RECO NEEDED near AMC River East 21 on E Illinois
Looking for a great meal near the AMC River East. We're from out of town - so don't the area. Anything goes - we love everything. A good local haunt, top ethnic spot, a Chicago must try?
Where should we go - nothing super formal/or fine - we'll be catching a movie after.
Niu is indeed to be avoided.
In addition to the cafe at Fox & Obel, they've been running a wine bar on the other side of the store, right on the water, for the past several months. If you check around in the store (in the cafe, most likely), they've recently been offering a buy one entree, get one half off as well. We checked it out for the first time a few weeks ago, and found it delicious. We had the pea risotto, tuna carpaccio, halibut, and lamb. All were very good, but the standout was the halibut, which was perfectly cooked, and more flavorful than I ever imagined. In addition to the wines and desserts on their list, you can also have any wine or dessert sold in the main store for retail price, so it's a good value. I'd go with that over any of the other sit-down options in the immediate area.
Fox & Obel is half a block east of the theater. It's our premier gourmet food store, with the very best of everything - meats, cheeses, prepared foods, baked goods, etc. In the rear of the store is a cafe where you stand in line and order, and you can get anything from a cup of coffee to a complete meal prepared to order. It's not fancy but the quality is good - not quite as polished or creative as a restaurant, but quite decent. And there's no atmosphere (think Starbuck's). Check out the cafe menu on their website at www.fox-obel.com
There's a sushi place called Niu next to the theater, but I don't eat sushi so I haven't been there and don't know how good it is. www.niusushi.com
From the theater, a couple of short blocks north and a block west is Emilio's Sol y Nieve, for tapas. It's very good indeed. www.emiliostapas.com
Near that there's also an Indian place called Indian Garden but I haven't been there and don't know if it's any good. www.indiangardenchicago.com
Three more places that are a few blocks away and pretty good are Boston Blackie's, a sports bar type place with good burgers, on Grand - www.bostonblackies.com ; Sayat Nova, for Armenian food - www.sayatnovachicago.com ; and Coco Pazzo Cafe, for Italian - www.cocopazzocafe.com
All of the above are within a five minute or so walk of the theater. If I had to pick just one or two based on food, it would be Sol y Nieve or Coco Pazzo Cafe. But Fox & Obel would trump them on cost, time needed, and proximity to the theater.
Also, Fox & Obel is open till midnight seven days a week, so if you want to pick up some baked goods after the movie - either a pastry before going to sleep or one of their croissants or yummy cinnamon swirl rolls for the next morning - you can walk over there after the show. Or even if you just want to check it out and see what it's like!
I always stop at Fox and Obel before going to the AMC to get a little bag of one of their bulk candies ... and then stop back for something good for the next day - pastry for breakfast, lox and bagels for anytime, etc.
Sayat Nova is good but not brilliant imo - some meals there have been quite tasty, others just a bit boring. Another option would be to go over to Navy Pier just for the experience - the food is certainly not super but it can be fun to sit out and watch the scene.