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Aug 3, 2009 09:27 PM

Help us choose where to stay and where to eat

Coming to Chicago from Montreal for a trade show and want to be blown away with nice restaurant choices while here...where is it trendy, quality food but not too expensive. Will be in town for 5 days. HELP US! Thanks

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  1. Orientation: If you look at a map of downtown Chicago you will see that it is bisected by the Chicago River, starting at the shore of Lake Michigan and then splitting into a Y shape. Downtown south of the river is the older section, called the Loop. Main drag there is State Street. There are a few good hotels (Palmer House, Hilton, Burnham) and some commercial hotels, and some shopping and restaurants. Elegant old movie theaters have been refurbished as legitimate theaters. Loop is mostly offices now and there's little street life at night. Mostly, visitors will find more action north of the river ("Near North Side") along Michigan Avenue between the river and Oak Street Beach. Here are dozens of hotels and many restaurants and much more street life, especially at night. West of this area is River North and just Northwest are the Gold Coast and Old Town (more restaurants). Distances are short (can walk, taxis not costly) and public transportation abounds (google "CTA Chicago" for details). Go to "chicago restaurant menus" to view 3000 menus sorted by neighborhood and ethnicity. In summary: look for hotels on North Michigan or its side streets. Personally I steer guests to Homewood Suites (Grand & State) because every room is a complete apartment, there's an indoor pool, and two meals a day are included in the rate; see website.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Querencia

      Thanks so much for helping me out. Two meals at Homewood Suites...very nice...but are they good?

      Note: We can have a deal for a hotel called THE JAMES.

      1. re: lovetoeatwell

        The James is a hip hotel that is a refurbished apartment building, nice rooms, very good location. Great restaurant at the James is David Burke's Primehouse--my favorite steak in the city. For other recomendations, please give us a little more info on your likes and wants. Chicago is a very large city with tons of variety. Search posts by NSXTSY - he provided very detailed posts over the last year.

      2. re: Querencia

        You've asked a very open-ended question without providing much input. What have you seen after reviewing the extensive number of threads and discussions of restaurants here that has interested you? At this point, my best suggestion, other than suggesting you review prior discussions is to get yourself a good guidebook to Chicago - including one with hotel suggestions. Enjoy the visit.

        1. re: Querencia

          I'm currently staying at Sofitel right now with my wife and 3.5 yr old. It's a great place to stay, although no swimming pool. The hotel restaurant , Cafe des Architectes is good. My wife and I had the price fixe dinner for $42. We weren't impressed with the pike nor the halibut. It was good, but not great. I asked the waiter later on what he would recommend the lamb which wasn't a choice on the price fixed menu. The blue clouds dessert ( poached peaches) was amazing. Many different textures and flavors. The hotel itself is located a wonderful place. Around the corner is Potash grocery, a local grocery place that you want to support. There's 4 Starbucks within a 4 block radius. It's also 2 blocks from the red line and buses. This hotel is far enough from the rest of the tourists. I did go to Avec, which a fabulous restaurant where there aren't too many tourists. Not that I'm against tourists, but it's nice to be in a place where it's not listed in zagat or fodor's. I'm tired of seeing Bubba Gumps , PF Chang's and ESPN Zone everywhere I turn a corner.

        2. I think that what people are saying is that Chicago has an seemingly endless number of "nice restaurant choices." and "trendy, quality food."

          if you provided certain information we could do more for you:
          Where you will be staying?
          Will you have access to a car or will you be on public trans? taxis ok?
          what is "not too expensive"? For some that might be $150/person; for others not more than $40/person
          What kind of food interests you? Particular ethnic cuisines? Bar food? Haute cuisine? Dinner only or lunch and breakfast?

          11 Replies
          1. re: chicgail

            staying most probably at the james hotel and love food in general. My husband loves a good guiness with bar food....I like haute a bit of for prices 150$ is a bit expensive per person unless it is a to die for place....I would just love to have your your top 5 favorities....with a small description....also is there is another hotel besides the james that is hip and trendy...I would like to check before I make my final de ision. Thanks so much!!!! Can't wait to go....

            P.S. We will have a rental car,

            1. re: lovetoeatwell

              Another hip hotel is the Sofitel, which is within walking distance or short cab ride (20 E Chestnut). They have a great bar on the ground floor. Their restaurant, Cafe des Architectes, has great reviews, although I haven't personally been there.

              Here are 5 of my favorite restaurants:

              1) David Burke's steakhouse at The James. It is also my favorite steakhouse in Chicago. Get the dry-aged steak.

              2) About a block away from the James is my favorite place for thin-crust pizza: Pizzeria Via Stato (620 N State), which is in the bar seating area of Osteria Via Stato. You can't go wrong with any of the selections. My favorite is the potato-rosemary pizza with bacon.

              3) There is much debate over deep-dish pizza. My favorite is Pequod's in Lincoln Park (2207 N Clybourn)

              4) Hot Doug's (3324 N California) for unique and exotic hot dogs, extensively discussed in other threads. Check their website to make sure they are open on the day you want to go. Go on Fri or Sat for duck-fat fries and go early and be prepared to wait in line, but it's very worth it.

              5) Italian beef is another area of contentious debate. My favorite is Johnnie's Beef in Elmwood Park (7500 W North Ave). Also get a lemon ice, which is so soft and perfectly sweetened.

              1. re: foodhuntress

                The dinner at Osteria Via Stato could be a unique experience. For a set price, you get various appetizers, 2 different kinds of pasta, and your choice of entree.

                Hot Doug's definitely, prepare to wait.

                1. re: foodhuntress

                  Love it!!! Thanks so much for input....will try some out and let you know my neat places that are unique

                2. re: lovetoeatwell

                  For the good guiness and irish bar food, The Kerryman. Great outside patio for lunch and a pint. W Erie and N Clark.

                  For haute cuisine AND a great pint, The Publican in the Fulton Market District.

                  The James is smack in the middle of Tourist town, so while centrally located, not super hip (it was a couple years ago). You could try the Dana hotel, I like the bar/restaurant on the roof. Very good sushi they bring up from the restaurant downstairs. Agreed that the Sofitel is also great and I really like the restaurant Cafe de Architechts. In the gold coast just of Michigan Ave. Terrific breakfast and brunch.

                  1. re: jbontario

                    Okay great. Will check the other two out (Dana + Sofitel)..too.

                    1. re: lovetoeatwell

                      Decide....staying at the James. Got a good deal. Which are best breakfast spots and dinner spots nearby?

                      1. re: lovetoeatwell

                        good breakfast @ yolk (chicago and wells)

                        willing to travel for breakfast? some of the best spots are not downtown
                        M. Henry
                        Uncommon Ground (rogers park location)

                        Dinner @ Publican seems to be a good fit Beers (of amazing origin) for him and delicious pork rinds and fresh oysters for you

                        1. re: whereurmouthiz

                          For sure go to Publican. Just ate there on Saturday night and I can't wait to go back. Great beers that were perfect with the food choices. Really liked the "ribs" and had a terrific beet salad

                          1. re: whereurmouthiz

                            all right then...will try and post my observations afterwards...any last minute suggestions as we are leaving tomorrow for Chicago! Youppi!

                  2. re: chicgail

                    Staying at the james hotel, will have a car, expensive...not more than 100$ per person roughly...less is better. Nice food and atmosphere a must. Thanks so much....

                  3. i stayed at the palmer was perfect....even if you don't stay there, though you should, go check it has a lot of history,,,,,the lobby is amazing...check out the there's a bar that looked very hip in a corner of the lobby (i didn't go because i was there with my young son)....the rooms were recently great...and my room was pefectly quiet...though the view was of the gym down below i didn't care because there was no outside noise....having never been to chicago i was nervous about my hotel choice but was thrilled with the it's near a really cool tourist site...can't think of what they're called but they're fountains with water coming out of people's mouths....i'm not describing it well but it's about 2 blocks from the palmer...the concierge can direct you....very unique fountains....