HOME > Chowhound > Chicago Area >

Discussion

Great Lake wait strategy - specific questions

  • 5

In town from NYC for the week (third time but the first as a non-student with actual money to spend on gastrotourism!). Would love to run my whole itinerary by you but I'm afraid it's still very much up in the air and at any rate, I need to focus on the task at hand: making sure I get to try some Great Lake pizza tomorrow.

So the setup: I'm on holiday so I can show up there as early as need be, but I'm meeting a friend who works in uptown and won't be there til 5:15. So what would you suggest? If I got in line at 4:30, I would likely be seated at 5 (before my friend arrives), no? Now I realize even if I were seated at 5 it's unlikely I would have my pizza before 5:15, but I don't imagine them wanting to seat me if I say I have a friend that will be there in 15 min. Should I just wait and get in line a little later? They do take names and numbers for the list, right? Will they take your name down if your whole party isn't there yet?

Eager to hear your suggestions!

-----
Great Lake
1477 W Balmoral Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I'm not sure how the holiday weekend might affect wait times, but I share your intuition that if you get there at 4:30, you are likely to be in the first round of people seated. You could get there at 4:30 and then let people cut you in line until you ended up in the second round of seating (to avoid ending up so far back in the queue that you wouldn't be seated until very late).

    They will indeed take your name and phone number even if your whole party is not standing in front of them. For a fuller (and tasty) Andersonville experience, I suggest putting your name in and then decamping to In Fine Spirits (for great cocktails) or Hopleaf (for an excellent beer selection). In Fine Spirits has an attached liquor store where you can pick something up for BYO to Great Lake, but there are also a few corner stores that sell wine/beer between Hopleaf and Great Lake, if that's more up your alley.

    When I went, we put our name in and were told it would be about 1.5 hours. We went to Hopleaf, got a round of beer and some mussels as an appetizer, and just as we were finishing up, they called. Once they call, they're pretty generous with the time they allow you to take to make it back to Great Lake. We paid, picked up two bottles of white at a corner store, and settled in for some delicious pizza. This plan would also work with In Fine Spirits, as they have tasty small plates, but Hopleaf's more of a Chicago institution.

    -----
    Hopleaf Bar
    5148 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

    In Fine Spirits
    5420 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

    Great Lake
    1477 W Balmoral Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

    1 Reply
    1. re: pamiam

      Thanks so much! And in case this wasn't clear, since I know I wrote this late last night I'm going tonight, Thursday, not Friday, so hopefully a little less busy?

    2. You could always tell them when you expect your complete party and let them decide when it would be best to seat you. It's possible that there won't be a line when they open (not likely, but possible!) and so long as no one else gets there before your friend, you'll be ready to go.

      Though, like Pamiam said, they're pretty good at providing estimates of when tables will be ready and there are plenty of restaurants/bars nearby where you can hang out while you wait. In addition to Hopleaf and In Fine Spirits, I'd suggest Acre. It's a hair closer to Great Lake with a fantastic beer list, focusing more on domestic craft than Hopleaf (which while delivering some great domestic options is known more for their Belgians) -- it might be worthwhile for you to check out their beer menus online and go with what looks more appealing (though actual selection may vary, of course).
      http://acrerestaurant.com/AcreBeverag...
      http://hopleaf.com/menus/drafts/

      Simone's is a pretty great dive bar, just a little further down Clark St., too. And, in fact, if the wait is outrageous for a table at Great Lake, you can always get a pizza to go and bring it into Simeon's (they won't mind).

      One other thing to watch for if you're waiting for a phone call from them is to make sure your cell phone gets decent reception in whatever bar you're waiting in. A friend of mine nearly missed his pizza because he couldn't get a signal while waiting in Hopleaf. Could be any number of factors at play, but just something to look out for!

      -----
      Hopleaf Bar
      5148 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

      In Fine Spirits
      5420 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

      Great Lake
      1477 W Balmoral Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

      1. I would politely simply ask and explain your situation. Contrary to some online complaints about rude service I've found them to be wonderful people. They care about their craft and run their business as they see fit. Sometimes I think the line gets a bit blurred because of that and their misinterpreted as rude. Make no mistake, they are the pizzerias version of Schwa and it's a take it or leave approach they have. Some are turned off by that, but speaking for myself that view is what I admire. As for the pizza? I've been to most of the best. And hands down my favorite is Great Lake. But then pizza preferences among people can't be more subjective. Enjoy!

        -----
        Great Lake
        1477 W Balmoral Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

        1 Reply
        1. re: oysterspearls

          Thanks so much everyone! Got there at 4:40, was the only one there. A couple showed up at 5 til. They wouldn't seat me until my friend arrived but let me sit on the bench inside. I was a little concerned because my phone had died, and my friend took a little longer than I was expecting (I think she got there at 5:25.) Luckily though I think we got the last spots at the communal table along with another couple. Got the chard pie. The charred leaves reminded me a bit of the popeye at Co.

          Couple thoughts. I actually thought this was quite a lot of pizza. We had three slices left. In New York I typically get one Neopolitan style pie per person and never have been not able to finish. And the cheapest I could get a decent plain margherita would be about $13. So ~$12/person = good deal to me. Though it could have just been so filling because of the thickness/breadiness of the crust. I found this a little disappointing because I would have liked to try the #1 as well but I think even if our party had a third person I only would have wanted one pie!

          Thanks again...attempting solo dining at the bar first thing at Girl & the Goat tonight!