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Trip to Chicago- Eating itinerary

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As far as a high end meal goes, I'm already planning on doing Alinea for sure. I expect to have one other opportunity for a nice dinner and I'm leaning towards Schwa but if I can't get a reservation I was wondering what chowhounders might recommend.

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Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

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  1. Hey dailybread!
    When are you planning on taking the trip? Alinea accepts reservations on the first of each month for the next 2 months out, and as if it wasn't difficult enough to get a reservation, the three Michelin stars will make an Alinea reservation even more of a challenge. When I got my reservation for the end of August, I was on the phone at 10am on the morning of June 1. I wish you the best of luck!
    In terms of another nice dinner, I would highly recommned Schwa, if you can handle the "off-beat" reservation policy. If not Schwa, I would recommend L2O (3-stars from Michelin, too. Hard to beat two 3-star meals in one trip), Topolobampo, or even Blackbird. I'm hesitant at recommending Avenues if you snag an Alinea reservation, only because they are similar in execution. There are plenty of nice restaurants in Chicago, though. Do you have any preferences in terms of the type of restaurant you are looking for?

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    Alinea
    1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

    Topolobampo
    445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

    L2O
    2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

    9 Replies
    1. re: pastry634

      My trip is going to be in June or July and the date is virtually dependent on when I can get a reservation at Alinea. I'm an 18 year old freshman in college so I have quite a bit of time to dedicate to getting reservations at both Alinea and Schwa despite the obvious difficulty and I plan on being incredibly flexible. In terms of what I'm looking for I have little criteria, I just want the best dining experience, aside from Alinea, that Chicago has to offer and I've had a ton of recommendations for Schwa, even over L20

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      Alinea
      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

      1. re: dailybread8383

        It's funny you mention that. Two years ago, I was 18 and heading into my freshman year when I reserved my table and ate at Alinea. I've come to find that a lot of college kids give you strange looks when you tell them you and your dad spent $600+ on a single meal and that a chef is your role model. Good to see there are other people our age who know what an Alinea is =P
        Anyway, even though L2O got two more stars than Schwa, I would go back to Schwa over any other restaurant in the city (not counting Alinea). Call, call, and call again until you get an answer. I called two months before and was told they were closed for an event on the date I wanted. The day before my trip, said, "What the heck? I'll try calling just for giggles." Sure enough, they were open the next night and had a table for 2 available. The moral of the story is that sometimes luck is better than perseverance, and for Schwa you need a lot of both.
        Another option for you may be Trotters. I haven't been, but they seem to still be going strong (at least in the eyes of Michelin) despite some average reviews. Though, I would still shoot for Schwa. Good luck, and let me know if you have any more questions!

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        Alinea
        1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

        L2O
        2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

        1. re: pastry634

          I definitely get those misunderstandings, especially when I'm driving from rural west Tennessee to pay prices that high for several meals. I haven't found many people my age who share my dining philosophy. I think I'm going to shoot for schwa, since my girlfriend is really captivated by the restaurants story and the menu. Maybe I can do both schwa and l20

        2. re: dailybread8383

          I've been to Alinea, Schwa, L2o, and multiple other Michelin Starred spots around the US. While I cannot comment on L2o with Gras moving on I will absolutely say that L2o with Gras was a better experience overall than Schwa - they EARNED those 3 stars.

          Again, ranking the Chicago experiences, I'd go Alinea > L2o > Everywhere else with Trotter's and Schwa right there at the top.

          http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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          Alinea
          1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

          1. re: uhockey

            The situation with Gras is of great concern to me and I worry that his departure might effect the quality of the food

            1. re: dailybread8383

              Though I can't speak with 100% certainty, I wouldn't worry too much about L2O suddenly taking a turn for the worse. When I ate there in late July, Gras had apparently already taken a leave at the restaurant and was in a bit of a feud with the ownership. However, my meal was extraordinary. I ate in the Tatami room and had excellent service and food. With that said, I think the experience of eating in Schwa is unlike anything else out there. Though it is often said to the point of cliche, in my mind, you can't really go wrong with which of the two you choose.

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              L2O
              2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

              1. re: pastry634

                I don't think you can say Schwa is like no place else - it is very much akin to Momofuku Ko in its approach, albeit better IMO (but not in the mind of Michelin.)

                http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                1. re: uhockey

                  Sorry, I should have said, "no place like it in Chicago." Thanks for the correction :)

                  1. re: uhockey

                    Ko just seems like it would be nothing but smugness for the most part.

                    If they're taking away the decor, manners, comfort level (those chairs, ugh), etc, maybe they should take away the hefty price tag!