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Sep 14, 2010 02:35 AM

2 days in Chi-town , where to eat?

Visiting Chicago for the first time and have two days (Sept 19 and 20th). Staying in downtown @ the Palmer House on E Monroe.

Definitely gonna hit up Mr. Beef for lunch the first day. And was planning to have dinner @ Avec, but now I see that it's closed until mid-September?

I know that Chicago is a great food town and I'll probably get a million suggestions, but that's a good thing. As locals, where do you eat? Let's say Chicago is home and you've been abroad for quite a while. Where's the first restaurant/joint/dive that you crave for and head to right after getting off the plane?


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

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  1. There was a fire at Avec (in which a firefighter was killed), and that's why it's temporarily closed. Don't worry, you're not missing anything except long waits to be seated, the most uncomfortable seating in any Chicago restaurant, that infernal communal-only seating, and the LOUDEST restaurant in Chicago.

    What would I crave? In the cheap eats category, deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati's or Giordano's. In the nice place category, the contemporary American-French food at Michael in Winnetka. And in between, creative Mexican food at Mundial Cocina Mestiza or Mixteco Grill.

    You'll find more suggestions in this discussion, which elaborates on foods that are unique to Chicago and/or that Chicago does particularly well:

    first time Chicago -

    and in this one, about how to get the most value for your dining dollar:

    Where are the best Chicago dinner *values* - the hidden gems? -

    1 Reply
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Thanks for the recs. I know I'll definitely do deep dish for lunch the first day, and italian beef (@ Johnnie's or Mr Beef) for lunch the second day. My dinners have yet to be decided, but I'll peruse those threads and hopefully come up aces.

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

    2. It's too bad that nsxtasy sublimated his usual good humor to slam Avec. I've had a number of meals there that have ranked up to 'good' on the scale. The noise has never been a problem for me. Perhaps I just went at a good time and got lucky.
      I also don't understand the fascination with deep dish pizza. Sure, it's unique, but all too often it's just a pile of melted cheese + veggies. Even @ Malnati's.
      I'd go to the Purple Pig followed by or following a stop at the Violet Hour.

      2 Replies
      1. re: beanbreath

        I, too, have always enjoyed Avec. If you go knowing what to expect it can be a lot of fun. And I've never had a long wait either

        Suggestion re deep dish -- don't order a lot of veggies on it. Traditionally it's a mongo pattie of sausage that covers the whole pie. At most, add mushrooms. Otherwise it goes soggy. I would go for Uno's, Due or Malnati for the real deal.

        And if you are staying downtown, Johnnie's is hard to get to. Mr. Beef is good, but so is Portillos.

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

        1. re: beanbreath

          The "fascination" with deep-dish pizza is that most Chicagoans - including me - prefer it to thin-crust pizza. And many of us - including me - just don't understand the fascination with thin-crust pizza. Even if you like it, it's something you can get anywhere in the country, whereas you can't get our deep-dish pizza elsewhere. I would hate to live anywhere else and not be able to eat deep-dish any time I want. Granted, some Chicagoans don't like deep-dish, but - as confirmed by surveys in the Tribune - most prefer it over thin crust.

          And it's only fair that if you're going to mention a restaurant that doesn't accept reservations and is notorious for long waits to be seated - which includes the Purple Pig as well as Avec - that you at least warn people about it ahead of time, so they know what to expect. Same thing with the NOISE - it's worth letting people know about it ahead of time. Maybe it's not a problem for you, but many others would choose to avoid a place that is so horrendously noisy. More information is A GOOD THING, and helps everyone make an informed decision.