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Oct 30, 2009 09:29 AM

Help with 3 dinners in/near downtown loop

My husband and I are coming to Chicago next week, staying just off Michigan Ave on Delaware. No car, so cab or walking best. Three requests:

1 We've been to Tru, Les Nomades, Topolobampo, Frontera, MK's, Spiggia, C. Trotter's, Bin 36 -- not that interested in repeating unless there's been a big change in one of those. Alinea is off the list because my husband has some food allergies, and needs to pick his menu. That said, we'd like to find a good restaurant (doesn't have to be ultra top tier) near our hotel (short cab ride) -- American, Italian, French, Latin, noise level not too high, would be great. Would appreciate any suggestions with those criteria. Have considered Graham Elliott, would appreciated info on it if anyone has feedback on it.

2.In addition, it would be great to have Indian suggestions -- read the previous post about Devon St, -- it was an older post, would appreciated any additional ideas, espec inside the loop.

3. Late evening one night, would like something that is good for 9pm or so on the quicker, homier side-- like Bistro 110, but new -- in the downtown loop if possible.

Many thanks for whatever insights you can share!

Les Nomades
222 E Ontario, Chicago, IL 60611

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  1. One Sixty Blue is great for dinner, its in the West Loop
    LOVE Graham Elliot, took a group there business, we all did the tasting menu. I am vegetarian and they fully accomodated me. It was delicious, everyone enjoyed. Good cocktails too.

    India House is very good. Close to the loop.

    one sixtyblue
    160 North Loomis, Chicago, IL 60607

    Graham Elliot
    217 W. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60654

    1. I'll take a swing at #2, I am not Indian, but work with many and have spent time in Bangalore and appreciate the cuisine. I can truly say one thing about Indian food - everyone has a different opinion of what is good, especially from region to region.
      India House @ 59 W Grand Ave is very good. When we have home sick colleagues in from Bangalore we send them here and they seem to come back refreshed. The atmosphere and food here is a bit more conservative/traditional (white table clothes and formal service) than the West Loop locations to follow.

      Jaipur West Loop on Randolph - excellent food and relaxed atmosphere - still upscale, but dimmer lighting and less formal. I really like this place and recently took my brother there who raved about the food. More laid back than Indian House, with excellent service.

      Veerasway West Loop on Randolph - calling this Indian is a stretch as it is not traditional Indian by any means. It is "creative Indian style" - and I mean that in a good way. I like it, my wife enjoyed it, but my visitors from India were horrified at the idea when they read the menu alone. Similar to some dining experiences I have with Italians at Chicago pizzerias. If interested, please review the menu before going. Atmosphere is tight and loud as is true of most smaller locations in the West Loop.

      844 W Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607

      2 Replies
      1. re: obiwandog

        for the record, Alinea always asks about dietary restrictions and food allergies and can adjust their prix fixe menus accordingly

        1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

        1. re: emm015

          Thank you all for your input -- it was extremely helpful! A brief recap:

          We did go to Graham Eliot--prompt greeting, nice ambience, though the table lighting could have been better designed. Servers knowledgeable and helpful. Noise level OK--you could hear yourself and your companions. The interpretations of the food were quite innovative-- one person had an outstanding piece of sturgeon, thick and moist, though the presentation lacked color. I had the beef tartare, which was chunky and well seasoned. Another person had the beef stroganoff, which was on top of spaetzle, a long strip cut in pieces at an angle, cooked blood rare. More description of that dish from the server would have been helpful, as the expectation of stroganoff overall is "cooked more than I would like it cooked." :) Overall, it was a good dinner, and we would probably return.

          Ending up at the SOFA show on Navy Pier, we were of course offered the option of pre-packaged sandwiches and such. One member of our group knew about Riva, there in the exhibit hall area. Medium-upscale seafood, good service, decent wine options. We had a great lunch, mostly salads, but very fresh seafood, and a great view of the lake--in a very bright and bustling neo-Euro atmosphere with a charming server that actually responded to additional requests (!) far surpassing anything "indoors" -- well worth the short walk. Worth, in fact, coming to without attending a show.

          We went out of our "zone" to Uncle Juloio's Hacienda (855 W. North Ave) for dinner. A recommendation from a Chicagoan transplanted to Boston, we went on faith. (Mexican, Chicago, off the grid--) WELL. What a fabulous surprise. It bested the Mexican food we'd had in Texas the week prior, coming in with meaty tamales and enchiladas that were fresh, filled with moist beef or chicken, with your choice of sauces. The side salad was large, with decent tomatoes, and the guacamole was good if not exceptional. While the atmosphere was loud, the color palette was more sophisticated than expected, and the artwork tilted to modern, with good lighting. Food quality was excellent, and the tostadas were crisp, thin, and perfect with the charred salsa. Would definitely go again. Cheerful service. A chain, so can only vouch for the location above. And it was less than a $10 ride from downtown.

          The next day, we ventured to India House ( thanks for the recommendation!!) It was
          quite good. We arrived, they had our reservation -- so we did end up with a good table ( which was a booth!) The restaurant has 4 areas -front, back with kitchen window view (watching them spike naan out of the tandoori!) and then 2 "upper" rooms, one front, one back. Ask for downstairs rear--a medium-large room, high ceiling. The decor understated, a bit rustic ( not as "formal" as I anticipated) Upper rooms have low ceilings. A res evidently got us a booth ( larger than a 4-top) and actually thoughtful seating.

          The food was good. We knew our limitations with 2 people, so ordered Lamb Shik kabob ( well made, moist but not mushy, very generous portion) and aloo gobi, which had a lot of big chunks of potato, then large cuts of cauliflour. Flavorful, but a bit unwieldy -- and only a fair amount of flavor at "medium" -- They started with bits of naan, cut for dipping in a slightly spicy tomato sauce -- it was good, and a good starter. Service was OK but slow, no real interaction -- we'd probably go back, if we were in town for a number of days.

          Again, many thanks for the ideas! We enjoyed trying new options in Chicago!