HOME > Chowhound > Chicago Area >

Discussion

Pizza, Mex, Thai Questions based on Specific Locations

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. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. 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?...; TAC you'll need to ask, but here's a copy: http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?...). 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?...). 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

      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

        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

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

        2. re: BRB

          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

        3. 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

            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

              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. >> 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

              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

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

                http://www.pastoralartisan.com/

                1. re: jbw

                  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. 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

                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

                  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. 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/