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Logistical Help with Itinerary

l
Larry33 Aug 4, 2010 09:58 AM

Sorry for this redundant post...I see many posts on this board are similar, so disregard if you see fit.

I need some advice on planning this with regard to which night to do what and if reservations are required...we are downtown at the Sheraton in Streeterville.

In town Thursday August 19th and leaving afternoon of Tuesday August 24th. 5 nights. Cubs game at 1:20 on Sunday the 22nd. Anything worth going to before/after?

Supper wishes:
1) Frontera
2) Pizza (still haven't decided) leaning towards Gino's or Lou's
3) BBQ (Smoque or Smoke Daddy)
4) Blackbird/Publican (this can be changed if lunch makes more logical sense)
5) Something random/laid back or if it fits (North Pond, Trotter, Table 52, etc.)

Pubs/Drinks:
L&L, Hopleaf, Gingerman, Publican (reso's or anytime/day that would be easier?), Map Room

Breakfast:
1) Bongo Room
2) M. Henry
3) Sunday brunch (Bristol, Publican or North Pond) prior to cubs game so maybe somewhere like M. Henry makes sense?
4) Frontera/Xoco
5) Fox and Obel

Other:
1) Lunch/dinner at Portillos or Al's #1
2) Garrets Popcorn
3) Coffees at Intelligentsia

Thanks for any reply. Reservation requirements and planning around the Cubbies game are requested.

-----
Bongo Room
1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

North Pond
2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

Smoke Daddy Restaurant
1804 W Division St Ste 1, Chicago, IL 60622

The Map Room
1949 N Hoyne Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Table fifty-two Restaurant
52 West Elm Street, Chicago, IL 60610

Hopleaf Bar
5148 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

  1. nsxtasy Aug 4, 2010 10:51 AM

    >> which night to do what and if reservations are required...

    See comments below. As a general rule, I recommend making advance reservations anywhere that they are available. You can always call and cancel them later if your plans change. For places that don't accept reservations, you're better off not scheduling them for peak times (Friday and Saturday evenings for most restaurants, and Sunday mornings for places that specialize in breakfast).

    One thing that's confusing me is that you're referring to such a broad span of places for dinner, everything from fine dining (Charlie Trotter's) to sandwich places (Portillo's). You might want to consider doing the places for lighter fare like sandwiches and pizza for lunch, and doing the places with a more robust menu for dinner.

    Also, the places you mention are almost exclusively American cuisine, with the exception of Frontera. That's fine if that's what you want. But we have a lot of great ethnic cuisine, too, such as tapas, Latin fusion, Chinese, Thai, pan-Asian, Italian, French, Greek, and just about anything else you can think of. So if you want to add a bit more variety to the places you're considering, that would be one way to do it.

    >> In town Thursday August 19th and leaving afternoon of Tuesday August 24th. 5 nights. Cubs game at 1:20 on Sunday the 22nd. Anything worth going to before/after?

    Since it's a Sunday, you might consider doing Sunday brunch somewhere before the game. There are lots of Sunday brunches in the vicinity of your hotel. Or, if you'd like to do Sunday brunch within walking distance of the ballpark, Deleece on Southport does a nice Sunday brunch and it's half a mile north of the ballpark. If going by public transit, catch the CTA Red Line at Grand and State and take it to Sheridan, then walk west on Irving Park Road. They accept reservations on Opentable.com www.deleece.com/pdf/brunch.pdf

    >> 1) Frontera

    Frontera is closed Sundays and Mondays. They accept only a handful of reservations over the phone; call and try to get one. Otherwise, arrive before they open the doors, or you may be in for a long wait for a table, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. Lunch there or Topolobampo (which accepts reservations on Opentable.com) may be a better option. Topolobampo books up way in advance for dinner but you can often get reservations not that far in advance for lunch. Also, Frontera is open for brunch on Saturdays.

    >> 2) Pizza (still haven't decided) leaning towards Gino's or Lou's

    Both of these are quite a distance from the Sheridan, about 15-20 minutes walk. You'd be a lot better off going to the original locations of Uno and Due, which are about 10 minutes walk from the Sheridan and are just as good. They don't take reservations, exactly, but you can phone in advance with your pizza order and they'll try to seat you in time for when you asked for it to be ready. It's better than waiting 30-45 minutes while there for your pizza to bake.

    >> 3) BBQ (Smoque or Smoke Daddy)

    Smoque doesn't take reservations and waits can be lengthy, even at off hours. Smoque is closed on Mondays. I'm not familiar with Smoke Daddy.

    >> 4) Blackbird/Publican (this can be changed if lunch makes more logical sense)

    Lunch is a better bet for Blackbird; Publican is not open for lunch. Blackbird is closed Sundays. Both accept reservations on Opentable. When reserving at Publican, mention if you have a preference for the communal tables or for your own table.

    >> 5) Something random/laid back or if it fits (North Pond, Trotter, Table 52, etc.)

    Those are not random or laid back places. All three accept reservations on Opentable, and can book up well in advance; reservations are essential for weekends, and recommended at other times. North Pond is also open for lunch during the week and brunch on Sundays. Trotter's is closed Sundays and Mondays; North Pond is closed Mondays.

    >> Pubs/Drinks:
    >> L&L, Hopleaf, Gingerman, Publican (reso's or anytime/day that would be easier?), Map Room

    I don't think any of these places take reservations, other than Publican if you're eating.

    Hopleaf would be a good choice for eating/drinking after the game. Just hop the #22 Clark Street bus to go right from the stadium to the bar.

    >> 1) Bongo Room
    >> 2) M. Henry

    Open seven days. Most breakfast places get very busy on Sundays after 9:30, but you can often walk right in and be seated earlier than that. Bongo Room opens at 9 on weekends.

    >> 3) Sunday brunch (Bristol, Publican or North Pond) prior to cubs game so maybe somewhere like M. Henry makes sense?

    I would not choose M. Henry before the ballgame. It's way out of the way, but more important than that, going on a Sunday at an hour late enough to go from there directly to the game means you'll encounter a wait of 30-60 minutes.

    I think it's suicidal to choose a place for Sunday brunch that does not accept reservations, so I would not go to Bristol either. North Pond and Publican both accept reservations on Opentable. The Publican is out of the way, but North Pond is sort of on the way; you can take the #151 CTA bus from Michigan Avenue near your hotel to the restaurant, then walk over to Clark Street to catch the #22 CTA bus to the ballpark. (It's a mile and a half from the restaurant to the ballpark, so if it's a nice day and you're a hearty walker, ...)

    I still think Deleece is the better bet for Sunday brunch before the game, because it's so close to the ballpark. See above. Another possibility is Perennial, which accepts reservations on Opentable and does a nice brunch. It's about halfway from the hotel to the ballpark and you could take the #22 CTA bus from there.

    >> 4) Frontera/Xoco

    See above. XOCO doesn't accept reservations, but it's more like a sandwich/coffeehouse type place. IMHO if you want unusual Mexican food, go to Frontera, not XOCO.

    >> 5) Fox and Obel

    This place is VERY convenient to your hotel, and would be a good backup for any meal when you don't have other plans. I assume you know it's primarily a gourmet grocery store but they have a casual coffeehouse in the rear where you can get complete meals cooked to order. So if you want breakfast or lunch or a latenight snack (open till midnight every day), it's right there.

    Also note that the restaurant right in your hotel has a two-time winner of the World Pastry Chef Championship. www.lbbistro.com

    >> 1) Lunch/dinner at Portillos or Al's #1
    >> 2) Garrets Popcorn
    >> 3) Coffees at Intelligentsia

    All of these are open seven days, squeeze them into your itinerary wherever it makes sense.

    Taking all of the above comments into account, here's a possible itinerary:

    Thursday lunch - Topolobampo or Blackbird or Smoque
    Thursday dinner - North Pond or Charlie Trotter's
    Friday breakfast - Bongo Room or M. Henry or Fox & Obel
    Friday lunch - Topolobampo or Blackbird or Smoque
    Friday dinner - Publican or North Pond or Graham Elliot
    Saturday breakfast/brunch - Bongo Room or M. Henry or Frontera Grill
    Saturday dinner - Publican or Graham Elliot or Perennial
    Sunday brunch - Deleece or Perennial
    Sunday dinner - Hopleaf
    Monday breakfast - Bongo Room or M. Henry or Fox & Obel
    Monday lunch - Uno/Due or Portillo's
    Monday dinner - Smoke Daddy or Cafe des Architectes
    Tuesday lunch - Uno/Due or Portillo's

    HTH - feel free to ask more questions.

    11 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy
      l
      Larry33 Aug 4, 2010 12:25 PM

      Thanks so much for your review. Very helpful!

      Regarding my "random/laid back" request, I just meant that I don't want to plan EVERY meal, so I am open to something nice like North Pond or something as casual as a pub or Italian beef.

      From your recommendations I will try to get a Sunday brunch reso (North Pond or Deleece) and a reso at either Blackbird or Publican.

      I am coming from Calgary, AB and often eat pretty good Asian food when I go out. I am looking for either a) unique to, or b) memorable Chicago meals. From Chow research and I have planned my rough itinerary. You Chicago hounds are very helpful!

      That all said, is there anything great in Streeterville or River North that is left off most recommendation lists on Chow? My father may get tired of me dragging him around all over town...

      -----
      North Pond
      2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

      1. re: Larry33
        nsxtasy Aug 4, 2010 12:41 PM

        >> That all said, is there anything great in Streeterville or River North that is left off most recommendation lists on Chow? My father may get tired of me dragging him around all over town...

        I don't understand the purpose of your question. If it's not frequently recommended on Chowhound, it's probably for a reason that would make you not want to go there.

        There are lots of great restaurants in the River North/Mag Mile/Streeterville area. It just depends on what you're looking for. Consider these:

        Contemporary American - Graham Elliot, Naha, Cafe des Architectes
        Steaks - David Burke's Primehouse, Joe's
        Pork/Charcuterie - The Purple Pig
        Seafood - Shaw's Crab House
        Italian - Cafe Spiaggia, Coco Pazzo Cafe, Quartino
        Pizza - Uno/Due, Giordano's, Pizano's
        French bistro - Kiki's
        Pan-Asian - Aria, Sunda
        Latin Fusion - Nacional 27
        Tapas - Cafe Iberico
        Mexican - Topolobampo/Frontera Grill
        Armenian - Sayat Nova
        Jewish Deli - Steve's
        Chicago hot dogs and Italian Beef - Al's, Portillo's

        All of these are no more than a 10-15 minute walk from the Sheraton, and most accept reservations on Opentable.

        1. re: nsxtasy
          l
          Larry33 Aug 4, 2010 01:45 PM

          Thanks again for your help. I'll keep these all in mind.

          I just think about Chowhounds in my city and often times unless a food style is explicitly requested it isn't recommended. Often the newest places get talked about most while some of the old standbys are assumed to be on the radar. Chicago is a lot bigger too and Im sure has lots of those hole in the wall places that may get overlooked, but also puts out good food.

          1. re: Larry33
            r
            rubinow Aug 4, 2010 02:34 PM

            >>>Chicago is a lot bigger too and Im sure has lots of those hole in the wall places that may get overlooked, but also puts out good food.

            You are absolutely correct. There are lots more great places to eat in Chicago that are not mentioned on a regular basis on this board.

            1. re: rubinow
              nsxtasy Aug 4, 2010 02:56 PM

              >> There are lots more great places to eat in Chicago that are not mentioned on a regular basis on this board.

              That's true. But most of them are in the non-downtown neighborhoods in the city and in the suburbs, and they don't get mentioned because they are in areas that are not often asked about. The great ones in downtown neighborhoods like River North and Streeterville that have been around for a while tend to get well known and posted about. New restaurants are opening (and others are closing) all the time, so often there are places that no one has tried and no one has asked about, because they are too new. Unfortunately, unless someone has been there and posts about them, there's no way of knowing how good or bad they are. Anyone who knows of good restaurants in River North and Streeterville that haven't been mentioned in this topic or discussed on Chowhound, please post about them! rubinow, which additional ones would you recommend in River North and Streeterville?

              1. re: nsxtasy
                r
                rubinow Aug 5, 2010 11:26 AM

                I was only responding to the statement "Chicago is a lot bigger too and Im sure has lots of those hole in the wall places that may get overlooked, but also puts out good food."

          2. re: nsxtasy
            nsxtasy Aug 4, 2010 02:58 PM

            I left a few out of the list above:

            Fine dining - TRU, NoMI, Avenues
            Italian - Coco Pazzo, Pane Caldo
            Tapas - Emilio's Sol y Nieve
            Hawaiian - Roy's
            Steakhouses - (lots more, too numerous to list)

          3. re: Larry33
            j
            jbw Aug 4, 2010 03:05 PM

            Well, it's highend but one of the better French restaurants in Chicago not frequently mentioned in CH is Les Nomades, in Streeterville. Also in Streeterville, mentioned frequently here, and a little more downscale is Coco Pazzo Cafe. And a chain steak house--but a good one--Capital Grill is close by.

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

            Les Nomades
            222 E Ontario, Chicago, IL 60611

            1. re: jbw
              nsxtasy Aug 4, 2010 03:39 PM

              The reason I don't frequently mention Les Nomades is because, although it's pretty good, I don't think it's anywhere near as good as the best fine dining restaurants in town, such as Alinea, Everest, Avenues, TRU, Trotter's, and NoMI. I don't frequently mention Sixteen, the fine dining restaurant in the Trump Hotel in River North, for the same reason.

              Like I said, there's often a reason that some places don't get mentioned more often... :)

              1. re: nsxtasy
                j
                jbw Aug 4, 2010 10:06 PM

                FWIW Les Nomades has the #1 food rating in the current Zagat guide (along with Alinea and Schwa) and is rated there as the #1 French restaurant in Chicago. It also has a 4-star rating from the Trib food critic, so others do have a pretty high opinion of it. (If interested, here's the Trib review: http://www.chicagotribune.com/enterta...}. Anyway, the OP wanted something "great in Streeterville" so I figured Les Nomades deserved at least a mention.

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

                Les Nomades
                222 E Ontario, Chicago, IL 60611

                1. re: jbw
                  chicgail Aug 5, 2010 04:00 AM

                  It definitely is worth a mention, especially with that Zagat, but I have to agree with nsxtasy, i was not blown away by the food and wouldn't bother going back. Makes me wonder about the validity of some of those other Zagat-rated places.

        2. q
          Querencia Aug 4, 2010 06:19 PM

          If you're staying at the Sheraton you have a fun breakfast option right under your roof---the Patisserie on the basement level---you pay a prix fixe then eat to your heart's content from all the chef stations, which include...everything wonderful.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Querencia
            nsxtasy Aug 4, 2010 06:41 PM

            That's LB Bistro that I mentioned, right? www.lbbistro.com

            1. re: Querencia
              l
              Larry33 Aug 5, 2010 07:53 AM

              Menu looks pricey for breakfast, but Im sure it is good! Probably have this at least once on the stay.

            2. l
              Larry33 Aug 31, 2010 12:06 PM

              Just a quick review a week after the trip.

              Night 1 - Publican - Not bad, but we ordered wrong. Got the charcuterie platter and thought it was mediocre and over-priced. I've had better here in Calgary for less $. Also had the sweetbreads, sardines, heirloom tomato salad and boudin blanc. Beer menu was great, but value wasnt there for the food. The sweetbreads were the standout and sardines were too boney (misorder for us).

              Night 2 - Frontera Grill - Had the queso fundido and tamales to start and Carne Asada a la Oaxaquena (rib-eye) and Poc Chuc de Puerco (pork) for mains. Everything was very flavourful and the sauces were superb. Great margaritas too. My dad wanted to return for the next night's dinner.

              Night 3 - Pizzeria Uno - Tasty sausage pizza with a nice sauce and buttery crust. Pretty much what I expected, would like to have it maybe once a year. Glad to have tried!

              Night 4 - Purple Pig - Didn't feel like travelling too far from the hotel so we popped in around 6:15 for dinner. Tried 8 dishes over 3 hours sipping some tasty wines. Felt we got great value for the quality of food and wine that we were having. Similar concepts here in Calgary seem like a rip-off, but this was absolutely a hilight! Would definitely return. Had the chorizo stuffed olives, fried manchego, fried white bait, mortadella smear, tuna proscuitto, eggplant caponata with goat cheese, Greek sausage and charred scallions. Everything was flavourful and portion sizes were great.

              Also tried Portillos for Italian beef and loved it! Great value. Garretts popcorn Chicago mix is unreal. Lunch at Xoco pork sandwich in spicy Mexican tomato sauce was soooooo good and spiced hot chocolate was interesting....good though. Cappuccinos and almonds croissants every morning at Intelligentsia were a great light start to the day. Also did the Wicker Park food tour. Georges Hot Dog, Hot Chocolate chocolate drink and marshmallow, antipasti salad from some gourmet food store, thin crust pizza and beer from Piece, falafel from Sultans Market and icecream from iCream. Everything was good and the tour was informative.

              All in all a great trip! Thanks for all the great advice for eats.

              -----
              Pizzeria Uno
              29 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611

              Frontera Grill
              445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

              Hot Chocolate
              1747 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

              XOCO
              449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

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