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Jul 31, 2011 10:08 PM

NYer on first trip to Chicago on a budget

Will be staying at the Westin River North Aug 15-18.

I am looking to try the famous Chicago deep dish pizza & a good Chicago dog, among other things. Willing to travel a bit as long as spots are near an L station.

Also really interested in finding some excellent soul food (Fried chicken, rib tips, oxtail, etc).

Any other recs for a first timer that you locals would consider a must try would be welcome.

Not looking for anything touristy!!!

Recs for a good bar near my hotel with live music would also be much appreciated.

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  1. For great deep-dish, right near your hotel are Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due, still in their original locations, and still serving the original recipe (unlike their crappy franchised clones).

    For a good Chicago hot dog, walk five minutes to Portillo's on Ontario.

    Rather than get soul food, which you have plenty of back home, I recommend instead getting some of our great provincial Mexican cuisine, which you can't get in NY. (Check out the menus on their websites to understand the difference from the conventional enchiladas etc.) You can probably still get a reservation for lunch at Topolobampo, which is suitable for a budget. If you'd prefer to make it dinner, if you can go early (to arrive 15-20 minutes before the doors open), consider Frontera Grill; after that the waiting times to be seated become ridiculous. Otherwise, make a reservation and head to Mundial Cocina Mestiza in Pilsen, a half block east of the 18th Street station on the CTA Pink Line, or make one at Mexique in West Town, two miles west on Chicago Avenue (take the #66 CTA bus that runs up Chicago).

    There's a great restaurant near your hotel called Sable, located in the Hotel Palomar. The contemporary American cuisine is from Chef Heather Terhune, and many of the items come in half portions so you can try more. Not only is it delicious, but you can stuff yourself on $20-25 of food. They also offer amazing artisanal cocktails.

    A couple more places near your hotel with good, inexpensive food include Quartino, for Italian small plates and Cafe Iberico for tapas (No reservations at Cafe Iberico, unfortunately.) Nearby wine bar type places that are good for food and drink include Bin 36 and Pops for Champagne

    Finally, 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 -

    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? -

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

    Pizzeria Due
    619 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

    Pizzeria Uno
    29 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611

    Mundial Cocina Mestiza
    1640 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

    Cafe Iberico
    737 N Lasalle Drive, Chicago, IL 60654

    Frontera Grill
    445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

    626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

    445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

    Bin 36
    339 N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60610

    1529 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

    1. Lou Malnati's for Chicago style Pizza in River North on Wells Street
      Heaven onSeven at the corner of Ohio and Rush for Cajun
      Isla Filipina on W. Lawrence for Filipino
      Mr. Beef for Italian beef 600 N. Orleans
      Byrons near the Red line el stop on Irving Park Rd or Portillos on Clark Street at Ontario St. for Hot Dogs or italian Beef.

      Mr. Beef
      666 N Orleans St, Chicago, IL 60654

      1 Reply
      1. re: Mobiusring

        Matteau, I did notice you used the word "budget". Here is a great buy: take the Clark 22 bus heading north on Dearborn and get off at Armitage, which will be right next to Lincoln Park Zoo in case you want to stroll there after you eat at Stanley's, which is one block west of where you get off the bus.You will find Stanley's at the corner of Armitage and Lincoln. On Saturday and Sunday mornings and into mid-afternoon they serve an all-you-can-eat brunch for $13. Here is what is offered: eggs, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes, biscuits, sausage gravy, waffles with assorted fruits and syrups, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, more gravy, fresh fruit, homemade cinnamon rolls, muffins, hot toast, bagels & lox & cream cheese, macaroni & cheese, and a big huge omelet station where you can go crazy with fillings. Not included in the buffet is an elaborate Bloody Mary bar. Mostly a young crowd. Stanley's is made up to look like a down home funky roadhouse but it's in Lincoln Park, a neighborhood where homes cost in the millions, so never fear leaving downtown. Check Stanley's website for hours and map.

      2. So what about fried chicken? believe it or not, we don't have any decent fried chicken in NYC.

        10 Replies
        1. re: Matteaucubed

          I wouldn't waste a meal here on it. Not that we don't have decent fried chicken, it's just such an ordinary dish, and it's something you can make at home easily - you know, like those ubiquitous cupcakes. But if you want fried chicken, do it at lunchtime; don't waste a dinner on it.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            NSX, I'm sorry you dain to wste your time eating at places where they serve the lowly fried chicken, but those of us on a dining budget of less than $500/day find it necessary to make due at lesser restaurants. Harold's (OMG! It's south of Madison Street!) has great fried chicken.

            Madison Street Cafe
            70 W Madison St, Chicago, IL 60602

            1. re: Mobiusring

              Apparently you haven't been reading my posts, because nothing could be further from the truth than such erroneous claims. I've made hundreds and hundreds of posts with recommendations for moderately-priced dining, including some in this topic. I'm also the rare person here who has chimed in with recommendations of places I've been to in neighborhoods across the south side, including Chinatown, Pilsen, Bridgeport, the South Loop, and Back of the Yards (such as at ).

              However, when a visitor from another city is making his/her first trip to Chicago, I think it's better to sample types of foods that are available here and nowhere else. Deep-dish pizza and provincial Mexican cuisine are two of those foods, and they are reasonably priced, which is why I posted recommendations for them above (including one in Pilsen). Whereas you can get decent fried chicken anywhere in the country (including New York City, as pointed out in posts below).

              1. re: Mobiusring

                Fried chicken throw down, ha ha.

                Harolds is really not that good. It's in the same vein as Manny's, an institution that has good food but really neither a destination solely for the food.

                Now I admit to my guilty pleasure. Marcello's (Father and Son) makes really good broasted chicken. The garlic oregano broasted is, in my opinion, phenomenal. The restaurant on North Ave is old school family style with not much style, but everything is really very good.

            2. re: Matteaucubed

              Harold's Chicken Shack is a bit of an institution in Chicago. Home-style fried chicken. Nothing fancy, but very comforting and satisfying.

              1. re: Matteaucubed

                West Town Tavern does a fried chicken dinner (Monday's only)

                West Town Tavern
                1329 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

                1. re: delk

                  Just ate at West Town Tavern last week - not fried chicken night - but our meal was great and would definately recommend it. It's a short walk from the Chicago stop on the Blue Line, great neighborhood place - one of those "wish I lived closer" places.

                  West Town Tavern
                  1329 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

                2. re: Matteaucubed

                  "...we don't have any decent fried chicken in NYC."
                  Really? What about Korean fried chicken, if not Western-type/Southern-style fried chicken?

                  1. re: huiray

                    >> ...we don't have any decent fried chicken in NYC.

                    I'm sure the people posting in these topics would disagree with that statement:

                    Best Fried Chicken in Manhattan -
                    Best Fried Chicken in Queens? -
                    Best fried chicken in Brooklyn? -
                    Eternal Fried Chicken Quest -
                    Best Korean Fried Chicken -
                    Best fried chicken? -
                    Best fried chicken? -
                    Fried Chicken Emergency -
                    best fried chicken? -
                    Fried chicken in Woodside area -
                    Southern Fried Chicken -

                  2. re: Matteaucubed

                    I think that Pies 'n' Thighs and The Redhead have fried chicken that is more than "decent," they're both excellent. I might add on The Dutch, Blue Smoke, Buttermilk Channel, Amy Ruth's, The Commodore, Roberta's, Blue Ribbon, etc. who are all known for having great fried chicken.

                    I can't tell from your posting history (as it is mostly on the Tristate/non-NYC board) where you have gone, but it looks like you live in CT? Where have you been having fried chicken in the city proper?

                    I would focus on foods that are hard to find in New York City metro area like Chicago dogs, Chicago style pizza, Rick Bayless style Mexican, etc.

                    Blue Ribbon Restaurant
                    201 S Main St, Bartlett, IL 60103