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Jan 21, 2011 09:45 AM

Chicago in March for the first time need HELP with restaurants

Going to Chicago March 14-17 and looking for restaurant recommendations.
We will be staying at the Peninsula Chicago Hotel and looking for restaurants that are in either walking distance or a short drive from the hotel. Looking for a good Italian restaurant or a seafood restaurant, or I am open for suggestions. $ - $$$$

Nicole in New Orleans

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  1. >> We will be staying at the Peninsula Chicago Hotel and looking for restaurants that are in either walking distance or a short drive from the hotel.

    There are so many great restaurants within a short walk of the Pen, there's no need to drive anywhere!

    I'll start with your Italian/seafood question and then come back to what else is nearby.

    >> Looking for a good Italian restaurant or a seafood restaurant

    For Italian, I recommend Cafe Spiaggia, four blocks north of the Pen on Michigan Avenue. Cafe Spiaggia is moderately priced. Its sister restaurant next door, Spiaggia, is also worth a mention; it's a high-end, formal (jackets required for gentlemen), expensive restaurant. They share the website at www.spiaggiarestaurant.com (click on CAFE for Cafe Spiaggia).

    Another Italian option is Quartino, which is more barlike and specializes in small plates. www.quartinochicago.com

    For seafood, I recommend Shaw's ( www.shawscrabhouse.com ) and Hugo's ( www.hugosfrogbar.com ).

    The restaurants inside the Pen are all worth a mention. Avenues is the high-end, formal (jackets required for gentlemen), expensive, haute cuisine restaurant. Shanghai Terrace is
    a luxury Chinese restaurant; the food is outstanding, although you may not be accustomed to paying that much for Chinese food (expect to pay somewhere around $100 per person for a full multi-course meal with moderate alcohol, tax, and tip). Business casual is acceptable there. The Lobby is a spacious, casual, contemporary American restaurant located next to the you-know-what :) Along with their food (quite good), they offer the Chocolate Bar on Friday and Saturday evenings; it's an all-you-can-eat buffet of 30-40 chocolate-based desserts in small portion sizes so you can try a lot of them. Not cheap, around $35.

    Some of my favorites approximately within a five-minute walk from the hotel include:

    Sable (contemporary American, artisanal cocktails) - www.sablechicago.com
    Topolobampo/Frontera Grill (Mexican) - www.rickbayless.com/restaurants
    Pizano's (deep-dish pizza) on State - www.pizanoschicago.com
    Uno and Due (deep-dish pizza) - www.unos.com
    David Burke's Primehouse (steaks) - www.davidburkesprimehouse.com
    Bistro 110 (French bistro) - www.bistro110restaurant.com
    NoMI (high-end) - www.nomirestaurant.com
    TRU (high-end) - www.trurestaurant.com
    Pops for Champagne (wine bar) - www.popsforchampagne.com

    I'd also mention Heaven on Seven, but not to someone from New Orleans! :)

    North Pond is also worth a mention. It's not exactly near the hotel - it's about two miles north, a 10-12 minute ride by cab, 20 minutes by CTA bus - but its setting in the park is exquisite, and the food from Chef Bruce Sherman is excellent. www.northpondrestaurant.com

    All of the places mentioned here, except the pizza places, accept reservations on Opentable.com

    >> or I am open for suggestions

    Finally, here are links to two discussions that will give you an overview of what Chicago has to offer. This discussion tells what foods and places are unique or specialties in Chicago, foods that Chicago is particularly good at:

    first time Chicago - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/693477

    This discussion has an overview listing some of our best in various food categories, as well as advice for getting the best value for your dining dollar:

    Where are the best Chicago dinner *values* - the hidden gems? - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/697829

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

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