We are two foodies from Toronto visiting...
We are two foodies from Toronto visiting Chicago in July 9 to 11th.
We have done some research and this is our plan. How have we done?
Jam for their tasting menu
The Purple Pig
We also want to check out the Chicago French market and The Taste of Park Ridge Festival going on that weekend.
Is there anything else we need to know!! Love food markets, specialty food stores, microbreweries, and CHEESE and of course, independent coffee shops.
Thanks Chowhound Chicago!
>> We have done some research and this is our plan. How have we done?
>> Fronterra Grill
I like Frontera Grill a lot. The big question is, whether you plan on eating there for dinner on a weekend. If so, and you have one of the few reservations they accept - go, and enjoy! If not, though, you may be in for a long wait for a table (and I HATE long waits!). Weeknights and lunches are less of a problem. As long as you know all of that going in, you'll be fine.
>> Jam for their tasting menu
It's funny you said this, because my immediate reaction was, "WHAT tasting menu???" I just checked their website and I see what you're referring to, a 3-4 course dinner for $24. Jam, in West Town, is a fairly new restaurant (I think they opened last year) and they have been mostly known for their outstanding breakfasts. I ate there for breakfast a month or two ago and I liked it a lot. I have no idea how their dinners are; maybe someone else here has been there for dinner by now. But otherwise, you will be a guinea pig in trying them first on "our block" (and please please please let us know how you like it!). Now, I'm not sure whether I would want to be a guinea pig on a quick visit to another city with ONE restaurant, let alone TWO (see below), just because things may not be as time-tested as with other places well-recognized for great food and service, and if not it's something I could just shrug off since it's a local place, no big deal. When I visit a distant city, though, I prefer to check for recommendations of places that are well known to be doing something special (as Jam is doing for breakfast). Going to the newest place doesn't mean all that much to me when I haven't been to great places that have been around for a while. But hey, if you want to try them and see for yourself, go for it!
Topolobampo is great, but... are you saying that you are going to go to Topolobampo for one meal, and Frontera Grill for another meal? You do know that they share the same space, the same chef, the same kitchen...? It's about as close as you can come to going to the same restaurant twice on your trip. Are you SURE you want to do this?
Also be aware that Topolobampo books up for dinner about three months in advance, so if you don't already have a reservation, you might not be going. Although they often have openings for lunch with little to no notice, especially for Tuesdays through Thursdays. Check on Opentable.com
>> The Purple Pig
I haven't been, but it's been getting raves.
Ruxbin Kitchen is just opening now, so I doubt anyone here has even been there yet. The Tribune has a "first look" photo spread ( http://chicago.metromix.com/restaurants/essay_photo_gallery/first-look-ruxbin-kitchen/2013408/content ). Again, you will be the guinea pig - so hopefully you understand that. Keep in mind also that when a restaurant first opens, they are still working out the kinks, fine tuning the menu, etc. If you decide to go there anyway, keep this in mind (as you may need to cut them some slack). And again, let us know how you like it, since you will be our guinea pig.
>> We also want to check out the Chicago French market and The Taste of Park Ridge Festival going on that weekend.
The French Market is great. I especially recommend the pastries at Vanille Patisserie, the cheeses and sandwiches at Pastoral, the chocolates at Canady, and the rainbow cookies at Delightful Pastries.
As for the Taste of Park Ridge, I'm not sure how you came up with that. I looked over the program of food vendors on their website ( www.tasteofparkridge.com/food_vendors... ), and... well... frankly, I think you're making a big mistake. I'll leave it at that.
>> Is there anything else we need to know!! Love food markets, specialty food stores, microbreweries, and CHEESE and of course, independent coffee shops.
Food markets - go to Fox & Obel, our premier gourmet food store, with the very best of everything. You can get stuff to go, or go to the cafe in the rear of the store for anything from a cup of coffee to a full meal, prepared to order. I love their breads and pastries - it's a true local gem!
Microbreweries - not my specialty, sorry.
Cheese - Pastoral is our leading cheese merchant, with shops in the French Market, in the Loop, and the original in Lakeview. Fox & Obel has a nice cheese department too.
Coffee - Intelligentsia is our leading local coffee brewer, and has several locations. There are also some chains that are highly regarded (e.g. Lavazza).
Feel free to ask more questions, and enjoy your visit!