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May 13, 2010 02:14 AM

One day in Chicago-- Looking for advice

Fellow chowhounder from Singapore here. Trying to construct a one day chicago foodfest and wanted to get your thoughts. Timing is a friday in late August.

Lunch: Hot Doug's (ona friday, when can I go to avoid massive lines)
Dinner: Zocalo or Frontera (or is there another option closer to loop/River north)
Dessert: Hot Chocolate (via brown line; do I need a reservation on a Friday night for dessert)

Any other thoughs/suggestions would be appreciated.

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  1. To avoid massive lines at Hot Doug's, go on a day they're closed. :) Seriously, though, avoid the lunch rush (roughly 11:00-1:30).

    Frontera Grill will be slammed on a Friday, and you will be in for a long wait for a table. To avoid it, I recommend either arriving by 4:40 (they open the doors at 5:00) or else you can try calling way in advance for one of the few reservations they take. You can also make a reservation in advance on Opentable for Topolobampo; it has been booking up about three months in advance, so if you want to do this, do it NOW.

    I don't recommend Zocalo; their food is little more than your basic standard Mex. If Frontera Grill and Topolobampo are not options, I recommend Salpicon as the nearest place to the Loop/River North for good, creative provincial Mexican food. Salpicon takes reservations on Opentable. Mundial Cocina Mestiza, in Pilsen, is one of my favorites, and is convenient to the CTA Orange Line. Another favorite is Mixteco Grill, which is not near any el lines, you'd need to transfer to a bus. Both Mundial and Mixteco accept reservations, but neither is on Opentable.

    If you want to go to Hot Chocolate, the el line that goes nearby is the Blue Line, not the Brown Line. Get off at the Damen stop and walk north a few blocks. FWIW, the desserts there have not impressed me. At all.

    5 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      I've done a little more research on some of mexican places you have commented on. One of them seems to be not too far from Hot Chocolate--Fuego Mexican Grill. Do you still recommend this place relative to others you mentioned above? What would you order? Do I need a reservation early (6pm) on a friday.

      1. re: tigerjohn

        I like Fuego, although it does not exhibit quite the variety and creativity of Mundial or Mixteco. I really love their moles - I've had and loved their mole poblano and mole amarillo, and they always have a "mole of the week". You can get them over any of a number of items (see their menu at ) and they don't skimp on the sauce, which is a good thing. They also do an excellent tres leches cake for dessert.

        Fuego accepts reservations on Today is a Friday and right now they are wide open at any time for this evening. However, I would still make a reservation; you can always call to cancel it (or do so on the Opentable website) if your plans change. It's about a mile from Hot Chocolate.

      2. re: nsxtasy

        Would love to hear more specific comments on Salpicon and how it compares with others mentioned above.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Mixteco Grill is on the corner of Montrose and Ashland. There is a Brown Line stop on Montrose about 4 blocks away. No need for a bus.

          Mixteco Grill
          1601 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL 60613

          1. re: lulubelle

            You're right. The Montrose stop on the Brown Line is four short blocks (about 1/4 mile) west of Mixteco Grill. I apologize for the error!

            Mixteco Grill
            1601 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL 60613