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Help with my itinerary -celebrating my 30th birthday in Chicago

e
elttle2 Jul 22, 2010 01:38 PM

I have been dying to try Alinea, so for my 30th birthday, my husband booked a reservation with Alinea. We snapped the first spot available, which isn't great a weekday 9:30. I suppose we won't finish our meal until 1am? We will be visiting Chicago from the South during the week in mid August.

After reading thru the Chicago board for a while, here is my itinerary

We are staying on Magnificent Mile

Wednesday: Lunch Blackbird
Dinner Alinea

Thursday Lunch : Purple Pig
Dinner: hoping to get Schwa

Friday Lunch: ?? (we have to catch a 3 o'clock flight, so this place would have to take reservation).

My concern:

1. Blackbird seems to be a bit out of the way. what's some touristy stuff we can do around the area?
2: If we can't get Schwa, I really don't know where to eat. I have read about some reviews of Tru, Everest, L2O, but there seem to be a few 'mixed reviews'. need suggestion...
Or should we try the the goat and the girl? or the publican? these two places seem to be getting lots of positive reviews too.

3. Friday lunch.... need suggestion.. thank you

-----
Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

L2O
2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

  1. e
    elttle2 Jul 22, 2010 07:12 PM

    Thanks for the suggestion of Topo, except we are from the South. We've got some pretty good Mexican restaurant down here, so I'll skip. I made reservation at Cafe Spiaggia at 11:30 on Friday. Would we be able to catch our 3 o'clock flight? Or is Cafe Des Architects's executive lunch faster? (it also starts at 11:30) (Graham Elliot, publican aren't open for lunch)

    my new itinerary revised

    Wed Lunch Blackbird
    Wed Evening Alinea
    Thursday Lunch Purple Pig (walk in, no reservation)
    Thursday dinner Schwa
    Friday lunch Cafe Spiaggia

    -----
    Alinea
    1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

    Cafe Spiaggia
    980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

    1 Reply
    1. re: elttle2
      nsxtasy Jul 22, 2010 09:30 PM

      >> Thanks for the suggestion of Topo, except we are from the South. We've got some pretty good Mexican restaurant down here, so I'll skip.

      It sounds like you don't understand what Topolobampo and Frontera Grill are like, because I'd bet you an easy ten bucks that the food there is nothing at all like your Mexican restaurants back home. Take a look at the menus on their website at www.rickbayless.com/menu and you'll see for yourself. Obviously you can go wherever you like, but you should at least understand what a place is like before deciding to go elsewhere.

      >> I made reservation at Cafe Spiaggia at 11:30 on Friday. Would we be able to catch our 3 o'clock flight?

      Yes. You should be done around 12:30, and even if there's traffic, a cab should get you to O'Hare by 1:30.

      >> Or is Cafe Des Architects's executive lunch faster? (it also starts at 11:30)

      They're probably equally fast - not rushed, but not overly slow. Most places that serve lunch do so reasonably quickly, because they know that many people are on their lunch break from work.

      >> (Graham Elliot, publican aren't open for lunch)

      Oops, sorry!

    2. c
      chris Jul 22, 2010 01:50 PM

      Blackbird is fairly close to Willis (Sears) Tower....it's also near the new French Market in the Ogilvie Transit Center. Beyond that, I don't think there's all that much to do around there.

      Recent reviews of Everest have been strong....have you thought about Avenues? It's right on Michigan Avenue in the Peninsula. Graham Elliot isn't too far away either.

      Friday lunch - Bayless has his haters, but I'd make a reservation at Topolobampo.

      -----
      Topolobampo
      445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

      Graham Elliot
      217 W. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60654

      2 Replies
      1. re: chris
        nsxtasy Jul 22, 2010 03:08 PM

        chris has some great thoughts there. Just to follow up on his...

        >> I have been dying to try Alinea, so for my 30th birthday, my husband booked a reservation with Alinea. We snapped the first spot available, which isn't great a weekday 9:30. I suppose we won't finish our meal until 1am?

        Alinea is absolutely great. I'm sure you've read all about it. What doesn't always come through are two things: first, the food is not just amazing, but also extremely DELICIOUS; and second, the entire experience is FUN. As for the time taken, up until now, they have offered two menus; the smaller, with 12 or so courses, typically takes 3 hours, and the larger, with 23 or so courses, typically takes 4.5 hours. Starting next month they will be offering only one menu, with around 17 courses, so I'm guessing you will probably finish some time around 1:30 a.m. Don't worry, it will be worth staying up for!

        >> 1. Blackbird seems to be a bit out of the way. what's some touristy stuff we can do around the area?

        The French Market was my first thought as well. It's also just a short walk from the Loop, Chicago's historical and commercial downtown area, with its outdoor sculpture, architecture, museums, Millennium Park (and "the bean"), etc.

        >> 2: If we can't get Schwa, I really don't know where to eat. I have read about some reviews of Tru, Everest, L2O, but there seem to be a few 'mixed reviews'. need suggestion...
        Or should we try the the goat and the girl? or the publican? these two places seem to be getting lots of positive reviews too.

        The first thing I would decide is whether you want a high-end dining experience, with dressy attire, high prices, a high level of service, etc., as distinguished from a more casual, finer dining experience, which would be less expensive. Personally, I would look for something more casual, so as to diversify your itinerary from the Alinea dinner, but not everyone feels that way. If you want another high-end restaurant, then Everest, Avenues, TRU, Charlie Trotter's, and Spiaggia are all excellent. If you want a more casual experience, then there are lots of choices, including chris's recommendation of Graham Elliot, other contemporary American restaurants like North Pond, Cafe des Architectes, Naha, and MK, Italian restaurants like Cafe Spiaggia and Coco Pazzo, tapas at Mercat a la Planxa, pan-Asian at Red Light, Latin fusion at Nacional 27 or Carnivale, French bistro at La Sardine or Kiki's Bistro, etc. I haven't yet been to the Girl and the Goat; I liked some of the food at the Publican but it was really, really NOISY.

        >> 3. Friday lunch.... need suggestion.. thank you

        I think chris's suggestion of Topolobampo is great! Other than that, all of the casual finer dining places I just mentioned are open for lunch. If you're looking for the convenience of a place near your hotel on the Mag Mile, the closest places are probably Cafe Spiaggia or Cafe des Architectes, although Topolobampo, Graham Elliot, and Naha aren't far either.

        1. re: nsxtasy
          e
          elttle2 Jul 22, 2010 06:35 PM

          Thank you all for your reply. My Thursday dinner at Schwa is all set. I can't believe for once the phone got connected and the voicemail isn't full! It's the best birthday gift ever!

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