Lunch near Allegro Hotel
Will be attending a conference at the Allegro (171 W. Randolph) in May, and will want to escape the conference crowd for lunch, albeit on a 1-1/4 time budget on Tuesday, and a bit longer on Wednesday. Not picky about type of cuisine, ambiance or price (not crazy expensive though), so long as it's good food and I can get in and out reasonably quickly. I don't mind a short cab ride or walk, but probably shouldn't plan to go too far given the time limitation. One place that caught my eye was Mercadito (it seems close - just across the river). Any thoughts on this, and other suggestions?
I like Ruby of Siam, which is right across Washington Street from the hotel ( you would probably find it on your own anyway, and so will your follow conferencers.)
In addition to the Marketplace in the basement of Macy's, there is a more upscale food court on the 7th floor of Macy's (there is an express elevator if you can find it) that includes a Rick Bayless Mexican outlet. The other choices are good there, too, and there are windows, which is a plus, and you can find a quieter spot along the edges and get a bit of a view.
Ruby of Siam
170 W Washington St Fl 1, Chicago, IL 60602
You'll find recommendations in this other recent discussion:
Pizza and Restaurants Near City Hall- Hotel Allegro - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/687242
All of the recommendations in that discussion are open for lunch. And all are local to Chicago, not a chain from elsewhere like Mercadito.
Restaurants in that area are usually efficient at moving people through quickly, since many diners work in nearby office buildings and don't have a lot of time to spare. Let your server know of your time constraint (and if you're going for deep-dish pizza, phone ahead with your pizza order to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for the pizza to bake).
I believe it started in New York City, where they currently have three locations. www.mercaditorestaurants.com
The places recommended in that other topic are the nearby places with food that's excellent and interesting; all but pizza would be considered upscale. The French Market mentioned there is another exception; it's a hodgepodge of several dozen stalls, which include some of our very best food providers (Pastoral for cheeses and sandwiches, Vanille for pastries, Canady for artisanal chocolates) along with some non-chain fast-food options for lunching.
One more upscale restaurant open for lunch and not mentioned in that other topic is Blackbird, one of our best contemporary American restaurants. It's a bit further than the others mentioned there; it's a half mile west of the Allegro on Randolph. www.blackbirdrestaurant.com
If you're interested in "cheap eats" type places near the Allegro, see this discussion:
Lunching in the Loop - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/527275
Don't let someone scare you away from a restaurant, because it's part of a "chain." That would be foolish, IMO. Many, many restaurants in urban areas - including Chicago - are part of a chain. Rich Bayless restaurants might easily be classified as part of a "chain" as well.
I'm not a fan of Mercadito, though. It's a bar that serves food as an afterthought - or so that's been my experience. The drinks are the draw, and are very good - and expensive.
Reasonably close to the Allegro some people like the Marketplace on the lower level of Macy's on State. St. (at Randolph St.), and also the French Market in the Metra Station at Washington & Canal St. They might provide a wider variety of choices for you to sample from. Sometimes I even like the Burger King, in the basement of the State of Illinois Building (Thompson Center) across from the Allegro. There's a food court in the lower level of that building, with about a dozen places to choose from (fast foods).
There are so many choices in that neighborhood you'll be tripping over the restaurants.