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Thoughts/suggestions for weekend in April

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PorkyBelly Mar 4, 2011 09:58 AM

I'll be arriving late Thursday night and leaving Monday morning. I've already booked dinner reservations for Schwa on Friday, Alinea on Saturday and L2O on Sunday. For lunch, the only thing I've booked so far is Topolobampo on Friday.

I'm looking for thoughts on late-night dining on Thursday around the river north area. I'll be landing at o'hare at 9:52pm, what will still be open by the time I take the train into town? I'd like to try the girl and the goat, but don't think I can make it before they close on Thursday. What about brunch/lunch on Saturday and Sunday? Is L2O still worth it without Gras?

Comments or thoughts on what I already have booked and what I should book would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

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Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

Topolobampo
445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

L2O
2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

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  1. p
    PorkyBelly RE: PorkyBelly Mar 4, 2011 10:00 AM

    Forgot to ask, what's the best way to get to Schwa and L2O from the Westin Chicago River North without a car?

    Thanks.

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    L2O
    2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

    1. m
      ms. mika RE: PorkyBelly Mar 4, 2011 10:28 AM

      I would take a cab to Schwa and L2O.

      On late night eats on Thursday- the Purple Pig's kitchen is open until midnight. They are right on Michigan Ave, and serve small plates so you can order as much or as little as you want. They don't take reservations, but at that hour, I think you'd be fine. They have great food, lots of good wine and it's a fun spot- small and cozy- different than what you would think of being on Michigan. There's also Quartino, a small plates Italian spot that's much less creative but has good food and their kitchen is open until 1am. Also Hub 51 says they are open until 2am. Their menu is varied but does have a few great things (chicken nachos). Take a look and see if any of the menus appeal to you. The most creative of the 3 will be Purple Pig. You can walk to all of these from your hotel.

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      Quartino
      626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

      1. nsxtasy RE: PorkyBelly Mar 4, 2011 10:44 AM

        Just so you're aware, your current dinners are almost entirely high-end creative restaurants. Which is okay as long as that's what you want, but it doesn't offer a lot of diversity (i.e. exposure to a lot of different kinds of excellent food that are available in Chicago). Just wanted to mention that.

        As for your questions...

        >> I'm looking for thoughts on late-night dining on Thursday around the river north area. I'll be landing at o'hare at 9:52pm, what will still be open by the time I take the train into town? I'd like to try the girl and the goat, but don't think I can make it before they close on Thursday.

        You're probably looking for a seating around 11:30 by the time you get out of the airport and get the el etc. Not a lot of places offer seating that late. My top recommendation would be Quartino, which offers small plates of Italian cuisine. Sunda is open late for pan-Asian food. Several of the steakhouses are open late, including Smith & Wollensky and Chicago Cut Steakhouse (now under Jackie Chen). So is Hugo's, the seafood restaurant next door to Gibson's (same owners, same kitchen). If you want to keep it REALLY close to your hotel, try Bin 36, a wine bar that serves food too. Note that some of these places may have a limited menu for late night dining.

        >> What about brunch/lunch on Saturday and Sunday?

        For Saturday, not a lot of places offer brunch that's different from their breakfast or lunch. One that does is Cafe des Architectes, in the Sofitel, which is excellent. Lunch, you can do anywhere that's open. Some of the best choices in the River North / Mag Mile area include Cafe Spiaggia (Italian), Nacional 27 (Latin fusion), Quartino and Sunda (see above), Bistro 110 (French bistro), David Burke's Primehouse (steakhouse), and Sable (contemporary American).

        For Sunday brunch, reservations are essential. In addition to Cafe des Architectes which I mentioned above, another choice is Shaw's Crab House. They do a huge AYCE buffet, and in addition to the usual breakfast items, they have many lunch and dinner type items such as Alaskan king crab legs (hot or cold), crab cakes, a carving station with filet, creme brulee, etc.

        Two other discussions will give you plenty more ideas. The first is about places that serve breakfast during the week:

        River North Breakfast Ideas - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/693985

        Of course those places have brunch on weekends too. I would recommend not going any place for Sunday brunch between 9:30 and 12:30 without a reservation.

        For Sunday brunch, you can also find more choices described in this discussion; it has a lot of detailed reports, but they are all over town and are not limited to River North:

        Foodie needs recs on cocktails and brunch - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/364403

        >> Is L2O still worth it without Gras?

        I didn't think L2O was worth it when Gras was still there, so... :)

        >> Forgot to ask, what's the best way to get to Schwa and L2O from the Westin Chicago River North without a car?

        Cab. :) But assuming you're asking about public transit... For Schwa, walk across the river to Clark and Lake, go downstairs to the CTA Blue Line, and take it to the Division stop. Walk north on Ashland to the restaurant. For L2O, take the #22 Clark CTA bus up Clark Street to Belden, then walk one block east to L2O.

        Most of the above places accept reservations on Opentable.com

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

        7 Replies
        1. re: nsxtasy
          p
          PorkyBelly RE: nsxtasy Mar 4, 2011 01:21 PM

          Thanks for the great input. I'm not completely set on L2O yet and was thinking of trying Next for Sunday dinner if they're open in time. Does anybody even know if they'll be open on Sundays?

          For late night Quartino and the purple pig look great.

          Do you know if all cabs take credit cards?

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          Quartino
          626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

          L2O
          2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

          1. re: PorkyBelly
            nsxtasy RE: PorkyBelly Mar 4, 2011 01:29 PM

            Hours are usually the last thing that are announced, and can change. I'd recommend not planning on Next until you actually make a reservation there. Once you do, it's easy enough to cancel anything else you've already booked for that night.

            I don't know about cabs and credit cards, sorry. (Short trips like to L2O and Schwa won't be all that expensive, not like going to the airport.)

            1. re: nsxtasy
              s
              SQneo RE: nsxtasy Mar 4, 2011 02:27 PM

              Does Cafe des Architectes take reservations for brunch? I tried to use open table for them and it seems like i can not find any spot for their brunch hours. Trying for wkend of May 21/22

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              Cafe des Architectes
              20 East Chestnut Street, Chicago, IL 60611

              1. re: SQneo
                nsxtasy RE: SQneo Mar 4, 2011 02:40 PM

                Gee, that's weird! I don't know why that is. You might want to give them a phone call. (312) 324-4000

          2. re: nsxtasy
            p
            PorkyBelly RE: nsxtasy Mar 15, 2011 11:21 AM

            Do you recommend taking a cab to Schwa and L2O because of safety or because of the convenience factor?

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            L2O
            2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

            1. re: PorkyBelly
              nsxtasy RE: PorkyBelly Mar 15, 2011 11:37 AM

              >> Do you recommend taking a cab to Schwa and L2O because of safety or because of the convenience factor?

              Convenience and time. The CTA is safe but will take longer.

              1. re: PorkyBelly
                chicgail RE: PorkyBelly Mar 15, 2011 12:41 PM

                The neighborhood is safe, also.

            2. d
              deepfry7 RE: PorkyBelly Mar 5, 2011 08:08 AM

              Is Schwa taking April reservations yet? I called them on Thurs and reached a person, but he said they weren't taking them yet. He took down my name and #.

              2 Replies
              1. re: deepfry7
                p
                PorkyBelly RE: deepfry7 Mar 5, 2011 10:05 AM

                It was really weird making reservations at Schwa. I called in February asking when they open their books for April and was told the beginning of March. So I called on March 1st, but they said they still weren't taking reservations for April yet and took my name and number and told me they'll call me back in a couple days. I didn't receive a call back so I tried calling again on Wednesday and was told "later today, man". Then I tried calling on Friday and was told they won't open their books for April until "later this week". So I asked when should I try calling back, and then he just asked what date I wanted in April and took my info. and I got the reservation, weird.

                1. re: deepfry7
                  k
                  klebb RE: deepfry7 Mar 5, 2011 03:15 PM

                  I would just keep calling back. I wouldn't trust them to call me back.

                  I made reservations for the last weekend in March and they didn't open the "reservation book" until almost middle of February even for March 1st reservations. It just seems like a quirky place. Regardless I'm really excited about eating there in a few weeks.

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