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Spending a week in Old Town - Not to miss?

Hey Chicago Hounds!

I'm a Seattle Hound coming to Chicago for the 1st time. I'll be staying in Old Town but can easily walk, cab or take the L. I've searched the boards and have a list of Chicago hot spots, but what's missing for me is a concentrated list in Old Town. Are there any "cant miss" spots here? Or close by?

Any great happy hours would be great to know about. I'm ALL about the food, not necessarily the cocktails...

Any great wine bars? A spot for the perfect Martini?


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  1. Here are some places that I've enjoyed in the area in no particular order...

    South of Old Town
    Frontera Grill/Topolombampo - Upscale Mexican
    MK - Italian/French
    Kiki's Bistro - French

    In Old Town
    Saplicon - upscale Mexican
    Old Town Brasserie - French
    Trattoria Roma - Italian
    Dinotto - Italian
    Adobo Grill - upscale Mexican
    Twin Anchors - Old style Chicago bar with good ribs
    Marge's Still - Good burgers, I like their ribs better than Twin Anchor's
    Boka - contemporary American
    Vinci - Italian

    Of course, if you want to go very upscale there is Alenia and Charlie Trotters.

    I'm sure there are a lot more, these are just places that I'm familiar with.

    1. Old Town is really more a residential/boutique strip concentrated on Wells Street between what used to be a housing project and the Gold Coast, don't feel like you have to limit your scope. On Wells I do like Old Town Brasserie and enjoy the patio at Topo Gigio. The smoothies and the chili at Fresh Choice are also very good.

      The following neighborhoods in the city of Chicago are all walkable or cheaply cabable(is this a word) from Old Town: Lincoln Park, Gold Coast, River North, Magnificent Mile, Streeterville, the Loop. Just a few minutes farther, but still within a 5 mile readius is West Loop, South Loop, Lakeview, West Town.

      In all the neighborhoods listed, it is generally easy to find a cab, so venture out and enjoy.

      1. The only restaurant right in Old Town which I think is excellent is Salpicon. But you're close to public transportation (Sedgwick Brown Line stop and Clark/Division Red Line stop) and can easily access many areas of the city quickly, so if there is a particular type of food you seek, let us know.

        1 Reply
        1. re: BRB

          i'm thinking of trying Salpicon for a dinner with friends. are there any items you would recommend as not to miss or items to avoid?

        2. Trattoria Roma is great for simple Italian fare. The owners are Roman. Topo Gigio is this close to being an institution. Old Jerusalem is solid mid-eastern comfort food.

          1. For a slightly more contemporary take on French food, Old Town Brasserie is very good. Outdoor seating and live piano music contribute to an overall satisfying experience. Menu is small, but everything is executed well. Just down the street, Salpicon is also delicious.

            1. all great posts below, and agree with consensus that salpicon, old town brasserie, and topo gigio are your best bets.

              i would add mizu, which is a sushi / yakitori place on north ave, just off of wells. not the scene-iest atmosphere, but they have outstanding food, if you feel like japanese

              1. I am a huge fan of Landmark Grill, the lounge/restaurant owned by the same people who own Boka. The food is great and the ambiance is wonderful. Less fancy than Boka, with a great bacon cheeseburger and lobster club sandwich. I like their wine selections, but I've never had a cocktail from there.

                Also, in terms of happy hour, a lot of the theatre restaurants (Boka, Landmark, Vinci, Ba Ba Reeba) have 1/2 price wine days that alternate between them.

                3 Replies
                1. re: bourj

                  While we're on the subject of Boka and Landmark, Perennial in my opinion is the top spot in this restaurant family. I have been a fan of Chef Poli since Butter, and i'm glad he came back to town. Perennial is the more casual sister of Boka. Creative casual comfort food.

                  Perennial Virant
                  1800 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60614

                  1. re: ms. chow

                    Absolutely - I've had two wonderful meals at Perennial (better than what I've had at Boka and Landmark) and although there's some street noise there, I really like eating outdoors there. Chef Ryan Poli was generating a lot of buzz at Butter before he left and strangely seems to be flying under the radar at Perennial.

                    1. re: ms. chow

                      I, too, will second the recommendation for Perennial. One of my new faves and head and shoulders over most of the standard places in Old Town.

                  2. Not a restaurant, but there is one more must-see in Old Town for chowhounds: The Spice House at 1512 N Wells St. They have fresh spices from all over the world there and the smell is unbelievable.