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Three Days in Chicago

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In August I'm going to be in Chicago for three days visiting the University of Chicago. I love cooking and trying new foods, so if I'm going to live somewhere for at least 4 years, there MUST be good food. So, while I'm there I want to try as much food as I can; however, the college trip being expensive already, the food needs to be reasonably priced. Keeping that criteria in mind, list some of your favorite pizza and hot dog places, because how could I go to Chicago without having deep-dish pizza? Also, list your favorite places to eat in Chicago, serving any type of food.
I look forward to your advice!

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  1. Here's a key question: Will you be staying in Hyde Park the entire time, or traveling to other parts of the city? (Hyde Park, where the main UofC campus is located, is 7-8 miles south of downtown Chicago.)

    As for favorite places, here are links to two discussions that will give you an overview of what Chicago has to offer. This discussion tells what foods and places are unique or specialties in Chicago, foods that Chicago is particularly good at:

    first time Chicago - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/693477

    This discussion has an overview listing some of our best in various food categories, as well as advice for getting the best value for your dining dollar:

    Where are the best Chicago dinner *values* - the hidden gems? - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/697829

    1 Reply
    1. re: nsxtasy

      No, I'll probably be staying downtown. I haven't found any hotels in Hyde Park, they're all B&B's. I'll probably only be in Hyde Park on the day I've scheduled the campus visit.

    2. The first thing you need to know is that Hyde Park is an island. The University pretty much keeps the neighborhood quiet and leafy, which means relatively little commerce or public transportation. So while you will find food---you won't starve---just google for Hyde Park restaurants---the Chicago festival of pizza, hot dogs, Italian beef, and entire streets of Indian restaurants lies beyond Hyde Park. Get yourself a CTA bus pass (look online for where). From HP you can take the #6 Jackson Park Express to downtown in ten minutes. Most of what you seek will be in the Loop (downtown south of the river), Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue north of the river), Streeterville (between Michigan Avenue and the lake), and River North (west of Michigan Avenue). Pick up a free CTA map at any subway station (downtown---there's none in HP). And, to answer your last question, I recommend Lou Malnati's for pizza (multiple locations) and Big Bowl for very good Pan-Asian (there are two and the most convenient for you downtown will be just west of Rush and Ohio---turn off Michigan at the Eddie Bauer store). Big Bowl is my go-to for visiting-from-out-of-town family, very reliable and everybody likes it, not expensive. One more thing: adjacent to where you can get the #6 bus is a strip mall at E Hyde Park and Lake Park that has a most useful Original Pancake House---anything you want for breakfast until mid-afternoon, always good.

      -----
      Big Bowl
      60 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611

      Lake Park Restaurant
      7 E Old Ridge Rd, Hobart, IN 46342

      4 Replies
      1. re: Querencia

        Thanks for the recommendations! Indian food sounds really good, but I might have a hard time convincing my dad who only wants food unique to Chicago like deep dish pizza and Chicago dogs. Are there any really good grocery stores in Chicago? I don't mean a grocery chain like Kroger or Albertsons. I saw there was one, Fox & Obel, but then read that it is in debt and not doing so well.

        1. re: erion

          Good info from Querencia, except the #6 bus can't get between Hyde Park and downtown in ten minutes except by helicopter, LOL! It takes forty minutes for the #6 to get from 57th and Stony to Wacker and Columbus in non-rush hours. ( www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/bus_s... ) The Metra electric line (commuter train) follows a similar route and does it in as little as 15 minutes on rush-hour express trains, 21 minutes for the locals ( www.metrarail.com/metra/en/home/maps_... ).

          Fox & Obel is still terrific, for the very best of meats, fish, prepared foods, baked goods, etc. It's a gourmet store, and it's not cheap, but it's a great place when you want the very best. It's a five-minute walk from Millennium Station, the last stop on the Metra electric line. It's also right off Lake Shore Drive, the main route for driving downtown from Hyde Park, and they offer free validated parking.

          For pizza, if you want the authentic, traditional single-crust deep-dish pizza in the pan, I recommend either going to Lou Malnati's at 8th and State (halfway between the Roosevelt Road and Jackson-Van Buren stops on Metra), or Pizano's on Madison (near the Millennium Station stop). For double-crust "stuffed" pizza, Giordano's has a location on Blackstone in Hyde Park. In the downtown area, there are lots of locations of all of these.

          There are several topics on Hyde Park here on Chowhound, including these:

          Hyde Park? - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/119212
          What's Good To Eat Near The Museum of Science & Industry - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/724417
          Near the University of Chicago - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/658548

          This one outlines destination restaurants all over the South Side:

          Are there ANY destination restaurants on the South Side? - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/780387

          As for where to eat in the rest of the city, see these discussions. This morning I posted a response in this topic about what is truly "don't miss" in the city:

          Limited time and want it alll - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/797418

          Alinea is expensive, but the other recommendations there - deep-dish pizza and provincial Mexican food - are very affordable.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            >> As for where to eat in the rest of the city, see these discussions. This morning I posted a response in this topic about what is truly "don't miss" in the city:

            I meant to say, see this discussion, as well as the two in my first post above.

          2. re: erion

            Fox & Obel is still there and still nice, I believe. I haven't been in 4-5 months. They've changed some things but its still a very good grocery store.

        2. I, too, am going to be in Chicago for 3 days and want to find some good places to eat. Last time I was there, I had a great dinner at The Girl and The Goat, but alas, they have no reservations available during the time I am visiting.

          I am of Lithuanian descent, and would LOVE to know of any Lithuanian restaurants that are easy to access via public transportation. I have found some that seem to be hard to get to without a car, but that will not work for me.

          If I can make a market suggestion as an occasional visiting Easterner, my friend took me to the French Market when I was visiting last time, and I greatly enjoyed it.

          http://www.frenchmarketchicago.com/ve...

          9 Replies
          1. re: butterfingers

            I've found information on three Lithuanian restaurants in the city; I'll follow with a post for the suburbs. You can get to any of these city restaurants by public transportation. You will need to transfer on the CTA, so use a fare card; that way the transfer will only cost $.25 instead of having to pay a full fare for each ride.

            Healthy Food - that's the name of the restaurant - is not all that far from downtown (four miles south, one mile west). WARNING: One website I looked at said they are closed, so call before going. Anyway, just in case they're open, here's their info:

            Healthy Food
            3236 S. Halsted St.
            (312) 326-2724
            www.healthyfoodlithuanian-chicago.com

            You don't mention where you are coming from, which helps in terms of public transportation. The #8 CTA bus goes right down Halsted Street, and depending on where you're starting, you may be able to take it all the way there. If you're starting in the Loop, take the CTA Orange Line to the Halsted stop and then take the Halsted bus southbound. Note that the #8 buses stopping in front of the el stop are going in both directions - they all make a turnaround from Halsted and back - so make sure you take one going in the right direction.

            I'm guessing that the ones that are less convenient by public transportation are these two on 71st Street in Marquette Park:

            Seklycia
            2711 W. 71st.
            Chicago, IL 60629
            773-476-1680
            http://chicago.metromix.com/restauran...

            Neringa Restaurant
            2632 W. 71st. St.
            Chicago, IL 60629
            773-476-9026
            http://chicago.metromix.com/restauran...

            You could get to them by public transportation, but it will take a while. You can take the CTA Red Line to the 69th Street stop and then transfer to the westbound #67 bus which stops right there, or you can take the CTA Orange Line to the Western stop and then transfer to the southbound #94 bus and get out at 71st and California and walk a block and a half east.

            A quicker way would be to take the Metra Southwest Service commuter train to the Wrightwood stop (half hour ride non-stop from Union Station in the Loop - see schedule at www.metrarail.com/metra/en/home/maps_... ) and arrange for a cab to ride the mile and a half to the restaurants. Note that the commuter train service doesn't run frequently the way the CTA does.

            There are other Lithuanian sites in the Chicago area mentioned in Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithuani...
            including:

            Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture
            6500 S. Pulaski Rd.
            Chicago, IL 60629
            773-582-6500
            www.balzekasmuseum.org

            To get to the museum from the restaurants in Marquette Park, you could take the #67 bus westbound to Pulaski, then either walk north 3/4 mile or transfer to the #53A bus up Pulaski. Another way to get to the museum from downtown would be to take the CTA Orange Line to Midway Airport (the museum is a little over a mile from there), then either catch a cab or take the #59 bus and transfer to the #53A southbound.

            You could also call the museum and ask them if they know of any other Lithuanian restaurants in Chicago. If anyone knows, they do.

            Disclaimer: I have not been to these places and am relying on information on their websites and the CTA website at www.transitchicago.com and the Metra website at www.metrarail.com

            1. re: nsxtasy

              I have also found information on three Lithuanian restaurants in the suburbs:

              Grand Duke's Restaurant
              6312 S Harlem Ave
              Summit, IL 60501
              (708) 594-5622
              www.granddukesrestaurant.com

              From downtown Chicago, take the CTA Orange Line to Midway Airport, then transfer to the #63W bus and take it to Harlem Avenue.

              Mabenka Restaurant & Banquets
              7844 S Cicero Ave.
              Burbank, Illinois
              708.423.7679
              www.mabenka.com

              This is located 1/4 mile south of the Ford City Mall. You can get to the mall by taking the CTA Orange Line to Midway Airport and transferring to the southbound #54B CTA bus, then either walk to the restaurant or transfer to the #79 bus to the restaurant. You could also take the CTA Red Line to the 79th Street stop and transfer to the westbound #79 bus.

              The quickest way to get there from the Loop, though, would be to take the Metra Southwest Service commuter train to the Wrightwood stop (half hour ride non-stop from Union Station - see schedule at www.metrarail.com/metra/en/home/maps_... ) and then catch the #79 CTA bus westbound to the restaurant. But the commuter trains don't run as frequently as CTA service.

              Lithuanian Plaza
              9921 South Roberts Road
              Palos Hills, IL 60465-1532
              708-599-9866

              This is the least convenient of all to public transportation. Your best bet would be to take the Metra Southwest Service commuter train to the Worth stop and arrange for a cab for the last three miles.

              HTH!

              -----
              Mabenka
              7844 S Cicero Ave, Burbank, IL 60459

              Lithuanian Plaza
              9921 S Roberts Rd, Palos Hills, IL 60465

              1. re: nsxtasy

                Healthy Food: RIP; and last time I looked Neringa was, too, at least at its Marquette Park address.Seklycia's hours (if they're even still around) were variable. Call first before venturing out to Marquette Park..

                1. re: jbw

                  Thanks. And yes, definitely call first before making the long trip to any of these places.

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    Be very wary of Metromix listings outside the tourist district. They do not seem to have any real mechanism for noting closed restaurants and list many that have been gone for years. Unless the restaurant sent them a press release about closing or it was noted in some other Tribune Company publication, there is a low probability Metromix will know about it. Reported hours are also unreliable. These problems are widespread in their Lincoln Square, Albany Park, Irving Park and Avondale community listings, so I can only speculate how much worse the data is in less restaurant-rich parts of Chicago.

                    1. re: Eldon Kreider

                      That's correct, and equally applicable to most other internet listings. (I tried using several sources, which is how I found out about that one place apparently closing, as confirmed by jbw.)

                      What's worse about Metromix is that they recently got rid of all information about places in the Chicago-area suburbs, so you can't even look anything up if it's outside the city limits.

              2. re: butterfingers

                Thanks so much everyone! I didn't realize there were so many choices. My dad used to go to Healthy Food when he was in Chicago on business. He said it was exactly like the food his grandmother (a Lithuanian immigrant) used to make for him. He was very sad when it closed, and I regret never making it there. I didn't know of any others, except Grand Duke's, which seems quite difficult to get to without a car.

                I appreciate the pointers. A lot more than I found with a Google search. Thanks to everyone! I will call first before I visit -- just in case. I actually thought I found a Lithuanian restaurant in New York, and was so excited, and after making the long haul out to Brooklyn, I was faced with a boarded up restaurant and a "closed" sign.

                1. re: butterfingers

                  >> I didn't know of any others, except Grand Duke's, which seems quite difficult to get to without a car.

                  It's really not difficult. Google Maps says it will take about an hour from the Loop. Start by buying a CTA fare card with at least $5 on it for the round trip (the el is $2.25 and the transfer is $.25), which you can do at any el station, and you will then swipe the card to enter the el and when you get on the bus. The Orange Line is elevated all the way around the Loop, so you can catch it at any of the elevated Loop stations. Take it to the end of the line, which is Midway. When you get off the train there, go to where the buses stop, right next to the el station. Take the #63W bus or the #62H bus, whichever comes first; one of them might be waiting there because that's the end of both lines. Ask the driver to let you know when you get to 63rd and Harlem, where Grand Duke's is. The 63W approaches that intersection from westbound 63rd, the 62H from southbound Harlem.

                  On the way back, both buses approach the intersection from eastbound 63rd; the 62H turns north and the 63W continues east. Take either bus to the end of the line, which is at the Midway el stop where you can catch the Orange Line back downtown. Easy!

                  The el and both buses run frequently throughout the day and evening, roughly every half hour for each bus line, so between the two, you don't have to worry about a long wait if you miss one (the way you would with the Metra commuter trains). Here is where you can view the bus schedules (.pdf format):

                  63W - www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/bus_s...
                  62H - www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/bus_s...

                  If you're starting out from somewhere other than the Loop, let us know where (an address or street intersection) and we can tell you how to get from there to the Orange Line.

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    I've heard so many good things about it, that I am going to give it a shot. Thanks.

              3. So, now I know I will be staying at the Silversmith. What are some good restaurants within walking distance of there?

                2 Replies
                1. re: erion

                  A few reasonably-priced places VERY close to your hotel (great location btw) are Pizano's on Madison between Wabash and Michigan- my personal favorite for Chicago style deep dish pizza.

                  Also, Heaven on Seven on Wabash between Washington and Randolph for really good Creole. Keep in mind that this location is only open for breakfast and lunch, but it's a really fun place for drinks and gumbo, fried green tomatoes etc.

                  One more to check out is a gourmet cheese/sandwich shop called Pastoral on Lake between Wabash and Michigan. They have a really nice cheese and cured meat selection and they make incredible sandwiches.

                  1. re: Bdav1818

                    Yup. All are good recommendations from Bdav. Especially Pizano's for deep-dish, right around the corner from the hotel.

                    Also within a few blocks of the hotel are Atwood Cafe, for contemporary American; the Gage, a gastropub; Park Grill at the entrance to Millennium Park, for American and has a nice outdoor patio; Vivere, for Italian; the Florentine, for Italian; and Miller's Pub, for late-night pub fare. All very good indeed.

                    Non-restaurants: About 3/4 mile northeast of the hotel is Fox & Obel, our top gourmet food store, with superb baked goods and prepared foods. About 3/4 mile west of the hotel is the French Market, which has lots of good booths of some of our best places, including Vanille for pastry, Pastoral (same as above) for cheese, and Canady for chocolates. Don't miss Garrett Popcorn, for a snack; the nearest to the hotel is a block west at State and Madison.

                    If I had to name four favorite restaurants that I absolutely would not miss if I were visiting from out of town and staying at the Silversmith, assuming from your opening post that you don't want to spend big bucks at a superfancy place, I would go to Pizano's for deep-dish pizza, to Mundial Cocina Mestiza for provincial Mexican (take the CTA Pink Line to 18th Street), to Sable for contemporary American cuisine (about 3/4 mile north of the hotel), and to Bongo Room for creative pancakes for breakfast (about a mile south of the hotel).

                    Enjoy your visit, and feel free to ask more questions!