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Apr 19, 2010 09:08 PM

Anything new near The Palmer House hotel?

We are in town for our annual conference and I am always looking for new places, but preferably at least one within walking distance of the hotel (1/2 mile or less)

Where is the best place nearby to get drinks/beers and good bar food?

Also is there a good Italian beef place nearby for a late night visit?

We have always benefited from the excellent advice from this board....thanks in advance.

We'll be there this week from Wed. April 21 to Sunday morning, April 25.

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  1. For beer and good bar good, The Gage on Michigan Ave has both.
    For dinner, Mercat a la Planxa on south Michigan Ave is a modern tapas place.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jjo

      Agree on Gage, no contest there.

      For IB, checkout distances and times for Al's on Taylor (iconic, but likely a short taxi ride) and Portillo's on Ontario.

      1. re: jjo

        Both have been around since before his last visit so they're not really "new."

      2. I would have mentioned Mercat a la Planxa too, even though it's been around for over a year.

        One place that has opened within the past year is Cibo Matto, in the Wit Hotel, a few blocks north of the Palmer House. I haven't been there but the menu sounds very appealing. It's at the top of my "gotta try" list.

        Cibo Matto
        201 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601

        1 Reply
        1. re: nsxtasy

          I tried Cibo Matto a month or two ago and I liked it a lot. Like Vivere, the food is Italian but a lot of the items on the menu are often found on contemporary American menus too. I enjoyed the braised short rib entree, loved the polenta side dish, and the best item of the meal was an amazing dessert featuring cardamom panna cotta. The decor is super-contemporary.

          I also ate at Lockwood a couple of months ago. It was just okay. The food sounded good, but the service was slow and several of the courses arrived not that hot (temperature), which seemed to reflect the slow service (and this was on a weeknight when they were not full).

        2. I enjoyed Lockwood, which is in the Palmer Hotel, in case you were feeling like staying in. Otherwise, the Gage is a no brainer. I also really like Villain's bar for drinks (and good burgers), as well as Hackneys, also for great burgers, or Kasey's for beer. I realize these aren't new, but you mentioned beer and bar food, and these are where I would go for a good craft beer list and great burgers (Villains and Kaseys both have really good specials as well).

          1. You know, there are two places on Wabash near the Palmer House that are great for drinks/beers and bar food/burgers. They aren't new; in fact, they've been there for years, but they're still there, still worthwhile too:

            Miller's Pub (since 1935) -
            The Exchequer (since 1969) -

            7 Replies
            1. re: nsxtasy

              When I worked in the loop I visited both Millers and Exchequer regularly...both were excellent. Will be in Chicago Friday...thanks for reminding me!

              1. re: nsxtasy

                Just found out we will be returning to the Palmer House last week of march-first week of april. As every time in, we will have drinks at Millers...good bartenders, huge menu available late at night, and we should be able to catch the last of the fresh fried smelts! (I'm a sucker for a tiny fried fish with lemony and garlicy dip!)

                Any new stuff in the neighborhood? We ALWAYS have brunch at Heaven on Seven and I think we won't have any rookies with us so we won't have to eat pizza...sorry chicago, I just don't need to have it every time.

                Someone told me there is great chinese bbq joint in town...nsxtasy, you have been my culinary guide for these trips for years now...any idea about this place?

                Looking forward already....happy new year

                Heaven on Seven
                600 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

                1. re: chefsalad

                  I suspect that the Chinese barbecue place that you've heard of is Sun Wah. I've not been there but it seems to have quite a following.

                  1. re: chefsalad

                    Welcome back!

                    I have not been to Sun Wah. It's in Uptown, about 7 miles north of the Palmer House; take the CTA Red Line to the Argyle stop.

                    The only new restaurant of significance in the Loop opened since your last visit is Henri - at least, it's the only one I can think of off the top of my head. It's a French restaurant from the folks at the Gage next door. I haven't been there.

                    I'll throw another recommendation out there for you, though: Sable, in the Hotel Palomar. It's not exactly near the Palmer House, but it's a couple of blocks from the Rush Street location of Heaven on Seven where you've had brunch, so I assume that's close enough. Chef Heather Terhune formerly ran Atwood Cafe for ten years and is in command of the kitchen, and the food is fabulous. It's contemporary American cuisine, and many of the items are available in smaller portions as well as larger ones, so you can try a lot of them. The food is also quite reasonable in price. Don't miss the sweet corn creme brulee! They also hired a head mixologist from the Violet Hour and have put together quite an extensive menu of artisanal cocktails. The only downside is that it can get very noisy.

                    1. re: chefsalad

                      One other new restaurant in the Loop is The Florentine in the new JW Marriott Hotel at Adams and LaSalle. It was just reviewed in yesterday's Tribune by Phil Vettel. The chef is the former chef at Cibbo Matto. I've not been but Vettel gave it a very positive review.

                      1. re: masha

                        Good suggestion, it was excellent when I went a month ago.

                        1. re: Shaggy

                          Yes, the Florentine is definitely a good suggestion. I loved Todd Stein's food when he was at Cibo Matto. I see they've finally posted their menus on their website at

                  2. While It's no secret that I dislike Al's (including, and especially the Taylor St. location) it has taken me years to realize people should enjoy what they want!

                    Al's fans will decry that the franchises are lousy, but for what it is worth, one of them opened up on Jackson & Wabash.

                    Disclaimer: They do have (and I do enjoy them) great fries! (the chili cheese fries are really bad though).