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NY Hound Not Foolin' Around

Comin' in 2 weeks. Very excited. Haven't been in many many years. Planning Alinea , L2O, Publican, Mr. Beef and Al's Beef, Hot Doug's, Wiener Circle, Lou Malnati's, Giordano's, Frontera, Twin Anchors, Calumet Fishery, Gene and Jude 's, Parthenon. What am I missing? Thanks in advance. Also planning Kingston Mines, B.L.U.E.S. And Buddy Guy's, of course.

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Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

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

Wiener Circle
2622 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614

L2O
2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

Al's Beef
7132 183rd St, Tinley Park, IL 60477

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  1. Question for ya -
    I can see the draw for the others, but why Twin Anchors?

    Just a suggestion seeing as you might have sim tastes as me:
    Flame grilled skirt steak tacos at Las Asadas on Western Avenue for a stellar "cheap eats' meal / snack.

    1. Sounds like you've got some nice variety. But it seems like you've got some places that are almost duplicates of each other. Why Mr. Beef AND Al's Beef? Why go all the way to Gene and Jude's when you're already going to Wiener Circle?

      Hot Doug's will be on vacation August 9-24, so you may need to scratch that from your itinerary, depending on the dates. Otherwise, allow at least 90 minutes in line there. (An alternative is Franks 'n' Dawgs.)

      I assume you already have reservations at the places that accept them. Note that on your reservation at the Publican, you can request seating either at the communal tables or at your own table. Also keep in mind that at the two deep-dish pizza places, you can phone ahead with your pizza order to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake.

      No breakfast? Bongo Room, M. Henry, etc?

      How long is your visit?

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

      6 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        I had the same thoughts about the duplication, but I can see how someone might want to do them. Nostalgia could play a big part. Weiner's Circle, and GNJ are landmarks for Chicago grease joints, Mr Beef, and Al's are as well. From this list, I'd assume that the op may have lived here at one point, OR, had a pretty decent guide in the times they've visited.

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        Mr. Beef
        666 N Orleans St, Chicago, IL 60654

        1. re: nsxtasy

          I'd also say that Mr. Beef and Al's are further apart than almost any two chicago beefs, so it's a good way to taste the rainbow.

          I also don't understand how Twin Anchors made it on this list. Skip it and go to Honey One, Smoque, Uncle John's, whatever, if you want ribs.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            Gene and Jude and Weiner Circle offer two very different varieties of Chicago styles of hot dogs. I can easily understand why someone would want to sample both styles ... but I wouldn't walk through the doors to WC, if they were giving away the so-so product they offer. On the other hand, I'd travel out of my way to get to Gene and Judes.

            Hot Doug's isn't worth the wait ... of more than 15 minutes, IMO. But my sense that the place is not worth the special effort is, obviously, in the minority.

            Al's (on Taylor St., the only location worthy of a visit) and Mr. Beef offer two renditions of a very Chicago sandwich. On the best of days, Al's can shine ... but the quality/taste has steadily declined over the more than 40 years I've been eating from there. Mr. Beef is as good, most days ... but I prefer the sausage (or "combo" ) sandwich from there more than the beef.

            1. re: gomexico

              WC can deliver a pretty good char dog (as opposed to the typical Chicago-style dog), but it's best to get there during the day to avoid the lunacy as the moon climbs into the sky. As mentioned above, the only Al's you want to go to is on Taylor Street, and stop by at Mario's across the street to see how their fresh-fruit Italian ice compares with the NYC versions.

              1. re: gomexico

                >> Hot Doug's isn't worth the wait ... of more than 15 minutes, IMO. But my sense that the place is not worth the special effort is, obviously, in the minority.

                You may be in the minority, but you are not alone. I'm right there with you, somewhere other than in a line that took 80 minutes to get through, when I was there a few weeks ago.

                In any case, it won't be on the OP's itinerary, because it's closed when he/she is here.

                1. re: nsxtasy

                  Agreed that Hot Doug's is not worth more than a 15 minute wait... I thought it was just me!

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

            2. I like your idea and your itineray other than Twin Anchors and Calumet. Chicago, in general, is not a rib place and Twin Anchors in my humble (that's funny I am the furthest thing from humble) is terrible. They kill their ribs and the sauce is good, but by no means worth going there. On that note, we do have a couple of pretty good BBQ joints like Smoque and Honey 1.

              Also no need to drive down to calumet for smoked fish. Yeah, it looked neat when Bourdain was eating no the hood of the car, but since there is not really any true commercial fishery anymore it's not like the boat pulls up and you get the freshest. Being a New Yorker you'll get just as good quality at Zabars. Calumet is an experience that was fun, but again IMHO not worth spending the 1.5 hours there and back that it will take. That being said, if you've got the time, why not.

              2 Replies
              1. re: jbontario

                Thanks guys. Twin Anchors is the only return visit, so chalk it up to nostalgia. We've got a lot of good BBQ joints in NYC so I wasn't looking for any others. I'm totally bummed on Hot Doug's being closed while I'm there. Calumet did look cool on Bourdain and also received a James Beard award. Want to compare the Italian Beef joints having just returned from Philly to compare Pat's and Geno's. Any thoughts on Schwa? Other hot dog recs? Dim sum?

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

                1. re: guttergourmet

                  gg - i just moved from nyc to chicago this week, and i'm slowly going through a list similar to yours. so far, the notable places i've tried include malnati's, giordano's, pisano's, wiener's circle, al's, portillo's, shui wah (dim sum in chinatown), sullivan's steakhouse.

                  firstly, i would highly recommend shui wah. it's not the most innovative place, and i'm nearly positive that a few of their dishes are frozen, but the house-made dishes are excellent. and the frozen ones (if i'm guessing correctly) are served piping hot, and are delicious nonetheless. i was very pleasantly surprised by chicago's chinatown. it's way less dense and chaotic than new york's, but it still has a decent amount of shops and restaurants. i also walked around after and had some decent desserts, but forget the name of the bakery.

                  i'll also recommend sullivan's, if you're in the mood for steak. i hadn't heard anything about it, and walked in on a whim (often a recipe for disaster in such a touristy area) but they served me a very flavorful bone-in strip, medium rare as requested. it wasn't dry aged, if that's an issue for you.

                  i'm not sure if i was of any help, but i'll definitely let you know if i come across anything in the coming weeks.

                  as a side note, i never understood the obsession with pat's and geno's. i'd take carl's over either, and i'd take any italian beef over any philly steak. of course, this little piggy trumps them all, in my very biased opinion.

              2. Just added Arun's Thai to my list. Thoughts?

                6 Replies
                1. re: guttergourmet

                  It's an experience. If I were you, I'd go to Arun's, and then go to Tac Quick for a different Thai food experience. Compare and contrast.

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                  TAC Quick
                  3930 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60613

                  1. re: guttergourmet

                    When I went to Arun's, I spent the following week asking myself why anyone should spend so much money for Thai food no different from restaurants all over town charging one third the price. I never came up with a good answer, and I haven't been back. That's why Arun's is not on my list of recommendations.

                    We have some excellent Thai restaurants that don't charge an arm and a leg, and that are more conveniently located too. Lots of people like TAC Quick and Spoon Thai, and while they're not my favorites, they are better choices IMHO than Arun's.

                    1. re: nsxtasy

                      I was about to post, but then I read nsxtasy's message and it so totally expressed my opinion of Aruns that I'll just say -- I agree. I don't mind spending good money for great food, but the food at Arun's just doesn't justify the price. It was a total disappointment to me.

                      1. re: nsxtasy

                        what is your favorite thai spot?

                        1. re: Daniel76

                          I know you weren't talking to me, but I favor Sticky Rice on Western Avenue. It's northern Thai (as in Chaing Mai). The food is authentic, often very exotic and excellent.

                          -----
                          Sticky Rice
                          4018 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

                          1. re: Daniel76

                            My favorite Thai restaurant is Thai Sookdee in Evanston. Their tom kha gai (chicken coconut galanga soup) is the best I've had in the area, and their panang curries are equally outstanding. The Thai places in the city most often recommended are TAC Quick, Spoon Thai, and Sticky Rice; I've tried them all, but wasn't wowed by any of them. chicgail and I will just have to agree to disagree, as I liked Sticky Rice the least of those three. (I've tried dozens of other Thai restaurants in the area as well, but none was so impressive as to merit a mention along with Thai Sookdee.)

                      2. I strongly suggest Avec. A small plates restuarant which I think creates very smart and tasty food. If you like tapas, I suggest Cafe Babareeba or Mercat a la Planxa. I also like anything comes from that wood-fired oven of Coco Pazzo.

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                        Avec Restaurant
                        615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661

                        Coco Pazzo Cafe
                        636 N St Clair, Chicago, IL 60611

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: ekutluay

                          Before planning to go to Avec, you should be aware of the downsides. They don't take reservations, and waits to be seated often extend well over an hour. They only have communal seating, either at the bar or at eight-tops, so don't go expecting to have your own table, unless you're bringing seven friends along. The seats are the most uncomfortable in the entire city (basically a choice of a wooden bench, a wooden box, or a wooden barstool). And it may be the noisiest restaurant in the entire city. All this for food that some people like, but some others (including me) have found disappointing.

                          1. re: nsxtasy

                            And here's where I disagree with nsxtasy. I had a great time at Avec. Didn't mind sitting with, meeting and conversing with other diners -- and the food was awesome. Plus, we must have been lucky, but the wait was not more than 20 minutes.

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                            Avec Restaurant
                            615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661

                        2. Back in NYC. My culinary "mission from God" was a rousing success. Will report in more detail later but here's where I hit: Alinea, L2O, Arun's, Wiener's Circle 2x, Al's Beef, Mr. Beef, J.P. Graziano's, Publican, Twin Anchors, Parthenon, Greektown Gyro, Original Jimmie's, Maxwell Express, New Maxwell Street Market, Parthenon, Luxe Bar, Hemmingway's Bistro, Silver Palm, Mario's Italian Ice/Lemonade, Billy Goat Tavern, Harold's Chicken Shack, Lou Malnati's, Due, Giordano's and Frontera Grill. For entertainment Kingston Mines, B.L.U.E.S., Rosa's Lounge and Buddy Guy's Legends. How'd I do?

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                          Alinea
                          1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                          Rosa's Lounge
                          3420 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL

                          Frontera Grill
                          445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

                          New Maxwell Street Market
                          548 W Roosevelt Rd, Chicago, IL

                          L2O
                          2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

                          Chicken Shack
                          1925 Ridge Ave, Evanston, IL 60201

                          Maxwell Express
                          1058 W 87th St, Chicago, IL 60620

                          Silver Palm
                          768 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

                          Hemmingway's Bistro
                          211 N Oak Park Ave, Oak Park, IL 60302

                          Al's Beef
                          7132 183rd St, Tinley Park, IL 60477

                          Billy Goat
                          600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: guttergourmet

                            Whole lot of eating there. I guess "how you did" is going to be in your saying. You've already declared it a rousing success.

                            You hit some notable restaurants; some pretty ordinary ones; some I've never heard of and a few I'd avoid. And there are, of course, some awesome spots you didn't try. I'll be interested in reading your full report.

                            1. re: chicgail

                              To paraphrase the Blues Brothers, my recent trip to Chicago was a "Culinary Mission from God". I had 10 days, a full tank of gas, it was dark and I was wearing sunglasses and determined to taste everything Chi-Town had to offer. The following is the run-down of the places I hit:
                                Deep dish pizza- Lou Malnati's, Due Pizza and, for stuffed pizza, Giordano's.
                                Gyros- Parthenon (which invented them along with flaming saganaki-Opa!) and Greektown Gyros.
                                Italian Beef- Mr. Beef and Al's #1 Beef
                                 Italian Ice/Lemonade- Mario's Italian Lemonade.
                                Chicago Hot Dogs- the infamous Wiener's Circle to try to win a date with Poochie.
                                 Fried Chicken- Obama's favorite- Harold's Chicken Shack.
                                Submarine- J.P. Graziano Grocery for the Mr. G Special
                                 Mexican- Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill and the New Maxwell Street Market for tacos.
                                Thai- Arun's
                                 New American- Alinea.
                                 Seafood- L2O
                                 French- Hemmingway's Bistro
                                 Polish- Jim's Original and Original Maxwell St. Express Grill
                                 BBQ- Twin Anchors for ribs the way Sinatra liked them.
                                 Burgers- or should I say "Cheeborgers"?- Billy Goat Tavern
                                 Gastropub- Publican
                                 Chinese-Chiu Quon Bakery for char siu bao.
                                 Insane Sandwich- Silver Palm's Three Little Piggies, the sandwich Tony Bourdain proclaimed as "the apex of the sandwich-making art".

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

                              Frontera Grill
                              445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

                              New Maxwell Street Market
                              548 W Roosevelt Rd, Chicago, IL

                              Mario's Italian Lemonade
                              1068 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL

                              L2O
                              2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

                              Chicken Shack
                              1925 Ridge Ave, Evanston, IL 60201

                              Silver Palm
                              768 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

                              Hemmingway's Bistro
                              211 N Oak Park Ave, Oak Park, IL 60302

                              Express Grill
                              1260 S Union Ave, Chicago, IL 60607

                              Jim's Original
                              16 E 95th St, Chicago, IL 60619

                              Billy Goat
                              600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

                              1. re: guttergourmet

                                Not sure that you hit "everything Chi-Town had to offer," but it was certainly the good, the bad, the ugly and the questionable.

                                It is a very broad rundown. Would you like to share any of your thoughts or experiences about what/where you ate?

                            2. re: guttergourmet

                              i think its totally awesome that you included harold's chicken shack on your culinary tour of chicago. i grew up there and moved to nyc in '98, and harold's and lou malnatis are the two things i miss most. oh maybe a char dog w/ the works too.

                              1. re: guttergourmet

                                That's amazing. I moved here in July and haven't even hit half of those places. You're a beast.

                                1. re: guttergourmet

                                  That's fine, but what did you do the second day?

                                  Very nice list, gg. Is the detailed report coming soon?