Coming from Boston tomorrow - where do I go?!
I am coming to Chicago tomorrow for the first time and staying for three nights on the Magnificent mile. Where should we go for dinner? We are in our early 30's, not super fancy, but into good food and atmosphere. We also could use some suggestions for lunch while we are out and about sight seeing. Any must see sights? Where do we go for deep dish pizza? Thanks!
>> I am coming to Chicago tomorrow for the first time and staying for three nights on the Magnificent mile.
Where on the Mag Mile? (It's a mile long!)
>> Where should we go for dinner?
If someone asked where to go for dinner in Boston, I bet you could think of at least 50-100 different places to recommend along the lines of "not super fancy, but good food and atmosphere". That description really doesn't narrow things down much from the hundreds of great restaurants here. I don't mean to be nasty, I really don't; I'd like to help you. But it's very difficult to come up with recommendations without knowing where you will be spending time (so we can tell you about places close by), what kinds of food you particularly like (so we can tell you about those kinds of places), etc.
Here are a couple of overview topics which will give you ideas of some of the most unique and best places in Chicago:
first time Chicago - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/693477
Where are the best Chicago dinner *values* - the hidden gems? - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/697829
Once you read those, you will probably have some specific places in mind, and more specific questions to ask about them.
>> We also could use some suggestions for lunch while we are out and about sight seeing.
Where do you expect to be sightseeing? Let us know and we can tell you places to eat that are close by. (Again, think of how you would respond if someone asked this question in Boston.)
>> Any must see sights?
The Chowhound Team frowns on posting travel advice that is not related to food or drink. Check out the city's tourism website at www.choosechicago.com
>> Where do we go for deep dish pizza?
This is a specific question, which is much easier to answer.
There are two styles of deep-dish pizza. The original, single-crust deep-dish started at Uno in 1943. There are three places where you can get excellent examples. The original locations of Uno and Due in River North are still excellent (they still use the original recipe, unlike the franchise locations of the dreadful Uno's Chicago Grill); they at Ohio and Wabash, towards the south end of the Mag Mile. Pizano's has a location on State towards the north end of the Mag Mile, and one on Madison in the Loop. Lou Malnati's in River North is less convenient to the Mag Mile, and also has a location at 8th and State in the South Loop. Pizano's and Lou Malnati's were both started by sons of one of the main individuals running Uno in its early days, and both sons worked at Uno growing up before going out on their own.
The other main style is "stuffed pizza", which uses a double crust. Giordano's is the place to go, with a location on Rush near the Mag Mile, and several locations in the Loop. However, if you've never been here, I would start with the single-crust version of Uno/Pizano's/Malnati's first.
Wherever you go for deep-dish pizza, you can phone ahead with your pizza order to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake.
Again, I'm sorry if this response comes across as snippy, because I'd really like to help with recommendations. But Chicago is a huge city, several times larger than Boston. Even the areas comprising "downtown Chicago" extend three miles north to south, and about half that east to west. There are literally thousands of restaurants within walking distance of the Mag Mile, serving all kinds of food. Some of the best in various categories are mentioned in the two discussions in the links above. Look through those discussions and you'll probably have questions that are a lot more specific, and that will make them easier to answer.
Looking forward to additional questions we can answer. Enjoy your visit!
OK. Here is some more information!
We are staying at the Hilton Suites Magnificent Mile. During the day, I will be solo since the man will be working. I am not sure how far I am from museums and attractions but I would like to possibly head to the Field Museum and the Art Museum. Are there any very casual cafe type places near either of those?
In the afternoon, we will probably take in a boat tour to see the architecture and are going to try to head to a Cubs game.
Since we will only have three nights there we are thinking one nicer dinner, one deep dish pizza, and the third is open. We like good food, but nothing fancy. We are open to all sorts of ethnic options or American contemporary and are really just interested in exploring what Chicago has to offer. We have a lot of options here in Boston so I am not interested in any one type of cuisine - just what is good!
Great, that makes things much clearer.
>> We are staying at the Hilton Suites Magnificent Mile.
This is near the Hancock Building, near the north end of the Mag Mile. See below for recommendations nearby.
>> I am not sure how far I am from museums and attractions but I would like to possibly head to the Field Museum and the Art Museum. Are there any very casual cafe type places near either of those?
The Art Institute is our biggest art museum. It is located on Michigan Avenue (same street as the "Mag Mile"), about half a mile south of the river where the Mag Mile begins, so it's maybe a mile and a quarter south of your hotel. Inside the Art Institute (actually, you don't need admission to the museum) is Terzo Piano, a lunch-only (dinner on Thursdays only) Italian restaurant run by Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia. www.terzopianochicago.com Just north of the Art Institute is Millennium Park, which is worth spending a little time exploring; it's the home of "the bean" (the stainless steel "Cloud Gate" sculpture) and the Frank Gehry-designed bandshell. In the immediate vicinity of the Art Institute are Pizano's on Madison for deep-dish ( www.pizanoschicago.com ), the Gage (a gastropub - www.thegagechicago.com ), and Park Grill (American - www.parkgrillchicago.com ); all are good places for lunch. All of these are quite casual.
There are other museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art which is not far from your hotel.
The Field Museum is at the south end of Grant Park. It's about a mile south of the Art Institute, so about 2.5 miles south of the hotel. There are a few brunch/lunch options nearby. One is Bongo Room, at Roosevelt and Wabash, a place that specializes in pancakes with sauce, such as their pretzel pancakes with white chocolate caramel sauce. A standard portion of pancakes is three ENORMOUS pancakes, but they also sell one-third and two-thirds portion sizes at a reduced price. If you're having lunch there and you're not overly into sweets, they also have sandwiches and salads, and you could always get a partial portion of pancakes for dessert. http://chicago.menupages.com/restaurants/bongo-room-2 Another place near the Field Museum is Little Branch Cafe, which is not easy to find; it's on the ground floor of a residential high-rise. It's a charming little place which looks like a coffee house but they make food to order and it's actually quite good. www.littlebranchcafe.com Both these places are very casual.
It's easy to get around Chicago, by walking, cab, or public transit. The el (that's our subway) goes down State Street, but most of the places you've mentioned are close to Michigan Avenue, and it may be more convenient to hop a CTA bus rather than walk west to the el. Transit info is at www.transitchicago.com
>> In the afternoon, we will probably take in a boat tour to see the architecture and are going to try to head to a Cubs game.
>> Since we will only have three nights there we are thinking one nicer dinner, one deep dish pizza, and the third is open. We like good food, but nothing fancy. We are open to all sorts of ethnic options or American contemporary and are really just interested in exploring what Chicago has to offer. We have a lot of options here in Boston so I am not interested in any one type of cuisine - just what is good!
Okay, that makes sense.
The closest place to your hotel for deep-dish is Pizano's on State. www.pizanoschicago.com
Also very close to your hotel, for lunch or dinner, is Cafe Spiaggia, for moderately-priced Italian food. I know, you have plenty of Italian back home, but it's good so it's worth mentioning. www.cafespiaggia.com
There's a contemporary American restaurant near your hotel that I absolutely love, called Cafe des Architectes. It's in the ground-floor curved-glass facade of the Sofitel. All of the food I've ever had there has been absolutely delicious; it's my favorite contemporary American restaurant in the city. What's even better is that they have an amazing bargain Sunday through Tuesday evenings, when they offer their "neighborhood friends menu" with three courses for $29, in addition to their normal $42 3-course prix fixe. www.cafedesarchitectes.com You can read a review of a couple of dinners I've had there at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/598661
In the topic "first time Chicago" you'll find mention of a couple of places a little further away that are also worth considering. One is North Pond, which is in Lincoln Park about two miles north of your hotel; they serve excellent contemporary American food and the setting in the park is exquisite (but it's significantly more expensive than Cafe des Architectes). www.northpondrestaurant.com Another is Topolobampo and Frontera Grill for creative provincial Mexican food, about a 15-minute walk from your hotel. www.rickbayless.com/restaurants These places book up in advance for dinner - Frontera holds a lot of seating for walk-ins, but wait times can be lengthy - but all of them are also open for lunch, which is a great way to experience them if you can't get a dinner reservation.
Don't miss Garrett's Popcorn for a snack. They have caramel popcorn (with or without pecans or cashews), cheese popcorn, and a mix of the two. They have a shop on Michigan Avenue a few blocks south of your hotel, several in the Loop, and also at O'Hare. www.garrettpopcorn.com
Advance reservations are usually a good idea to avoid waits at lunch or dinner. Most of our better restaurants accept reservations on Opentable.com Also be aware that some restaurants are closed on Mondays and others on Tuesdays.
Hope this info is helpful! Feel free to ask more questions.