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One Lunch, One Brunch in Chicago - Where to Eat

Hi - I am going to Chicago for a wedding and so will have limited opportunities to check out Chicago's food scene. I'll pretty much have one week day lunch and one sunday brunch/lunch. I am staying downtown,

So, far I've been considering Frontera Grill, XoCo, The Publican (for brunch), David Burke's PrimeHouse for the sunday dim sum (got an opentable reservations for that). Am also considering the Girl & the Goat, Avec, The Purple Pig? I am willing to cab it out to other neighborhoods but am staying at the renaissance chicago downtown.

My significant other has never been to chicago before, and I haven't been in years, so I'm only vaguely familiar with the town but want to make sure he comes away impressed with the food. thanks!

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Avec Restaurant
615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661

Frontera Grill
445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

Purple Pig
500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

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  1. Some of the options you mention aren't open at the times you state. Girl and the Goat and Avec are not open for weekday lunch or Sunday brunch. The Publican is not open for weekday lunch. Frontera Grill and XOCO are not open on Sundays.

    For the weekday lunch, I'd recommend Topolobampo rather than Frontera/XOCO, as long as it's not a Monday (when all three are closed). Topolobampo is the sister restaurant to Frontera Grill and XOCO (they're all in the same place). The big advantage of Topolobampo over Frontera Grill for lunch is reservations; you can get reservations at Topo pretty easily, either on Opentable or over the phone (they book up a few weeks in advance, vs 3 months for dinner), whereas Frontera accepts very few reservations and without one you're stuck with a long wait unless you get there before they open the doors. The cuisine at Topolobampo is similar to Frontera's - creative provincial Mexican, something you can't find in most American cities this side of the border. Topolobampo is more expensive than Frontera for dinner, but lunch prices are similar to Frontera's. You can walk there from your hotel in five minutes.

    If you'd like a couple more options for the weekday lunch, North Pond is open for weekday lunch (Tuesday through Friday) during the summer, and in addition to the great contemporary American cuisine, has its exquisite setting in the middle of the park, looking out on the pond and the city skyline. Blackbird is another place with contemporary American cuisine that's a good place for a weekday lunch.

    As for Sunday brunch, starting with the remaining places you've mentioned... I have not been to the Publican for brunch, only for dinner. It's an option; so is the Purple Pig, which serves from the same menu all day long and does not have a special brunch menu like Publican does. The Purple Pig does not accept reservations; the Publican does (including on Opentable), and when reserving you can mention a preference for either your own table or the godawful communal seating, and they will try to accommodate it. From your hotel, you can walk to the Purple Pig in five minutes; the Publican is a mile away. David Burke's Primehouse no longer has their "Sunday dim sum" brunch, which I used to love (perhaps you've read my posts about it); they now have a "brunch in a box" that I haven't been to, mostly because the menu hasn't really appealed to me; you can view it on their website at www.davidburkesprimehouse.com

    If I might suggest other places, the best brunches I've had in or near the downtown area (excluding the now-defunct American dim sum brunch at Burke's) are Shaw's Crab House in River North (terrific choice for seafood lovers), Nightwood in Pilsen, Perennial in Lincoln Park, and Cafe des Architectes off the Mag Mile. From the hotel, you can walk to Shaw's in three minutes and to CdA in ten; the other two, you would need to take a cab or public transit. I've posted detailed reports on brunches at all four of these in the big brunch discussion at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/364403 I haven't been to brunch at North Pond (which I mentioned above as an option for lunch), only dinner, but it's such a lovely setting and I've enjoyed the food too.

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    David Burke's Primehouse
    616 N Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611

    Frontera Grill
    445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

    Topolobampo
    445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

    Cafe des Architectes
    20 East Chestnut Street, Chicago, IL 60611

    Shaw's Crab House
    21 East Hubbard St., Chicago, IL 60611

    Purple Pig
    500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

    Nightwood
    2119 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608

    6 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      nsxtasty, saw your rec for brunch at Nightwood and thought it sounded v. interesting, esp since they list veg sausages on the menu. Made a res for my trip in Sept, and, as always, appreciate your posts.

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      Nightwood
      2119 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608

      1. re: nsxtasy

        >> North Pond is open for weekday lunch (Tuesday through Friday) during the summer

        It appears that North Pond no longer serves weekday lunch, even during the summer. Sorry! (They're still open for Sunday brunch year round, though.)

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        North Pond
        2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Unless something has changed, North Pond doesn't offer valet service for brunch and, because it's in the middle of a park that means finding a parking lot and walking a ways.

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          North Pond
          2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

          1. re: chicgail

            Their website says that valet service is available for Sunday brunch as well as nightly dinner. However, I've found that it's usually pretty easy to find nearby parking on the street on Sunday mornings, either in the park (on Cannon Drive or Stockton Drive) or on or near Lakeview Avenue. It may be the only time of the week when it's so easy!

            Besides, the OP does not have a car, so this isn't a concern for him/her anyway. Cabs are easy (the restaurant can call one for you if you don't want to just take your chances), and so are the #151 and #156 CTA buses to and from downtown which go through the park along Stockton.

            1. re: chicgail

              Why are people so against walking or trekking to a great spot to eat? Not that I think North Pond is worth walking or driving or valeting for - but still - your city is a blast to simply walk about with a map.

              http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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              North Pond
              2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

              1. re: uhockey

                For most people it's not an issue, but some people have physical limitations that make walking difficult. I just thought they should know in advance. North Pond is a lovely location with beautiful views. The brunch is good, but not killer. It's all part of the equation.

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                North Pond
                2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

        2. Lunch = Blackbird, Topolobampo, NAHA
          Sunday Brunch = M. Henry/M. Henrietta

          http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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          Topolobampo
          445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

          3 Replies
          1. re: uhockey

            >> Sunday Brunch = M. Henry/M. Henrietta

            Beware, both are quite a distance (8 miles) from downtown. Neither accepts reservations, and waits on Sundays between 9:30 and 12:30 are typically an hour or so.

            Publican, Shaw's, Nightwood, Perennial, and Cafe des Architectes are all within a few miles of downtown and all accept reservations on Opentable as well as over the phone.

            1. re: nsxtasy

              Have you been to Perennial since Virant took over?

              Also, if you order right (NOT the chicken and Waffles) Longman and Eagle puts out a damned solid brunch all week long.

              Kanela would be another consideration - though slightly further out they are putting out some really interesting stuff.

              http://uhockey.blogspot.com

              1. re: uhockey

                I've eaten at Kanela Breakfast Club, and wasn't all that impressed. It wasn't BAD, but just okay, and wasn't up there with our best, not even close. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3644...

                New breakfast specialty places are opening all the time; some of the newest include Marmalade, Lulu Belle's (in the old Violet space), and Brunch (that's the name of the place - good luck trying to google it). They're on my list of places to try.

          2. Tons of good suggestions below but want to especially second the Naha lunch recommendation. They do a superb lunch menu with great service and flavors.

            And you can always go across the street for Xoco aztec cocoa and churros for an afterlunch snack!

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            Naha
            500 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

            XOCO
            449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

            1 Reply
            1. re: Siun

              The only problem with lunch at Naha is that it's quite pricey compared with other lunches, with a $17 burger ($20 if you want bacon on it) and entrees in the mid twenties. By contrast, Blackbird (whose dinner menu is priced comparably to Naha's) is much more reasonable, with most entrees at $15. Appetizers are comparably pricey (many are $17 at Naha - yes, on the lunch menu - while none are over $12 at Blackbird).