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May 18, 2010 01:10 PM

Looking for good eats!

Me and my friends are headed down to Chicago for around 5 days at the beginning of June and we are looking to find some good eats around chicago. Ideally we are not looking to spend that much money but are definately willing to splurge for one night.

We don't really know of any places to begin so all recommendations are welcomed.

On a side note, I read something about there being an Oktoberfest (I think called Mayfest) which will coincide with our stay. Is this something worth checking out?

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  1. You might want to start by reading through these two overview topics that will provide you an overview. The first one is about what is unique to Chicago:

    first time Chicago -

    and the second one is about finding the best values in Chicago food:

    Where are the best Chicago dinner *values* - the hidden gems? -

    Once you read through them, you'll have a better idea of some of the different kinds of food you might want to consider. If you ask questions that are more specific, whether it's narrowing down by location and/or by type of food, it will help in providing more specific recommendations.

    I have never heard of Mayfest, but I see that it has a website at There are many, many festivals in Chicago's neighborhoods and suburbs, and this appears to be one of them. You can find out more information on neighborhood festivals on the city's tourism website, which is Just keep in mind that the Chowhound Team prefers that posts here concentrate on food and not on non-food activities and festivals. There are several major food events during the year in Chicago, including Restaurant Week (good deals at restaurants in February), Taste of Chicago (downtown food fair at the end of June and start of July, not worth it IMO), and Chicago Gourmet (downtown food show in late September, worth it). Mayfest isn't one of them.

    3 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy


      I just read through the "first time Chicago" and I look forward to reading the hidden gems! Thank you so very much, it is a great way to get me started.

      I can tell you off the bat that I will be staying near Millenium Park so I'm not sure if that changes any of your River North selections. As for type of food, we love it ALL so very hard to narrow it down that way.

      1. re: mark_vi_

        I see you're interested in deep-dish pizza. Near Millennium Park, I recommend Pizano's on Madison. This is the single-crust "pizza in the pan" variety of deep-dish. If you would like to try the double-crust "stuffed pizza" variety, Giordano's has a location on Lake Street in Prudential Plaza. Wherever you go, you can phone ahead with your pizza order to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake.

      2. re: nsxtasy

        Maifest, increasingly anglicized as May Fest, has been around for a few years and follows much of the format of the older German Festival in September in the same parking lots around the Western Brown Line stop in Lincoln Square. Food options run mostly to bratwurst and smoked thuringer grilled over charcoal plus potato salad, sauerkraut, pretzels and a few desserts. This festival is all about beer, food and music in that order. Saturday and Sunday afternoons are pleasant times to have a sausage with some potato salad and kraut and a beer while listening to mostly German music. (Hearing She'll Be Coming around the Mountain played on an alpenhorn is different.) There will be a lot of family groups in the main tent. Evenings have unfortunately attracted too many overaged frat boys bent on getting drunk.

        Lincoln Square is definitely worth checking out as it is one of the great, very diverse nontouristy food neighborhoods in Chicago and is quite walkable. Albany Park, to the west of Lincoln Square across the Chicago River, is another walkable neighborhood for with many great food values.

      3. Give us an idea of what kind of cuisine you like (Italian, Contemporary American, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, French, etc.) It would also be helpful if you could give us an idea of what "not that much money" is for you, as well as your range for the splurge.

        2 Replies
        1. re: chicgail


          Sory for being very open-ended but to be honest, I love ALL kinds of food so it is very difficult to narrow that down. What I can say is that I would like to experience the Chicago food scene and get things I cannot get anywhere else (ie a real chicago deep-dish pizza).

          We are a group of 5 guys and so the "not much money" for would be around 10-20/head (for at least 2 of my friends the less the better) and the splurge can be around 50-70/head. Hope this helps.

          1. re: mark_vi_

            The "hidden gems" thread will be a good one for you to check out, but don't miss this one one "cheap eats" from just a few weeks ago:

            For the splurge, I am assuming that you were thinking $50-70/head, including alcohol. Is that correct? That thread also suggests some upscale regional Mexican restaurants that might be right up your alley: Frontera Grill, Mexique, Mixteco Grill, and Mundial Cocina Mestiza,

            Another thing to keep in mind is that you can get a much less expensive meal at a top restaurant if you go there for lunch -- and then you can do something much "thriftier" for dinner. Some of your best bets are going to be our selection of very fine, often authentic ethnic restaurants -- almost all are out in various neighborhoods -- including Chinese, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, Indian/Pakistani and Thai.

            Since most of these are not close to where you are staying. you may want to consult or to get public transportation options.

            Mundial Cocina Mestiza
            1640 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

            Frontera Grill
            445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

            Mixteco Grill
            1601 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL 60613

            1529 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622