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Apr 5, 2011 09:27 AM

suggestions for anniversary dinner for ny chowhounds


hubby and I will be visiting his family in Chicago in July, and it will coincide with our anniversary. Looking for a nice, fun place to go out to dinner. We did a big celebration last year for our 10th, so I am not looking for anything over the top (a la L20 or Alinea). In fact, Iw ould prefe something less fancy and more fun and relaxed. I tried to get reservations at Girl and Goat but they were booked until 9:45 and that might be too late for that day. Looking at recommended places I saw Ria, but that seems too expensive. Cibo Matto seem apealing- would you recommend it? Other places I love in Chicago are Greenzebra (I love it! but better with a big group I feel), Publican, Frontera. So something along those lines is what I am looking for. Ethnic would be fine- NY has lousy Mexican, so if there is something nice and creative, i would be open to that. Thanks!

1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

Cibo Matto
201 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601

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  1. adamandeve:

    You might consider Sable as a fun place to go. The cocktails are great and the food is excellent, especially considering the price. You'll find many positive reviews on this board for Sable. I thought the atmosphere was fun like Frontera Grill, just without the insane number of people. I had a very nice meal at Mexique (Mexican with French influences) although the restaurant was only about one-quarter full so it did not seem so fun. Happy anniversary.

    Frontera Grill
    445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

    1529 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

    1. Some of my favorites for a more fun and relaxed spot with great food would be Gilt Bar, which we like more than Sable, and if you like Asian- Sunda. Both have delicious food and very fun atmospheres. See if either menu interests you.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ms. mika

        We have been to Gilt and while I liked it, i didn't LOVE it. Thought Publican was much better. Maybe we didn't order right? Although we ordered a lot! It was a while back, but the mussels were actually pretty yucky.

      2. I think you've already gotten some good suggestions here. Here's some more information about these and other places.

        Regarding Mexican - Chicago has superb creative provincial Mexican restaurants, so if you're looking for something you can't get back home, that's a great choice. Chem mentioned Mexique, which I like a lot; it's creative Mexican with just a hint of the French restaurant background of Chef Carlos, in a bistro setting. It's in the West Town neighborhood, two miles west of the Mag Mile hotel area; you can get their via cab or the #66 CTA bus. Prices are moderate, with entrees around twenty. Rick Bayless was instrumental in popularizing Mexican food in the United States, and his two restaurants, Topolobampo and Frontera Grill in River North near the hotels, are still very good. Since it's three months out, you should still be able to get a reservation at Topolobampo for dinner (reservations open three months in advance, and fill quickly - you can make them on However, it's pricey, with entrees typically in the upper thirties. Frontera Grill is less expensive, but they only accept a handful of reservations, and only over the phone; I would not recommend going without a reservation unless you can arrive before they open. I think Topolobampo is a great place for lunch, when its prices are more moderate. Salpicon is also moderately-priced, dinner and Sunday brunch only, and it's in Old Town, not far from the hotels. And Mundial Cocina Mestiza is excellent and moderately priced, in the Pilsen neighborhood 3-4 miles southwest of downtown, open for lunch, dinner, and Saturday/Sunday brunch. Even if you don't make one of these your anniversary dinner, it would be worth going to one for another meal during your visit.

        For contemporary American food, did you try calling Girl and the Goat, or did you only look on Opentable? If the latter, give them a call, as they may hold most of their prime-time openings for telephone reservations. And do it now, while you have three months lead time. Otherwise, I really love Sable (recommended by Chem above), and Chef Heather Terhune's cuisine there. Don't miss the sweet corn creme brulee! It's a very lively contemporary atmosphere, and they also have those great artisanal cocktails. One other choice worth mentioning is North Pond - not only for Chef Bruce Sherman's contemporary American cuisine, but also for its exquisite, unique setting in the middle of the park. It faces its namesake pond with the city skyline looming over the opposite shore, and the renovated building was formerly a warming shelter for ice skaters on the pond. North Pond is considerably more expensive than the other two, with entrees in the mid to upper thirties, versus twenty-ish for G&TG and Sable. Again, you could also consider one of these for another meal during your trip (North Pond and Sable are both open for lunch - only in summer for North Pond - and Sunday brunch).

        I'm not all that fond of the Publican - it's decent, but hasn't really blown me away. If you're looking for its combination of pork, cheese, charcuterie, and organ meats, you might want to consider the Purple Pig - and if so, I recommend going for lunch, since they don't take reservations and their waiting times for dinner are obscene, and they serve the same menu all day.

        I'm not sure I would go Italian, since you have so much of it back home, but if you want to go there anyway, Cibo Matto is a great choice. So is the Florentine, which has Chef Todd Stein who opened Cibo Matto. And so is Vivere, in the Italian Village complex. All of these places are in the Loop and all serve a very contemporary version of Italian cuisine. A bit more traditional choices include Cafe Spiaggia, at the north end of the Mag Mile , Coco Pazzo in River North , and Piccolo Sogno in the West Loop.

        Green Zebra is all vegetarian (they sometimes have a single meat dish, but often not) and you really have to be fond of vegetarian cuisine to go there.

        These are all excellent choices among our "casual finer dining" restaurants, places where you can get great food without spending a fortune. I recommend checking out the menus on the restaurant websites to give you a better idea of what they have to offer and to see what appeals to you most.

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