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Need some help deciding on my final two restaurants

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for my Chicago trip at the end of March.

I've already made reservations for Frontera (Friday lunch), Cafe Spiaggia (Saturday Lunch) and Meercat y la Planxa (Sunday Dinner).

I'm trying to make reservations for Schwa on Saturday night but haven't been able to get through and if I don't by the end of next week I'm going to try to get into one of the following:

Tru
Graham Elliot
Moto
Bon-Soirre
Naha
Blackbird

Any input on these?

I want something that is out of the ordinary that I couldn't get where I live. We have plenty of good standard fine dining restaurants but I want something beyond that.

I can't get the wife to agree to Alinea unfortunately...

And the other decision I need to make is for Friday Dinner. It's going to be a later dinner around 10 or so since we are going to the Bulls game that night. I'd like to go somewhere that is fun and lively and I think I've narrowed it down to either the Purple Pig or Sable. The Purple Pig was my original choice because I think the menu looks right up my alley but I'm worried even at 10 it may be a long wait to get a seat.

Any recs is greatly appreciated.

This board has been a great help while planning this trip; I don't know what I'd do without Chowhound.

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Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

Moto Restaurant
945 W Fulton, Chicago, IL 60607

Cafe Spiaggia
980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Naha
500 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

Graham Elliot
217 W. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60654

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  1. Sounds like you've got a great plan so far!

    >> I'm trying to make reservations for Schwa on Saturday night but haven't been able to get through and if I don't by the end of next week I'm going to try to get into one of the following:

    All of them are very good contemporary American restaurants. I'll try to highlight what makes each a bit different. TRU is the only really high-end restaurant of the bunch - meaning that it's more expensive, more formal (jackets for gentlemen), and features elaborate tasting menus and a higher level of service. Moto has an emphasis on molecular gastronomy, so it features more unusual ingredients and presentations than the others. Bonsoiree is BYOB, features tasting menus, and has Asian influences to the menu. Blackbird's food is delicious, but the portions are small, it's very loud, and if you're in one of the banquette tables you'll be thisclose to the tables on either side. If you're having trouble deciding, take a look at the menus on their websites and see if one appeals to you more than the others.

    >> I can't get the wife to agree to Alinea unfortunately...

    That's REALLY too bad. Yes, it's more expensive than the others, but it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, something you'll always remember.

    >> And the other decision I need to make is for Friday Dinner. It's going to be a later dinner around 10 or so since we are going to the Bulls game that night. I'd like to go somewhere that is fun and lively and I think I've narrowed it down to either the Purple Pig or Sable. The Purple Pig was my original choice because I think the menu looks right up my alley but I'm worried even at 10 it may be a long wait to get a seat.

    It's a legitimate concern. And you can get a reservation at Sable, on Opentable or over the phone. I love Sable! If you go, don't miss the sweet corn creme brulee!

    1. You might consider switching your efforts to get into Schwa to the Friday 10 pm slot, for which there may be less demand than the Sat. pm slot. We went on a Thursday at 9:30 and had a great time. It is certainly both fun and lively.

      1. You might want to consider The Publican for Friday night. It is lively, has similar food to the Purple Pig, is closer to the United Center and you can make reservations on Open Table.

        2 Replies
        1. re: dtbauer21

          All of that is true, and they're open late enough, so it would make a good spot for your needs. Note that half the seating at the Publican is in two loooong communal tables and the rest is the more conventional 2-, 4-, and 6-tops, so if you have a preference for one type of seating or the other, mention it in your Opentable reservation and they will try to accommodate your preference.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            Thanks for the info.

            I think we are going to go to Sable Friday night. I showed my wife the menu and it really appealed to her although Publican does look really good.

            I finally got through to Schwa and they aren't taking reservations for my date until next week so I'm holding out hope. I think the back-up plan is Moto; mainly because I can't get anything like that near me and it looks very interesting, but I'm always open to changing that if I get a compelling reason.

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            Moto Restaurant
            945 W Fulton, Chicago, IL 60607

        2. For Schwa, don't give up just yet. Try calling between 11am-1pm. And if you do get to leave a message, give a wider range of available times. When I got in last time, I said "Any time next Wednesday or Thursday." I got a call back three days later.

          Out of your list, I'd say Bonsoiree is the best bet. I also really like Blackbird, although it is the kind of contemporary American food that you may be able to find in other major cities. Graham Elliot is good, if you don't mind the small portions.