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Alinea or Moto?

If you had to pick one -- due to price constraints -- which should I chose, Alinea or Moto?

I'd also welcome suggestions for three other not-to-be-missed Chicago restaurants for an upcoming weekend trip.

Thanks!

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Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

Moto Restaurant
945 W Fulton, Chicago, IL 60607

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  1. <<If you had to pick one -- due to price constraints -- which should I chose, Alinea or Moto?>>

    Moto can't hold a candle to Alinea. Alinea is an experience of a lifetime. It may well be the most extraordinary meal I have ever had, anywhere in the world. That being said it is not inexpensive.

    If the issue is price constraints, my choice would not be between Alinea or Moto. Alinea is $195/person without wine. Moto's price is $135. At $135/person, I am sure you can find much better food than Moto.

    Consider, for example, Naha, Sable, Cafe Spiaggia, Graham Elliott, Bonsoiree, Topolobambo, or Tru.

    Or, if you can (and only if you can) spring for Alinea.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chicgail

      I agree with chicgail, Alinea is the experience of a lifetime. It is unique and for anyone interested in food, it's worth stretching finances to go there. I also agree with her that if you don't want to spend the money (or even if you're just looking for choices in addition to Alinea), there is better food in Chicago for less money than at Moto. However, regarding alternatives, TRU is expensive too - maybe not quite expensive as Alinea, but it's not all that much less. And Bonsoiree is expensive too, although the high cost of the food is mitigated somewhat by their BYO policy. For anyone with price constraints, both of those may be more than what you're looking for too. Here's what I would recommend in three more moderate price ranges:

      Entrees in the thirties - first choice North Pond (contemporary American), second choice Topolobampo (Mexican), third choice Naha (contemporary American)

      Entrees in the mid to upper twenties - first/second choice Boka or Perennial (both contemporary American), third/fourth choice Cibo Matto or Cafe Spiaggia (both Italian)

      Entrees in the upper teens to twenty-ish - first choice Sable (contemporary American), second/third/fourth choice Mundial Cocina Mestiza or Mexique or Salpicon (all Mexican), fifth choice La Sardine (French bistro)

      You can have an excellent dinner at any of these restaurants. Which of these would I consider "not to be missed"? Alinea, North Pond, and any of the Mexican restaurants I've mentioned. And if you've got room for a fourth, Sable. For me, that - along with some deep-dish pizza, maybe for lunch - would be the ideal itinerary of 3-4 restaurants for a brief trip to Chicago, in order to show off the best and most unique of our food experiences.

      You may want to refer to the menus on the restaurants' websites, to give you a better idea of their cuisine as well as their prices.

    2. without a doubt Alinea, it will be a once it a lifetime experience
      http://teenchefteddy.blogspot.com/

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      Alinea
      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

      2 Replies
      1. re: tldmatrix

        I have to respectfully disagree. Really depends on what you are looking for. I love both restaurants but Moto is far more pleasing and way more creative. They even have a laboratory that you can dine in. Pretty cool. In the end, they are polar opposites, alinea being more conventional and Moto more edgy and experimental. Choose your flavor.

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        Moto Restaurant
        945 W Fulton, Chicago, IL 60607

        1. re: Miknair

          I agree that both restaurants are incredible, but if I had to chose one it would be Alinea. Chef Homaro Cantu is still a genius and I would love to dine in his laboratory (That is really cool). Howver I would not consider Alinea conventional at all.
          http://teenchefteddy.blogspot.com/

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          Alinea
          1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

      2. Graham Elliot for sure. Amazing. The Moto Group is supposed to be opening a new place soon. Ing I think it's called. Hot Dougs is great and avec is always delicious.

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        Hot Doug's
        3324 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

        Moto Restaurant
        945 W Fulton, Chicago, IL 60607

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

        9 Replies
        1. re: Miknair

          Sounds like you really enjoy places which don't take reservations and where you have to wait over an hour before being seated and served. LOL!

          1. re: nsxtasy

            No one likes to wait, but I've found that if a lot of people are lining up to eat somewhere, there is probably a good reason for it. I happen like both Avec and Hot Dougs and,while I don't go to either place often, I have found the waits at both places to be well worth it. Anyway, there are strategies for avoiding the longest lines (like coming early or late, for example) or making them tolerable (meeting and talking to other people who are also waiting).

            1. re: chicgail

              What's funny is that I've been to both places and I don't think the food is especially good at either one. With all the hype about duck fat fries and foie gras dogs at Hot Doug's, they just don't taste all that great (and the long wait is only after the travel time to their inconvenient location). And the food at Avec didn't wow me either, certainly nowhere near enough to compensate for the long waits, the uncomfortable wooden backless seats, or the LOUD NOISE. There are so many great places to eat in Chicago, but neither of those would make my top 50 or even top 100. And definitely NOT on the "not to be missed" list!

              1. re: nsxtasy

                So which hot dog, hamburger and pizza places do you recommend?

                1. re: Miknair

                  Don't listen - Hot Dougs is worth it. The Duck Fat fries are overrated though, but the experience is a blast.

                  As to the original topic - really - one is sacrificing taste for style. The other is both - at the highest level anyone is currently achieving in the United States.

                  http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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                  Hot Doug's
                  3324 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

                  1. re: Miknair

                    >> So which hot dog, hamburger and pizza places do you recommend?

                    If someone is here on a brief visit from out of town, I don't recommend wasting a meal on hamburgers which they can get back home. Portillo's is a good place for a Chicago hot dog. And for deep-dish pizza, the places associated with the Malnati family - Uno and Due (River North locations only please), Lou Malnati's, and Pizano's - are all excellent, and convenient to those staying downtown.

                2. re: chicgail

                  I will have to agree with chicgail. I love both places and totally get the hypes!

                  I've been to Avec three times and never had to wait because I always go early (5:45). I've only been Hot Doug's once and only waited for two minutes. The fact that it was on a Tuesday in February probably helped.

                  To the OP, Alinea for sure! I care about how food tastes, and Alinea tastes a lot better.

                  1. re: mountsac

                    I live to eat. I live to travel and eat, and have dined everywhere--Spain, France, England, NY and Chicago...and can appreciate cheap eats as well as $700 tasting menus...but I thought Alinea was totally pretentious and overpriced. Out of the 24 courses we had, I really only loved about 6 of them. I loved Grant at Trio, but gotta say he is over hyped. What do you guys have against Moto? I thought it was fun and the food was fabulous.

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                    Alinea
                    1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                    Moto Restaurant
                    945 W Fulton, Chicago, IL 60607

                    1. re: anotherfoodie

                      >> What do you guys have against Moto?

                      Nothing. But my experience and impressions are exactly the opposite of yours. I continue to be amazed how Alinea can turn out 12, or 24, or 17 different courses at Alinea and every single one of them is not only interesting and creative, but extremely delicious. I've loved just about every dish I've been served there. I was not as overwhelmed at Moto, where everything is interesting and creative, but not as consistently delicious (some dishes were, others weren't). Fun? Yes. Fabulous? No.

                      And FWIW, I was not as impressed with Achatz when he was at Trio, where (like Moto now) all of the dishes were interesting but not all were delicious. I thought his food was over hyped then, but now exceeds even the highest expectations I've ever had. I've eaten at many of the finest restaurants in the world, and Alinea is in my top three restaurants of all time, anywhere.