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Nov 15, 2009 09:12 AM

Your "go-to" places in Chicago for everyday eating

Hi there, Chowhounds,

I've been wanting to expand my "everyday" eating repertoire.

I don't really cook so I'm often eating take-out or just plain eating out. I'm not talking about the Alinea's or Shwa's of this city - no doubt, I'd love to go those places at some point - but I'm talking here about the places that regular Chicagoans like you and me go to on a regular basis. I'm talking about the places where you don't need a reservation (at least not more than a day ahead), where you don't need to stand in a line (at least not for more than a few minutes).

So, Chicago Chowhounds, here's where you come in. . .you come home from work, exhausted, you don't have the time or inclination to cook, what do you take home or where do you stop in on your way home from the El? Or, you wake up late on a weekend, you drag yourself out of bed, where's your first meal of the day? You've got a busy bustling day, lunch is calling or you need a little "pick-me-up," but who has the time? Where do you go?

***In short, what's on heavy rotation on your "foodie" play list?***

I'm offering my (non-exhaustive) "go-to" list as an example, with the understanding that I go to these places way too often and, as mentioned above, need to re-fresh my repertoire and add some new ones to "mix it up." Here goes...

For take-out:
Rosebud on Walton (burger or lemon garlic chicken, sides)
Joe's Seafood (chopped salad)
Trotters-To-Go (roasted chicken, sandwiches, bread)
The deli next to Food Life (mini sandwiches, salad bar)
Dee's (once in while for hot and sour soup, cashew chicken)
Sai Cafe (not so often any more, sushi)
Athenian Room (chicken kalamata)
The Bagel (matzoh ball soup, challah)
Las Tablas (matrimonio = Columbian style steak/chicken combo)
Via Carducci (pizza, pasta)
Swedish bakery (cookies)
Fritz Pastry (croissants, donuts)
Vanille (croissants)

Eat in:
Uncommon Ground on Clark (chopped salad)
Taste of Heaven (lunch, sandwiches)
Milk & Honey (lunch, brunch)
Orange on Clark St. (lunch, brunch)
Bittersweet (quiche, soup, cookies)
Meinl on Addison (sandwiches, coffee)
Intelligentsia on Bway (coffee)
Food Life breakfast bar (oatmeal)
Nuevo Leon (everything)
La Madia (pasta, pizza, blood orange dessert)
Piccolo Sogno (I do make a reservation there)
Margie's (turtle sundae fix)
Irazu (burritos, plantains)

Alright, Chowhounds, you get the idea! Go to it! I'm eager to hear what you come up with and excited about expanding my horizons! A few caveats: Whole Foods goes without saying, and no "fast food"/chains, please.


1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

Athenian Room
807 W Webster Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

Sai Cafe
2010 N Sheffield Ave Apt 1, Chicago, IL 60614

Las Tablas Restaurant
4920 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago, IL 60641

Uncommon Ground
1401 W Devon Ave, Chicago, IL 60660

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  1. Garcias (Western location, have not gone to the one on Lawrence) for take-out (the Veg Burrito is the best I have every had).
    Lazo's Taco's for an affordable usually vibrant dinner.
    Gullivers whenever possible on the North side, that place is great to visit. Avocado egg rolls and pan pizza.
    Lentil soup with a falafel ball or two and fresh pita bread from Sultan's Market for lunch.
    Thai Classic for the weekend buffet, BYOB (wear socks you won't be embarrassed to be seen in, some of the tables are "shoes off")
    Los Nopales for dine in dinner, BYOB.
    Piece pizza for delivery.
    Earwax (anything there) for lunch or dinner.
    Any details about La Madia? What style of pizza and what pasta do you like there? Never been.
    This should be a good thread to follow for new ideas.

    Sultan's Market
    2057 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

    Thai Classic Restaurant
    3332 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657

    1 Reply
    1. re: Alan N

      Great suggestions! Looking forward to checking them out. Haven't been to Earwax in years - I must revisit it.

      The La Madia pizza is thin crust - maybe you'd call it artisanal? adventuresome? Note, it does NOT travel well. I like the grape pizza, the homemade sausage, the one with speck, and the wild mushroom pizza, the Hay & Straw pasta, the beet salad, and mushroom bruschetta. The wine pairings are very nice too. I especially like to eat in the lounge (fireplace area).

      Ya, I hope people will add to the thread!

    2. A few which come to mind quickly:

      McDonalds (Egg McMuffin)
      Portillo's River North (Hot Dog and Italian Beef)
      Mr. Beef (Beef Sandwiches)
      Ohio House Motel Restaurant (Lunch items)
      Pastoral (Lunch Sandwiches)
      Gold Coast Dog - Wabash Ave. (Hot Dog)
      The Shamrock Club (Lunch specials)
      Steve's Deli (Pot Pie, Stuffed Cabbage)
      What's Cooking? (Reuben Sandwich, Stuffed Cornish Hen, Kreplah)

      What's Cooking Restaurant
      6181 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60659

      Shamrock Club
      210 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654

      7195 S Kingery Hwy, Willowbrook, IL 60527

      2 Replies
      1. re: gomexico

        I'll give you Portillos, but McDonalds?! No way!!! See caveat in original post: No fast food/chains.

        7195 S Kingery Hwy, Willowbrook, IL 60527

        1. re: fooddoggie

          Well, you can ask a question - but can't dictate the answers. My list includes places an "average" person would probably frequent. Not 'champagne taste' but realistic and each a well-enjoyed everyday stop for lots of people in the city.

      2. Rush & Cedar or Rush & Ohio: Big Bowl. Edgewater (Broadway & Catalpa): Mei Shung. Also, for EL Cheapo carryout, $10 off coupons are in the paper all the time for Buca di Beppo---take some pasta home.

        1. HarvesTime on Lawerence for pretty much everything minus meat and deli stuff. The produce is always fresh with huge variety. The salsas, cerviches, guacamole, sausages, cheeses, tortillas, etc, etc, etc are incredible and reasonably priced. It is not whole paycheck.

          Lincoln Meat Market on Lincoln for meat

          The Grind on Lincoln for excellent coffee and sandwiches (Sue's bagel and the caprese are my two favorites)

          Caro Mio for Italian

          Spoon Thai

          House of Wah Sun for American Chinese

          Gannon Pub for a drink and a break from carrying groceries home from the Jewel.

          Calo for regular thin Chicago pizza

          Art of Pizza Cafe for wood fired pizza

          Fontano for subs during workhours

          Middle Eastern Bakery for hummus, falfels, and spinach pies.

          Spoon Thai
          4608 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

          Art of Pizza
          3033 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

          1. Great lists. Here's a couple more.

            Spacca Napoli
            Lovely Bakeshop for pain au chocolate
            Sweet Cakes on Wednesday for Donut Day
            Goddess and the Grocer for egg salad on multi grain. Don't know what they put in there, its just egg salad, on crack.
            August Grocery for any of their sandwiches or take out meals.

            Spacca Napoli
            1769 W Sunnyside Ave, Chicago, IL 60640