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Visit to Chicago this Thursday to Monday - Dinner and Breakfast recs

g
gkm23 Jul 10, 2011 07:47 PM

My wife and I will be traveling from Nashville to Chicago this weekend for the Pitchfork Music Festival. We will be driving up Thursday, and expect to be able to get there in time for dinner (though the exact time of arrival is TBD at this point, we're planning for 7 pm or so at the latest). We will be joining a friend and her boyfriend currently living in Chicago for dinner that night and possibly breakfast Friday morning. Of course, since the majority of our trip will be spent in Union Park, the only day of eating outside the park for lunch/dinner will be Thursday. Gates for the festival open at 3pm Friday and noon Saturday and Sunday, and we will likely want to be a little earlier due to lines, but we anticipate having time for breakfast (maybe lunch) Friday, and possibly Saturday-Monday (though earlier). We will be staying at the Hotel Monaco on N Wabash. Last time in Chicago we ate at the Purple Pig and loved it, but would like something else this time. I've wanted to try Frontera Grill for some time, but not sure whether we will be able to get in in a reasonable time on Thursday. Our friend has mentioned Publican as a possibility and another friend mentioned it for breakfast/brunch. As far as specifics, we will have a car but plan on taking the L to the festival and would like to limit our driving overall, so close to the hotel is most important for breakfast, less for dinner. We're open to essentially any type of food, $20-30 per entree is probably the max for dinner. Normally I'd look through threads for interesting ideas, but that can be overwhelming enough for the relatively small but growing dining scene of my current hometown, let alone Chicago, so any recommendations would be greatly appreciated (and if anyone has any recs for food stands in the festival, those would be much appreciated as well). Thanks!

-----
Frontera Grill
445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

Purple Pig
500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

  1. d
    delk Jul 13, 2011 04:09 PM

    Howdy gkm23!

    So, I live a couple blocks from Union Park [and walk through it every day (woo-hoo, the stages went up today) on my way from work] and also have been to every Pitchfork Music Fest and the original Intonation Fests.

    So, food at the fest. I'm a huge fan of the cevapcici stand. Balkan grilled sausage (skinless) 1/2 beef, 1/4 lamb and 1/4 pork served on a pita with raw onions and a roasted red pepper and eggplant sauce that is quite spicy.

    The Rice Table serves some Indonesian food, pretty good satays and currys.

    Abbey Pub has fish and chips, pretty good, but it was so hot out, I regretted eating them.

    Whole Foods has a ton of fresh fruit and Veggies.

    Had some potstickers last year but don't remember where I got them.

    Sadly Goose Island (local Chicago brewery) is no longer at Pitchfork!

    The Ashland Pink/Green line stop drops you right at the fest, visit CTA to find maps, or you could take the Blue Line to Racine, avoid a lot of the crowds, but have to walk about 6 blocks.

    Obviously when the show ends, 20,000 folks will be leaving and clogging up all the public transport. You may want to walk about ten minutes down Odgen to The Twisted Spoke which is open on Friday until 2 am and Saturday until 3 am, nice roof deck patio to have a drink while the crowds die down. (Bottom Lounge is closer, but it will be PACKED)

    Have fun at the show, and if you see an old guy with a massive gray beard, it might be me so say hi!

    -----
    Twisted Spoke
    501 N Ogden Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

    1 Reply
    1. re: delk
      l
      lbs Jul 14, 2011 07:00 AM

      ---- Cevapcici stand. Balkan grilled sausage (skinless) 1/2 beef, 1/4 lamb and 1/4 pork served on a pita with raw onions and a roasted red pepper and eggplant sauce that is quite spicy.-----

      If that is the same stand that was at Folk Root Fest last weekend, I highly, highly, highly recommend. Big enough to share if you are inclined as well. Not overpriced either for festival food. That red pepper/eggplant sauce is addicting!

    2. g
      gkm23 Jul 12, 2011 06:07 PM

      Thanks for the suggestions everyone. Our friend mentioned Avec too, but we've decided to go with Mercat a la Planxa since she hasn't been there before. Anything in particular I should be on the look out for there? As for breakfast, I guess we'll see as we go. Definitely good to know about South Water Kitchen. I'm sure since it's in our hotel that we'll be making a stop there. Menu looks good. Heaven on Seven looks interesting as well. Friday may be our best chance to give that a try, but we're both fans of cajun/creole, so sounds like a good choice to me.

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

      Heaven on Seven
      600 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

      South Water Kitchen
      225 N. Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL 60601

      2 Replies
      1. re: gkm23
        nsxtasy Jul 12, 2011 06:23 PM

        >> Our friend mentioned Avec too, but we've decided to go with Mercat a la Planxa since she hasn't been there before. Anything in particular I should be on the look out for there?

        Mercat a la Planxa serves tapas (small plates) so you order a lot more dishes than a conventional place with large entrees, and they're typically shared by everyone. I was there in a party of four and I think we ordered 14 different items. Nothing stands out in my memory as a "don't miss", but everything was good and a lot of things were different from the usual. HTH

        >> Heaven on Seven looks interesting as well. Friday may be our best chance to give that a try, but we're both fans of cajun/creole, so sounds like a good choice to me.

        Great! Just FYI - as I mentioned, the location on Wabash is closest to your hotel, about a block away. Check their website for hours (I think they open at 9 during the week, 10 on Saturdays). They're closed Sundays, but the Rush location isn't all that far away either, and serves brunch on Sundays, but I don't think they start early enough to enable you to get to the festival by noon.

        Enjoy!

        1. re: gkm23
          s
          Siun Jul 14, 2011 07:29 AM

          Mercat's a great choice! I've enjoyed it all but particularly love their lobster a la planxa which is so simple and so perfect - and the dessert that mentions marshmallow, bananas and basil oil I think (which I can never remember the name of and which sounds like a rather odd mix) is one of the best things I have ever had anywhere. Also they do the full blown absinthe service if you indulge - I don't but my daughter did and was very happy afterwards ;->

        2. k
          kathryn Jul 11, 2011 08:26 AM

          Hi gkm23! I just recently got back from a trip to Chicago where we stayed at the Hotel 71, whichis within spitting distance of the Hotel Monaco. If you are a fan of chilaquiles or churros or hot chocolate, I recommend stopping into Xoco for a quick breakfast (but not on Sunday/Monday when they are closed). It's a short walk (maybe 10-15 minutes) from your hotel. Breakfast served daily until 10am:
          http://www.rickbayless.com/menu/layou...

          Also, Frontera Grill does Saturday brunch, but their brunch menu is not very "brunchy," so that could be a way try some (but not all) of the same dishes they offer for dinner. They might have reservation times still available for Saturday brunch.

          Have a great time at the festival and in Chicago.

          -----
          XOCO
          449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

          1 Reply
          1. re: kathryn
            nsxtasy Jul 11, 2011 09:08 AM

            >> Also, Frontera Grill does Saturday brunch, but their brunch menu is not very "brunchy," so that could be a way try some (but not all) of the same dishes they offer for dinner. They might have reservation times still available for Saturday brunch.

            Just FYI - a few months ago I was headed out for brunch on a Saturday without reservations. I called ahead to Frontera Grill to ask about the wait time to be seated and it was 90 minutes. If a Mexican weekend brunch is of interest, both Mundial Cocina Mestiza, in Pilsen, and Mexique, in West Town, offer brunch on both Saturdays and Sundays, and both accept advance reservations on Opentable.com as well as over the phone. (I went to Mundial when Frontera was slammed, and thought it was outstanding. I had no reservation and there was no wait.)

          2. chicgail Jul 11, 2011 06:24 AM

            Many of nsxtasy's suggestions are good, especially Mercat and Mexique and Pizano's. Sable has very good food, but feels to me more like a great bar than a great restaurant. The drinks are extensive and amazing.

            I love Publican. The food is wonderful; the place is fun; the staff knowledgeable. The brunch is spectacular. If you like the Purple PIg, this place is even better.

            Frontera does have some reservations and it's worth a try. I would call rather than trying opentable.com. A "reasonable" time is up to you. You can eat at the bar and choose items both from the Frontera menu and the Topolobampo menu.

            If you're going to be in Lincoln Park, I would go to Perennial Virant. It just re-opened under the chefdom of Paul Virant and while I haven't tried the new Perennial yet, it has had good reaction.

            -----
            Topolobampo
            445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

            Mexique
            1529 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

            3 Replies
            1. re: chicgail
              nsxtasy Jul 11, 2011 07:39 AM

              >> Sable has very good food, but feels to me more like a great bar than a great restaurant. The drinks are extensive and amazing.

              Here we go again! :) I think the food at Sable is outstanding; even those who don't drink alcohol can have a great meal there. Many of the dishes are available in half portions, so you can try multiple items. I (as well as many others, although not chicgail) especially love their sweet corn creme brulee, which is a savory take-off on the classic French dessert. Plus, the prices there are unusually low for such high quality from such an accomplished chef (Heather Terhune). Compared with the Publican (which is much more barlike, with high-tops for standing in the center of the room), Sable is a lot closer (just a few blocks away), it's less expensive, you don't have to worry about getting stuck at those awful long communal tables, and I think the food is much, much better.

              A bit more about Cibo Matto. It is a creative, contemporary version of Italian cuisine, with global influences. So you can get everything from conventional pasta dishes, to creative bistro fare. The decor is contemporary and hip. It's in the Wit Hotel, which also has a rooftop bar worth visiting.

              >> Frontera does have some reservations and it's worth a try. I would call rather than trying opentable.com.

              Frontera Grill only accepts reservations over the phone (unlike Topolobampo, its sister restaurant in the same location, which takes them on Opentable also). It's unlikely that you'll get one, but you never know, you've got nothing to lose by giving them a call. Otherwise, though, you've got that 60-90 minute wait to consider in deciding whether or not to go there. If you've always wanted to go there, then maybe the wait is worth it for you. And, as noted above, the wait dies down in the last hour before closing (10 pm).

              >> If you're going to be in Lincoln Park, I would go to Perennial Virant.

              Which is about three miles north of your hotel.

              1. re: chicgail
                chicgail Jul 11, 2011 09:46 AM

                Oops. You said you were going to spend the majority of your time in Union Park and when I read it (without my lenses in) I thought it said Lincoln Park. Never mind

                1. re: chicgail
                  nsxtasy Jul 11, 2011 10:17 AM

                  Hey, I'm a longtime Chicago resident and I never heard of Union Park. I thought it was a typo when I first read it, then checked the Pitchfork website and found that it's a park at Ashland and Lake.

                  Incidentally, Mexique is about 3/4 mile north of Union Park.

              2. nsxtasy Jul 10, 2011 09:11 PM

                For dinner Thursday, here are some possibilities. I think Publican is okay, but there are other places I like better, and most of them are only a few blocks from your hotel too (Publican is about a mile):

                1. Frontera Grill is excellent, but unless you get there around 5:00 (they open the doors 5:20) or after 9:00 (they close at 10:00), you're going to wait 60-90 minutes or more to be seated. www.rickbayless.com/restaurants

                2. Sable is about four blocks north of the Monaco and offers delicious and affordable contemporary American cuisine along with amazing artisanal cocktails. www.sablechicago.com

                3. Cibo Matto is around the block from the Monaco and has excellent Italian cuisine. www.eatcibomatto.com

                4. Three blocks south is Pizano's where you can get authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza. www.pizanoschicago.com

                5. A bit further (about 8 blocks south) is Mercat a la Planxa for tapas. www.mercatchicago.com

                6. If you want to try some of our terrific provincial Mexican cuisine, but you don't want to deal with the long waits at Frontera Grill, you could go to Mexique. It's about three miles northwest of the hotel. www.mexiquechicago.com

                I strongly recommend making reservations in advance for any of these if at all possible. Frontera will almost certainly have none available, since they only accept a handful and keep most of the place available for walk-in traffic (see above regarding waits). Pizano's doesn't accept reservations but you can phone ahead with your pizza order to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake. All the others mentioned above accept reservations on Opentable.com as well as over the phone.

                For breakfast, there are some good places near the hotel, and all are open seven days for breakfast (except Heaven on Seven's Wabash location, which is closed Sundays):

                1. South Water Kitchen - is in your hotel and is quite good (IOW not just a typical hotel restaurant). www.southwaterkitchen.com

                2. Heaven on Seven's Wabash location is a block south on the seventh floor of a high-rise office building, and offers a creole/cajun breakfast. www.heavenonseven.com

                3. LB Bistro is the restaurant in the Sheraton hotel, about three blocks east, and is run by a two-time world pastry champion. They have a huge AYCE buffet. www.lbbistro.com

                4. Atwood Cafe is in the Hotel Burnham, about three blocks away. www.atwoodcafe.com

                5. Fox & Obel is our premier gourmet food store, with the best of everything, including meats, cheeses, fish, prepared foods, etc. Their baked goods are fantastic, especially the cinnamon swirl rolls, bran muffins, croissants, brioche, etc. They have a cafe in the rear of the store where you can get anything from a cup of coffee to a complete meal, prepared to order. For breakfast, I recommend the Cobb omelet. It's about six blocks northeast of the hotel. www.fox-obel.com

                >> Our friend has mentioned Publican as a possibility and another friend mentioned it for breakfast/brunch.

                The only day Publican is open other than dinner is their brunch on Sundays.

                Feel free to ask more questions, and enjoy your visit!

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