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Valentines Day in Chicago

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It will be my boyfriend and my first time in Chicago Feb. 12-15. We're going for this b-day and Valentines day.

We're staying at the Silversmith Hotel and need some helpful advice on things/places to do/go.

He wanted to buy us the "City Pass" which I believe includes the Sear's Tower (front of line pass), Field Museum, aquarium, planetarium, and another museum. However, I was browsing around online and found that all of the locations (minus the Sear's tower) will have "free days" for all of the days we will be in Chicago. Do you recommend taking advantage of that (I figure since we're going during the winter months, the lines won't be as bad) or do you think it is worth purchasing the City Pass - which I believe is $60 pp.

We were also thinking of going to Sable for V-day dinner. They have a fixed menu for $45 pp, but we were thinking of just ordering from the regular menu. Any thoughts? Or do you recommend a diff. restaurant that won't empty our wallets?

I would love to get great mexican, chicago stype pizza and hot dog while were there also. Any good spots close to our hotel?

Also, we were also thinking of trying out the improv comedy club, iO. We're only there for a short time, so we were hoping someone could also tell us how long we should plan for each above listed place so we can make good use of our time in the city, Thanks everyone!!

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  1. >> We were also thinking of going to Sable for V-day dinner. They have a fixed menu for $45 pp, but we were thinking of just ordering from the regular menu. Any thoughts? Or do you recommend a diff. restaurant that won't empty our wallets?

    You can go either way. But whether you get the special 6-course fixed menu for $45 or you order off the menu, Sable is a bargain, with great food that's much less expensive than most comparable restaurants!

    >> I would love to get great mexican, chicago stype pizza and hot dog while were there also. Any good spots close to our hotel?

    Mexican, not really close. It's a good 15-minute walk to Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. Check reservations for Topo on Opentable.com right now; it's probably too late for dinner reservations, but you may be able to get a reservation for lunch. Frontera only accepts them over the phone, and only a few; they leave most of the restaurant for walk-in customers. Arrive 20-30 minutes before they open the doors if you don't want a long wait to be seated. www.rickbayless.com/restaurants

    The other Mexican places I'd recommend aren't walking distance. My top pick would be to catch the CTA Pink Line el (elevated) right in front of your hotel, and take it to 18th Street, to go to Mundial Cocina Mestiza. Phone ahead for reservations. www.mundialcocinamestiza.com

    For pizza, your hotel is right around the corner from Pizano's on Madison. Phone ahead with your pizza order to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake. www.pizanoschicago.com

    For Chicago hot dogs, Gold Coast Dogs is two blocks north of your hotel. www.goldcoastdogs.net

    As for the non-food attractions, I know the Chowhound Team frowns upon extended discussion of activities not related to food and drink. But if you can do the same things for free, I'm not sure why you should pay... :) As for time, you probably wouldn't spend very long at the top of the Sears Tower, but at all the other places, it's really up to you; depending on your level of interest, you could spend an hour or two, or a half day, or a full day or more (particularly at the Field Museum or the Art Institute).

    2 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      You have to hit Frontera or Topo. Simply the best. Also try The Purple Pig. Fantastic! Improv Olympic (IO) is wonderful. Happy V-Day!

      1. re: monstermouth

        The Purple Pig specializes in pork, charcuterie, and cheese. If you decide to go there, avoid prime times; they don't take reservations and the waits are lengthy. Consider doing it for lunch rather than dinner, since they serve the same menu all day long.

    2. Sable is a great choice - and as mentioned, you can get a great meal either way but looking at the special menu, it includes some amazing items plus one of their cocktails so it looks like a particularly good deal. (I may go looking for a date so I can do it myself ... I would love to taste what Chef Terhune does with Lobster!)

      If you can do the museums for free, you might skip the pass and instead of Sears Tower, go for a drink at the Signature Room on the top of the Hancock Building ... you get the great view and the cost of two drinks would be a bargain compared to the pass ... we take visitors there a lot but I'd only do a drink since the prices for food are pretty high and you have much better options back on the ground.

      The idea of lunch at Topo or Frontera is great - I also really like eating at Bayless' Xoco next to the two formal restaurants. More street food style, the flavors are great as is the hot chocolate and the price is quite reasonable.

      -----
      XOCO
      449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

      5 Replies
      1. re: Siun

        This is all GREAT. thank you for the advice. We are thinking then that we may try the Sable fixed menu, since you think it sounds good :-)

        1. re: arualq

          Also try Girl and the Goat. The cauliflower dish is grand. And the architecture boat tour is quite lovely.

          1. re: arualq

            You can view the 6-course menu at www.sablechicago.com/files/pdf/media_...

            (It doesn't include the sweet corn creme brulee, which is my favorite "don't miss" dish there.)

            1. re: nsxtasy

              Thank you!! We've also been hearing more from Chicago locals to go to the John Hancock building to grab a cocktail, rather than purchasing the tickets b/c you get a drink and a view. Thoughts?

              Are the appetizers there any good? Or should we only stick to a drink?

              1. re: arualq

                >> We've also been hearing more from Chicago locals to go to the John Hancock building to grab a cocktail, rather than purchasing the tickets b/c you get a drink and a view. Thoughts?

                Yes, that's great advice.

                >> Are the appetizers there any good? Or should we only stick to a drink?

                If you feel like getting an appetizer, you can do so. But I agree with the advice from the other poster not to spend an entire meal there. Not that it's bad, but there are better places (and better values).