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Jun 28, 2011 02:00 PM

Looking for quirky, fun, and different restaurants and foodie places in Chicago

Going to Chicago next week and looking for quirky and different. Not necessarily the BEST restaurants and not fancy, but quirky and different if that makes sense. Would like to go to Kuma's Corner (burgers named after heavy metal bands) and Icream (make your ice cream with liquid nitrogen) but other than that, not so sure, but interested in restaurants, bakeries, food tours, and really anything food related!

Staying downtown at the Wyndham but will have a car so can go to nearby areas. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!

Kuma's Corner
2900 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

1533 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

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  1. I'll answer the bakeries part of the question for now, then gotta run to a 5:00 res. Fox & Obel is our top gourmet food store has some terrific baked goods. I especially recommend the cinnamon swirl rolls, bran muffins, brioche loaf, and rustic fruit and nut bread. I also recommend Vanille Patisserie, either on Clybourn or downtown in the French Market, for great entremets and croissants. I'll try to most more later!

    3 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Thanks so much nsxtasy! Just looked at the website and looks great! I really appreciate you responding and if you think of anything else I would love to know. Thanks again!

      1. re: snappygourmet

        Okay, I'm back. I'm having a little fun out of town, which is why I posted about tonight's dinner on another Chowhound board.

        There have been a couple of discussions about food tours, so you might take a look at them:

        This is a topic about places that are unique to Chicago:

        I think some of the suggestions there qualify as quirky and fun. For example, Alinea, our "best of the best" restaurant, is quirky and fun, to an extreme. If you're not familiar with it, take a look at this cartoon, which is the best description I've seen of it: Unfortunately, it's exceedingly unlikely that you'll be able to get reservations at this point, since they book up 2-3 months in advance. So keep it in mind for your next visit.

        I think North Pond is quirky and fun, for its location in the middle of the park.

        I think Sable is quirky and fun, for the delicious food (“sweet corn crème brulee” and “bison short rib sliders” give you an idea of the quirky, fun menu) as well as for their artisanal cocktails.

        The thing I hate about Kuma’s Corner is the wait. And you can get delicious quirky, fun burgers and the best milk shakes EVER without waiting in line (avoid 11:45-12:20) at Edzo’s in Evanston.

        Another place that might qualify as quirky and fun is the Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company. I gotta say, I’m not all that fond of their “pizza”, which is really more like a “pizza pot pie”, served in a bowl. But it’s certainly different.

        Bongo Room is quirky and fun for their creative pancakes, like the pretzel pancakes with white chocolate caramel sauce.

        Walker Brothers in the suburbs is quirky and fun for the stained glass décor and the amazing, puffed-up, cinnamon apple pancake.

        Moto is quirky and fun. They do molecular gastronomy, like stuff with frozen nitrogen, foods designed to look like other foods, etc.

        There are also a lot of other places I love for the food, that probably wouldn’t qualify as quirky and fun. Some of my favorites are bistro type places – contemporary American (Deleece on Southport in Lakeview, Boka in Lincoln Park), Italian (Piccolo Sogno in River West), French (La Sardine in the West Loop). All of these have superbly delicious food in a lively bistro atmosphere, and at reasonable prices. So maybe they’re not quirky and fun. But they’re places where I always finish meals with incredibly high satisfaction and a desire to return again soon because everything is done so well.

        If I think of any more quirky, fun places, I’ll come back here and mention them.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Thank you so much! Will have look them all up!

    2. I can suggest some really good quirty places, but they're mostly not near the Wyndham so it's good you have a car.

      Hopleaf - always crowded and no reservations. Fabulous choices of beers and ales plus very good food. The mussels are especially awesome.

      The Publican is also a gastro pub that specializes in (yes beers and ales), but also pork and seafood dishes. - mostly to share I've never had a bad meal there. Communal seating, but some actual tables for 2 or 4 and they take reservations.

      Belly Shack and Urban Belly are tiny Asian-Latin Fusion restaurants (BYO) with really good food. Inexpensive. Urban Belly is right under the Western Avenue el. Literally.

      90 Miles is a little Cuban place (not far from Urban Belly) that is very popular. Outdoor seating at least doubles the size of the place.

      On Argyle St, and Broadway is our Vietnamese neighborhood. Tons of good, inexpensive Vietnamese food and shops. I happen to like Tank. Others have their favorites.

      A little further north along Devon Ave. is an Indian/Pakistani community with lots of restaurants. Not my thing but I'm sure others could make suggestions. Cumin is a very good Indian/Nepalese place at around 1400 Milwaukee Ave - has a Michelin Bib Gourmand recommendation.

      There are lot of good Mexican holes in the wall around town, but especially in the Pilsen neighborhood that you might enjoy (some are way nicer than holes in the wall). I also really like Los Nopales on Western Avenue in Lincoln Square.

      Are these getting closer to what you had in mind?

      Hopleaf Bar
      5148 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

      3053 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

      1 Reply
      1. re: chicgail

        Thanks, will have to look them all up! Lots of good ideas! Thank you!

      2. San Soo Gab San on Western.Korean BBQ. You'll get a live grill in the middle of your table for grilling the marinated meats they bring to you. Your table will be filled with "panchan" which is a plethora of little plates of condiments/snacks.Their Khalbi is out of this world. Plenty of good eats all over their menu.

        Dick's Last Resort and Ed Debevic's will meet your specifications of quirky and "not the best restaurant."The staff there are playfully grumpy. Sometimes it can be shocking but that's their schtick.

        I'd also suggest making a trek to Super H mart in Niles,or Mitsuwa in Arlington Heights if you enjoy Asian supermarkets, and you don't have any big ones in the area you are from. Both have food courts, Super H is more extensive, and showy. I love both.

        Dick's Last Resort
        315 N Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60654

        Ed Debevic's
        203 Yorktown Shopping Ctr, Lombard, IL 60148

        1 Reply
        1. re: gordeaux

          Thanks! Will have to research some of those. I've been to Dick's and Ed's so I think we'll skip those this time. But that's kind of what we're looking for. Thanks again!