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Feb 16, 2010 07:31 PM

Wife's 30th Birthday

Hello Chicago - I am going to be in Chicago in April for a wedding. My wife's 30th birthday is actually on the day of the wedding so I want to take her out to celebrate the first night we are there. If it matters, it will be a Tuesday night and we are staying in Lincoln Park, but happy to travel. We would be comfortable in any place under 150 a head, but it certainly doesn't need to be a fancy restaurant and my wife won't be drinking.

So, with all that said, what do you think is the tastiest special occasion restaurant near Lincoln Park?

And . . . . while I am here, we are going to be staying most of the weekend at the Wit. What nearby snacks or dishes should we try while we are there? Most of our meals will be with the wedding, but we'll have a dinner on Thursday, lunch on Saturday and I have never been opposed to squeezing in that 4th afternoon meal to try local dishes.

Thanks in advance for all of your help.


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  1. North Pond would be a perfect choice for your wife's birthday dinner. North Pond is literally at the north end of the pond in Lincoln Park (the park that gave the neighborhood its name). It is a beautiful Arts & Crafts structure in an extremely romantic location in the park that overlooks the city from the east. The food is really quite excellent and well within your price point. Chef Bruce Sherman is a local boy, well renowned and serves farm-to-table food influenced by many world cuisines.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chicgail

      I agree with chicgail's recommendation of North Pond, absolutely! North Pond is one of our very best contemporary American restaurants, which is why Chef Sherman has been nominated for the James Beard Award the past several years. As she mentions, the location is great; the city skyline looms over the pond. (You're actually looking at the city skyline from the north though!) The renovated building formerly served as a warming shelter for skaters on the pond. It's very romantic regardless of whether you are in the front room with its big windows looking out on the pond, or the rear room with the open kitchen along one side of the room (I recommend requesting the room with the windows though). North Pond is about three miles north of the Wit, an easy cab ride; look at the directions on their website so you know what address to give the cab driver (the location of their valet/cab stand, not the restaurant's address).

      You should be aware that two of Chicago's very best, fanciest, most expensive restaurants are in Lincoln Park - Alinea and Charlie Trotter's - but both would exceed your price target, and Alinea isn't open Tuesdays. Just so you know. :)

      As for your other questions, the Wit is in the Loop. For something you can't get elsewhere, I recommend going to one of Rick Bayless's restaurants for creative provincial Mexican cuisine. Topolobampo is the more expensive of the two (although they are surprisingly close in price at lunchtime). Topolobampo accepts reservations on and books up well in advance; if you want to eat there, make your reservation NOW. Frontera Grill accepts only a handful of reservations and holds most of the dining room for walk-in traffic. Locals who don't want a long wait to be seated arrive 15 minutes before they open. Sometimes on weeknights you can luck out and find a short wait. Frontera Grill is open for brunch on Saturdays, which sounds like it ties in with your plans. They are about 5 blocks northwest of the Wit.

      For something else you can't get elsewhere, get some delicious Chicago-style deep-dish pizza! There are two main styles. The single-crust "pizza in the pan" is available at the original Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due, 5 blocks north of your hotel. Double-crust "stuffed pizza" is available at Bacino's, one block north of your hotel. At either place, phone ahead with your pizza order to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake. Both are open for lunch or dinner.

      Here are a couple more good restaurants close to your hotel. Atwood Cafe is a very good contemporary American restaurant in the Hotel Burnham, a block south of the Wit, and is open for all three meals every day. Catch 35 is a good seafood restaurant a block north of the Wit.

      For a snack, go to Garrett's Popcorn, for caramel popcorn, cheese popcorn, or a mixture of the two. The location at 26 West Randolph St. is a block south of your hotel.

      Feel free to ask more questions, and enjoy your visit!