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Jul 28, 2011 01:42 PM

Lunch and Dinner in Chicago on a Wednesday/Thursday

I am traveling to Downers Grove, IL for work in a couple of weeks. I will be arriving around lunch time on a Wednesday and leave around lunch time on a Thursday. My hotel is located Downers Grove, IL, but I will have a car to get around and I'm willing to drive for good food.

I need some help from the Chowhounds on this site. I need some recommendations for lunch/dinner in Chicago and coffee (espresso preferred) in Chicago or in Downers Grove. From reading the boards and thinking about my budget, I think I'm going to try Topolobampo for lunch one day and either Graham Elliott or Blackbird for dinner. What do you think?

I'm willing to try any type of food and my budget is up to $40 (including gratuity, but no drinks) for lunch and up to $75 (not including gratuity, but including drinks) for dinner. Because of my budget, Alinea, NEXT, Avenues, and TRU are out of question.

Hope the Chowhounds on this board can help me out.

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  1. I'm confused. Driving from Downers Grove to Chicago takes about 45 minutes to an hour, each way (can be a little less in off hours). Are you intending to drive from Downers Grove to Chicago for lunch each day, or are you passing through Chicago on your way to/from DG? Even dinner will be pushing it given the 75-90 minute round trip travel time (and that assumes you don't get stuck in Chicago rush hour traffic in a construction-congested downtown area).

    9 Replies
    1. re: ferret


      Sorry for the confusion. I am from Michigan and I will be driving to Downers Grove on Wednesday (arriving around lunch time) and driving home from Downers Grove on Thursday (leaving around lunch time). My plan is that on Wednesday, I will drive through Chicago for lunch before I head to Downers Grove. For dinner, I will drive from Downers Grove to Chicago. I do understand that traffic can be crazy in Chicago for dinner, but I have a cousin that lives in the area that I would like to see before I leave. For Thursday, I will probably Chicago all together and grab lunch locally in Downers Grove before driving home.

      Hope this info helps.

      1. re: manhong

        Chicago is somewhat out of the way for a trip between Downers Grove and Michigan. Not that far out of the way, but the direct route is via I-294 around Chicago, not I-90 through Chicago. Which enables you to avoid traffic in the city, especially downtown.

        I often have lunch in the Downers Grove area. My favorite place is Parker's, which is right at the Highland Avenue exit from I-88. They have fantastic seafood, and they also have genuine, certified Neapolitan pizza.

        For your meal(s) in the city, Topolobampo for lunch is a great choice, assuming you can get a reservation, which you can probably do if you reserve now. As for dinner, Graham Elliot and Blackbird are two out of many, many possibilities. However, there are also some excellent places in the suburbs, so there's no need to go all the way downtown if you don't want to. For example, Vie in Western Springs (6 miles from Downers) is excellent. It's on a par with Graham Elliot and Blackbird; it even has the same number of Michelin stars. Chef Paul Virant was recently named to head Perennial in the city as well. And you wouldn't need to drive anywhere near as far or have the driving take as much time out of your trip. Have your cousin meet you there!

        1. re: nsxtasy


          Thanks for the recommendations for Vie Restaurant and Parker's. I think I'm going to go to both restaurants during my trip. These are great alternatives to going to downtown Chicago for food.

          And yes, I have a reservation for Topolobampo at 1:30 on the Wednesday I arrive. I'm excited to try it out, but I have read mixed reviews about the restaurant. Some people argue that Frontera Grill and XOCO are better restaurants than Topolobampo.

          Before I forget, do you have any coffee places that you recommend in Downers Grove? I like espresso drinks and it seems that the quality of the drink is dependent on the barista working that day.

          1. re: manhong

            >> do you have any coffee places that you recommend in Downers Grove?

            No, sorry; I'm not a coffee drinker and I'm not familiar with coffee houses in the area. Hopefully someone else here can help you out!

            1. re: nsxtasy

              Thanks nsxtasy. I appreciate all of your help.

            2. re: manhong

              If you could provide a bit more info on what part of Downers you will be in, it would help. It is a bit spread out. If you are going to be in downtown Downers, check out Lemon Tree grocery for an espresso. There is also a Labriola Cafe on Butterfield (technically in Lombard, but very close to Downers) that has good espresso and wonderful pastries.

              Lemon Tree Grocer
              5101 Mochel Drive, Downers Grove, IL 60515

              1. re: dulcie54


                My hotel will be located in Lisle, IL and I'll be driving to the BIlly Kay Nissan located in Downers Grove Thursday morning. I was hoping to get an espresso drink on the way to Downers Grove. The coffee place will have to be open early (probably around 7:30 a.m.) because I have a meeting at 8:00 a.m.

                1. re: manhong

                  I assume you are staying in one of the hotels on Warrenville Rd between Naper and 53. You will probably have to settle for the Starbucks on Ogden Ave. If you are a coffee enthusiast, Julius Meinl coffe is available at the Bavarian Lodge, which is a short drive from your hotel. Unfortunately, not open early AM. On the off chance you enjoy German food and/or beer, you could stop in. Renowned for their food, and their beer list is one of the best in the country.

                  Chef Paul's Bavarian Lodge German Pub & Restaurant
                  1800 Ogden Ave, Lisle, IL 60532

                  1. re: dulcie54


                    You are right. My hotel is in the area that you mention above. I thought that I would have to settle for Starbucks so I might suck it up and get coffee later at Intelligenstsia on my way home from Downers Grove. It's just one morning so no big deal.