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Yet another visitor (From Toronto) looking for Rec's

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Hi all,

Seeking advice on good restos while my wife and I are in town from Thurs. April 21- Sunday April 24. Arriving and leaving first thing Sunday AM, so looking to fill Thursday, (Good) Friday, and Saturday, and nothing Sunday. We are limited in that we won't have a car. We're generally very open to various styles, but Toronto already has very eclectic cuisine so we're looking for unique Chicago dining experiences that don't require me re-mortgaging my house. Alinea and Charlie Trotter's are pretty much out of the question.

I've been to Chicago once before so I know the lay of the land. We're staying at the James, and I know for one breakfast, we'll go to Pancake House on Bellevue. Thinking of Manny's for Breakfast one of the other days (I love CB Hash and theirs is supposedly excellent)

Thursday's our most open day, but we'll probably be dead on our feet by the end of it and I am thinking dinner at David Burke's in our Hotel and then crash. I remember eating a one person pie at Uno's and not being blown away. Is Lou Malnati's all that much better? Or are the one person pies not as good? May also want to try Giordano's for a different pizza taste.

Friday's more open, and we'll probably play it by ear but dinner is going to have to be near Second City in Old Town. Any recommendations for good pre-theater dinner up there? The guidebooks don't show much in the area. Last time I ate at a middle eastern restaurant near there.

Saturday's a Cubs game and we may go to a Blues club that night. Any blues clubs with a really good menu?

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  1. First of all, you're really missing something special if you don't try our creative provincial Mexican cuisine. It's very different from conventional Mexican cuisine (tacos, enchiladas, etc) and it's a real strength and specialty of Chicago, something you can't get in most U.S. (or Canadian) cities. If your plans allow you to eat early, you can arrive 15-30 minutes before they open the doors at Frontera Grill, a few blocks from your hotel, without a long wait; otherwise, you can put in your name, find out how long the wait is (often 1 to 2 hours), and come back. There are some other very good places where you can get great Mexican food. Mexique is great and it's about two miles west of your hotel; you can take a cab or the #66 bus that runs on Chicago Avenue. There are two places in Old Town: Salpicon, and Adobo Grill. In my experience Salpicon has better food, but Adobo Grill is particularly close to Second City. If you're looking for something in the immediate vicinity of Second City, Adobo Grill is a good choice.

    >> I know for one breakfast, we'll go to Pancake House on Bellevue. Thinking of Manny's for Breakfast one of the other days (I love CB Hash and theirs is supposedly excellent)

    If you're willing to travel as far as Manny's, I recommend Bongo Room. There are two locations, both a couple of miles away. They specialize in creative pancakes, such as their pretzel pancakes with white chocolate caramel sauce. A standard portion size is three GIGANTIC pancakes, but you can also order one-third and two-thirds portion sizes at reduced prices, which lets you try more than one dish. http://chicago.menupages.com/restaura...

    Or, if you want something close to your hotel, see this discussion for suggestions:

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

    >> Thursday's our most open day, but we'll probably be dead on our feet by the end of it and I am thinking dinner at David Burke's in our Hotel and then crash.

    David Burke's is excellent if you enjoy a good steak. There are other places VERY close to your hotel, too, whose cuisine is a bit more unusual. Sable is outstanding; it offers delicious contemporary American cuisine from Chef Heather Terhune (don't miss the sweet corn creme brulee!) as well as artisanal cocktails. If you enjoy cajun/creole food, Heaven on Seven on Rush Street is also very close by.

    >> I remember eating a one person pie at Uno's and not being blown away. Is Lou Malnati's all that much better? Or are the one person pies not as good?

    Lou Malnati's is very similar to Uno. And that's no coincidence; Lou Malnati grew up working at Uno with his dad, one of the principal characters there in its early decades.

    >> May also want to try Giordano's for a different pizza taste.

    Good idea. The stuffed pizza at Giordano's (whose Rush Street location is close to the James) is excellent, and a different style from the deep-dish at Uno, Malnati's, etc.

    >> Friday's more open, and we'll probably play it by ear but dinner is going to have to be near Second City in Old Town. Any recommendations for good pre-theater dinner up there?

    As noted above, Adobo Grill is right there. For more recommendations in that area, see these discussions:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/451851
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/501369
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/716855

    >> Saturday's a Cubs game and we may go to a Blues club that night. Any blues clubs with a really good menu?

    Buddy Guy's Legends. Note that they sell tickets in advance and many of their Saturday night shows sell out. www.buddyguys.com

    Two more good places to eat before or after the game are Deleece ( www.deleece.com ) and Deleece Grill Pub ( www.deleecegrillpub.com ). Both are half a mile from the stadium (Deleece is on Southport, half a mile north of Wrigley; Deleece Grill Pub is on Clark, half a mile south of Wrigley) and both serve a great brunch on Saturdays as well as Sundays. Both are open for dinner; Deleece Grill Pub features American comfort food, and Deleece has upscale contemporary American cuisine in a casual bistro atmosphere. I ate at Deleece several times in the past year and LOVED it, as I reported at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/757360

    One more possibility for eating before the game is Southport Grocery, which serves a great brunch menu (such as their bread pudding pancakes) and is walking distance from the stadium. www.southportgrocery.com

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

    3 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Thanks nsxtasy!
      I suspected you'd respond given how active you are on this thread, but I had no idea how quickly that would happen!

      That definitely helps fill in the blanks on a lot of things - I think we will pick Adobo grill for Pre-second city. My only exposure to Chicago Mexican was a trip to Pilsen in '05. Had a decent but forgettable burrito at a restaurant I don't remember the name of. Toronto is actually wanting for decent Mexican.

      I have kind of a fetish for dry aged steak so David Burke sounds like a worthwhile splurge.

      For the game, we're actually seeing it from the Wrigley Rooftop Club (Got a Groupon), so we'll be well fed as it includes their buffet. By the time we were booked for the trip there were no good tickets left inside Wrigley.

      Manny's didn't seem like that much of a stretch. Bongo room sounds insane and we will have to look into it.

      I was at Buddy Guy's in '05 and I think I actually remember eating well there. We may eat somewhere else on Saturday night. Will have to give it some thought.

      For Deep Dish Pizza (Probably a Lunch for us) - does it make sense to go to Malnati's if we're right near Uno and Due anyways?

      1. re: Sherm_TO

        That all makes sense.

        >> For the game, we're actually seeing it from the Wrigley Rooftop Club (Got a Groupon), so we'll be well fed as it includes their buffet. By the time we were booked for the trip there were no good tickets left inside Wrigley.

        Remember, there's always Stubhub!

        Incidentally, I'll be at all three games that weekend, with before-game brunches already mapped out. ;)

        >> For Deep Dish Pizza (Probably a Lunch for us) - does it make sense to go to Malnati's if we're right near Uno and Due anyways?

        No. If you're near Uno and Due and you want their style of deep-dish (the original "single crust, pizza in the pan" style), then go to Uno and Due. And I say that with no disrespect for Malnati's! I live close to a Malnati's and I like it a lot; I get their pizza almost as often as I do the stuffed pizza from Giordano's, also close by and my personal favorite.

        1. re: Sherm_TO

          "I was at Buddy Guy's in '05 and I think I actually remember eating well there. We may eat somewhere else on Saturday night. Will have to give it some thought."

          Buddy Guy relocated his club last year and is now located at 700 South Wabash (1 block north of the original club). We frequented the old club and have been to the new one a few times. Still has the old Legends vibe (they actually moved much of the pieces of the original club). The sound system is outstanding and the food is very good. It's always a good time @ Legends.

      2. Coincidentally, I'm also a Toronto CHer looking to plan my Chicago trip, meticulously scouring the boards/trolling :) The "dim sum brunch" at the James was actually quite a memorable Chicago experience. Don't be fooled, its not actually dim sum, which we pretty much rock in TO. On our last trip, we were too lazy to leave the hotel in search of food, and the brunch pretty much had a taste of their menu, including mini-burgers made with good aged beef, and a carved prime rib. A mini dessert tasting is included, and featured tiny creme brulees. I know that if you go to the bar for drinks, you can often pick up coupons for dinners/subsequent meals at David Burke's Primehouse. Honestly, the smaller tasting at Alinea is good value-compared to what you would pay for more upscale experiences in Toronto. And if you're comparing the prices at David Burke's for supper to Alinea, I'd so splurge for Alinea, and eat street mexican, hot dogs, and chicago beefs the rest of the time. Bongo room was also not insane in terms of wait times. Do report back!

        -----
        Alinea
        1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

        David Burke's Primehouse
        616 N Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611

        3 Replies
        1. re: unturtlesoup

          I used to LOVE the "American dim sum" Sunday brunch at David Burke's Primehouse. Unfortunately, they discontinued it a while ago, and now serve a more conventional Sunday brunch, including several "bento boxes". I haven't been, as the menu just hasn't seemed all that appealing to me. However, there are a lot of other places that do great Sunday brunches, and a few that do them on Saturdays as well.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            Thanks...We're on a Sunday 8:30am flight out of O'Hare back to T.O., so the Sunday brunch is out of the question. We're considering stopping at Bongo Room on our way in from O'Hare on Thursday morning. Is Thursday breakfast as creative as the Saturday brunch?

            Alinea's not happening, time or money-wise. We are probably skipping the "Cutting-Edge" cuisine altogether.

            -----
            Alinea
            1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

            Bongo Room
            1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

            1. re: Sherm_TO

              >> We're considering stopping at Bongo Room on our way in from O'Hare on Thursday morning. Is Thursday breakfast as creative as the Saturday brunch?

              Yes. Bongo Room serves the same menu at all times. (Which is not true of many other of our brunch/breakfast restaurants - great question!)

        2. Thanks for all the advice:

          Thursday -

          Breakfast - On the way in from the airport, got off the El in Wicker Park and got breakfast at Bongo Room. I had the White Chocolate, Caramel & Pretzel pancakes, my wife had strawberry banana pancakes, both were amazing.

          Lunch - Cheezborgers at original Billy Goat tavern. Tasty but nothing spectacular. Gave us both indigestion.

          Dinner - Giordano's Pizza - Split a small with Pepperoni and Mushrooms. Delicious...

          Friday

          Breakfast - Starbucks and Bananas - rushing to catch a tour

          Lunch - Followed a Lonely Planet guide to "Gold Coast Dogs" in the Loop that had changed its name and was a disappointment in Chicago Dog terms.

          Dinner - Adobo Grill - Guacamole and Margaritas amazing. I had a very good Tilapia and my wife had the Chicken Enchiladas which I think were just ok. Flan Dessert was good, not mindblowing.

          Saturday

          Breakfast at E'Leaven - Wife had a decent omelette, I had Corned beef Hash, was ok, nothing special.

          Lunch was at Rooftop club at the Cubs Game - Standard Buffet fare

          Dinner at David Burke's Primehouse. Delicious but wallet-destroying. I had the 40 day Ribeye, Wife had the Filet au Poivre. Sides were fantastic, especially the Frites. Over-ordered, right down to the Cake in a Can dessert which is meant for a table of 6 I think?

          -----
          Bongo Room
          1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

          David Burke's Primehouse
          616 N Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611

          Billy Goat
          600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611