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Feb 25, 2010 07:37 AM

50th bday weekend looking for restaurant/ethnic market advice near Gold Coast

Hello all,
This is a hail mary play looking for advice for this weekend. It's my 50th this weekend and my wife has booked us for two nights at the Hotel Raffaello in the Gold Coast I guess. Normally I would have done much more research but things go in the way of doing that for this trip.

We do have reservations for Fri and Sat night. We are probably dining at Sepia on Friday and MK or Cafe Spiaggia on Saturday night. What we are looking for are ideas for ethnic markets and lunch spots around the gold cost area,or further afield if necessary. We move to Madison WI from Minneapolis a few years ago and really miss the ethnic markets. One thing in particular we are looking for are great german/east europe/polish markets that produce their own sausages.

As far as restaurants what appeals to us most are places where the food is of foremost importance and the setting is not overly formal. Bold,rustic flavors and the older I get the less interested I am in food that has been fussed over and played with too much. If Avec took reservations that's the sort of spot that appeals to us. If anyone could provide links that they know of with posts regarding ethnic neighborhoods it would be great. Asian,Italian,German,best place for authentic French breakfast pastries are among the things we will be looking for.

We'll be there for most of Fri,all Sat and some Sunday and just looking to troll great food neighborhoods and have a great time. Sorry for the disjointed post but all replies will truly be appreciated.


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  1. Will you have a car? Most of the ethnic markets are in residential neighborhoods some distance from downtown, and traveling to them without a car will take a lot of time and inconvenience.

    There are some recommendations for Eastern European foods (both restaurants and markets) in the discussion at

    Panozzo's is an Italian market in the South Loop, about three miles south of your hotel.

    The stretch of Harlem Avenue (7200W) around Belmont (3200N) has a lot of Italian and other ethnic markets.

    For Asian markets, there are specific neighborhoods and stretches of streets where you can find them - Vietnamese on Argyle (5000N) around Broadway, Indian/Pakistani along Devon (6400N) between Western (2400W) and Sacramento (3000W), and Chinese in Chinatown, at Cermak/22nd (2200S) and Wentworth.

    You might want to also check out our new French Market in the commuter train station just west of the Loop.

    There's a discussion of Chicago food neighborhoods at

    It's a good thing you have those dinner reservations, as this is the final weekend of our local Restaurant Week, with bargain menus at participating restaurants. Lots of places are booked solid!

    3 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Thanks for the quick and informative reply. I thought you might answer,you seem to provide a real wealth of information for these boards and I'm sure appreciated by all. Yes, we will have a car so will be able to travel to get to areas if we choose to do so. I'm going to research the links you sent. On a final note do you have any suggestions for real Dim Sum on Sunday late am perhaps near our hotel? Thanks again!


      1. re: wvdthree

        In Chinatown, places that do a dim sum brunch include Phoenix, Original Three Happiness, New Three Happiness, etc. I cannot recommend any places closer to your hotel for Chinese dim sum, sorry.

        1. re: wvdthree

          My partner and I do Phoenix for dim sum every 4-5 weeks or so. We went last Sunday and got there around 10:30 and got a table with no problem. However, as we left, the line for a table was crazy long.

          We are both big guys and ate our fill. The bill was $37.00 before tip.We only had tea to drink.

          Also, there is a huge Chinatown parking lot. With validation from Phoenix (or any other place) it is only $2.00 to park.

      2. My favorite new restaurant is the one actually located in the Raffaello, Pelago Ristorante. The pasta they make is some of the best I have had anywhere including at some of the best restaurants in Italy and the United States. I've been twice in the last two weeks. All of the pastas are house made and the trio of pastas served on the 4 course tasting menu(the trio counts as one of the 4 courses) is insanely good. It consists of Trofie Genovese (pasta spirals with a really terrific pesto, blanched green beens and potatoes), A ricotta and (I think) swiss chard agnolotti with parmesan butter sauce and Sardinian dumplings served with a wonderful sausage ragu. The restaurant specializes in seafood but offers several meat options. The first time we went we had the tasting menu which came with an appetizer of a perfectly cooked large shrimp (poached in court boullion is my guess) served over something yummy but I am blanking at the moment and seared tuna served over some of the best tasting caponata I have ever eaten. After the pasta I was too stuffed to do much with the generous main course of beef tagliata but it was also well prepared. I did manage to make room for the trio of desserts. A lovely apple torte, a peach ice cream with blackberries and a chocolate dessert (along the lines of a marquise au chocolate) served with creme anglaise.

        On our next visit we asked to do just appetizers followed by the pasta trio again which they accomodated. I had the trio of fish carpaccio which was absolutely delicious and surprisingly filling.

        The restaurant is quite small but lovely and the fireplace gave the room a romantic and inviting warm glow. The staff is friendly and enthusiastic and I know I will be returning again very soon.