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Son's Birthday weekend - Next Fri/Sat in Chicago

j
JLH Jul 9, 2010 04:39 AM

Looking for advice....We're New Yorkers and haven't been to Chicago in years . Our 23 year old non-foodie son has been in Chicago on a work assignment and we're visiting next weekend. We'd like to take him to a few places that he wouldn't get to (or pay for) on his own. Our only plans so far are an 11PM Second City show on Friday night. He's staying downtown and we won't have a car.

I've been checking out this board and if anyone can help me with 2 dinners a and a brunch suggestion I'd appreciate it. In addition, we're looking for a pizza place (he's been to Giordano's and doesn't love it) and a roast beef sandwich place as well.

His main food groups are chicken parm/spaghetti, crabcakes and ahi tuna. Also looking for places that take reservations, since patience is not one of his virtues.

We're (much) more adventurous and appreciative of a good/great restaurant- Any suggestions for places that would please the 3 of us?

Thanks in advance!!

  1. nsxtasy Jul 9, 2010 06:31 AM

    >> Our only plans so far are an 11PM Second City show on Friday night. He's staying downtown and we won't have a car.

    Then you will want to go to places within walking distance of the theater. These discussions have recommendations:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/451851
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/501369
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/716855

    Personally, I think the food is better at places that are about a half mile away - Perennial for contemporary American, Riccardo Trattoria for Italian, and Salpicon for Mexican - than those that are within a block or two of Second City (Adobo Grill, Topo Gigio).

    >> we're looking for a pizza place (he's been to Giordano's and doesn't love it)

    Has he tried our classic deep-dish pizza? This is a single-crust pizza, rather than the double-crust stuffed pizza at Giordano's. Excellent examples include the original Uno and Due in River North, Lou Malnati's (locations all over town), and Pizano's (on State near the Mag Mile and on Madison in the Loop).

    >> and a roast beef sandwich place as well.

    I believe you are referring to our local specialty, the Italian beef sandwich. In the downtown area, places that sell good ones include Portillo's on Ontario, Al's #1 Beef a block down from Portillo's, and Mr. Beef on Orleans.

    >> looking for places that take reservations, since patience is not one of his virtues.

    Most of our nicer restaurants accept reservations on Opentable.com (as well as over the phone, of course). At the pizza places, it's a good idea to call ahead with your pizza order; not only does this ensure you'll get seated at the designated time, but you also will avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake.

    >> We're (much) more adventurous and appreciative of a good/great restaurant- Any suggestions for places that would please the 3 of us?

    There are SO MANY great restaurants in Chicago that it's difficult to come up with just a handful of recommendations. (Since you're in NY, you know what that's like, I'm sure.) But here are a few very special places to consider.

    For Sunday brunch, I recommend North Pond. This is one of our best contemporary American restaurants, and what makes it unique and special is its location in the middle of Lincoln Park (not just at its edge like Tavern on the Green, but in the middle). It faces its namesake pond, with the city skyline looming over the opposite shore; the renovated building formerly served as the warming shelter for ice skaters on the pond. The cuisine is contemporary American from James Beard Award finalist Chef Bruce Sherman. It would also work for Friday lunch. It tends to book up in advance for weekend dinners, but I see that there are brunch openings for next Sunday.

    A good option for brunch on Saturday is Frontera Grill, Rick Bayless's Mexican restaurant. Unless you can get one of their handful of reservations for Saturday dinner - they hold most of the dining room for walk-in customers - the waits for a weekend dinner can be horrendous, but for Saturday brunch, it's not as bad. If you want little to no wait, arrive 10 minutes before they open the doors at 10:30 on Saturday morning.

    These two places are very special and are unique to Chicago, something you will enjoy as well as your son. Beyond the places already mentioned above, here are some of our better restaurants in and around the downtown area, by type of food: contemporary American (Cafe des Architectes, Naha, MK), Italian (Cafe Spiaggia, Coco Pazzo), French bistro (La Sardine, Brasserie Jo), tapas (Mercat a la Planxa), Latin fusion (Carnivale, Nacional 27), pan-Asian (Red Light, Opera), steakhouse (David Burke's Primehouse), seafood (Shaw's Crab House, Catch 35), etc.

    Enjoy your visit, and feel free to ask more questions!

    4 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy
      j
      JLH Jul 9, 2010 07:23 AM

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a comprehensive reply - it's very much appreciated!
      Janet

      1. re: JLH
        s
        Siun Jul 9, 2010 08:23 PM

        nsxtasy covered lots of great options!

        One possibility right near Second City (my neighborhood) - if you son likes Tuna and eats sushi, try Mizu, a wonderful small yakitori bar. The sushi and the yakitori is amazing, the flights of sake quite good and the atmosphere friendly.

        Another option if he is very picky would be to get a table at Gemini Bistro pre-Second CIty. They do very good standards but also have some nice inventive touches ... just a few blocks walk north of the theater.

        -----
        Gemini Bistro
        2075 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60614

        Mizu Management
        315 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60610

        1. re: Siun
          nsxtasy Jul 9, 2010 09:57 PM

          Funny - I overestimated the distance of Perennial and you underestimated the distance of Gemini Bistro. Perennial is actually two blocks north of Second City, and Gemini Bistro is a little over half a mile.

          1. re: nsxtasy
            s
            Siun Jul 10, 2010 01:09 PM

            You're so right nsxtasy! I think of a few blocks as any distance I'd never think of getting an cab for ... even on the nasty hot days.

            A neighbor and I (we're right near Menomenee btw) had a quick meal at the bar at Gemini on our way to Greenhouse theater a while back and just really loved it. Very busy spot, some folks find it very lincoln park-y, etc I thought it was quite friendly and relaxed but with taste. I had walked past often and always was curious - liked the mix of options on the menu, good bartender - fun and comfortable to eat at the bar when rushing, great risotto ...

            I haven't eaten at Perennial yet but everyone I know who has just loves it and the setting could not be better. I always regret not going early and brunching there pre-Green City Market (on my way home, I have too many perishables to hang about).

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