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NYC foodie needs a great Chicago lunch spot

Hi all!

I'm coming to Chicago this weekend for a wedding and have time to squeeze in two lunches (Fri and Sat).

Friday we're headed to Frontera Grill, which I'm super excited about. Cuisine wise, do people like this more, the same, or less than Topolo? Frontera had a better reservation time, which is why we went for it.

Saturday is still open. I wanted to head out to see the Frank Lloyd Wright house in the AM -- are there any places out there worth eating? Otherwise, I figured I'd eat somewhere close to the hotel, which is the Elysian. I'd love to anything American (nouveau, traditional), Fusion, French, etc. No Japanese, Italian, or Mexican, since I'm getting those elsewhere. My only real stipulation is that it be an awesome meal and price isn't too much of a concern. HOWEVER, I may be eating by myself, so no place where it might be super awkward to sit alone, haha.

Thanks!

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Frontera Grill
445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

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    1. re: tldmatrix

      It's absurd to go to Hot Dougs for hot dogs. It's out of the way and the 45-minutes (+) waiting time for just a hot dog is totally not worth it. That being said, Hot Dougs has some of the most amazing sausages on the planet and duck-fat fries on Fridays and Saturdays -- which is what people are trekking there and standing in line for. Whether it's worth it to the OP is up to him. Here's the website. Check out the specials. They change daily.

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

    2. Urban Belly is really good. Dumplings and Noodles. Community tables.
      Look it up on the web. Bill Kim is the owner.

      It's impossible to get a reservation at Topolo. They take walk-ins too. Frontera is good, Topolo is off the charts good.

      Everyone goes to Sunda, but I've never been there.

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      Urbanbelly
      3053 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

      1. I guess it depends on your definition of awkward - I've eaten alone at TFL, Per Se, Alinea, Robuchon, Savoy, Providence.....you get the picture.

        Hot Dougs is fantastic - but it is NOT between the Elysian and Robie House (I assume that is the FLR house you are referring to?)

        The loop is between you and Robbie, so there are all the usual suspects there. The Gage was interesing - kinda Irish pub food upscaled. Their owners just opened a classic french bistro called Henri as well. The Elysian's restaurants have been getting good reviews. David Burke's PrimeHouse and Cafe Spiaggia are en route, as well.

        There isn't much down near the Robbie House - it is on UChicago's campus and surrounded by "campus food"

        I vastly preferred Topo to Frontera - food, setting, service - then again, consider the places I listed above and those in my blog to gauge my tastes.

        http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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        Alinea
        1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

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

        Cafe Spiaggia
        980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

        3 Replies
        1. re: uhockey

          The only place an adult should feel awkward eating alone is Chuck E. Cheese.

          1. re: ferret

            The kids should feel even more awkward if there is an adult eating alone there.

            http://uhockey.blogspot.com

        2. I can't speak much to the restaurants in the Oak Park area where the FLW house is, but unfortunately a lot of the places I would recommend are not open for Saturday lunch. Uhockey's suggestions of Cafe Spiaggia and The Gage are what I was thinking of. David Burke's isn't a bad idea either.

          Let us know if you have a car or will be taking public transportation from the Elysian to Oak Park. If you have a car, a lot more options open up in other neighborhoods.

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          Cafe Spiaggia
          980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

          6 Replies
          1. re: chicgail

            Yup, will have access to a car and you're right, I'll be in Oak Park and not at the Robie House.

            We're going to Spiaggia for dinner on Friday, but I'll def look into The Gage and David Burke's. What do people think of Blackbird?

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            Spiaggia
            980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

            1. re: JulesTei

              Blackbird is excellent, especially at lunch.

              Would skip Spiaggia and do Cafe Spiaggia instead - friendlier, just as good, cheaper, and a better experience.

              http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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              Cafe Spiaggia
              980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

              Spiaggia
              980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

              1. re: uhockey

                I agree on the Cafe Spiaggia idea versus Spiaggia. Especially for lunch.

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                Cafe Spiaggia
                980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

                Spiaggia
                980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

              2. re: JulesTei

                Blackbird is, indeed, excellent, but I don't believe it is open lunch on Saturday.

                Uhockey had a really bad experience at Spiaggia, but a lot of other folks really like it. It's been around for a long time and rates at the top of the foodie scale, along with Alinea, Everest, Charlie Trotter and a couple of others. That being said, the Cafe is friendly and delicious.

                I had thought there were some places in the hoods that I would recommend. I went to opentable.com to see what was open and here's what I found:
                Perennial -- casual, farm-to-table on Lincoln and Clark Sts., right across the street from Lincoln Park
                Mexique -- Mexican/French on Chicago Avenue in West Town
                Chalkboard in Lincoln Square
                Le Bouchon in Bucktown is a French Bistro open for lunch

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                Le Bouchon
                1958 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

                Mexique
                1529 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

                1. re: chicgail

                  The issue is that whereas The French Laundry offers a 180 degree different experience from Bouchon just down the street, Cafe Spiaggia offers better service, same view, just as comfortable seating, and slightly less refined ingredients for 1/3 the price point.

                  Having eaten at most of the "best in the US" Italian spots from all Batali's, Vetri's and White's flagships to La Botte, Scarpetta, A Voce, and Valentino I really have no idea how Spiaggia (main house) stays in business aside from location and expense accounts.

                  I need to check out Perennial - I really like their concept.

                  http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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                  Cafe Spiaggia
                  980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

                  Spiaggia
                  980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

                2. re: JulesTei

                  In terms of lunch in Oak Park, there is nothing that is really fantastic. However, depending upon the time of your tour at the FLW Home & Studio, you may want to stop by the OP Farmers market, which is located at the Pilgrim Congregational Church on Lake St. at Scoville (just east of the High School). The home-made doughnuts sold at the farmer's market are delicious. There's coffee & juice available, and seating & a local blue grass band playing from about 8:30 am until 11:30, or so. It would make a good stop for a snack to eat before or after the tour. If you are taking the Green Line El, it is somewhat closer to the "Ridgeland" stop than the "Oak Park" stop, but more or less midway in between. The walk to the FLW from the farmer's market is about 1/2 mile.