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Another trip to Chicago and its suburbs!

I've posted on this board for the past few years for our annual Thanksgiving trip to Chicago. I've eaten at many wonderful places, thanks to your recommendations. The premise this year is pretty similar - spending a day in the city for 1 lunch and 1 dinner, and the rest of the time in West Chicago.

Here's my list so far. Criteria is anything unique to Chicago or just a really good rendition of a non-Chicago cuisine. For reference, we are coming from NY. Budget is about $10-15 for lunch, and up to $20 for dinner. My list so far is:

downtown Chicago (1 lunch, 1 dinner)
-Hot Doug's - snack
-Xoco - is this ok for dinner?
-Wiener's Circle - snack
-Kuma's Corner - is it really that good?
-Ann Sather's - brunch

4 lunches, 4 dinners around West Chicago
-Harold's Chicken
-Bavarian Lodge
-Shogun - it's a family favorite
-Two Brothers
-Bien Trucha
-deep dish pizza - which one?

Any other recommendations? Also open to unique chain concepts (tried Steak 'n Shake and Potbelly the last time and enjoyed them). For reference, I've already tried M. Henry, Giordano's, Lou Malnati's, Gino's East, Portillo's, and Al's).

Thanks!

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  1. Kuma's Corner is really that good, but if you don't have a few hours on your hands, don't go. There are other good burgers to be had. With that said, it's the best burger I've ever had by a landslide, and the craft beers are also great.
    In my opinion, skip Ann Sather, try Bongo Room unless your heart is set on a cinnamon bun.

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    Bongo Room
    1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

    Kuma's Corner
    2900 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

    1. Hot Doug's may not be open around Thanksgiving (they weren't last year), so don't get your hopes up. Ditto on skipping Sather's - good, just not especially good.

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

      4 Replies
      1. re: ferret

        Thanks on the Ann Sather's tip. Still undecided on Kuma's Corner, I do love good burgers, but not sure if I (or my companions) would want to wait an hour or so.

        Oh yeah, I now remember why Hot Doug's is still on my list all these years. It's because we always go around Thanksgiving!

        Is the traditional brunch at Bongo Room worth it or would it better to have lunch at XOCO?

        Also, thoughts on Belly Shack? Seems like a unique concept, but no place to sit.

        1. re: krystle920

          I have never waited at Hot Dougs for more than about a half-hour. The trick is to get there fairly early, like around 11. It might be a longer wait after that and, if you're in that area, well worth it.

          Re Bongo Room vs. XOCO, I would say it depends on whether you feel like good Mexican or hearty omelets and insanely good and unusual pancakes like white chocolate pretzel. What's nice about Bongo is that you can get just one or two pancakes instead of a whole order so you can taste a variety.

          Belly Shack is excellent and easy to get to (it's literally under the Western Ave El station). I don't know why you think it has no place to sit. There are tables and chairs and that's where people eat. Besides, if you want to, you can eat at Belly Shack and then get one of the world's best hot fudge sundaes on the corner at Margie's, a Chicago institution that has been there since 1921.

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

          Bongo Room
          1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

          1. re: krystle920

            The last time I went to Hot Doug's, I waited one hour forty minutes (yes, 100 minutes) in line. And it was absolutely NOT worth the wait.

            1. re: nsxtasy

              No Way would I wait for a dog. Go to Byrons west of Sheridan on Irving Park for a good dog

        2. >> downtown Chicago (1 lunch, 1 dinner)

          FYI, most of the places you mention are not in downtown Chicago, but are within the city.

          >> -Hot Doug's - snack

          Hot Doug's is on the northwest side. And once you get there, be prepared to wait 90-120 minutes in line outside before ordering. If you don't want to deal with the wait, consider Franks 'n' Dawgs instead.

          >> -Xoco - is this ok for dinner?

          It's not particularly unusual; it's Mexican street food. I think you're better off going to one of our restaurants offering creative provincial Mexican cuisine, such as Frontera Grill, Salpicon, or Mundial Cocina Mestiza. Near West Chicago, I've heard good things about Bien Trucha in Geneva, which you are already considering - www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/N...

          >> -Kuma's Corner - is it really that good?

          Another place far from downtown. The burgers are good, but the 1-2+ hour waits are not.

          >> -Ann Sather's - brunch

          That wouldn't be in my top 50 choices for brunch. Consider Bongo Room instead.

          >> 4 lunches, 4 dinners around West Chicago
          >> -deep dish pizza - which one?

          I recommend Lou Malnati's. There are locations in Geneva and Carol Stream for carry-out and delivery only; if you want to eat in, go to the one in downtown Naperville.

          2 Replies
          1. re: nsxtasy

            We tried Frontera Grill for brunch the other year and it was good. The other Mexican places seem a bit expensive for our budget so I chose XOCO.

            What do you think of Joy Yee in Naperville?

            1. re: krystle920

              I've been to Joy Yee's original location in Evanston and it's okay, nothing great.

          2. In the western suburbs, definitely check out Two Brothers. (Be sure to map it, the location is obscure and there is no sign.) The food is good and the beer is awesome. Chef Tommy at Two Brothers often has specials on the menu that are unexpected GEMS.
            Bavarian Lodge has the most impressive beer list in the 'burbs, but to me, the food is meh. If you like German food, it's supposed to be good. I don't particularly care for German food, and I've never had any at the Lodge that made me change my mind about it. The last burger I ordered there had clearly been cooked ahead and microwaved for service. Not cool. However, if you are a beer drinker, it is a MUST.

            1. Bien Trucha is going to appear on Check Please tonight on Chicago's PBS station, channel 11. Look out for the Check Please effect.... long lines.

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              Bien Trucha
              410 W State St, Geneva, IL 60134