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Dec 11, 2010 09:50 PM

Christmas Eve in Chicago

My family and I will be in Chicago [Magnificent Mile and the Loop area]. We will be there on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I have heard that many places are closed for the holidays. Need to find recommendations for Christmas eve [all day] but especially dinner. Preferably a buffet style or Pizza. Also breakfast on Christmas. We also like great Mexican cuisine [even a Taqueria] maybe deli's during the day or a Chicago Hot Dog place close to the vicinity? Lunch places, possibly a great hamburger spot? Not sure what will even be open then so help i appreciated.

and Merry Christmas to all!!!

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  1. The hotels restaurants on Michigan Avenue and in the central tourist area will likely all have service on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. The best place to find out who is serving and has availabilities is A quick stop there shows that you will have quite a few choices.

    For a good deli, there is Steve's Deli on Franklin St., but check to see if it is open that day.

    A good Chicago dog is easy at Portillo's on Ontario St. Also decent Italian beef sandwiches.

    If you want great Mexican, be sure to check out Rick Bayliss' Topolobambo or Frontera Grill or Xoco. Topo, the most upscale, takes reservations, Frontera takes just a few and Xoco, which is very casual, will not take any, but it's Christmas, and if they're open, I can't imagine you'd have a long wait.

    1. You'll definitely want to make some phone calls ahead of time to verify that the places you're interested in are open each of the two days. is a great way to see what's open but the cheaper type places you're asking about - pizza, delis, hot dogs - don't take reservations so you won't be able to tell there. I'm guessing that most of those places will be open on Dec 24 and not Dec 25, but you'll really need to call to make sure.

      You might want to be flexible with your plans, given the holidays. You might find, for example, that Mexican restaurants are closed on Christmas and Jewish delis are open, so you might do a Mexican place on Christmas Eve instead.

      chicgail has some good recommendations for a deli and hot dogs. For pizza, consider Uno and Due, Pizano's, and Lou Malnati's; all are good, and I'd go to whichever is closest to where you will be.

      For Mexican food, Topolobampo and Frontera Grill are both great. Topo takes reservations on and books up way in advance for dinner, but you can often get reservations a couple weeks ahead for lunch. Frontera can have stupidly long waits (I called them recently on a Saturday to ask the wait time for brunch and it was 90 minutes). Xoco is not as unusual. If you can't get a reservation for these, I recommend Salpicon (walking distance from the north end of the Mag Mile), Mexique (two miles west), and Mundial Cocina Mestiza (four miles southwest). Salpicon and Mexique accept reservations on Mundial only accepts reservations over the phone.

      Chinese restaurants are very popular on Christmas Day, and there are some great ones in Chinatown. For spicy Szechwan food, I enjoy Double Li and Lao Sze Chuan.

      4 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        Thanks so much but now a question about I am not familiar with the names of the areas in downtown Chicago in which I will be staying. The reason I ask this it that on opentable when doing a search you can click on the different names of the areas in which I want to do a search for reservations. Example you can click on the North River area and I believe that means the area where I will be staying right close to the River but north of it by the Mag Mile or I could check on Old Town but I am not sure how far that is from the Mile. So I need to know what are the names I do a search under. I hope I am not confusing here. I just want to be able to limit my search to the right areas [which I don't know]. Again I will be staying downtown between the Drake Hotel and the Palmer Hilton. Help please on the areas. Don't want to go too far out of town also don't want to be found in a neighborhood I shouldn't be in. Thanks so much.

        1. re: hcwo

          Good question. I'm going to assume that you will not have a car and will be relying on taxis and public transportation. If you are staying between the Drake and the Palmer HIlton (the Palmer House to us old-timers), you will want to consider:

          Gold Coast/Streeterville
          Old Town
          River North
          River West
          South Loop
          West Loop

          If you want to be a little more adventurous, there is also:
          Lincoln Park
          Goose Island
          Bucktown/Wicker Park

          I don't know that I'd go much further than that, not because it's not safe, but because Chicago covers a lot of real estate and cabs can get pricey and, on Christmas maybe harder to find.

          1. re: chicgail

            Thank you very much, exactly what I needed.

            1. re: chicgail

              Just to add to what chicgail has said...

              If you are staying north of the river near the Mag Mile, just about any place listed as River North or Gold Coast/Streeterville will be walking distance (under 3/4 mile). If you're towards the south end of the Mag Mile, many places in Downtown/Loop will also be walking distance. Restaurants in the other areas listed (in the top group) are 1-2 miles away, which means a choice between a very long walk, a short cab ride, or in many cases an easy ride on a CTA el (subway) or bus.

              If you are staying south of the river - i.e. in the Loop itself - then places listed as Downtown/Loop will all be walking distance (again, within 3/4 mile). Places in most of the other areas will mostly be 1-2 miles away, but some may be closer; for example, if you are staying at a hotel like the Wit, at the north end of the Loop, places at the south end of the River North and Gold Coast/Streeterville areas may be within walking distance, while others in those same areas are not.

              Opentable is usually, but not always, accurate in assigning a neighborhood to its restaurants. Also, many of these neighborhoods do not have well-defined boundaries, so that places can be considered in more than one neighborhood. Opentable does have the ability to show its search results on a map.

              Once you figure out your hotel, you can always ask here what's within walking distance, and we'll try to help.

              One other comment - many restaurants not within walking distance may be easy to get to anyway, by cab as well as by public transportation (CTA website ). Just to cite a few examples using the additional neighborhoods chicgail mentions, there are plenty of buses going up Clark Street to Perennial in Lincoln Park, and through the park itself to North Pond in Lincoln Park. And if you're on the Mag Mile near the Water Tower, it's easy to take the #66 bus west on Chicago Avenue to Mexique in West Town.

              Again, if you're not sure, feel free to ask more questions and we'll try to help out. Enjoy your visit!