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Iteniary (and logistical) questions for upcoming Chicago weekend trip

s
Silverlaker Jun 28, 2010 12:22 PM

Thanks for your patience here. Our itinerary keeps on evolving. So w the help of nsxtasy (thank you!), here's what I've come up with:

SATURDAY:
-Driving into town from Michigan. Would love to explore the burbs. Thinking about: WICKER PARK or PILSEN -- have some options for Pilsen restaurant, need some lite lunch options for Wicker Park.
-6:15pm early dinner at Perennial (seeing the Aaron Sorkin play that night)

SUNDAY, 4th:
-Doing a CAF bus tour in the morning, thinking of having lunch at Portillo's -- looking for an authentic, Chi experience that will be open on the 4th and nearby CAF (224 S Michigan Ave).
-Seeing 4pm Second City Show, then back to hotel burnham to change for dinner
-8:15pm dinner at MERCAT A LA PLANXA. Walk down to Taste of Chi and hopefully see some fireworks -- somewhere:). We know it'll be hectic. Whatever.

Monday:
-We're going to be heading back to Detroit (we're from LA, hubby is working there) and would love a fantastic place for breakfast or lunch that would be open on a Monday (I know, difficult)... maybe along lake front? I think that's the street that runs along the lake, I forget, oy! Guess who is in charge of directions/maps on our vacas -- not me:).

NOTE: this is our second trip to Chi in the last seven months... did a lot on our first trip. Thanks!!!

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  1. nsxtasy Jun 28, 2010 12:45 PM

    >> Would love to explore the burbs. Thinking about: WICKER PARK or PILSEN

    'burbs are suburbs, separate towns/municipalities outside the city limits. Wicker Park and Pilsen are not suburbs; both are neighborhoods within the city of Chicago. Wicker Park is about three miles northwest of the Loop, and Pilsen is about three miles southwest of the Loop.

    >> -Doing a CAF bus tour in the morning, thinking of having lunch at Portillo's -- looking for an authentic, Chi experience that will be open on the 4th and nearby CAF (224 S Michigan Ave).

    The nearest Portillo's is on Ontario, about a mile north of the Chicago Architecture Foundation. (The foundation is about five blocks walk from your hotel.) If you'd like something within walking distance of the foundation, you might consider Pizano's on Madison for deep-dish pizza, or the Gage, a gastropub on Michigan Avenue.

    >> would love a fantastic place for breakfast or lunch that would be open on a Monday (I know, difficult)... maybe along lake front? I think that's the street that runs along the lake, I forget, oy! Guess who is in charge of directions/maps on our vacas -- not me:).

    The "lakefront" is the term generally used for the shore of Lake Michigan, and sometimes for the line of (mostly high-rise) buildings closest to the shore. Perhaps you are thinking of Lake Shore Drive, which is a divided highway ("expressway") that runs along most of the lakefront within the city of Chicago.

    Almost any breakfast restaurant that is open on weekdays would be open on "a" Monday. However, since Monday July 5 is a legal holiday, it's possible that places might be closed that particular day even though they are normally open on Mondays. I would call ahead to make sure (unless it says on their website, one way or the other).

    On weekdays, you don't have to worry about waiting at the breakfast places that have long lines on Sundays; that may or may not be true on July 5. Bongo Room is my favorite for its unique pancakes, but there are lots of other breakfast places in the general downtown area, including Orange, Eggsperience, Yolk, Lou Mitchell's, Original Pancake House, etc.

    For a lunch type place, most of the fairly nice ones accept reservations on Opentable.com which is also a quick and handy way to see, at a glance, which places are open on any particular day and time, since they won't accept reservations for any day/time that they're closed.

    3 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy
      s
      Silverlaker Jun 29, 2010 07:08 AM

      Thanks again, nxstasy. I wrote this before I did the research on Wicker Park, Pilsen and now know that they are still considered in the city and not true suburbs. On our last trip to Chicago in Thanksgiving, we were just focused "in the loop," this trip hopefully we'll explore other neighborhoods.

      Are there any other interesting restaurants that you think will be open for lunch on the 4th? We have gastropubs in our neighborhood back home and went to Pizano's last trip (pizza for lunch is a bit too heavy for us). We'll be back from our CAF tour at 1pm and then going to Second City at 4pm -- wouldn't mind something near SC if that neighborhood is interesting.

      Thanks again for all your help, our time is very limited on this trip wh leaves us little wiggle room.

      1. re: Silverlaker
        nsxtasy Jun 29, 2010 08:34 AM

        >> Are there any other interesting restaurants that you think will be open for lunch on the 4th? We have gastropubs in our neighborhood back home and went to Pizano's last trip (pizza for lunch is a bit too heavy for us). We'll be back from our CAF tour at 1pm and then going to Second City at 4pm -- wouldn't mind something near SC if that neighborhood is interesting.

        Old Town, where Second City is located, is somewhat interesting, although not exactly overwhelming with food choices, several of which are Mexican which you already have covered in Pilsen. Here are a couple of discussions of nearby restaurants (which may or may not be open on the 4th):

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/451851
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/501369

        If I were you, I would have something to eat either in the Loop near the hotel, or on the way in River North, before going to Second City. You may be able to catch Sunday brunch at some places (including Perennial, as it happens) as late as 1:30 or 2:00; others will be serving from their regular lunch menu. Looking over availability on Opentable.com (which guarantees they're open that day), here are a few possibilities. Terzo Piano is the new restaurant run by Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia; it's located in the modern wing of the Art Institute, but you don't have to pay for museum admission to eat at the restaurant. I haven't eaten there but it's gotten positive reviews. It's walking distance from your hotel. Also within walking distance and open around 2 pm on Sunday are Aria, the pan-Asian restaurant in the Fairmont; Park Grill, for burgers and American food at the entrance to Millennium Park; South Water Kitchen, for American comfort food; and Petterino's, a decent steakhouse (although for steaks I'd walk a little further to David Burke's Primehouse in River North). See Opentable.com for reservations.

        1. re: nsxtasy
          l
          lbs Jun 29, 2010 09:11 AM

          Well I was going to suggest walking to Second City from the end of the CAF tour - grabbing some simple picnic food at Fox and Obel/Pastoral (heck, I'd go to the Jewel and pick up supplies there too) and eating in actual Lincoln Park by the zoo or on the lakefront because you really can't get a better taste of Chicago than eating by the lake front and just taking in the city. It is a little over 2.5 miles (2.61) so it is a bit of a walk but not if split it up half way. But the weather is calling for some rain/thunderstorms later that afternoon so it may be a wash (literally).

    2. d
      delk Jun 28, 2010 04:25 PM

      Maybe somebody else can confirm, but this might be a place to catch the fireworks. http://www.martplaza.com/photo-galler...

      1 Reply
      1. re: delk
        nsxtasy Jun 28, 2010 09:09 PM

        Huh? I don't see how you could even see them from there, let alone have a good view. The Holiday Inn Mart Plaza is at the Merchandise Mart, which is about a mile inland. The downtown fireworks are near Navy Pier, on the lakefront. And there are lots of high-rise buildings in between the two.

      2. c
        chicagowinediva Jun 29, 2010 02:34 AM

        Just a heads up on your Perennial reservation. You are a good 10 minute cab ride from Timeline theatre - can be more in traffic. Do not even think about trying to park anywhere near the restaurant or the theatre. Seriously - public transit or cabs. Timeline does not have reserve seating, so you really want to be there when the house opens at 7:30. Even the theatre recommends no later than 7:45. The show is GREAT! Just saw it!

        I would second The Gage on Michigan Ave. Portillos is just nothing special or authentic in my opinion.

        I love Honky Tonk BBQ in Pilsen, if that is one you are considering.

        -----
        Honky Tonk BBQ
        1213 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

        9 Replies
        1. re: chicagowinediva
          nsxtasy Jun 29, 2010 03:51 AM

          >> You are a good 10 minute cab ride from Timeline theatre - can be more in traffic.

          The ride will take closer to 5 minutes - but it's always good to allow extra time. Especially if the weather is bad, which makes cabs harder to find.

          >> Do not even think about trying to park anywhere near the restaurant or the theatre.

          On the street, I would agree. However, the theater website ( www.timelinetheatre.com/directions/pa... ) notes that they have arrangements with a couple of nearby garages for validated parking (although those nearby garages are 1/4 mile away so that's 5 minutes walking). They also provide details on several other garages in the area.

          I agree that public transit or cabs will be easier. But there is parking available if you decide to drive.

          1. re: nsxtasy
            s
            Silverlaker Jun 29, 2010 07:02 AM

            Thanks all! Yes, we are planning to "cab it" (is that right vernacular? I'm such a LA person). We have no problem w cabs, coming from LA it's fun for us (I know, sounds lame, but it is..).

            Question -- should I move the Perennial resies earlier? OR choose a different restaurant? We really liked the menu. I was considering North Pond, but that menu really didn't interest me, esp for the price-point.

            For lunch on the 4th, not sure if The Gage is open on the 4th plus, we really want to get in a Chi dog or try an Italian beef sandwich (and something casual).

            -----
            North Pond
            2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

          2. re: chicagowinediva
            s
            Silverlaker Jun 29, 2010 07:13 AM

            Thanks for the heads up on the show! I'm going to move our resies earlier to 6pm. Do you like Perennial? Any other restaurants on the way or nearby you can recommend? Nsxtasy gave us a list of restaurants nearby, nothing really knocked my socks off, so thinking of a restaurant on the way -- think that puts us around Lincoln Park (we're staying at Hotel Burnham). We're going to take a cab.

            1. re: Silverlaker
              nsxtasy Jun 29, 2010 09:03 AM

              >> Question -- should I move the Perennial resies earlier? OR choose a different restaurant? We really liked the menu. I was considering North Pond, but that menu really didn't interest me, esp for the price-point.

              I see you changed your reservation at Perennial to 6 pm. That should give you plenty of time.

              I'm a strong believer in checking website menus as a way of determining whether the food sounds good. That being said, I don't think North Pond's menu does their food justice; when a menu just names a few of the ingredients, you don't get an adequate sense of what the dish is like. You're correct that it's more expensive than Perennial, with entrees in the low to mid thirties vs low to mid twenties at the latter. I'm not trying to talk you into North Pond, just explaining (and besides, I don't see availability at North Pond for an early seating).

              >> For lunch on the 4th, not sure if The Gage is open on the 4th

              It is. They are showing availability on Opentable, which means they're open.

              >> plus, we really want to get in a Chi dog or try an Italian beef sandwich (and something casual).

              You can do both at Portillo's on Ontario.

              >> Do you like Perennial? Any other restaurants on the way or nearby you can recommend?

              I DO like Perennial. There are so many great restaurants in Chicago, so it's not the only choice, but it's a good one. There are lots of other great places that are along the way; some showing availability on Opentable include Cafe des Architectes for contemporary American, Cafe Spiaggia for Italian, Cibo Matto for Italian (two blocks from the hotel), David Burke's Primehouse for steaks, Graham Elliot for contemporary American, Kiki's for French bistro, Nacional 27 for Latin fusion, Naha for contemporary American, and Shaw's Crab House for seafood. But Perennial is very good too, and if the menu sounds good to you, I would stick with that.

              1. re: Silverlaker
                chicgail Jun 29, 2010 09:28 AM

                Just some comments and responses to your questions:

                I like Perennial very much. It is a charming casual (not sloppy casual) environment with excellent farm-to-table food. FWIW, they also have a good brunch.

                According to opentable.com, The Gage is open on the Fourth and has availabilities for lunch/brunch.

                I would recommend getting a Chicago Dog and/or an Italian beef at Portillo's on Ontario and Clark, not far from your hotel.

                Just a tip: order your Italian beef "wet" (with juice) and with sweet (roasted green) and hot (giardiniera) peppers. If you really want to go for it, get a combo which adds an Italian sausage to the bun in addition to the beef.

                1. re: chicgail
                  s
                  Silverlaker Jun 29, 2010 03:36 PM

                  Wow guys/gals thanks so much! If ever in LA, will return the favor. Really appreciate it -- we're only in town for 2 1/2 days which calls for everything sch'd.

                  Here's our plan: Perennial on Saturday night, Mercat a la Planxa on Sunday night (we don't have a lot of Spanish tapas options in LA) and hoping to do brunch when we come in on Saturday at Mundial Cocina Mestiza (and take in the Mex museum). We were in town over Thanksgiving and did Frontera, one of the well known pizza joints (forget which one) and David Burke for Thanksgiving dinner. The high-light was the German festival near our hotel (Hotel Burnham).

                  Again, many thanks -- looking forward to our weekend!

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

                  1. re: Silverlaker
                    nsxtasy Jun 29, 2010 03:51 PM

                    Enjoy your stay here - and if you get a chance, let us know how it all went!

                    1. re: nsxtasy
                      s
                      Silverlaker Jun 29, 2010 04:07 PM

                      Will definitely do!

                    2. re: Silverlaker
                      chicgail Jun 29, 2010 04:19 PM

                      Sounds like a great trip. Enjoy.

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