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Sep 9, 2010 10:44 AM

NY Hounds need Best of the Best CHI-town Eats (but not chi-chi restos)...and have 2yr old in-tow!

I've read several postings on where to dine in Chi-Town, but this request is at least a bit different as we will have a 2-yr old girl (my friends' daughter) with us. -- She' s a VERY well behaved girl and can stay up pretty late...she actually likes "hanging out". - Arriving Friday AM, and leaving after lunch that Sunday. -- We're really just going to eat, and then coming back. --

We LOVE dives, street food, wine bars, meat, pizza, hot dogs, seafood, pasta, etc., etc. - OH! And to drink wine, beer, cocktails, etc.

So far here's my list: -- and Must or Definitely DON'Ts and additions?
- The Publican (dinner rezzies Fri @ 5:30)
- Girl & the Goat (dinner rezzies Sat @ 6)

- Purple pig (dinner #2/late-nite snack)
- Deep Dish Pizza - Malnati's or Oven Grinder (lunch)
- Italian Beef - Al's (lunch,/ late-nite snack)
- HOt Dog's - Hot Doug's , Wiener Circle (lunch/late-nite)
- Mexican/Bayless (listed in order): Xoco, Frontera, (lunch)
- Burgers - Kuma's corner (my friend LOVES JD)

Any of the above places open in the morning? We're totally fine w/ having any of the above for breakfast too. :)

We'll most likely be staying around the Mag Mile or Streeterville area.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


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

Wiener Circle
2622 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614

449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

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  1. >> - The Publican (dinner rezzies Fri @ 5:30)

    Well, I wouldn't consider this the best choice for a small child, even a well-behaved one, since it's more of a gastropub type of restaurant. But as long as you're aware of that and think it would be okay, then...

    >> - Girl & the Goat (dinner rezzies Sat @ 6)

    I've heard great things.

    >> - Purple pig (dinner #2/late-nite snack)

    You should be aware that the Purple Pig does not take reservations, and waiting times for a table have been lengthy, even during the week. Maybe your hotel will be nearby so you can stop by to leave your name, then return a while later...? Otherwise, it may work better for lunch, when waits aren't as long.

    >> - Deep Dish Pizza - Malnati's or Oven Grinder (lunch)

    I wouldn't recommend either, but for entirely different reasons. The Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder "pizza pot pie" is, to me, a gimmick, and not something that really tastes great and/or represents authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza. 'nuff said. When it comes to Chicago deep-dish pizza, I think Lou Malnati's is one of the best around - but so are the original Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due, and Pizano's. And this is not coincidence, either; both Malnati's and Pizano's were founded by sons of one of the main players in the early decades of Uno and Due, and grew up in that business. So why would I go to Pizano's or Uno/Due rather than Malnati's? Three things: location, location, location. Pizano's on State and Uno/Due are both very close to the Mag Mile hotels, whereas the closest Malnati's is a ways west on Wells Street. And that's the ONLY reason; all three have great pizza. If for some reason you find yourself close to a Malnati's - such as if you're headed to the Field Museum or Aquarium, which are close to the Malnati's at 8th and State - then by all means, go to Malnati's. But when you're around the hotel, I'd go to Uno/Due or Pizano's instead.

    >> - Italian Beef - Al's (lunch,/ late-nite snack)

    Ah, the "Italian Beef wars" on Chowhound! I think Al's is fine, and so are Portillo's and Mr. Beef, all of which have their partisans here. Mr. Beef is, like Malnati's, located near the Merchandise Mart, some distance from the Mag Mile hotels, whereas the location of Portillo's and Al's on Ontario is much closer. One person here on Chowhound repeatedly posts that that particular Al's location is not as good as the one far away in Little Italy; I haven't noticed that, but you can just as easily go to Portillo's as Al's (they're just down the street from each other on Ontario).

    >> - HOt Dog's - Hot Doug's , Wiener Circle (lunch/late-nite)

    I would not recommend either one. Hot Doug's is inconveniently located (it will take you a $15 cab ride to get there from the hotels) and you will wait in line 90 minutes or more at virtually any hour they're open. That's a showstopper for me. As for the sausages and fries there, I was underwhelmed.

    Regarding Weiner's Circle, again, it's a matter of location, location, location; the Chicago hot dogs are just as good at Portillo's, which you can walk to from the hotel. (Yes, Portillo's is one of the best places for Chicago hot dogs AND for Italian beef sandwiches.) I just don't see the point of traveling further for food that's no different, no better. But if you happen to be in Lincoln Park anyway - perhaps taking your smaller companion to the zoo - then Weiner's Circle is a good choice, since it's close by (it's a half mile north of the zoo, not far from the fabulous North Pond restaurant).

    >> - Mexican/Bayless (listed in order): Xoco, Frontera, (lunch)

    Actually, for lunch, I prefer Topolobampo over Frontera Grill. The prices at lunchtime are similar, but it's easy to make reservations for Topolobampo, instead of waiting in line for Frontera.

    >> - Burgers - Kuma's corner (my friend LOVES JD)

    The burgers are just as good, and just as cheap, at David Burke's Primehouse, the steakhouse in the hotel area off the Mag Mile.

    Again, it seems like you are hearing recommendations of places without regard to location, for which you will spend much of your vacation time traveling in cabs/els/buses, when there are places close by that are equally good, but wouldn't require excessive travel time. Hey, maybe I'm wrong, maybe you want to spend a lot of your time here traveling around town to distant neighborhoods around the city - in which case, by all means go for it! But you should be aware that you don't have to if you don't want to, and there are some great choices that don't require the travel time or cost. (In New York terms, it's like staying in the Village and traveling out to Flushing for a Chinese restaurant when there are equally good ones in Chinatown.)

    >> Any of the above places open in the morning? We're totally fine w/ having any of the above for breakfast too. :)

    XOCO is open in the morning (and it sounds like you were already planning to go there for breakfast rather than lunch).

    If you really want a unique treat in the morning, go to either location of Bongo Room, for their creative pancakes, such as the pretzel pancakes with white chocolate caramel sauce.

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