Heading to Chicago from San Francisco
I'm heading to Chicago with my two kids -- eight and ten -- for the week of Thanksgiving, staying near the Museum of Contemporary Art. They like to eat (as do I!), so we're not looking for places with kiddie meals. At the same time, we're not after fancy spots or places where the meal will run to two plus hours. In SF, we're fond of Delfina, NOPA, Range, Nopalito -- midrange to expensive places that are somewhat casual and serve superb, fresh fare. Are there comparable spots in Chicago?
Also, we love Indian food and have relatively limited choices here (unless we head to the South Bay). Where should we go in Chicago? If Devon Street, are there standouts among the many restaurants there?
Help me out, and I'll even root for the Bears when they take on the Niners on Thursday!
In the world of "midrange to expensive places that are somewhat casual and serve superb, fresh fare," a few places come to mind: Frontera and The Gage are in the central city area, the others are in neighborhoods a few minutes away by car. Sola is the furthest at @ 10 minutes.
Frontera Grill -- No reservations for parties less than 6 and hard to get into these days b/c of Rick Bayless's Top Chef Masters win, but you might it for lunch. Go early.
Sweets and Savories
I can't help you out with Indian restaurants, but I know that other local CHs can.
445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654
1647 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
For Indian, Hema's Kitchen is great. It has two locations, one at Clark and Fullerton (fairly close to you) and one on Devon (about as far north as you can go and still be in Chicago). The Clark location is fine. All hand-ground spices and not too expensive. The service is not that great (they hire teenagers), but the food is great. I particularly like the lamb curry, but everything I have tried was terrific.
A new place, Han 202, offers a fusion five-course dinner for $20 that is terrific. And about right for a kid with a good appetite. They are small and fun courses.
You're walking distance from Cafe Iberico, a tapas place at Chicago and LaSalle. Pretty festive and I suggest the pulpa a planco (grilled octopus with fries on a plank) and most things from the specials menu. Something for everyone.
Blackbird, North Pond and Lula Cafe are probably similar to what you like in SF. You can hunt them up, but they are mid-priced Chicago places that specialize in local, seasonal food.
Since you have kids, try Sun Wah Bar-B-Q where you can get a Peking Duck feast for $30. It's sliced tableside, then the carcass and legs are turned into fried rice and duck soup. That's $30 and it will feed three or four.
I'll just reinforce...I LOVE Hema's Kitchen. Its menu is more limited than most of the Devon St. restaurants, but what they do, they do well. If you want the Devon St. experience, though, just walk along the street and when you see a place packed with Indians or Pakistanis, go in. There are a lot of restaurants that serve cheap swill.
737 N Lasalle Drive, Chicago, IL 60654
2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614
Iberico Cafe & Bar
737 N La Salle Dr, Chicago, IL 60654
2411 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614