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Apr 29, 2010 08:25 AM

Two Nights in Chicago

Planning to be in Chicago in November, hoping to get a reservation at Alinea one night; how far in advance do they take reservations?

The other night hasn't been decided upon, but am leaning towards Graham Elliot. Throw in a Saturday brunch at Frontera Grill.

The question is, are there other restaurants I should be considering? And how about lunch - what are some good lunch places.

Any advice would be great.

1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

Frontera Grill
445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

Graham Elliot
217 W. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60654

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  1. Alinea takes reservations two months in advance, day by day. It's not crazy (like that place in California where you have to call the minute they start taking them and all you get are busy signals) but if you know a specific night you want to go, you may as well call them when they start taking reservations for that day.

    Are there other restaurants you should be considering? Sure! Chicago has hundreds of wonderful restaurants. But Graham Elliot gets positive reports (I haven't been there yet, although I enjoyed his cuisine at Avenues, his previous haunt) and Frontera's a good place for Saturday brunch.

    There are many, many restaurants that are open for lunch, as well as for Sunday brunch. (There are fewer choices for lunch/brunch on Saturdays, but Frontera is one of them.) I'd suggest considering places in the context of the rest of your itinerary. For example, if you're having dinners at Graham Elliot and Alinea, you might want to consider a lunch place that's not another contemporary American restaurant (unless you really don't mind if that constitutes so much of your itinerary). If you want to add some variety to your itinerary, you could add a lunch or dinner somewhere ethnic, such as Italian (Cafe Spiaggia, Coco Pazzo), French bistro (La Sardine, Brasserie Jo), tapas (Cafe Iberico, Mercat a la Planxa), pan-Asian (Red Light, Sunda), Latin fusion (Carnivale, Nacional 27), etc. If you wanted to travel to some of the outlying neighborhoods rather than sticking to downtown, you could consider one of the Thai, Vietnamese, or Indian places in their corresponding neighborhoods on the North Side.

    Feel free to ask more questions (and more specific ones too if you like) and we'll try to help out!

    2 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Alinea now takes reservations the first of the month for the following two months. I tried to get in mid July and it was already booked! I should have called at 10am on Saturday the first for May, June or July.

      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

      1. re: HoosierFoodie

        Thanks for the insight and the heads-up re: reservations at Alinea. We're probably going to be in Chicago for less than 48 hours all told, so we'll stick to downtown - I'm thinking lunches at Cafe Spiaggia and / or Mercat a la Planxa should fill out the itenerary nicely (and the whole trip will also drain my wallet nicely too, I suspect).

        1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

        Cafe Spiaggia
        980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

    2. Graham Elliot is great, very interesting food in the molecular gastronomy school. See my review. In the same neighborhood, we also like Osteria Via Stato, a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant that is reliably excellent Italian food, very nice for lunch. La Madia is also good for lunch, as Topolobampo.
      For a completely different lunch experience, you might consider Wishbone.

      Wishbone Restaurant
      1001 W Washington Blvd, Chicago, IL 60607

      445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

      Osteria Via Stato
      620 N State St, Chicago, IL 60610

      Lettuce Entertain You
      2171 Northbrook Ct, Northbrook, IL 60062

      Graham Elliot
      217 W. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60654