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New Orleans Chowhound coming to Chicago June 8th - 11th and needs help with itinerary

j
JanetLong Jun 5, 2011 06:06 AM

Coming to Chicago next week. Staying downtown. Arriving Wednesday afternoon and departing early Saturday morning.

MARKET

I'll be going to Fox & Obel in the downtown area to pick up things to eat and keep in the hotel. Someone said that the bakery counter was outstanding and that it was recently named by Bon Appetit magazine as one of the ten best bread bakeries in the country. Is there anything you recommend that would keep well in the room? www.fox-obel.com

BREAKFAST

Ina's - I'm not a pancakes person (he is), but the hash with poached eggs sounds really good.

FUN PLACES / EXCITING MENUS

* Girl and the Goat - be there at 4:30 when doors open - order 'pig face' - don't order dessert

* Purple Pig - open for lunch with same menu as they have for dinner - maybe late lunch at 2%3

STEAKS

* Lawry's for prime rib

* ? I think I need a better place for steak. I want to keep it authentic and old-school Chicago.

* ETA - Gibson's for steaks.

ITALIAN

* Cafe Spiaggia

* Coco Pazzo

* Piccolo Sogno

PIZZ

* Uno - call them first with pizza order to avoid 45 mins for pizza - only eat at original location

HOT DOGS & ITALIAN BEEF SANDWICHES

* Portillo's - www.portillos.com

* Al's Beef - www.alsbeef.com

SOMETHING TO DO

I was looking for something interesting to do. I checked the Cubs' schedule, but they don't appear to be playing while I am in town. I've been to the museums and have done the boat tour. Last trip I saw the Million Dollar Quartet. Are there any good plays going on right now?

THANK YOU!

-----
Cafe Spiaggia
980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Coco Pazzo Cafe
636 N St Clair, Chicago, IL 60611

Piccolo Sogno
464 N Halsted, Chicago, IL 60622

Girl and the Goat
809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661

Purple Pig
500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

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  1. nsxtasy RE: JanetLong Jun 5, 2011 09:28 AM

    You've got a great start! Here are my comments...

    >> I'll be going to Fox & Obel in the downtown area to pick up things to eat and keep in the hotel. Someone said that the bakery counter was outstanding and that it was recently named by Bon Appetit magazine as one of the ten best bread bakeries in the country. Is there anything you recommend that would keep well in the room? www.fox-obel.com

    Here's what I wrote at the post at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7846... I'll put lines above and below what I'm quoting, then I'll have some additional comments.

    ------------------------------------------------------

    Oh, absolutely! I'll go around the bakery counter, side by side. (It's a square, standalone counter in the middle of the store - kind of hard to miss.) And I'll pick out "best of the best" at the end. (1) One side faces the produce counter, and there isn't much - I think there's a coffee machine where you can help yourself, maybe. (2) Walking around to the Illinois Street side of the counter is where you'll find some of my favorite items. They have cinnamon swirl rolls that I LOVE. They are not the cinnamon overkill you'll find in some places, but instead, they use a very rich dough. They are the top of my "don't miss" list. And if you like bran muffins, theirs are the very best I have ever had, anywhere. This side also has bulk bagels (I haven't gotten them there), and a table where they set out miscellaneous stuff (this morning, for the first time, I saw genoise shells there that would be good for making into something). (3) Continuing to walk around the bakery counter counter-clockwise (no pun intended), the next side, which faces the prepared food counter, has four sections. The first section has various breads that they will put into a bag for you. These are fantastic. They have a rustic raisin nut bread that has dried apricots in it and which I love. The next section on this side is a rack of breads in plastic bags. I love the brioche loaf, eaten plain, in sandwiches, or made into French toast. I've been not so thrilled with their cinnamon bread. The next section on this side has artisanal chocolates which are NOT made in-house and I have not tried. The last section on this side has individual-portion-sized pre-packaged desserts, some of which I love. One is bread pudding with caramel sauce; another is chocolate brut, which is basically a chocolate-flavored bread pudding, and both of these items are excellent, and even better if you briefly warm them in the microwave before eating. Sometimes they have individual slices of tres leches cake which is excellent. They do an excellent banana pudding (the kind with vanilla wafers). They do a rice pudding which is... (runs to the fridge to taste) ...excellent. Other things here which are pretty good include slices of carrot cake, red velvet cake, and "fat boys" ("whoopies"). Finally, (4) the remaining side, which faces the packaged goods, is the pastry side. Things you'll find here include various tarts (coconut cream tart, key lime tart, fruit tart), cupcakes, whole cakes, and on the top shelf, individually-packaged cookies and rice krispie bars.

    To a large extent, what to get depends on what you like. For example, if you like banana pudding with vanilla wafers, you'll probably find that theirs is the best you've ever had, but if you don't, well... Same thing for the bran muffins - if you like them, theirs is probably the best you've ever had. I would call those items "don't miss" IF you particularly enjoy that dish. Other than that, if I had to name the things that I almost always get when I go there - the "best of the best" - they would be the cinnamon swirl rolls, the puddings, the tres leches cake, and the rustic fruit and nut bread.

    ----------------------------------------------------

    If your hotel room has a refrigerator, all of the above will keep fine. If not, then you're going to want to avoid the items in the refrigerated cases, such as the puddings and tres leches cake. Either way, you're going to be fine with the cinnamon swirl rolls, bran muffins, brioche loaf, rustic raisin nut bread (it has a tough crust, so you might want to bring some kind of knife - but only if you are checking luggage for the flight since it might get confiscated from a carry-on), etc. What I do when I stop at F&O on my way out of town is, I pack several thick Ziploc freezer bags to help items keep, and I recommend doing so for your hotel room.

    >> Ina's - I'm not a pancakes person (he is), but the hash with poached eggs sounds really good.

    Since he is a pancakes person, you really should make a stop at the Bongo Room. For him. You can order something other than pancakes if you like. But it's really a special place for anyone who likes pancakes. They have specialty pancakes like their pretzel pancakes with white chocolate caramel sauce. Note that the standard portion size consists of three GIGANTIC pancakes, but you can get one-third and two-thirds portion sizes at a reduced price, which lets the pancakes person try more than one dish, and the non pancakes person order something else too. Also if you don't like sweeter dishes, you may want to ask for them to put the sauce on the side. www.thebongoroom.com

    >> * Purple Pig - open for lunch with same menu as they have for dinner - maybe late lunch at 2

    You don't have to do a late lunch if you don't want to; the waits aren't all that bad at lunch.

    >> STEAKS

    >> * Lawry's for prime rib

    >> * ? I think I need a better place for steak. I want to keep it authentic and old-school Chicago.

    >> * ETA - Gibson's for steaks.

    Well, Lawry's isn't really a steakhouse; their specialty is prime rib. Gene & Georgetti's has authentic old-school atmosphere, but recent reports have been negative on both food and service. Gibson's is a very mens-clubby, boisterous, "see and be seen" kind of place; the steaks are good, but the atmosphere can be a bit much. Also Gibson's books up well in advance, so get on Opentable if that's where you want to go. I really like David Burke's Primehouse and many (including me) think their dry-aged steaks are the best in town, but the atmosphere is contemporary, the opposite of old-school. Joe's and Saloon have a more traditional atmosphere (and good steaks). I have not yet been to our two newest steakhouses, Chicago Cut Steakhouse (which recently hired Jackie Shen, one of our top chefs) or Mastro's. There are lots of choices, depending on which way you want to go.

    >> ITALIAN

    >> * Cafe Spiaggia

    >> * Coco Pazzo

    >> * Piccolo Sogno

    These are all excellent. I really loved my dinner at Piccolo Sogno last month; the menu has a bit of a contemporary spin, and they are just doing everything well. You say in your reply that you're leaning towards Piccolo Sogno, and I think that's a great choice!

    >> PIZZA

    >> * Uno - call them first with pizza order to avoid 45 mins for pizza - only eat at original location

    Correct. Also, Due is a block from Uno. And if you find yourself in the Loop or towards the north end of the "Mag Mile" of North Michigan Avenue, I think Pizano's is also good and their locations may be more convenient.

    >> HOT DOGS & ITALIAN BEEF SANDWICHES

    >> * Portillo's - www.portillos.com

    >> * Al's Beef - www.alsbeef.com

    Some say that the Portillo's downtown (on Ontario) is better than the Al's location on the next block.

    >> SOMETHING TO DO

    I know the Chowhound Team prefers that we not spend too discussion on activities unrelated to food and beverage, so I'll keep it brief. If you enjoy ballgames, you could consider going to see the White Sox. I recently did that and had dinner beforehand at Han 202, which I liked (see my report at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/780387 ). Other than that, there are so many other things to do, it all depends on what you enjoy. For ideas, you may want to look at the city's tourism website at www.choosechicago.com

    As for the additional comments in your reply...

    >> Thursday is breakfast at Ina's with a late lunch at the Purple Pig. He *hates* all lines, and we're going to be having a good breakfast anyway. That's 2 good places to eat on Thursday, and I'd like to go to the theatre Thursday night. I don't think we'll be that hungry for dinner, so I'm keeping this dinner spot open. I don't want GWAG on this night, because I don't want to eat at PP & GWAG on the same day, and I want steak Friday night. Are there any late night supper places to eat after the theatre?

    There are some places open late. Many of them are steakhouses. So one possibility is to swap the Thursday and Friday dinners, so you do the steakhouse after the theater on Thursday, and something else on Friday.

    Otherwise, many of the places open later include our "small plates" type places; even the busy ones (like Girl and the Goat) tend to have short waits or no waits after 10 pm. In addition to Girl and the Goat, you might also consider Sable (contemporary American small plates and artisanal cocktails), Quartino (Italian small plates), or one of the tapas places (Mercat a la Planxa or Café Iberico). Check their websites for hours.

    >> Friday, we could do breakfast at the Bongo Room. Lunch could be fun at Portillo's AND Al's beef. We could only order 1 sandwich at each place and share it, then go to the other place and compare.

    That will work!

    >> Friday is steak night, and I'm leaning toward's Gibsons but I'm open to other suggestions.

    See above.

    Feel free to ask more questions!

    14 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy
      j
      Jane Stone RE: nsxtasy Jun 5, 2011 09:43 AM

      If you want to see plays check out the League of Chicago Theaters:
      http://chicagoplays.com Click Shows and Tickets.

      7start_28

      1. re: Jane Stone
        j
        JanetLong RE: Jane Stone Jun 5, 2011 04:20 PM

        Thanks, Jane. Sorry I missed your post earlier!
        Just finished the reiew and have plans for Heartbreak House.
        Can't wait!

      2. re: nsxtasy
        j
        JanetLong RE: nsxtasy Jun 5, 2011 09:56 AM

        Thank you so much! I have an open spot for breakfast on Friday when I had planned on just sleeping in and grazing on bread/cheese for breakfast, but Bongo's would fit in that spot.

        On another note, I can only fit in one (1) of the Italian places I mentioned. I've reviewed their menus, and they all look good. However, for some reason I'm leaning towards Piccolo Sogno. Any notes on these places would be most appreciated.

        I arrive at 2:10pm on Wednesday, so that *just* gives me time to go to Girl & the Goat and be there for 4:30. It will be a little rushed, but that's the only day I can fit it in. Afterwards, we can go to Fox & Obel Market. I checked their website, and it says they are open until midnight.

        Thursday is breakfast at Ina's with a late lunch at the Purple Pig. He *hates* all lines, and we're going to be having a good breakfast anyway. That's 2 good places to eat on Thursday, and I'd like to go to the theatre Thursday night. I don't think we'll be that hungry for dinner, so I'm keeping this dinner spot open. I don't want GWAG on this night, because I don't want to eat at PP & GWAG on the same day, and I want steak Friday night. Are there any late night supper places to eat after the theatre?

        Friday, we could do breakfast at the Bongo Room. Lunch could be fun at Portillo's AND Al's beef. We could only order 1 sandwich at each place and share it, then go to the other place and compare. Friday is steak night, and I'm leaning toward's Gibsons but I'm open to other suggestions.

        That cuts Uno's out of the itinerary, but we've eaten there before, so that would be okay.

        He's counting on me to have all of this stuff figured out before we go, and for that, I am so very thankful for all of your suggestions and for the opportunity to review the board and read comments from so many people.

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

        1. re: JanetLong
          nsxtasy RE: JanetLong Jun 5, 2011 10:55 AM

          I've updated my previous post above with additional comments...

          1. re: nsxtasy
            j
            JanetLong RE: nsxtasy Jun 5, 2011 11:10 AM

            You are a gem! Regarding Gibsons, other than the 'see and be seen' type of atmosphere, it sounds perfect! I love old boys club type places. I looked at the steakhouse you suggested, but if the steaks are great in both places, the atmosphere at Gibsons wins out (just a personal preference).

            I can't eat a big steak too late at night, so that omits steak after a play on Thursday, so we're keeping Gibsons on Friday. Considered GWAG, but their site states they close at 11 on weeknights, so that would be iffy. Sounds like a grazing dinner back at the hotel for bread, cheese & wine, and that is sooo okay by me :)))

            1. re: JanetLong
              j
              JanetLong RE: JanetLong Jun 5, 2011 11:18 AM

              Just secured reservation for Gibsons on Friday night!

              1. re: JanetLong
                nsxtasy RE: JanetLong Jun 5, 2011 12:04 PM

                Great! I bet you had to phone them. I don't see any openings on Opentable! (Although sometimes places will take a reservation over the phone when Opentable doesn't show availability.)

                1. re: nsxtasy
                  j
                  JanetLong RE: nsxtasy Jun 5, 2011 12:22 PM

                  Absolutely had to phone them, and then I had to be really, really nice. Our reservation is early, but I'm hoping to call them every day to see if they had any cancellations or if we can go later. Our reservation is 5:30, and I'm thinking that appetizer/salad will take at least 45 minutes, so we'll be eating steak closer to 6:30. She did say that they do not take reservations for their patio tables, and they are first come, first serve, so maybe that could work out, but we already know the boy hates waiting. Anyway, Plan A is complete as they already emailed me confirmation of the reservation.

                  Now, I'm finding some way to put Uno's back in the itinerary. However, just to be sure, the place we ate before was Uno's, because I'm not sure that it was. The place we ate was a big place with old-style booths. Graffiti everywere was par for the course, and I seem to recall names/etc all carved into the tables. Does that sound like Uno's? If not, I *definitely* have to get them back in the itinerary. The pizza at that place was good; I just wish I could find the pictures/name, etc., but I do think it was Uno's.

                  1. re: JanetLong
                    nsxtasy RE: JanetLong Jun 5, 2011 12:39 PM

                    >> Now, I'm finding some way to put Uno's back in the itinerary. However, just to be sure, the place we ate before was Uno's, because I'm not sure that it was. The place we ate was a big place with old-style booths. Graffiti everywere was par for the course, and I seem to recall names/etc all carved into the tables. Does that sound like Uno's? If not, I *definitely* have to get them back in the itinerary. The pizza at that place was good; I just wish I could find the pictures/name, etc., but I do think it was Uno's.

                    I'm betting it was Gino's East, which has the graffiti and all those names carved into the tables etc. Both serve similar deep-dish pizza. Gino's East pizza is characterized by a yellow colored crust.

                    1. re: nsxtasy
                      j
                      JanetLong RE: nsxtasy Jun 5, 2011 01:06 PM

                      You're exactly right! I just googled images for Gino's East Chicago, and found this: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=h...

                      That was definitely the place! I've *never* seen graffiti like that any other time in my life!

                      1. re: JanetLong
                        j
                        JanetLong RE: JanetLong Jun 5, 2011 01:16 PM

                        Could you give me the location of the original Uno's? I've googled, but the franchise/group site comes up and asks you to choose a location. I don't know which location to choose.

                        1. re: JanetLong
                          nsxtasy RE: JanetLong Jun 5, 2011 01:41 PM

                          Uno and Due - their only locations in the city of Chicago (other than Su Casa, their Mexican restaurant):

                          Pizzeria Uno
                          29 East Ohio
                          Chicago, IL 60611
                          312-321-1000

                          Pizzeria Due
                          619 North Wabash Avenue
                          Chicago, IL 60611
                          312-943-2400

                          Either location is fine. They're a block away from each other. Uno has been there since 1943, Due since 1955.

                          -----
                          Pizzeria Due
                          619 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

                          Pizzeria Uno
                          29 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611

                          1. re: nsxtasy
                            j
                            JanetLong RE: nsxtasy Jun 5, 2011 03:27 PM

                            Got it!
                            Thanks
                            Will report back after I get home.

                            1. re: JanetLong
                              a
                              aimeekm RE: JanetLong Jun 6, 2011 06:20 AM

                              >> * Uno - call them first with pizza order to avoid 45 mins for pizza - only eat at original location

                              I was there this weekend, and when I called ahead they would not take the order over the phone. Maybe you'll have better luck, but be prepared to wait if not.

      3. d
        danimalarkey RE: JanetLong Jun 6, 2011 07:11 AM

        One additional suggestion for breakfast if you decide against the Bongo Room is Xoco, Rick Bayless' newest restaurant. While there's usually a line during lunch and dinner hours, breakfast is pretty painless and still just as wonderful. Breakfast does end on the early side at 10am.

        Breakfast menu here: http://www.rickbayless.com/menu/layou...

        As for other things to see and do, I'd suggest checking out the websites for the Chicago Reader (Chicago's alternatively weekly magazine) as well as Time Out Chicago. Both publications are pretty good with recommendations for theatre, comedy and other assorted events.

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

        Time Out Chicago
        247 S State St, Chicago, IL 60604

        XOCO
        449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

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