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4 Days & Nights In Chicago...

c
Combination Oct 7, 2010 11:48 AM

Hello,

I'm coming up to Chicago in November for 4 days & nights.

The only meal that I have set in stone is at Alinea - my last dinner before flying home!

Other than that, I'm open to any recommendations you may have.

Basically, I'd like to find some great pizza, great Italian, great Mexican, a great hotdog, and possibly a great steak. I would actually prefer that none of these places be very high end.

I'm staying in Streeterville close to the Magnificent Mile, so it would definitely help to find some places that are easily accessible via the El or buses if necessary...

Any help is greatly appreciated!

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

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  1. chicgail Oct 7, 2010 01:38 PM

    great pizza -- Unos, Due, Malnoti or Paizonos
    great Italian -- Coco Pazzo Cafe or Spiaggia Cafe
    great Mexican -- Frontera Grill (get there when it opens at 5:30 or for lunch), Mexique or (in the Pilson neighborhood - figure a cab ride) Mundial Cocina Mestiza, or Nuevo Leon
    a great hotdog -- Portillos
    possibly a great steak -- David Burke's Steak House

    If by high-end you mean highly priced, forget about steak I don't know of a "great steak" that isn't priced in the $40s.

    -----
    Mundial Cocina Mestiza
    1640 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

    Frontera Grill
    445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

    Nuevo Leon Restaurant
    1515 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

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

    Mexique
    1529 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

    Spiaggia
    980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

    9 Replies
    1. re: chicgail
      c
      Combination Oct 7, 2010 02:44 PM

      I made a reservation at Topolobampo since Frontera doesn't do them.

      Is it fairly similar quality compared to Frontera?

      Yep, I understand that a superb steak will be in the $40's. I just want to try to pick the right place!

      Just as an example, Gene & Georgetti costs that much, and I've seen some wildly different opinions about that place.

      -----
      Topolobampo
      445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

      1. re: Combination
        uhockey Oct 7, 2010 03:01 PM

        Topo trumps Frontera by a significant distance in my mind.

        http://uhockey.blogspot.com

        1. re: uhockey
          c
          Combination Oct 7, 2010 03:46 PM

          It looks like you ate some beautiful stuff at Topo, that's for sure...thank you!

          1. re: Combination
            uhockey Oct 7, 2010 04:06 PM

            I've not been to Coco Pazzo, but Cafe Spiaggia may be one of the best "bang for the buck" upscale Italian meals I've ever had, FYI. I'm going to Coco Pazzo when I visit in November.

            http://uhockey.blogspot.com

            -----
            Cafe Spiaggia
            980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

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

            1. re: uhockey
              chicgail Oct 7, 2010 08:40 PM

              You want to note that there is a Coco Pazzo and a Coco Pazzo Cafe, just like there is a Spiaggia and a Spiaggia Cafe. They are in different locations, however.

              1. re: chicgail
                uhockey Oct 8, 2010 03:40 AM

                I am aware, but good note to the OP.

                http://uhockey.blogspot.com

          2. re: uhockey
            j
            JillEmiko Oct 11, 2010 12:41 PM

            I agree about Topo versus Frontera, but it's so hard to get a reservation at Topo.

          3. re: Combination
            chicgail Oct 7, 2010 08:39 PM

            Gene & Georgettti is very old school. They take very good care of their "regulars" and don't bother much with visitors. I wouldn't bother with them. Some people like Gibsons. It's great for people-watching -- expense account guys coming on to the women out for a rich guy in the Viagra Triangle. And the food is decent. Just not my scene. That's why I prefer DBs.

            Topo is awesome. Same basic space as Frontera. Same kitchen. More refined food. And they take reservations. I just took my cue from your mention of preferring that none of these places be very high end.

            1. re: chicgail
              c
              Combination Oct 8, 2010 08:14 AM

              Sorry, I'm trying to say that it would be nice to find out what places do give the best bang for the buck. A $25 entree can be awesome at one place, and absolute junk at another!

              A friend highly recommended Julius Meinl for breakfast or lunch - have you ever been there?

        2. b
          boston1215 Oct 11, 2010 11:22 AM

          Great pizza = Lou Malnati's or Pizano's.

          1. c
            ChiTownGal Oct 12, 2010 03:08 PM

            Lou Malnatis and Pizanos are my favorite Chicago Pizza places- both have places convenient to streeterville.
            Steak-- My all time favorite is Ruths Chris- but may be too chainy for a trip. Smith And Wolensky may have the best view. Ditkas has a great Chicago atmosphere! Also great to walk down mag mile (its near the hancock) at night after dinner!
            Mexican- Topo and Frontera are similar in my mind, but I think they are both overpriced for what you get. I am still trying to find a good, nicer, Mexican restaurant!
            Hot Dogs- Portillos.
            Italian- Italian Village or Coco Pazzo. I also like Quartino for an authentic Italian kitchen feel. A bit noisy, but cheap wine and small plates make it a good time every time!

            Breakfast- Try Yolk or Orange (multiple locations). I also like Dunlays (best weekend hashbrowns). Lux Bar awesome makes a good brunch (in the viagra triangle- same people who do Gibsons)

            -----
            Quartino
            626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

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

            1. r
              RChicago Oct 14, 2010 10:17 AM

              For pizza, I'd suggest you take the Red Line El up to Andersonville. Great Lake serves the best pizza (by far) that I've had in Chicago - - and there are waits to match. Best plan is to put your name down for a table and then go grab a cocktail at In Fine Spirits or a beer at Hopleaf. Great Lake is happy to call your cell when your table is ready.

              The neighborhood also has some great little antique and boutique shops, so you can go for more than food.

              -----
              Hopleaf Bar
              5148 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

              In Fine Spirits
              5420 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

              Great Lake
              1477 W Balmoral Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

              1. nsxtasy Oct 20, 2010 10:33 AM

                A lot of good advice has already been posted here.

                For our local specialty of authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza, the best examples are the ones chicgail mentions: Uno and Due, Lou Malnati's, and Pizano's. Depending on where you are in Streeterville, Malnati's may be a bit farther (it's to the west on Wells Street), so Uno/Due or Pizano's (on State) may be better choices. Wherever you go, you can phone ahead with your pizza order to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake.

                For Italian, several good places have been mentioned, and I'll add another in a moment. Cafe Spiaggia is excellent. Coco Pazzo is a bit more upscale than Coco Pazzo Cafe, but it's a bit further from Streeterville (it's to the west near the Merchandise Mart, whereas the cafe is just east of Michigan Avenue). I really like Cibo Matto, which is just across the river in the new W Hotel at Lake and State; the food leans towards contemporary global bistro but they have the usual Italian dishes as well (pastas etc). They have a cardamom panna cotta for dessert that's sheer heaven!

                For Mexican, congratulations on landing a reservation at Topolobampo. Excellent choice.

                For steaks, I'll second chicgail's recommendation of David Burke's Primehouse. Their dry-aged steaks are the best in the city.

                All of these places are easily walkable from Streeterville.

                Feel free to ask more questions, and enjoy your trip!

                9 Replies
                1. re: nsxtasy
                  c
                  Combination Oct 20, 2010 11:47 AM

                  Nsxtasy - thanks for the info about ordering pizza in advance - can I do this even if I'm getting one of the small ones at Lou Malnati?

                  Also, I'm pretty sure that I'm going to hit Julius Meinl for breakfast or lunch one day. Would you happen to know which one of the two is easier to get to when taking the El from Streeterville?

                  Any help is greatly appreciated!

                  1. re: Combination
                    nsxtasy Oct 20, 2010 12:00 PM

                    >> thanks for the info about ordering pizza in advance - can I do this even if I'm getting one of the small ones at Lou Malnati?

                    Someone mentioned this. I haven't done so, but I *think* this is something that they do at lunchtime, when they have lots of them already baking so you don't have to order in advance. It's possible they might not be available during dinner hours...? Your best bet would be to call them to ask. You can find all the addresses and phone numbers on their website at www.loumalnatis.com

                    >> I'm pretty sure that I'm going to hit Julius Meinl for breakfast or lunch one day. Would you happen to know which one of the two is easier to get to when taking the El?

                    That wouldn't be my recommendation for breakfast or lunch, but I'll answer your question first. There are THREE Julius Meinl locations according to their website at http://www.meinl.com/northamerica/home.html None of them is particularly convenient to downtown Chicago; they're really neighborhood coffeehouses, fine if you're in the neighborhood but I wouldn't bother traveling from Streeterville. 3601 N. Southport is 1/4 mile north of the Southport stop on the Brown Line (and kitty-corner from Southport Grocery and Cafe, a good breakfast/brunch place in that area - see my detailed report in the brunch topic at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/364403 ). 4363 N. Lincoln is 1/2 mile west of the Montrose stop on the Brown Line. 1414 W. Irving Park is 1/2 mile west of the Sheridan stop on the Red Line, and around the corner from Deleece, another good brunch place on which I reported in the brunch topic.

                    If you're looking for a great cup of coffee and you're downtown, Chicago's best local coffee roaster is Intelligentsia, with a couple of coffeehouses in the Loop, one in Lakeview, and their "Chicago Roasting Works & Training Lab" on the near west side. Metropolis Coffee is another well-regarded local roaster, but their cafe is located in the Edgewater neighborhood on the north side, eight miles from downtown Chicago (about a half-hour ride on the CTA Red Line to the Granville stop). Many local coffeehouses also serve Intelligentsia or Metropolis coffee. We also have outlets of some of the best coffee roasters based elsewhere, including Peet's from Berkeley, Lavazza from Italy, and of course those two big companies from Seattle. Briefly, if you're around the north end of the "Mag Mile", I'd recommend one of the Lavazza locations (one on East Walton, the other in the Hancock Building), and if you're around the south end of Mag Mile near the river, I'd recommend Intelligentsia on Randolph between Michigan and Wabash.

                    My favorite breakfast restaurants are Bongo Room, in the South Loop and in Bucktown; M. Henry, in Andersonville (with M. Henrietta in Edgewater); and Walker Brothers in the suburbs. None of these is convenient to Streeterville, but there's a discussion on breakfast in that area at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/693985 As for Sunday brunch, I've posted reviews and recommendations for Sunday brunch in the topic mentioned above.

                    HTH - Feel free to ask more questions!

                    1. re: nsxtasy
                      c
                      Combination Oct 20, 2010 12:09 PM

                      I had Julius Meinl in mind since it looks like maybe the only place where you can try all that Austrian stuff? Guess I was just looking to have something other than an omelette and hash browns, if that makes sense? :)

                      Many thanks for all the suggestions. Luckily, I am taking a cab to Alinea!

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

                      1. re: Combination
                        nsxtasy Oct 20, 2010 12:17 PM

                        >> I am taking a cab to Alinea!

                        Make sure you have the address, in case your cabbie hasn't been there before. There is no sign on the outside of the restaurant (except I think they have a valet parking sign with the Alinea name on it).

                        1. re: Combination
                          nsxtasy Oct 20, 2010 12:20 PM

                          >> Guess I was just looking to have something other than an omelette and hash browns, if that makes sense?

                          Then I'd recommend either Bongo Room, or M. Henrietta, both of which are just a few doors down from el stops. Bongo Room specializes in creative pancakes and the South Loop location is right near the Red Line stop at Roosevelt. M. Henrietta has more of a variety including interesting savory dishes and it's at the Red Line stop at Granville. It's new so they don't have the menu on their website at www.mhenrietta.com yet, but you can see the menu for their sister restaurant, M. Henry, at www.mhenry.net

                          1. re: nsxtasy
                            c
                            Combination Oct 20, 2010 12:49 PM

                            Thanx...'preciate all the options!

                            Since it' so close to my hotel, I'm definitely going to try the lobster club at RL Restaurant. And I do have a reservation at Cafe Spiaggia, so that should certainly work for quality Italian. :)

                            -----
                            Cafe Spiaggia
                            980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

                            1. re: Combination
                              chicgail Oct 20, 2010 12:58 PM

                              You've got some great restaurants chosen. Just one more opinion here. I have found RL to be a very overpriced disappointment. Not long ago, we took a friend of ours who is an Olympic Gold Medalist and we all went home hungry. I was embarrassed. I hope your experience is better than ours.

                              1. re: chicgail
                                c
                                Combination Oct 20, 2010 01:09 PM

                                I will definitely go in there knowing it probably won't be a very large lobster club, even though it's $23...naturally, it'll be another $6 for the fries!

                        2. re: nsxtasy
                          d
                          delk Oct 21, 2010 12:24 PM

                          I know that the south Loop Malnoti's offers the small one at lunch only with no wait. It is their "Express Pizza" . The Edwardo's on Dearborn does the same thing. Both are good deals: around $7.00 for a pizza, salad (Edwardo's salad is huge) and a can of soda.

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