Next Sunday night in Chicago
I am looking for a restaurant downtown Chicago - we will be staying near Watertower. We will be in town for the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer 3Day - 60 mile walk. There will be anywhere from 4 to 10 looking for a nice dinner, not too loud, but fun food. After 60 miles we are ready to eat and have a relaxing time with friends and family. I think we are open to anything between Soldier Field and Watertower area. Maybe something with a great view of the lake - or a nice outdoor eating area. Upscale /spendy is probably out of our price range for this trip. So moderate price -entree around $20-$25 per person. But want a nice wine list. Okay, sounds like I really want a lot ---- I do. I like adventure in food but with good taste behind it. Not adventure for adventure's sake. Indian? Spanish? Great Italian? It will be a mixed bag of women and men but mostly women walkers.... thanks for any help you can give me.
ANd while we are asking , how about a fun, easy breakfast place are Watertower Place - need to rev up early Monday before we start the drive back to Minnesota ( as in 7 am )
For supper, take a look at Mercat a la Planxa. It's on Michigan, but almost in the South Loop. Very good food, casual atmosphere, and a great view of Grant Park.
There's a Yolk not too far from Water Tower Place at Wells and Chicago. On weekends, the wait can be prohibitive, but you should be okay on a Monday morning.
Depending on where in the vicinity of Water Tower you are located, some of these places might be more convenient than others. Tempo is very close to the Water Tower. Original Pancake House is a couple blocks north of there. The Yolk on Wells is several blocks west; they also have a location at Grand and McClurg that is south and may be closer than the one on Wells. Both Yolk locations open at 6 a.m. In terms of food, I've found that Yolk and Tempo are nothing unusual, just your ordinary pancake and egg dishes like you can get anywhere. I like OPH because they have some unusual items (the huge puffy apple pancake and German pancake) and the other things they do, they do extremely well.
As another option, you might consider Fox & Obel, which is my favorite stop when leaving early to drive out of town. Fox & Obel is our premier gourmet food store, and it's 3/4 mile southeast of the Water Tower. They open at 6 a.m. They have the best of everything - meats, fish, prepared foods (including sandwiches and salads), baked goods, etc. In the rear of the store is a cafe where you can get anything from a cup of coffee to a complete meal prepared to order. www.fox-obel.com
What I do when I'm headed out of town is this. I drive there with my fully-packed car, and park in their designated spots in the high-rise lot across the street. Drive past F&O on Illinois, keep to the left, and right before the end of the block you'll see the orange F&O signs at an entrance on the left that goes down a ramp to the garage. Follow the orange signs to their designated parking spaces. When you go up the elevator to the ground floor and walk outside, you'll be right across the street from Fox & Obel.
For my standard "get-away morning", when I have time, I go to the cafe and get their cobb omelet. I also always stop at the bakery counter for goodies to go, including their rich cinnamon swirl rolls, their great bran muffins, croissants, rustic breads, pastries, etc. If my trip goes through lunch, I stop at the refrigerator case where they have pre-made sandwiches and salads (this works particularly well if you have a cooler in the car with ice packs). When you check out, don't forget to walk over to the customer service counter to get your parking ticket validated.
I'll also add, on a weekday morning, you will hit traffic, depending on what time you leave. Our rush hour generally clogs the roads between roughly 6:30 and 9:00 a.m. and occurs in both directions. During those hours it may take you 80-90 minutes to get from downtown Chicago to Schaumburg (where I-90 and I-290 meet), whereas it takes half as long at non-rush times of day. So leaving at 7:00 a.m. you will hit the worst of the traffic. If you hit the road earlier (say, 6:00), or if you stop for breakfast and don't leave town till 8:30-9:00, you'll be able to avoid the worst of it. Once you get past Schaumburg, traffic isn't a serious concern.
For your Sunday dinner, I recommend one of our places specializing in small plates:
Or you could go with more conventional Italian:
For a great view (note - food is not known for being all that great - it's a good place for a cocktail before dinner though):
Signature Room (on the 95th floor of the Hancock) - www.signatureroom.com
With that size group, reservations in advance are STRONGLY recommended. All of these accept them on Opentable as well as over the phone.
For breakfast near the Water Tower: