a dog's age but will figure it out on the fly with no problems if I receive the info I am asking for.
Oh, David Burke Primehouse for brunch is on the agenda. I have read good to better reports, any additional info will be taken into consideration.
Thank you in advance.

  1. d
    dietndesire May 12, 2009 03:37 PM

    Sorry, forget one line of questioning about the pizza.
    If anyone knows which if any places make their own mozzarella or know specifically what type they use that would really help me narrow it down very easily.
    Also, about any other ingredient particulars, the sausage(meat quality, made by whom,etc.),in case I go that route, whatever else, type of tomatoes, etc.
    I apologize for not just asking this in the first query to eliminate some choices.

    17 Replies
    1. re: dietndesire
      chicgail May 13, 2009 04:54 AM

      There's something about the questions that you are asking, dietndesire, that makes me think that you're a little on the wrong track.

      I get that you have certain criteria (types of food you like, avoiding carbs, neighborhoods that you are in) that are important to you. And that's fine. But at the same time, some of your questions are a little like the guy going to Paris who wants to know which McDonalds has the best cheese burgers or the guy visiting Maine who wants to know which trap the lobsters were found in.

      There's nothing wrong here and I'm not being critical, but you have some of the most knowledgeable foodies in town steering you to the best that a strong foodie town has to offer and it's possible that you may be listening to those recommendations through some pre-conceived notions that won't serve you finding the best options here.

      There are some good taco joints in Chicago, but they are not likely to be better than the taco joints in other cities. What is special here are variety of fine regional Mexican offerings. Not all of them are fancy or expensive and we have suggested a number of them to you.

      There are three authentic, inexpensive and excellent Thai places in town, all easily accessible via public trans portion that have been mentioned. It you like good authentic Thai and if you have the time, give one of them a try.

      Chicago has two unique kinds of pizza, both developed and perfected here: deep dish and stuffed. I have no idea -- and I don't know if anyone else does -- the kind of mozzarella or sausage or tomatoes they use. I can tell you that the Uno/Due/Malnati deep dish version uses whole tomatoes (canned) instead of tomato sauce and the sausage covers the entire pizza, rather than being placed on it in pieces.

      My suggestion to you is to listen to where people are pointing, rather than trying to figure out something that may or not be relevant to this food in this city.

      Relax and enjoy, then report back to us where you ate and how it was.

      1. re: chicgail
        g
        gordeaux May 13, 2009 05:48 AM

        >>There are some good taco joints in Chicago, but they are not likely to be better than the taco joints in other cities.<<

        Could not agree with you less on this.

        1. re: gordeaux
          chicgail May 13, 2009 05:49 AM

          Fair enough.

          1. re: chicgail
            r
            rubinow May 13, 2009 05:59 AM

            I feel the same way. Chicago's taco joints are far better than most other cities' taco joints. At the very least, they are certainly *different* than ones in other Mexican food places like California or Texas.
            I've brought many people from other big midwestern cities like Minneapolis and Kansas City and East Coast cities like Boston to places like Lazos (which I consider a pretty standard/typical Mexican place). They rave because you simply can not find that type of food there.
            That said, places like that are hit and miss sometimes and sometimes they just don't strike someone's taste...but the same can be said for a lot of restaurants.

            AND THAT SAID: it's really not that hard to get around town...like chicgail said: relax.

            1. re: rubinow
              nsxtasy May 13, 2009 10:42 AM

              >> Chicago's taco joints are far better than most other cities' taco joints. At the very least, they are certainly *different* than ones in other Mexican food places like California or Texas.

              Could not agree with you less on this.

              1. re: nsxtasy
                r
                rubinow May 13, 2009 11:51 AM

                I'm basing this on the ubiquity of Baja-style food (like fish tacos) mostly found in California but not here (there have been discussions about the lack of that type of food on this board) and TexMex food found in Texas, but not necessarily here (again, there have been discussions about the lack of that type of food on this board and what distinguishes Chicago Mexican food from other places: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/525029). There is a current topic for which you commented on where the OP, from NYC mentions that they are "short on options around NYC" in terms of Mexican food: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/619139. I can understand that (and the OP in this topic) considering that Chicago has a far bigger Mexican population than NYC both in absolute and relative numbers (http://www.tc.columbia.edu/news/article.htm?id=4504 and http://www.pww.org/article/articlevie...) around 300,000 vs. 530,000.

                SO, I have to conclude based on my own experiences and based on what's been discussed here, that I have to stand by my assertion that Chicago's taco joints are far better than most other cities' (most cities have an even smaller Mexican population and far fewer restaurants/varieties) or at the very least, a different type of regional specialty. The places I go for Mexican food are usually teaming with multiple Mexican families all enjoying themselves immensely (see any Saturday night at Lazo's). So, they seem to enjoy the level of Mexican food at Chicago taco joints, too. Moreover, I've had Mexican food made by real families in Mexico. The food was very similar (nearly identical) to the food found here in tacquerias. It, again, speaks to the quality and "authenticity" of food found here.

                1. re: rubinow
                  nsxtasy May 13, 2009 12:02 PM

                  I am not disputing that Chicago has very good taquerias. However, so do many other U.S. cities, especially those with a relatively large proportion of Mexican-American population. And in those other cities, just like here, the food is prepared by Mexican-American owners and workers, and Mexican families enjoy themselves immensely. And the menu is nearly always very similar to our own (with the exception you mentioned of fish tacos which are more common in Southern California). Yes, they're good here - and they're good, and similar, in cities all over the country.

                  However, it is extremely rare to find as many provincial Mexican restaurants as we have here in Chicago, such as the seafood places, the places specializing in moles (often with chefs from Oaxaca), etc. In fact, the only other city in the U.S. that I'm aware of with robust, provincial offerings comparable to ours is Los Angeles.

                  It's also worth mentioning that the more unusual Mexican restaurants are often not well-known in their respective cities. Sure, here on Chowhound some of us are familiar with those places and their chef-owners, but among the general population of food-lovers, they can be relatively unknown - somewhat less so here in Chicago due to the long-time celebrity status of Rick Bayless and his restaurants, but most folks here are not aware of non-Bayless places like Mundial and Fonda del Mar etc. As far as I can tell, that lack of awareness is even worse in Los Angeles, for which I've been reading strong recommendations for creative provincial places like Chichen Itza, Moles La Tia, Guelaguetza, and Monte Alban, places that most non-Chowhound Angelenos have never heard of.

                  1. re: nsxtasy
                    r
                    rubinow May 13, 2009 12:21 PM

                    >>>However, it is extremely rare to find as many provincial Mexican restaurants as we have here in Chicago

                    FWIW: I'm not disputing that (and that's fine if you like that sort of thing)...but my point is that even people from a big city with a relatively large Mexican population like NYC seem to want and enjoy tacqueria food and enjoy the differences in what we get here vs. their own city. Another example, the OP (who seems to be from NYC) in this topic: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/615224

                    I can't claim be an expert in the Mexican immigrant population in all the cities in this country, but, again, in my experience, Chicago tacquerias are simply better than what you get in most other American cities...and that only makes sense. Besides the Southwest, Texas, and California, what other American cities have such a vibrant tacqueria culture? I can't think of any that rise to the level of Chicago's.

                    1. re: rubinow
                      b
                      BRB May 13, 2009 12:26 PM

                      I completely agree

                      1. re: rubinow
                        nsxtasy May 13, 2009 01:32 PM

                        Don't be too sure. The OP from New York City is apparently not familiar with the many taquerias in his home area, including some very good ones. Taqueria Coatzingo in Jackson Heights (Queens), in particular, gets tons of praise; for example:
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/535335
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/559430
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/465562
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/492477

                        So do others in the NYC area...

                        Pinche Taqueria - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/464298
                        Taqueria Geovani - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/587247
                        El Atazcon - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/587679
                        Taqueria de los Muertos - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/539344
                        Cocina Mexicana - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/599107
                        Tacos at Tacos Matamoros - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/511366
                        fish tacos? - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/530779
                        Tacos in NYC - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/234987
                        Fish tacos - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/209312
                        Recommendations for Tacos? - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/483463

                        1. re: nsxtasy
                          r
                          rubinow May 13, 2009 01:51 PM

                          Did you read any of those discussions? There are some good places (and I've never doubted that), but it is clear that in NYC they are playing a different ball game than we are here. I especially like this quote: "As a fellow CA expat, I'll tell you that you'll be hard pressed to find anything on par with CA street-cart tacos, in terms of quality and price [in NYC]." This one's good, too, (in re a certain type of tortilla): "Rustic, rough-hewn tortillas of the kind you simply do not see in NYC." Or this one, "As a Texas native and a Manhattan resident, I have long bemoaned the state of Mexican food in NYC." Or "Maybe NY will never get Mexican." And, re a bad experience, "It's not all their [the restaurant's] fault however. Most of the blame goes to those with dead palates who rave about anything that tastes better than the bile they've been raised on."

                          It is clear that *good* tacquerias (especially the kind the OP is looking for) are relatively difficult to find in NYC, based on what you posted. I've never seen that level of derision for a Chicago tacqueria. It wouldn't survive here long.

                          1. re: rubinow
                            r
                            rubinow May 13, 2009 02:04 PM

                            I have to add to this b/c I found a review on another website about Taqueria Coatzingo (sorry if I spelled "taqueria" incorrectly before). It pretty much sums it up:

                            Since moving to NYC from Chicago two years ago, I've been searching for great, authentic mexican food. Chicago has tons and tons of cheap, authentic and good mexican restaurants everywhere. In NYC, I had a tough time finding any.

                            You don't know how good you have it!

                            1. re: rubinow
                              nsxtasy May 13, 2009 02:18 PM

                              An isolated quote doesn't prove anything. I'm sure you can find quotes from Californians deriding Chicago's tacos, and vice versa; a lot of the food boards are like that.

                              I'm not saying that the quality of the best taquerias in New York is necessarily as good as our best - each city is better at some things than others - but they DO have taquerias there, including ones where the local Mexican-American population eats and which they enjoy, and as you yourself note, they have some good ones there. And they DON'T have a bunch of restaurants serving provincial Mexican cuisine like we do here in Chicago. (Although the way they are proliferating rapidly here, I would be surprised if that trend doesn't spread to New York in the next few years.)

                              And believe me, I DO know how good we have it in Chicago, for MANY kinds of foods, Mexican and non-Mexican! Again, I'm not dissing our taquerias; I think it's great that we have so many choices for great food, from "cheap eats" to fine dining and everything in between.

                              1. re: nsxtasy
                                r
                                rubinow May 13, 2009 02:50 PM

                                What about several quotes? j/k

                                I think you're agreeing with me when you say, "I'm not saying that the quality of the best taquerias in New York is necessarily as good as our best."

                                That's pretty much what I'm saying and I think that many of the quotes YOU provided from NYC chowhounders back that up. And that's pretty much why I must stand by what I said originally about Chicago's taco joints being far better than most other cities' taco joints.

                                And I STILL don't have an answer to what other American cities have such a vibrant taqueria culture.

                                1. re: rubinow
                                  nsxtasy May 13, 2009 03:39 PM

                                  >> And I STILL don't have an answer to what other American cities have such a vibrant taqueria culture.

                                  Lots of places. In the Southwest - Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, San Antonio, Houston, etc. Among non border states, the Denver area has lots of taquerias too. Furthermore, the Mexican-American population has spread throughout the United States, with substantial numbers in every large city in the country. So even in places that aren't as proportionally high in Mexican-American population, you can find a vibrant taqueria culture, including Atlanta, Miami, etc.

                                  Check out some of the other regional boards, and you can read about great taquerias in big cities and small towns, in places as far-flung as Jackson, Mississippi; Waltham, Massachusetts; Bremerton/Seattle, Washington; Hampton Roads, Virginia; Middletown, Connecticut; and Walla Walla, Washington, just to name a few.

                                  Our best taquerias are very good, but it's not at all unusual to find taquerías muy buenas elsewhere around the country too!

                                  1. re: nsxtasy
                                    r
                                    rubinow May 13, 2009 03:46 PM

                                    I meant, per my previous post, NOT in the Southwest, Texas, or California (those places, as I mentioned before, have just as good and different options as we do here). That's good to know about those other places, though. I had no idea those scenes were as vibrant as Chicago's.

                                    1. re: rubinow
                                      AnneInMpls May 13, 2009 05:33 PM

                                      From an upper midwest perspective, at least (I live in Minneapolis), Chicago's taqueria and authentic mom-and-pop restaurant scene is very, very vibrant. I mean, Chicago has SEVERAL birrerias (goat BBQ joints). My town hasn't a one.

                                      Last time I was at my neighborhood liquor store, the conversation in line was about Chicago taquerias. We all agreed it's worth the 8 hour drive to sample the wealth of choices in your town.

                                      So keep on recommending good taquerias and birrerias and the like. Not all of us visitors want the fancier provincial and/or fusion Mexican food that Chicago does so well. (Me, however, I want both!)

                                      Anne

                                      P.S. dietndesire, if you'd like some great Mexican street food, and if you have the time, I recommend the Maxwell Street Market (on Sundays only). There's a great selection of Mexican and Central American food - none of it fancy, most of it very good. More info here:

                                      LTHForum:
                                      http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=218280#p218280

                                      Basic info from ExploreChicago.org:
                                      http://www.explorechicago.org/city/en...

        2. d
          dietndesire May 12, 2009 03:07 PM

          Y, had considered Coalfire for pizza. Will see. As for convenient locations in Downtown, I consider 15-20 min no big deal of a walk. I walk a lot and faster than most.
          I have no problem calling ahead for take-out pizza, just not dealing with dining in AND calling ahead, etc. Also, am sure I will handle the transport of whatever pizza it is just fine if not calling for delivery. I am quite extreme in my willingness to transport food. Thus, convenience never trumps quality(no middling Thai please,blechk). If too inconvenient, I will merely take a pass on whatever it is.
          So, feel free to name ONE pizza place if this subject is still up for refinement.

          Looking at one of the posts, marked down Irazu and Rosa de Lima. It seems I would be willing to go outside of the Mex taco stand genre. As for no carbs, basically, if they serve plates, worst case rice on the side and it can be dumped, I guess. Anyone eat here,La Cocina Boricua de la Familia Galarza? Not really into PR food but options are options.
          Basically, for south of the border cuisines, I am willing to pay for better ingredients, not for more nouveau recipes and preparations. If anyone cares to pom pom for anywhere in particular, on or off the list so far, please do.

          Thai, sweets and breads seem covered.
          Thank you, again.

          7 Replies
          1. re: dietndesire
            nsxtasy May 12, 2009 03:21 PM

            >> So, feel free to name ONE pizza place if this subject is still up for refinement.

            Lou Malnati's.

            1. re: dietndesire
              chicgail May 12, 2009 03:37 PM

              Your request to "name ONE pizza place" will most certainly rain down contradictory opinions on you.

              For me, it's Uno/Due, but Malnati's is a close second if its locations are appealing to you.

              1. re: chicgail
                nsxtasy May 12, 2009 03:58 PM

                OP - It's very difficult to name ONE pizza place in Chicago, because many of them are excellent. It would be easier in a smaller city, but there are just too many good ones here, and no consensus on which is best. It's even more difficult when several places are so similar to each other (aided, in the case of Uno-Due/Pizano's/Malnati's by the family relationships among the principals) and you have to distinguish between places that are not only excellent, but whose food doesn't differentiate one from another. OTOH what this means is you can find great pizza in a lot of different places.

                And it's not just with pizza; the same thing is true of many other kinds of food. Ask people to name ONE steakhouse as THE BEST in the area, or ONE Mexican restaurant, or ONE Thai restaurant, or ONE casual contemporary restaurant, and you won't get anything like a consensus. Again, this is a reflection of the high level of quality and the high number of excellent places.

                What this means for visitors is that they are often overwhelmed with differing recommendations, and understandably so. If you tried all the recommendations, you would probably like most of them! What this means for us locals is that most of us haven't tried all the places we'd like to try, but there are many places we've already been that we've loved and would like to return to.

                Chicago is a great place for dining of all kinds.

                1. re: nsxtasy
                  chicgail May 12, 2009 04:42 PM

                  What he said. :>)

              2. re: dietndesire
                b
                BRB May 12, 2009 03:41 PM

                For Mexican, I would go with Real Tenochtitlan. They do moles particularly well, but the rest of the menu is very good too. It's just one of the examples of fine, authentic Mexican food in Chicago. It's also very close to where you will be and they're byo. It would be a shame to visit Chicago and miss out on our outstanding Mexican restaurants. Here's a link to their website: http://www.realtenochtitlan.com/site/welcome.html

                I feel the same way about our Thai restaurants, but you'll have to decide on your own if they're too far to visit (they're easy to get to). If you need help planning train/bus transportation, visit transitchicago.com. And for bus wait times, go to ctabustracker.com.

                If you're looking for a bakery, that's one thing. If you want an evening dessert spot, Hot Chocolate in Bucktown is absolutely the way to go, and it's only a five minute walk from the Bucktown Blue Line station. http://hotchocolatechicago.com/

                Pizza - Coalfire is great, but it's not deep dish Chicago-style pizza, if that's what you're after. And regardless of which W hotel you will be near, you will be within a 15 minute walk of Pizano's (again, identical to Malnati's - owned by a Malnati brother).

                1. re: BRB
                  d
                  dietndesire May 17, 2009 07:56 AM

                  Do you know if Real Tenoch or any of the other equivalent Mex joints do take-out?
                  Especially for lunch.
                  Not clear on the site or maybe I missed it.
                  Not sure I will always have time and/or care to sit down.

                  1. re: dietndesire
                    nsxtasy May 17, 2009 08:54 AM

                    I would call them to ask.

                    My experience is that almost any restaurant in town can prepare its food for carry-out. That being said, some places - particularly those that have a lot of carry-out business - do a better job of packaging everything than others. And some foods "travel" better than others.

                    Also keep in mind that restaurants are usually especially time-conscious at lunchtime, when people need to get back to work afterwards, and if you're eating there, they can often move you through quickly if you let them know you don't have a lot of time.

                    Good luck.

              3. j
                jbw May 12, 2009 01:22 PM

                More New Haven than traditional Chicago deep-dish, one of the best pizzas in Chicago is not too far south from you on Grand. Coalfire is not that convenient to the Blue Line, but if there's a bus down Ogden Avenue, it'll take you right there:

                http://www.coalfirechicago.com/

                1. d
                  dietndesire May 12, 2009 12:48 PM

                  Trying to keep this info straight in my response. Please excuse any oversights or other instances of stupidity.

                  1. Pizza-I realized I would get basically every name in the book for recs so will have to just choose myself blindly.In general,do they all do takeout? Again, I am not sitting around and waiting and then sitting in a restaurant for this.Applies mostly to "downtown", not sure if that is proper terminology for the area. Basically closer to the W Hotels not my Division St spot. Or is it worth going to say, Pequod's, since it is near Vanille. Ye ole double dip.
                  2. Mex-Without getting into the why and such since it is obvious and there is no point, I think RUBINOW stated how it is about Mex food. Good/Great hole-in-the-wall is what I am seeking. Actually, I would like somewhere that uses good meat and ingredients that is not sit down and pay up. If that does not exist, no problem. I have noted Las Asadas and Las Pasaditas near me. A few others might be fine,have not filtered them.
                  Is there somewhere somewhat close to my Division St location that someone who is anti-carb could go and order well and easily?
                  3. Thai-Seems the top 3 are all a bit of a ways off. Might happen, might not.
                  4. Might do Vanille if I go to Pequod's, otherwise, I will judge Fox and Obel fairly since I will probably go there at some point. Mama's Hoosier Pies also a possibility. I am satisfied with these choices unless somewhere has a great dessert spot, even a restaurant just for that.
                  5. Fruits/Veg near Division and Mil location. Seems I will just stumble around and find something. Not a huge deal and possibly not necessary.

                  THANK YOU MUCH to all who responded so far.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: dietndesire
                    nsxtasy May 12, 2009 01:18 PM

                    Remember, the more specific your questions, the more specific the answers will be.

                    >> 1. Pizza-I realized I would get basically every name in the book for recs so will have to just choose myself blindly.In general,do they all do takeout? Again, I am not sitting around and waiting and then sitting in a restaurant for this.Applies mostly to "downtown", not sure if that is proper terminology for the area. Basically closer to the W Hotels not my Division St spot.

                    Aha! That changes things!

                    The closest good places to the W Lakeshore for our single-crust "pizza in the pan" are the original Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due, both around Ohio and Wabash, about a five-minute walk. The closest good place to the W in the Loop on Adams is Pizano's on Madison, also about a five-minute walk. If you would consider the double-crust "stuffed" pizza, the closest to the W Lakeshore is Bacino's on Wacker, also about a five-minute walk, and the closest to the W on West Adams is Giordano's on West Jackson, a block away (1-2 minutes walk).

                    All of these places do carry-out.

                    >> Or is it worth going to say, Pequod's, since it is near Vanille. Ye ole double dip.

                    I prefer the other places over the "burnt crust style" pizza served at Pequod's, but it is indeed convenient to Vanille. So I wouldn't do Pequod's, but sometimes convenience wins out over quality and preference.

                    >> 2. Mex-Without getting into the why and such since it is obvious and there is no point, I think RUBINOW stated how it is about Mex food. Good/Great hole-in-the-wall is what I am seeking. Actually, I would like somewhere that uses good meat and ingredients that is not sit down and pay up. If that does not exist, no problem. I have noted Las Asadas and Las Pasaditas near me. A few others might be fine,have not filtered them.
                    Is there somewhere somewhat close to my Division St location that someone who is anti-carb could go and order well and easily?

                    I'm not sure what you're looking for here. The "hole in the wall" type places typically serve tacos and enchiladas, whose tortilla shells are carb-intensive. What would you consider the kind(s) of Mexican food you would get at a place that is both "hole in the wall" and "anti-carb"?

                    Mexique, which is close (as I mentioned), is neither a "hole in the wall" nor "cheap eats" - it's an upscale bistro with $25 entrees - but it's a good place for "anti-carb". I loved the braised/seared short ribs with hibiscus flower glaze; it was one of the best short rib dishes I've had.

                    >> 3. Thai-Seems the top 3 are all a bit of a ways off. Might happen, might not.

                    Yup. There are a few Thai places that are closer, but not necessarily the best or the cheapest. For example, Amarit in the South Loop is walkable from the W on Adams - fairly inexpensive, decent while not the best. Vong's Thai Kitchen is walkable from the W Lakeshore - not as inexpensive as most, and also decent while not the best.

                    >> 4. Might do Vanille if I go to Pequod's, otherwise, I will judge Fox and Obel fairly since I will probably go there at some point. Mama's Hoosier Pies also a possibility. I am satisfied with these choices unless somewhere has a great dessert spot, even a restaurant just for that.

                    I think Vanille and Fox & Obel are the two best places to buy carry-out pastry.

                    There's a restaurant in Wicker Park, not far from Milwaukee/Division, called Hot Chocolate, which you might enjoy. It's owned/run by famed pastry chef Mindy Segal, and specializes in pastry. I've only been there for brunch, and liked my savory dish, but was disappointed in the pastry selection; I've heard it's better during dinner hours.

                    EDIT: I agree with lbs's comments about ordering pizza in advance for carry-out. I'm not sure that you've given sufficient thought to where the pizza places are located, and how you are going to transport the pizza from the pizza place to wherever you're planning to eat it (in the W?) - on the el? In a car or cab? You might be better off having the pizza delivered (which some places do, others don't).

                    1. re: dietndesire
                      l
                      lbs May 12, 2009 01:19 PM

                      I'm not sure how you are going to avoid calling a pizza place in advance if you are going to do take-out. And you will have to wait even at Pequods. They aren't magically going have to a deep dish pizza waiting for takeout. If you do Lou's or Pizano's, etc, etc, you will have to wait at least 30 minutes if you order the pizza at the restaurant. So it is up to you on if calling ahead is that big of hassle for you.

                      Check out Stanley's ( f1558 N. Elston) or fresh produce by your Division. It may be above your stated 30 minutes preference but I don't think so. There is map on the link below.

                      http://chicago.citysearch.com/profile...

                    2. nsxtasy May 12, 2009 08:19 AM

                      >> 1.Pizza-Would go for Deep Dish somewhere that I can get it to go.I have read about pre-ordering, waiting for seating, etc. I am not doing all that. SO, the best where I can pickup a pie within geographic constraints of the above.

                      The Lou Malnati's on Damen just south of North Ave, which others have mentioned, is right in your neighborhood. Note that this location is carry-out and delivery only, so if you change your mind about eating in, you would need to go elsewhere.

                      When you order for carry-out, you're better off asking for the pizza uncut, and waiting till you're about to eat it to cut it into slices; the pizza crust stays crisper that way.

                      >> 2. Mexican and Thai choices that are at least among the best(if not the best).No upscale choices since that is a total waste,ie, no Rick Bayless unless he has something really good that is only marginally more than the other top choices.

                      For Mexican, we have wonderful restaurants that specialize in creative provincial Mexican cooking, totally different from the standard tacos, enchiladas, and carne asada you can find in any city in the United States. There are quite a few choices all over the city. My favorite is Mundial Cocina Mestiza, in Pilsen; don't miss the steamed mussels slathered with strips of poblano and chunks of bacon! I had an excellent dinner this past weekend at Mexique, is half a mile (a ten minute walk) south of Milwaukee and Division. There are a whole bunch in Logan Square and Lincoln Park, which isn't far from where you're staying, including Fonda del Mar, Fuego Mexican Grill, and the Real Tenochtitlan, and Los Moles, which just opened and specializes in you-know-what. Bayless's restaurants in River North are still excellent too, particularly for lunch; however, Topolobampo's prices at dinner have gotten quite high. I was not impressed with the geographically inconvenient Sol de Mexico, so I recommend one of these others instead.

                      >> 3. Any bakeries/patisseries that are superior to Fox and Obel? Seems the latter gets the nod which does not inspire great confidence.

                      Have you actually BEEN to Fox & Obel? It sounds like you haven't, and you really need to go and to try their baked goods to understand just how good they are! The baked goods at Fox & Obel, including the breads as well as the pastries, are indeed among the very best in the city, and I've tried most of the better known bakeries and pastry shops. Whether you enjoy sweeter items (great bread pudding and chocolate brut) or somewhat-sweet items (best cinnamon swirl rolls ever, best bran muffins anywhere - if the bakery counter is out of those, you can often still find them in the cafe) or breads (terrific brioche, raisin-nut loaf, etc), their baked goods are superb.

                      I also agree with the recommendation of Vanille Patisserie. Vanille is a small shop, but what they do, they do incredibly well. Their entremets are spectacular and unlike any elsewhere in the city. Their French macaroons are the best in the city. Their croissants are exceptional also.

                      Pasticceria Natalina and Swedish Bakery, just a few blocks down the street from each other in Andersonville, are both excellent if you enjoy Sicilian and Swedish baked goods, respectively, but they would violate your 30-minute limit.

                      >> David Burke Primehouse for brunch is on the agenda. I have read good to better reports, any additional info will be taken into consideration.

                      Great choice - I love their Sunday brunch! I went there for Mother's Day brunch this past weekend and was reminded how everything is so exceptional, even better than it sounds on their menu.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: nsxtasy
                        g
                        glutton May 18, 2009 05:27 AM

                        We ate at Sol de Mexico last night and had a very nice meal. It's definitely not public transportation friendly -- it's just too far west. The food was very good and the margaritas were excellent. We shared guacomole, a ceviche with shrimp and halibut, and some sopecitos. The sopecitos were outstanding, especially the one with chicken and mole and the one with sweet plaintain. (To be fair, I love everything with sweet plaintain.) The margaritas were made from scratch, which is increasingly rare, and for $7 they were a real steal. The service was good. I'd go back.

                        I've been to Fox & Obel a lot lately and I have to admit that while there are many tasty things in there, overall I have not been blown away. The cafe's food is fine -- certainly not bad, but not great either. The cheese section is so-so and the cheesemongers don't know much about what they're selling. The bakery section seems to have the strongest offerings. The wine and beer section is good, with some hard-to-find bottles tucked in there. Frankly, I'm surprised to hear that this is the best that Chicago has to offer -- there must be a better cheese and charcuterie counter in the city somewhere.

                        1. re: glutton
                          j
                          jbw May 18, 2009 07:36 AM

                          Their charcuterie is a bit limited but have you tried the cheeses at either of the Pastorals?

                          http://www.pastoralartisan.com/

                          1. re: jbw
                            g
                            glutton May 19, 2009 03:19 PM

                            Thank you for this rec. I went to Pastoral last night and enjoyed it. While they don't have the biggest cheese selection, I thought it was a thoughtfully prepared selection that included lots of hard-to-find regional cheeses. Also, the cheesemonger knew quite a bit about cheese, which is helpful when I'm looking for a cheese that is "similar to X, but not quite as hard". I bought three pieces of cheese, two of which were based on the help of the cheesemonger.

                            My wife had a salad there for lunch today and she said it was very good.

                            Their sundried tomatoes are really good.

                      2. g
                        gordeaux May 12, 2009 04:48 AM

                        If you'll be living near Milwaukee and Division, you'll be schooling US on Mexican options in the area, please report back on your finds. Little holes in the wall will be abundantly scattered not far from you at all if you explore just a tiny little bit north, east, west - all directions really, and not far at all. If I were in that area, and seeking Mexican food on the cheap, the FIRST place I'd try to get to is Las Asadas:
                        Las Asadas
                        2045 N. Western
                        773-235-5538
                        Get anything here as long as it's steak. Barbacoa would be second choice, but stick to the steak here. If you go at peak "eatin" times, then you will be ensured fresh of the grill charred skirt steak which will have you wanting more no matter how full you are.

                        Number two spot would be:
                        La Pasadita on the east side of the road on Ashland and Division (The lake is always east)
                        1141 N Ashland Ave
                        Chicago, IL 60622
                        773-278-0384

                        Decent char grilled skirt steak, and a fuller menu.
                        La Pasadita and Las Asadas are run by the same family, but there are very subtle differfences between them.

                        I also suspect you'll become fast friends with the folks at Irazu as well.

                        Also, Bayless's Frontera Grill is NOT a total waste IMO. HIs other place called Topolobampo, however, is a different story - again, just my opin ion.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: gordeaux
                          chicgail May 12, 2009 05:00 AM

                          Speaking of holes in the wall, just down the street from Las Asadas on the corner of Western Armitage is Arturos Tacos. Great when you're starving late at night. Don't confuse it with Lazo's just to the north.

                          1. re: chicgail
                            Alan N Jan 9, 2010 10:26 AM

                            Hey chicgail,
                            Why Arturos over Lazo's? Curious. I have been to both many times and enjoy them. I prefer Lazo's when it comes to rice, cheese, burrito tightness, service accuracy and speed. Arturo's for salsa/pico, chips, beans and brightness(freshness?) of veggies. Depending on the mood, either atmosphere fits the bill.

                        2. b
                          BRB May 11, 2009 10:42 PM

                          Pizza - Pizano's and Malnati's have locations downtown. They're my personal favorites for deep dish. Closer to the Michigan Ave. shopping area, there's Pizeria Uno's and Due's. You can probably get one of the latter two to deliver also.

                          Thai - My 2 favorites: Spoon Thai and TAC Quick. Both offer translated Thai language menus and this is what you want to order from. Spoon will provide it to you when you sit down (here's a link: http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=7364; TAC you'll need to ask, but here's a copy: http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=9443). Spoon is a minute walk from the Western Ave. Brown Line El station. TAC Quick is right next to the Red Line Sheridan station. From downtown, TAC is easily under 30 minutes by train, but Spoon might be closer to 30. These two spots serve wonderful and authentic Thai food so I wouldn't waste your time ordering pad thai or similar at either as you'll likely be disappointed. Favorites of mine at Spoon include catfish curry custard, crispy pork with Chinese broccoli, shrimp paste fried rice w/ apples, sliced omelet and pork, one bite salad, banana blossom salad, fried chicken w/ tamarind dipping sauce, curries, beef jerky and mango w/ sticky rice.

                          Mexican - so many to choose from, but it depends upon what you're looking for. Mixteco Grill is excellent and is close to the Montrose Brown Line station. Frontera Grill is very good - I'm not sure what turns you off about Frontera but I wouldn't dismiss it and it's prices are not out of line. Sol de Mexico is fantastic for moles, but it's a little transportation unfriendly. Real Tenochtitlan is also very good for moles and it's within walking distance of the Logan Square Blue Line station. Fonda del Mar specializes in seafood but also offers a great and spicy cochinita pibil. And for cheap eats, Maxwell Street Market is a must (http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=218280#p218280). Is there a particular regional taste you're looking for? That might make a difference. Otherwise, Real Tenochtitlan and Fonda del Mar are closest to where you'll be.

                          Bakery - Pasticceria Natalina, an authentic Sicilian bakery, is my favorite. Best way to get there is Clark St. bus from Wrigley area, but this might take you out of the 30 minute limit. Unfortunately, for breads I'd say Fox & Obel is the best I can think of so I can't help you much. This is not really a great bakery city in my opinion . . . although others less conveniently located are also very good - Vanille on Clybourn for example.

                          There is a Red Hen bakery not far from where you'll be and they have some decent items. And if you want great pie, you will not be very far from Hoosier Mama Pie Company. http://www.hoosiermamapie.com/

                          Hope some of this info proves helpful.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: BRB
                            g
                            gleam May 11, 2009 10:55 PM

                            Vanille is actually not a bad trek from Milwaukee/Ashland/Division -- take the Ashland bus to Webster and then walk 2-3 blocks east. You'll be right by Pequod's (pan pizza, not quite deep dish, but of a similar school) and Vanille. If you want to go to Lou's, there's also a carryout/delivery branch on Damen, just south of North Ave, one el stop from your home base. Fruit/veg/meat -- there are some carnicerias within easy walking distance. You can also head east on North Ave to Whole Foods in Lincoln Park. Another option is Treasure Island, a couple blocks away from Vanille/Pequod's.

                            Beyond that, I agree completely with BRB's recommendations, especially on the Thai and Mexican front.

                            Taking the Ashland bus to its northern end of the line (Clark and Irving Park) will also get you to the clark street bus to Pasticceria Natalina. And, bonus, Clark & Irving Park is just a few blocks from TAC Quick. If you're coming from the loop, I'd take the el, but from Division/Ashland/Milwaukee it's only about a 20 minute bus ride to Clark&Irving Park.

                            1. re: BRB
                              r
                              rubinow May 12, 2009 12:00 AM

                              Lou Malnati's has a location on Damen just a block south of its Blue Line stop, too. In other words, it's in the OP's neighborhood (Oh, I guess gleam mentioned that).

                              BRB is right about the breadth of Mexican food, but it might be best if you are a little more specific. A place like Fonda del Mar has entrees approaching $20. I went there last week and was left feeling like my money would have been better spent at a little tacqueria (maybe I ordered wrong, but I didn't know what the big deal was). I may be in the minority on this board, but I have yet to have an "upscale" Mexican meal that left me as satisfied as so many other hole-in-the-wall meals. Is that what you are getting at? If so, you're close to many Mexican restaurants which are neighborhood favorites: the three (yes, three) Las Pasaditas all within a stone's throw of where you are staying, El Taco Veloz, Tecalitlan (on Chicago), Arturos, and Lazo's. You're also close to Irazu for Costa Rican or Rosa de Lima for Peruvian...and you're close to a lot of other great restaurants.

                              There's also the brand new La Fonda del Gusto which looks nice.

                              BTW: I completely agree with Hoosier Mama and Red Hen.

                              1. re: rubinow
                                r
                                rubinow May 12, 2009 07:41 AM

                                Also in the neighborhood is El Barco which is noted for its huachinango.

                              2. re: BRB
                                chicgail May 12, 2009 04:45 AM

                                Great suggestions.

                                The only thing I would add are Sticky Rice for Thai. It's specifically and authentically northern Thai (Chaing Mai) and, I think, better than Spoon or TAC when I'm in that mood. Sticky is at Western Avenue at Irving Park.

                                There's a Lou Malnatis close to where you will be staying in a Shopping mall at Damen just south of North Avenue -- possibly walking distance if the weather is nice.

                                -----
                                Sticky Rice
                                4018 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

                              Show Hidden Posts