UC Graduation trip recs
Our much adored son is graduating from U Chicago. We are 10 total, with 2 children (4&8) and staying at Beadle (5140 S. Kenwood) in Hyde Park. Everyone is arriving 3 days early on Wednesday, to play in Chicago. The grown-ups can find their own way on free evenings, but I would like the following recommendations:
1) Celebration dinner on Saturday night that will include everyone (early is ok with kids). This doesn't have to be in Hyde Park but should be within 20-30 minutes travel time.
2) Good take-out/delivery for Friday because there is a short time span between events at 3:00 pm and 7:30
3) Any local Hyde Park recommendations that will be good for exhausted kids in general
4) Any special recommendations near major attractions, i.e. Art Institute, Aquarium, Miracle Mile for lunch, Zoo, Children's Museum, etc.
The thing to realize about Hyde Park is that, if you're not going to eat in Hyde Park itself, it will take you just as long (the same 15ish minutes) to get to nearby food neighborhoods like Bridgeport and Pilsen as it will to get to downtown neighborhoods where there are far, far more food options (like the South Loop, Loop, and River North). That's because transportation between Hyde Park and downtown is so direct, with Lake Shore Drive without traffic lights from the Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park to the Loop, and with Metra commuter trains taking as little as 13 minutes from the Hyde Park stops to the stations in the Loop. So there's very little benefit of concentrating on nearby neighborhoods to the exclusion of downtown Chicago. I'm not telling you not to go to those nearby neighborhoods! Mundial Cocina Mestiza ( www.mundialcocinamestiza.com ) in Pilsen is one of my favorite restaurants for creative provincial Mexican cuisine, and I've heard good things about Amelia's, Nightwood ( www.nightwoodrestaurant.com ), and Han 202 (an Asian small plates restaurant, www.han202.com ), all in Bridgeport. But there are literally hundreds of terrific restaurants in the downtown neighborhoods that won't take any longer to get to.
For recommendations in Hyde Park itself, there is a huge discussion that has been frequently updated over the years; check it out at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/119212
Mundial Cocina Mestiza
1640 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608
Just a hop and a skip from HP, is Amelia's in South Bridgeport. A BYOB with reasonable prices and plenty of street parking, Amelia's features what I would call "nouvelle" Mexican cuisine, where you can get traditional Latin dishes as well as food that could be found in our better American bisttros. We recently went with a business party of 10 with a variety of preferences and everyone seemed happy with the results. Here's more:
Laurel - What kind of food, budget, and ambiance do you want for the celebration dinner? 30 minutes from HP will take you to a very wide range of restaurants in the city.
As to restaurants near the attractions you list, you may want to search the Board as there are frequent postings on these subjects. Here are a few thoughts:
Art Institute - The Gage is a gastropub on Michigan Ave just a block or so north. For Chicago style pizza, within a couple of blocks, go to Pizzanos. Or go to the original Heaven on Seven on Wabash Ave for cajun.
There is nothing really walkable from the Aquarium (at least not with a 4 & 8 year old), but you are within easy driving distance of Chinatown and lots of restaurants in the S. Loop. For Chi. style pizza in the S. Loop, go to Lou Malnatti's on State St. There is also the Bongo Room, for pancakes and other breakfast/brunch foods.
On the Magnificent Mile, there is the "Food Life" food court in Water Tower place. Another outpost of Heaven on Seven near Nordstroms. Indeed there are so many restaurants in this area, that again you should give us more guidance as to what you are seeking.
1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605
Heaven on Seven
600 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
Good point, Masha, I should have been more specific. All of the 8 adults except one are adventurous, omnivorous eaters. We definitely don't want white linen & crystal--we're all Rocky Mountain outdoorsy fun loving types and prefer a relaxed atmosphere. I don't like very noisy places -- the noise level at the Medici when crowded is as much as I can handle. We're willing to spend up to about $35-40pp including drinks & tip (none of us are big drinkers, and there are 2 teetotalers). Because of the kids I would want to have a reservation if at all possible.
Barbecue is a possibility; big meat only if very good (we're from Wyoming, after all); just about any ethnic except sushi or Korean, or just "cut above" continental or American will work too.
Thanks for all your help!
Two Hyde Park restaurants you might consider for a celebration dinner might are the Park location of Cedars of Lebanon, or the Medici (which is also be a good source of delivery pizza (thin of thick crust).
If you go to the Aguarium, have linch at Soundings Cafe in the aquarium.