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Chicago for my 30th Birthday

s
sixteenbiticon Jul 7, 2011 06:08 AM

Here is my planned itinerary for our long weekend in Chicago next week. I'm very excited about every single place we have on our list to try. We'll be staying with a friend in Roger's Park and will be using his car to get around. I've left it up to him to decide what we do between meals. Ya know, the unimportant stuff... hehe.

Our flght gets into O'Hare Thursday at 10pm so our first stop is a late night dinner and a beer or five at Hopleaf. Luckily it's not too far to his place where I'm sure we'll crash heavily.

We have two pies reserved at Burt's Place for lunch on Friday. No idea what we'll do after that, but I plan on both emailing and trying the old-fashioned walk-in to get into Aviary at 6pm. Dinner will be afterwards at Avec. The interior of the place frightens me, but I can't ignore all of the glowing recommendations and the appetizing menu. If we have the time/stomach space I wouldn't mind hitting either Hot Chocolate or Scooter's for dessert. I seriously doubt either of these will happen, especially considering Scooter's closes at 10, but it doesn't hurt to have options.

Saturday we'll be hitting Xoco for tortas and churros. I've never had a great churro, and I love a great torta. Again, I'm not sure what we'll be doing during the day, but I wouldn't mind checking out the naanwiches at either the truck or the brick and mortar Gaztro-Wagon. We have a 9:15pm reservation at The Girl and The Goat for my "official" birthday dinner.

Sunday I couldn't decide between two brunch places, but after realizing they were only a couple blocks apart, I decided we could split up and put our names in at both places and go to whichever has a shorter wait. Longman & Eagle and Lula Cafe are our choices.

I'm not really sure how we're going to spend the remainder of Sunday. On my visit last year we hit Johnnies on the way to the airport, which was great, so we might do that again, or I'd be interested in checking out the New Maxwell Street Market if we have time. Or maybe we'll finish our day with some custard from Scooter's. I'm going to leave our last meal before we head to the airport to chance.

So that's it. I think this is a pretty damn good sampling of your fine city. It's not quite as adventurous at my trip last year, but I'm not sure I can eat quite as much as I could then. I think trip will be a little less than trying to fill my stomach to bursting during every waking hour, and moreso about spending my birthday with good friends... with some good food, of course.

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

Hot Chocolate
1747 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

New Maxwell Street Market
548 W Roosevelt Rd, Chicago, IL

Hopleaf Bar
5148 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

Burt's Place
8541 N Ferris Ave, Morton Grove, IL

XOCO
449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

  1. d
    danimalarkey Jul 7, 2011 09:30 AM

    Sounds like a very tasty itinerary! I have a few comments, though, if you don't mind.

    Re Hopleaf, the kitchen does close at 11pm on Thursday nights. Assuming your friend picks you up at the airport, it still might be cutting it close to get from O'Hare to Andersonville. I don't know that neighborhood too well so I don't know what other options might work for late night dining in case of traffic or a late arrival for your flight. Hopefully it will work out, though!

    Re Friday dinner, I've been more impressed with The Publican than Avec lately. The Publican still has a lot of communal seating and the menu is a little brasserie-ish versus the Mediterranean plates at Avec. It's a lot larger and accepts reservations, though, so it might be easier to eat there if the menu looks more appealing. It's also about two blocks down the street from The Aviary.

    Speaking of The Aviary, I don't think you'll need to worry about reservations or a long wait to just walk in if you're going at 6pm. I don't think it gets busy until after 9pm.

    If you're interested in more traditional, but still excellent cocktails, consider going to The Whistler, The Violet Hour and Sable. In fact, Sable might be a good alternative for this night's dinner if you're really not looking forward to the stools and communal seating at Avec.

    Otherwise, enjoy the trip and be sure to let us know what you thought of everything!

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

    Hopleaf Bar
    5148 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

    Violet Hour
    1247 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

    8 Replies
    1. re: danimalarkey
      m
      ms. mika Jul 7, 2011 10:16 AM

      Just to reply to the comment on Aviary- we've gone at 6pm on a Saturday and there was a line before it opened. The interest may have died down recently, but I would still show up a few minutes before 6pm if you don't have a reservation.

      1. re: danimalarkey
        nsxtasy Jul 7, 2011 11:38 AM

        >> The Publican still has a lot of communal seating

        About half the seating at Publican consists of two looooooooong tables. The rest is private tables: two-tops that can be moved together for up to six, plus "stalls" that are good for four. When making an advance reservation at the Publican (which you can do at Opentable or over the phone), you can mention a preference for private seating or for communal, and they will try to accommodate your request. However...

        >> In fact, Sable might be a good alternative for this night's dinner if you're really not looking forward to the stools and communal seating at Avec.

        This is really good advice. You should be aware that Avec's seating is dreadful, with a choice of backless/armless stools at the bar, wooden benches (think church pews) along one wall, and the rest simple wooden boxes, no backs.

        And the food I've had at Sable is much, MUCH better than what I've had at Avec or Publican. And Sable also has amazing artisanal cocktails.

        Sable and Publican both accept reservations on Opentable as well as over the phone. I recommend doing so in advance - in your case, for next week, RIGHT NOW - as they are popular and they do fill up in advance.

        1. re: nsxtasy
          s
          sixteenbiticon Jul 8, 2011 04:39 AM

          Thanks for the heads up. My original back-up plan to Aviary was the Violet Hour, but it had another interior that I wasn't too keen on. I'd liked the Sable cocktail list too, but hadn't heard much about the quality of their food. 8pm reservation made. Thank you for the recommendation.

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          Violet Hour
          1247 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

          1. re: sixteenbiticon
            chicgail Jul 8, 2011 06:47 AM

            The cocktails at Sable are suburb, creative and extensive and the food is very good. It's lovely, but not really as cutting edge as either Aviary or Violet, but you should enjoy it.

        2. re: danimalarkey
          s
          sixteenbiticon Jul 8, 2011 06:27 AM

          Could you recommend anything between O'Hare and Roger's Park (slight detours are definitely doable, last year we hit Kuma's) that would be open late on a Thursday and serves destination-worthy food?

          1. re: sixteenbiticon
            d
            danimalarkey Jul 8, 2011 06:46 AM

            One place that comes to mind, though I'm hesitant to suggest it since you plan on going to the same area, if not restaurant, for brunch is Longman & Eagle. It's a right off the expressway coming out of O'Hare. I can't find confirmation online right now so a quick phone call might be a good idea, but I believe they have a decent late night menu until 1 or 2am (if not the complete dinner menu). I could be wrong, of course.

            You could always head back there for brunch on Sunday, but I'm sure there are a number of places in Rogers Park/Andersonville that could work, too. I've heard good things about Vincent's brunch, a new-ish Dutch restaurant that seems to be doing well. I also like Ann Sathers, but aside from their cinnamon rolls, I don't know that they're terribly distinctive. Nsxtasy knows brunch spots and can hopefully give some additional ideas.

            1. re: danimalarkey
              nsxtasy Jul 8, 2011 07:19 AM

              >> Could you recommend anything between O'Hare and Roger's Park (slight detours are definitely doable, last year we hit Kuma's) that would be open late on a Thursday and serves destination-worthy food?

              The most direct route would be straight up Touhy Avenue, but I can't think of any place near that route that is open that late during the week and serves destination-worthy food. The places meeting both those criteria tend to be in downtown Chicago or nearby city neighborhoods. Given the lateness, traffic is usually light so travel times to downtown and elsewhere would not be excessive. I agree with danimalarkey that it would be a good time to check out places in the city that are crowded at earlier hours and don't take reservations, such as Longman & Eagle (which I've never been to but I've heard good things). Their website says they are open till 2 and don't show anything about not serving their dinner menu after any particular hour. For additional suggestions among our always-crowded restaurants, see the photo-essay at http://chicago.metromix.com/restaurants/essay_photo_gallery/chicagos-always-crowded-spots/2508058/content

              If you decide to change your brunch plans as a result, there are lots of places that do an excellent Sunday brunch. The good news is, Sunday mornings also mean light traffic and quicker travel times. The bad news is, some brunch places don't accept reservations, and typical wait times between roughly 9:30 and 12:30 can be 30-60 minutes. Near Rogers Park, two sister restaurants - M. Henry ( www.mhenry.net ) in Chicago/Andersonville and M. Henrietta ( www.mhenrietta.com ) in Chicago/Edgewater - are both outstanding, but don't take reservations. Only slightly further are Southport Grocery ( www.southportgrocery.com ) in Chicago/Lakeview and Walker Brothers ( www.walkerbrosoph.com ) in Wilmette, also excellent but no reservations. Same thing for Lula, one of your original ideas and a bit further from Rogers Park than the previous suggestions. There are some excellent brunch places in downtown Chicago that do take reservations; I've enjoyed recent brunches at Cafe des Architectes, Shaw's Crab House (spectacular AYCE seafood buffet), and Nightwood. I've posted reports on these and other brunches around town in the topic at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/364403

              1. re: nsxtasy
                s
                sixteenbiticon Jul 8, 2011 09:38 AM

                L&E was my original pick for our first meal off of the plane, but since I was having trouble settling on a brunch spot, I switched it to Hopleaf. I'll set it up as my backup for Thursday night if we're running late and look into your other brunch recommendations.

                We did M. Henry last year. Bongo Room was another consideration, but that looks like carbo-loading to the extreme. Not sure if we'd be up for the challenge.

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                Hopleaf Bar
                5148 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

                Bongo Room
                50 E Roosevelt Rd, Chicago, IL 60605

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