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May 12, 2011 09:10 PM

Teacher coming for eats? ideas? favorites?

Hi I will be out there at t he end of June into July and looking for some cheap- inexpensive places a self professed foodies would love to find Irish fare also would like to revist some places I have been- I thin it is the Billygoat Tavern of SNL fame ( no coke Pepsi) and a really good ppizze joints...actually don't want tourist places want what regulars eat? ANy ideas will be welcome!


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  1. Hot Dougs is a must and I now fee The Purple Pig is a must eat at. I won't come within 100 miles of town without going to TPP. It has now become one of my favorites. BOKA is a must eat for fine dining.

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

    Purple Pig
    500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

    1. There really aren't a whole lot of "tourist places", aside from downtown locations of chains like the Cheesecake Factory. Plenty of us local Chicagoans go downtown to eat out, and many of us live in the downtown neighborhoods. And of course there are plenty of places in the outlying neighborhoods and suburbs. You don't mention where you'll be staying or spending time, which would make it easier for us to provide you with nearby recommendations. Chicago is a big city, and even the downtown neighborhoods stretch for several miles!

      The Billy Goat Tavern is still there at Michigan and the river (and other locations) if you want it. For our delicious local specialty of deep-dish pizza, go to Lou Malnati's, Pizano's, or the original downtown locations of Uno and Due where they still use the original recipe (NOT the dreadful franchise locations).

      If you want to go to Purple Pig, go at lunchtime, when they have the same menu as at dinner but without the 2+ hour waits. For a Chicago hot dog, Portillo's has a location on Ontario. Hot Doug's isn't worth the hype, the long travel to the inconvenient location, or the 90+ minute waits in line; if you want exotic hot dogs, go instead to Franks n Dawgs.

      For a nice meal, I like Boka but it's not a particularly good value (and it's not really "fine dining", more along the lines of "casual finer dining"). If you'd like a nice meal at a nicer bistro-type place without spending an arm and a leg, you'll find equally good food at a lower price at Sable or at Deleece on Southport, two of our best places for contemporary American fare. You can also have a great meal at a bistro type place at one of our creative provincial Mexican places such as Mexique, Mundial Cocina Mestiza, or Mixteco Grill; this is one type of food you can find here in Chicago but not in most American cities. We also have storefront restaurants in neighborhoods throughout the city and suburbs, offering just about any type of ethnic food you can think of.

      For recommendations on where to find "cheap eats", this discussion has an overview listing some of our best in various food categories, as well as advice for getting the best value for your dining dollar:

      Where are the best Chicago dinner *values* - the hidden gems? -

      1. Thank you for all the help so far!
        We will be staying at the Fairmount Chicago Millenium Park hotel- convention center is not far away- distance doesn't matter...will go any length for interesting cuisine---any independent coffee or tea shops? Starbucks is okay but would llike to get localoptions
        thanks again

        1 Reply
        1. re: CIgarguyDC

          >> We will be staying at the Fairmount Chicago Millenium Park hotel- convention center is not far away- distance doesn't matter...will go any length for interesting cuisine---

          We have many, many great restaurants in the downtown neighborhoods as well as in outlying neighborhoods and the suburbs. There are many places for "cheap eats" (many of which are not that different from what you find in any big city), many others offering "interesting cuisine", and some for both. This discussion tells what foods and places are unique or specialties in Chicago, foods that Chicago is particularly good at:

          first time Chicago -

          Of the places I mentioned above, the closest one to the Fairmont for deep-dish pizza is Pizano's on Madison, a ten-minute walk away. For provincial Mexican food, you can get a reservation for lunch at Topolobampo, or if you want to make a dinner of it, I'd consider Mexique or Mundial Cocina Mestiza, although both are several miles from the Fairmont. And Sable, which has outstanding contemporary American food (and amazing artisanal cocktails), is moderate in price and you can walk there from the Fairmont in ten minutes.

          >> any independent coffee or tea shops? Starbucks is okay but would llike to get localoptions

          Our top independent coffee roaster is Intelligentsia, and they have a coffee shop on Randolph at Wabash, about two blocks from the Fairmont.

        2. Invest in a CTA pass so you can easily get out of downtown because the best cheap eats aren't in the high rent district (3-day pass $14, 7-day pass $23,good for ad lib travel on bus or EL, takes you to both airports also, available at chains like CVS drug or Jewel supermarket). Suggested destinations: 1) Mei Shung, Edgewater neighborhood favorite for excellent Chinese, 3-course lunch about $6, take Red Line to Bryn Mawr and walk around corner to 5511 N Broadway. 2) Thai Pastry (full restaurant in spite of name) 4925 N Broadway, lunch around $6, dinner around $8, take Broadway 36 bus to Ainslie. 3) Reza's (Persian), 5255 N Clark, weekday ad lib lunch buffet $9.95, take Clark 22 bus. 4) Red Apple, 3121 N Milwaukee, ad lib Polish buffet about $10 for weekday lunch, take Milwaukee 56 bus from Loop. 5) Any of at least fifty Indian ad lib lunch buffets in Indian/Pakistani neighborhood---take Red Line subway to Loyola, emerge from station and wait in front of McDonald's for 155 Devon bus, ask driver to call Western Avenue. Lunch buffet usually $9. All of these neighborhoods offer excellent post-lunch strolling and browsing. For further research go to a) "Chicago Restaurant Menus" for current offerings and prices, sorted by neighborhood and ethnicity (including Irish) and b) CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) website for public transportation route maps. Meanwhile if you must eat on the Magnificent Mile here are two reasonable places: 1) Big Bowl, Ohio just west of Rush (turn off Michigan Avenue at Eddie Bauer)---Pan-Asian, very good, and 2) FoodLife food court in Water Tower Place mall. On second floor, hard to find---go to rear lobby behind Macy's candy shop and take escalator up to FoodLife. This is not your typical food court full of fast food famous names. Its chef stations are all run by Lettuce Entertain You, the enterprise that owns and runs some of the city's most elegant and expensive restaurants---you can certainly put a meal together for $10. BTW Billy Goat Tavern has a branch at Navy Pier so you can have a cheezeborger and watch the boats at the same time. Pizza: Lou Malnati's has multiple locations and is currently remodeling to open on Rush Street in Gold Coast---don't know date but may be open by the time you are here. Welcome.

          Big Bowl
          60 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611

          Thai Pastry Restaurant
          4925 N Broadway St Ste E, Chicago, IL 60640

          Red Apple Buffet
          6474 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60631

          Lettuce Entertain You
          2171 Northbrook Ct, Northbrook, IL 60062

          Billy Goat
          600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

          1. Cigarguy, if we up the ante a bit, a couple of places come to mind. 1) Near your hotel is the Sheraton on whose lower level you will find the LB Bistro & Patisserie---has a deal on weekday mornings---you pay one price, about $22, and make ad lib visits to all chef stations where an infinity of omelets, eggs any style, breakfast meats, blueberry pancakes, waffles, filled sweet or savory crepes, fruit concoctions, fancy pastry etc will be produced at your command. I think coffee is extra, don't remember, but what I do remember is that they bring a liter of it and leave it on the table. 2) John Hancock Center has on its 96th floor The Signature Room, expensive at dinner but has an ad lib buffet for about $20 weekday and Saturday lunch. Big feature is the view so go on a clear day---walls are made of glass and you see entire city and waterfront. Another thing if we're categorizing downtown bargains---Northwestern Memorial Hospital, one block off Magnificent Mile (fills block defined by Erie, Huron, St Clair, and Fairbanks) on second floor has Allspice Cafeteria, not to be confused with Au Bon Pain right next to it. Allspice is not very good for evening dinner but is pretty good for weekday lunch when all employees are on hand and all chef stations are open---wide choice, decent food, prices about 50% of North Michigan area restaurants. Public welcome---take lobby escalators to 2nd floor and ask your way. (Well, you DID ask where the locals eat.) Which brings me another one that is weird but very good---in the Loop, 21 North Wabash, in the back of a jewelry mall on east side of street between Washington and Madison, Oasis Cafe, weekday lunch, excellent Middle Eastern with daily specials, about $7 for lunch.