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Oct 26, 2009 09:47 PM

SF CH report back on Chicago trip Oct 22-25, 2009 - long

We had a great time in Chicago. We did lots of sightseeing and had some good & bad eats.

Thurs Oct 22:
Boardman's Urban Kitchen. It was across the street from the Sheralton Hotel. I wouldn't have picked it if husband wasn't starving and wanting to eat somewhere. We should have eating at the food court Lee & Court Blue Line - that would have been better.
Had a bad Chicago hot dog - nothing special, just bad. Fries didn't eat. I did like the chicken noodle soup - not sure made there or can - liked it though.
Chicken sandwich was very dry.

after visiting Millennium Park went to Hot Woks/Cool Sushi Restaurant (across the street). Not very good, but convenient for tourists.
I got 3 rolls. I can't remember the names - spicy tuna roll maybe, creamy white tuna roll, salmon & avocado roll. Just ok, nothing special.
B. got some nasty peanut noodle - it looked awful. I didn't try it, but he didn't like it much either. Miso soup- small bowl $2.50. Boring.
If you want hot tea it's Extra! Only eat here if you have to.

Fri Oct 23:
Lunch: Museum of Science & Industry. FREE this last week M-F of Oct 2009 general admission only. We ate in the food area. Food is overpriced and not very tasty. We got a turkey meatloaf meal w/ 2 sides: creamed spinach & mac & cheese w/ a roll. Over $7 pp. Bottled water over $2.

We went on Fri night 10/23/09. It's the worst night to go out, but we were on vacation & near Millennium Park so ate here.

It was crazy loud at the bar and the wait was suppose to be an hr or more so we took the crappy 2-top table right by the revolving door. Blah.

The separate bathrooms are pass the bar down the flight of stairs. Evil when there's tons of ppl at the bar.

We got a bunch of stuff:

We didn't get FREE bread, I saw another table get some. Evil.

beer $6 - B. got it, he liked it.

mussels $13 - many mussels in a Thai flavored broth w/ huge crouton. Fine.

Phesant thigh $10 - dry, dry, dry w/ some lentils on the side.

Romaine salad $9 - fine enough w/ some anchovies on the top.

braised leeks $7 - tasty, small serving.

goat cheese risotto $13 - tiny serving of it. Stir it up, good stuff on the bottom waitress told us.

roasted squash $7 - just ok w/ some butter in it.

butterscotch creme brulee $9 - just ok, nothing special.

Total $74 + 8.51 tax = $82.51 Before tip.

Valet parking $20 available around corner @ university club 76 E. Monroe.

Sat Oct 24:

There was a small farmers market just outside Sat morning on Division St. That was cool. Macouns from WI were tasty. Apple cider $2.5 from Grandpa's Cider Mill was good, Cherry apple cider - way too sweet. He gave me a deal both for $5. Cherry is actually $2.75 a pint.

Breakfast: Butch McGuire Tavern & Grill: What's up w/ the Christmas lights up in Oct? Guy was friendly and seated us in a huge booth. Waitress was friendly and helpful. We got water right away.

Heard from the waitress about this huge early bird breakfast: 2 eggs, 2 pieces of toast, 2 pieces of meat for $5. B. got a side of pancakes for $1 more, and side of hash browns $1.95. Unlimited decaf for $2.

I liked my scrambled eggs & I wanted sourdough toast but got wheat - not a big deal just ate it. Meat I picked sausage which was good.

B. liked the 2 pancakes which comes w/ syrup & butter. Hash browns were just cut of potatoes stir fried w/ onions.

He liked the coffee. Bathrooms: separate in the middle of the restaurant - across from the bar.

Chicago Green City Market:
We went to the Chicago Green City Market since we were going to the Lincoln Park Zoo and it's just right there on the South end of Lincoln Park.

Lots of booths:
cranberries from MI
cheese from Wisconsin
apple cider
some kind of grass juice thing

Worth checking out. Just saw this online:
Come celebrate the end of the Outdoor Market season with a special 9:30 am tasting provided by some of Chicago's greatest pastry chefs.
Molly's Cupcake:
Molly's Cupcakes was pretty busy - the line can be long & slow.

I got just 1 cupcake & coffee. The cupcake was the peanut butter one w/ nutella inside $3.75! The cake is dry & hard. I only liked the nutella inside - not much inside though & the frosting.

The Sprinkles Bar is totally needed to make the cupcake a bit better.

Coffee we got was a small latte - just average.

Cute inside w/ chairs that look like swings.

Credit cards taken & you'll need it. Not recommended.

Garrett's popcorn: had coupons from Concierge Free guide at hotel/Navy Pier. Tiny sample like 5 popcorn. Caramel is best from either caramel or cheddar.
Sat dinner: Capi's Italian Kitchen at Navy Pier - not very good. Had a tomato basil soup & an order of brushetta. Bad brushetta, soup was decent. B. got a spaghetti dish w/ lots of raw garlic. oh boy - he ate it all.
We went to Fox & Obel since I read it's a foodie gourmet grocery store. It's very nice for downtown Chicago.

They have a fancy looking cafe - didn't eat here. Also, a more casual take out counter for ready made food.

Bakery, cheeses, fish market, meats, gourmet stuff. Oh, it's nice.

We got some ready made sandwiches for the plane ride back to Calif. About $7 ea.

Terry's Toffee Hazelicious - made in Chicago. It's only a small box 4oz and about $10, but tasty. I got 2 Vosges bar: Mo's Dark Bacon Bar $7.49 and Black Pearl Bar $7.49

Credit cards taken.

Sun lunch:
Cafecito is worth checking out if you live in Chicago and like Cubano sandwiches!

It's in the same building as the J. Ira & Nicki Harris Family Hostel next to DQ. It's a very casual small place you can eat there or take out.

The Cubano Sandwich is Pretty Good. Served hot, lots of fatty pork, some pickles, mustard on hot pressed bread.

The Jerk is a dry piece of chicken. No spice at all and Dry! Skip it!

Cafe con Leche is way way way too sweet. I had to add lots of water to drink it.

They have some desserts like Mexican wedding cookies 89c, Alfajores $1.50, etc. Didn't try them.

Get the Cubano. My total was $15.64. Credit cards taken.

26 E. Congress Pkwy (@ Wabash)

Bathrooms: Go to the hostel place, go up the stairs, pass the info desk on the left side.

Fox & Obel Food Market
401 E Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60611

The Gage
24 South Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603

Green City Market
1750 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614

26 E Congress Pkwy Ste 1, Chicago, IL 60605

Molly's Cupcakes
2536 N Clark St, Chicago, IL

Butch McGuire's Tvrn
20 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60610

Hot Woks Cool Sushi
3930 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60641

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  1. Thanks for your opinions but I have to wonder why you ate such evil food most of your time here. You obviously study these boards and yet you ate at Navy Pier and some of the worst places in Chicago when you were mere minutes from world class restaurants all around you. For example, I'm going to S. Diego in two weeks and the S.D. boards advise to avoid the Gaslamp area. So I will and I got great recs for all kinds of places from cheap to expensive.

    Surely you didn't expect good food at the museum? We ate there out of necesssity a few weeks ago but had no expectations going in that it would be any better than the lunches I got in High School, just way more expensive.

    I'm sorry you had a bad experience at The Gage. I'd say 90% of reviews are positive and I have enjoyed every meal I've had there. Also, they take reservations( so you don't get a choice b/w a crappy table by the door or an hour wait) as do most Chicago restaurants. Again, I don't understand why you ate where you did when a brief cab ride would have taken you to probably 100 great places. At The Gage, did you ask about the bread? A simply rectified mistake and certainly not evil and I'm not sure what to make of your bathroom obsession. It was crowded, in a bar, on a Friday night?

    I know all this all sounds mean but I feel that you have no one but yourself to blame.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hoppy2468

      I ate at some tourist places do to convenience & lack of energy to try to find place.

      I didn't expect good food at the museum - I'm just reporting back on places I ate. Tip for others: bring your own food in to the Science & Industry Museum - nobody checked my purse so I could have brought food in.

      We ate at Navy Pier since we did the Shoreline architecture tour at 5pm and I wanted to stay for the fireworks at 9pm. Husband didn't want to leave & come back so I said we'd stay. Fireworks were really good.

      1. re: hoppy2468

        Croce's (as in Jim Croce) in the Gaslamp is an excellent place for breakfast...been there three times in six years and I live downstate (IL)!!

      2. In regards to Butch McGuire's Christmas lights - it is their tradition.

        Also, there is one decent restaurant in Navy Pier - Riva's. Never heard of Capi's Italian restaurant. But when I googled it, I see that it is part of the Bubba Gump company. So yeah, it would of been like me going to the Bubba Gump in SF on the wharf and complaining about that.

        I wish you would of consulted these boards more for recommendations. There are so many better restaurants in the areas that you were at. You were going to go to some good Mexican restaurants. But I see that didn't pan out.

        However, I do like Cafecito and am glad you went there.

        1. hhc, I am a Chicago-born CH and I've never every heard of most of the places you ate. How did you find them or, more to the point, why did you choose to eat at them?

          Sounds like you had an oddly off night at The Gage. It tends to be excellent and most people post very positive reviews.

          As it happens, the cafe at Fox and Obel also tends to be popular and well-liked as well so it's a shame you missed it, but very smart to pick up airplane food there. I, for one, am a fan of Vosges bacon chocolate bar and hope you enjoyed it as well. It's a little expensive, but such a delicious indulgence.

          As for Butch McGuire's it's an old (at least 30 years) meat market bar by night. I didn't know they served food when the sun was up.

          Garrett's Popcorn has a good caramel corn, but locally it's best known for the caramel/cheese mix - it's that sweet/salty thing -- and unique in my experience in flavor and quality. If you are ever back in town, consider it worth a try.

          Also, if you do come back, do use this board and it's posters to help you find places you may enjoy much more than the ones you've tried.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chicgail

            Butch's has been around since the early 60's. While it may have achieve some notoriety in the 70's, it wasn't for their food.

          2. Sorry, but I had to chime in with like sentiments. I've lived here all my life and never heard of many of the places you mentioned. Next time you visit, spend some time here on the Chicago board and we'll be happy to help you find restaurants that will knock your socks off. I spent a month researching on the NYC board before I made the trip and it was well worth the effort.

            And for goodness sake, Navy Pier is definitely off limits to anyone who wants a memorable meal that is representative of Chicago fare!