Yet another Torontonian...need a high end lunch suggestion + happy hour (if possible)
My family is visiting Chicago over the 4th of July weekend. Last time we were there was for a family get together (which is the reason for this visit as well). Only had one day to visit the city, as we were mostly stuck in the suburbs (Oak Brook?). This was unfortunate as Chicago is a beautiful city, and it was my first visit. This time around, I plan on spending a bit more time in the city.
I need two suggestions.
1) Fine dining, preferably a lunch. We were in NYC a couple of weeks ago, and the high end fine dining values at lunch were incredible (especially compared to Toronto). Does Chicago offer similar deals at lunch time?
2) Happy hour. I know, this is very vague, but when I go to the states, I love getting the drink and food deals that we never see up here. Alternatively, a good beer place with a well priced bar menu would be just as good.
We have a car.
Thank you for the responses so far. I had noticed that your more well known high end places were closed for lunch, so was wondering about my options.
Blackbird and Topolobampo were on the list, from having scanned other posts. We will most likely be going on a Friday.
I'm going to take a closer look at those beer options now. Publican sounds interesting, and might be best for our schedule.
445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610
Like New York, Chicago has high-end restaurants - 8-10 restaurants with three-digit prices for lengthy tasting menus where you have to get dressed up (e.g. jackets), etc. However, unlike New York, none of them are open for lunch.
Fortunately, our next tier of less formal restaurants are open for lunch. Most restaurants here have lower prices at lunch than dinner, so they can be an excellent value; they just don't include the most expensive restaurants in town. Many are open only on weekdays, and perhaps not on holidays, so you will have to check to see which ones are open. Most of our nicer restaurants accept reservations on Opentable, so that's one way of finding out which ones are open on any given day without having to phone them individually.
I see other replies have recommended Blackbird and Topolobampo, and those are two of our best places for lunch, but both are only open weekdays. For a weekend lunch, some of our creative Mexican restaurants serve brunch on Saturdays as well as Sundays; I would not go to Frontera Grill's Saturday brunch without a reservation (with its 90+ minute waiting times to be seated) but reservations are easy to get for weekend brunch at Mexique (on Opentable) or Mundial Cocina Mestiza (only over the phone). Cafe Spiaggia, mentioned above, is open on weekends for lunch, as is the Florentine, both serving Italian cuisine, and most of our steakhouses. On Sundays, many restaurants serve Sunday brunch. Shaw's is a great place for their buffet seafood brunch, with its AYCE Alaskan king crab, crab cakes, etc, as well as the usual breakfast foods.
Blackbird is pretty great for lunch. The prix fixe option is an exceptional value and is still as refined and upscale as the dinner options. As with Topolo, I don't think this is available on weekends, however.
You could also look into Naha as well as Cafe Spiaggia. Cafe Spiaggia is not fine dining (that would be Spiaggia) but it's still a great value for the quality of the food in a nice room.
As far as happy hours, city laws do not permit bars/restaurants to offer discounted drinks during a specific time (ie. half price drinks from 4-6pm). Many places will have specials that last the whole night (ie. 1/2 price bottles of wine).
Some of my favorite places for beer in the city include:
Goose Island (Clybourn location) -- opened over 23 years ago, this is the city's oldest brewpub still in operation. They usually have 10-15 beers on tap, though a lot of them have been saisons and Belgians lately (of which I'm not personally a fan). They have tours on weekends (they fill up fast - call soon if you think you'd be interested). Food is fine - most items look better on paper than the kitchen winds up executing. Which isn't to say it's bad - it's just not great. Located near the North/Clybourn red line stop.
Revolution Brewing -- one of the city's newer brewpubs, this place is great. Not quite as many beers as Goose, but a wider variety, usually, plus great guest drafts. Food aims lower but executes better, if that makes sense. They also offer tours on Saturdays. Located near the California blue line stop.
Hopleaf -- one of the city's oldest craft beer destinations, you will not find more Belgians on draft anywhere else (plus a healthy amount of domestic craft options and a colossal bottle list). The food is very good. Hopleaf doesn't accept reservations, however, and can get packed quickly. Lately, they have opened up a space on the 2nd floor to help thin the crowds below for folks waiting for a table, but it can only help so much. Hopleaf is also a strict 21+ establishment -- if anyone in your family is underage, they will not get past the door. Located about 10 minutes West of the Argyle red line stop.
Maproom -- Pretty much as old as Hopleaf and another craft beer mecca. On weekend nights, expect a crowd. It's also cash only and they don't serve food (but don't mind if you bring something in -- I'd suggest Belly Shack, down Armitage about 1/2 mile). Located about 10 minutes North of the Damen blue line stop.
Publican -- Certainly one of the city's better beer lists, even if it's not that huge (plenty of bottle options, too). Food is stellar, too, with an assortment of brasserie-style dishes using seasonal and really high-quality ingredients. They accept reservations, though much of the seating consists of communal tables (there are smaller 2-tops, as well as limited bar seating, which I don't reccomend, and plenty of room to stand). It can get pretty busy in the evenings, as well, with a very lively crowd. Publican is also a little more upscale than any of the other options I already mentioned. Not really close to an L stop, but also really close to the city center.
Big Star -- this is more bar than restaurant, but the food is great (even if it's limited to tacos and tostadas @ $3). Not a huge selection of beer, but what they have is great. Cocktails are limited to tequila/mezcal and whisky. Their Bourbon selection is one of the best in the entire city, too. The large, perpetually crowded, front patio is great for people watching, improved immensely with classic country western/honky tonk music LPs spinning in the bar. Located 9practically) under the Damen blue line stop.
Many of these places are easily accessible via public transportation so you can enjoy yourself without having to worry about that car!
980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
5148 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640
980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
500 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610
2323 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
1) I would recommend Topolobampo as a high end place to eat for lunch. However they are only open Tues-Friday for lunches. Hopefully that will agree with your trip.
2) Lots of places have happy hours but they are usually geared towards the end of the week. I know Shaws has a happy hour every day. Since you are coming during the 4th weekend, there will probably specials at a lot of places. Check out metromix.com for deals