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Jul 12, 2010 06:08 AM

Southport Drive with picky eaters

Hey all, I need some help planning where to eat while in Chicago - we'll be in Chicago in September for a weekend, and I'm going with people who can be quite picky. I eat virtually anything, and love dining out at great restaurants, but we'll also have to keep price in mind as well, as one of the people is a student without money to spend at the places I REALLY want to go to in Chicago.

I think we want to stay within walking distance (or a short cab ride) of where we are staying (3452 N. Southport Dr.).

I need recs for dinner Friday, breakfast and lunch Saturday, late night eats Saturday night, and brunch on Sunday. All will need to accommodate casual attire.

Places I had thought of:
Dinner Friday - Bull-eh-dia's - I figured with a tapas menu we could please everyone. Plus, I love authentic tapas - is this place any good? What about Mexican food in the area (Topolobampo is on my personal list, but I couldn't even get a reservation so am going to pass until I make a trip with just my wife). Who makes a great margarita in the area? Anywhere have al pastor that I just can't pass up?

After dinner - We love Irish pubs - I see that Irish Oak has been reviewed well, what about Mystic Celt? I think Mystic Celt is right across the street from where we are staying.

Breakfast Saturday - I really want to get dim sum, but haven't heard many great things about the dim sum in Chicago. Instead, I've thought about heading to Southport Grocery & Cafe - the brisket and gravy sounds awesome.

Lunch Saturday - Wherever we go, it has to have either incredible wings or be at least close to Chicago's best burger. I know they're not near us, but I'm intrigued by the wings at both Jake Melnick's and The Fifty/50. There are other wing spots in south Chicago (Wings around the World, Take Me Out) that I WILL go to when I'm in Chicago next, but don't see anybody wanting to make that drive on Saturday except for, well, me. If there is a place in Wrigleyville/Lakeview that has outstanding burgers or wings, please fill me in. **Note: I really, really want to try Hot Doug's. From the sound of it, it is outstanding (I looked at their specials, and they made my mouth water). However, there is no way I'm spending an hour and a half of my pre-concert drinking time to wait for one. Is the wait ALWAYS that long?

Late night Saturday - We need a sports bar that still serves food after midnight. I have no idea who does, please provide suggestions.

Sunday brunch - I'm guessing we won't roll out of bed very early on Sunday, and we'll need something to fill up on before we drive back to Des Moines. Lou Malnati's may replace brunch here if people are dying for pizza, but a good brunch is hard to turn down. If it's a buffet/AYCE brunch, even better.

Thanks for your help!

Southport Grocery & Cafe
3552 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

The Fifty/50
2047 W Division St, Chicago, IL

Take Me Out
1502 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

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  1. Wings: Toons
    3857 North Southport Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60613-2823
    (773) 935-1919

    My suggestion if you want something like Hot Doug's but don't want the wait is to swing down to Franks n Dawgs on Clybourn.

    Hot Doug's
    3324 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

    1 Reply
    1. re: gleam

      If I get that dog craving, I'll check out Franks n Dawgs, thanks!

    2. >> I think we want to stay within walking distance (or a short cab ride) of where we are staying (3452 N. Southport Dr.).

      The neighborhood is called Lakeview and Wrigleyville, so if you're searching for other discussions, those are terms to use. BTW, the address is on North Southport AVENUE, but most people in Chicago drop the qualifiers on street names and would just refer to it as Southport.

      >> I need recs for dinner Friday, breakfast and lunch Saturday, late night eats Saturday night, and brunch on Sunday. All will need to accommodate casual attire.

      For breakfast, Ann Sather has a location on that block. Wishbone's location on Lincoln is not far.

      For dinner, in addition to Wishbone, places in that area that are good and not terribly expensive include Tango Sur which is a BYOB place serving endless meat Argentina-style, Rockit for American food in a fun atmosphere ( ), and Los Moles for unusual, creative Mexican food ( ).

      I haven't been to Bull-eh-dia's.

      Yes, the wait at Hot Doug's is always that long - sometimes longer. It was 80 minutes when I was there last Friday arriving 1 pm, and by the time I left, it was about a half hour longer than when I arrived. As gleam notes, try Franks n Dawgs instead.

      9 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        Thank you! Tango Sur intrigues me much; I love Argentinian meat, but saw some mixed reviews online. Wishbone looks like it has a killer breakfast/brunch menu. How do they compare to Southport Grocery?

        Tango Sur
        3763 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60613

        Southport Grocery & Cafe
        3552 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

        1. re: jhojati

          I haven't been to Southport Grocery, so I can't compare it with Wishbone, which I like a lot. However, the menu on their website ( ) sounds good too - I'll have to add it to my list of places to try!

          Life in Chicago - every time you check out a place on your list of places to try, you find yourself adding another place to the list!

          1. re: jhojati

            I love Wishbone, especially when I'm in the mood for something hearty and southern, but the last couple of times I was at the Lincoln Ave location for breakfast on it was pretty disappointing. It seemed like the quality of the food had dropped. It's been a few months so hopefully it's back up to snuff.

            Southport Grocery has a very different feel. It is a bit more upscale. It is a grocery (for gourmet items only) and a cafe as the name implies. Breakfasts and lunches are quite good there, but not the "killer breakfast menu" that you referred to about Wishbone in your post.

            1. re: chicgail

              Wishbone has fallen out of our rotation because it's just been consistently "fair." Probably fine for picky eaters because it's all pretty conventional, but nothing that wows anyone.

              1. re: ferret

                Sorry to have my opinion on this one confirmed.

                1. re: chicgail

                  Yep, I agree. Wishbone is just "eh" in my book. I really like Southport of the best chicken salads ever!! I highly recommend that you get their early or later after the rush. Yum!

                  For Mexican, look into Mixteco at the corner of Montrose and Ashland, which isn't too far from your base. Really tasty Mexican food and it's BYOB. Make reservations as soon as you can. The mole is wonderful.

                  1. re: geg5150

                    I like Mixteco Grill a lot, but it's a bit further than the previously-mentioned Los Moles (about a mile and a half, vs about half a mile). Another excellent Mexican restaurant, about the same distance as Mixteco Grill, is FDM (Fonda Del Mar - ).

              2. re: chicgail

                I would like to thank jhojati, chicgail, and thelegalfoodie for their mention of Southport Grocery! I went there today, and posted a detailed report in the brunch topic at I liked it a lot! As I posted there, I absolutely LOVED the "bread pudding pancake", which is quite different from anything I've had before.

                If you're still wondering about how Southport Grocery compares with Wishbone, you can look at their menus on their websites at and As you can see, Wishbone offers a combination of breakfast foods and Southern foods, whereas Southport offers a combination of breakfast foods and American foods. I've been to Wishbone for brunch but it's been a few years; at the time I thought it was pretty good, but I haven't been back, whereas I'm going to be thinking about (i.e. lusting for) Southport's bread pudding pancake for a while, I'm sure.

                Southport Grocery & Cafe
                3552 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

            2. re: nsxtasy

              The Rockit burger looks good (love brie with beef) - worth it or no? I'm not much into the Kobe burger thing (don't really see the point with ground beef...) but love a good burger.

            3. As you can see from the above posts, to avoid sounding like a tourist, Southport is an "avenue" not a "drive."

              2 Replies
              1. re: ferret

                To avoid sounding like a tourist, just call it "Southport". ;)

                1. re: ferret

                  Well, I am a tourist :) I'd edit if I could!

                2. Another good place in that area is Deleece, a little over half a mile north on Southport. The food is contemporary American, and it's really not that expensive, with entrees in the mid to high teens. I ate there about a month ago for dinner and thoroughly enjoyed it. They're also open for brunch. (They also have Deleece Grill Pub, over on Clark Street, which is a bit more casual and leans more toward comfort food.)

                  1. Who has the best al pastor?