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10th Anniversary Trip, Need Suggestions

m
midweb23 Aug 14, 2011 04:24 PM

My wife and I have planned out a trip to Chicago to celebrate our 10th Anniversary. Our itinerary is as follows:
Day 1: We arrive on a Wednesday afternoon at Midway around 230pm. Our first reservation is Topolobampo for dinner at 8pm. We are taking the train from Midway to our hotel downtown, the Hotel Palomar. We would love to find somewhere interesting to grab a quick bite either on the way to the hotel or in the near vicinity of the hotel before our dinner that night.
Day 2: Our anniversary day! We plan on visiting Fox & Obel for breakfast and to peruse the market before heading out for sightseeing. We want to try deep dish pizza for lunch, thinking Lou Malnati's?Our dinner reservations that night are for Alinea at 730pm, can't wait!
Day 3: We are planning for breakfast at Bongo Room and some more sightseeing before heading back to Midway for an afternoon flight.
My wife loves cupcakes and would love to visit a bakery or two. I am a beer connoisseur and would love to find a local brewery/brewpub for a tasting or a great beer store to take some bottles home. We also would love to squeeze a visit to Sable at the hotel after reading great things about it. I don't know where we would fit this in, maybe just after dinner drinks. We are also open to visiting any other "can't miss" foodie destinations and are open to suggestions. Thanks for any input!

-----
Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

Bongo Room
1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

Topolobampo
445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

  1. nsxtasy Aug 14, 2011 04:39 PM

    Sounds like a great itinerary, and you've made excellent reservations, ones that are hard to get. You must have been planning this trip for months!

    >> Day 1: We arrive on a Wednesday afternoon at Midway around 230pm. Our first reservation is Topolobampo for dinner at 8pm. We are taking the train from Midway to our hotel downtown, the Hotel Palomar. We would love to find somewhere interesting to grab a quick bite either on the way to the hotel or in the near vicinity of the hotel before our dinner that night.

    You've already mentioned Sable, the restaurant in your hotel, which is excellent. Many of the dishes on the menu are available in half portions, so you can eat light. They also have amazing artisanal cocktails. Another option a couple blocks away is Quartino, which serves Italian small plates. Two other wine bars within a few blocks also have good food along with the wine: Bin 36, and Pops for Champagne.

    >> Day 2: Our anniversary day! We plan on visiting Fox & Obel for breakfast and to peruse the market before heading out for sightseeing. We want to try deep dish pizza for lunch, thinking Lou Malnati's?

    The deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati's, Pizano's, and the original Uno and Due are all very similar, not coincidentally since there is a family relationship among them. Uno and Due are both very close to your hotel. But depending on where you're sightseeing, the others are worthwhile places too. If you're headed to the Art Institute or Millennium Park, the Pizano's on Madison is close by. If you're shopping along the "Mag Mile" of North Michigan Avenue, Pizano's on State is towards the north end, and there's a new Lou's at State and Rush, just north of Oak.

    >> My wife loves cupcakes and would love to visit a bakery or two.

    Fox & Obel has some of our best baked goods, including cupcakes. The French Market just west of the Loop has a couple of excellent bakeries, including Vanille, one of our best.

    >> I am a beer connoisseur and would love to find a local brewery/brewpub for a tasting or a great beer store to take some bottles home.

    Goose Island has a couple of brewpubs, one of which is close to the other location of Vanille Patisserie, as well as Floriole, another of our best bakeries. The Publican is another brewpub, and the Gage in the Loop is worth a visit. Hopleaf is excellent but it's pretty far from downtown (figure 20-25 minutes by cab, an hour by public transit). I'm not sure about where to buy beer, other than Binny's, our large local chain of liquor stores.

    >> We also would love to squeeze a visit to Sable at the hotel after reading great things about it. I don't know where we would fit this in, maybe just after dinner drinks. We are also open to visiting any other "can't miss" foodie destinations and are open to suggestions.

    You've covered just about all of the best in town. Stop by Garrett's Popcorn along Michigan Avenue for a snack. Feel free to ask any more questions, but really, you've clearly done thorough research!

    Congratulations on your anniversary, and enjoy your celebration!

    -----
    Pizzeria Due
    619 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

    Pizano's Pizza & Pasta
    61 E Madison St, Chicago, IL 60603

    Pizzeria Uno
    29 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611

    Pizano's Pizza & Pasta
    864 N State St, Chicago, IL 60610

    Fox & Obel Food Market
    401 E Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60611

    Quartino
    626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

    Topolobampo
    445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

    The Gage
    24 South Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603

    Bin 36
    339 N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60610

    The Publican
    837 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607

    Hopleaf Bar
    5148 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

    Goose Island Brewpub
    1800 North Clybourn, Chicago, IL 60614

    Publican
    845 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607

    The Gage
    Chicago, Chicago, IL

    Sable Kitchen & Bar
    505 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

    French Market
    131 North Clinton, Chicago, IL 60661

    Lou Malnati's Pizzeria (Gold Coast)
    1120 N State St, Chicago, IL 60610

    Vanille Patisserie
    2229 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

    Pops for Champagne
    601 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654

    Floriole Cafe and Bakery
    1220 W Webster Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

    3 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy
      m
      midweb23 Aug 14, 2011 05:13 PM

      Thanks for the quick reply nsxtasy! I must admit I have been reading this board for months to plan this trip and the majority of our choices were based on reviews from your posts. Thanks for all your input!

      1. re: nsxtasy
        k
        kathryn Aug 15, 2011 11:21 AM

        When we were there in June, the bartender at Sable said they started serving around 11am, so you could even do an afternoon cocktail and snack on your first day.

        1. re: nsxtasy
          nsxtasy Aug 15, 2011 02:30 PM

          Forgive me for referring to the Publican and the Gage as brewpubs. They are gastropubs, restaurants offering a wide beer selection, but do not brew their own beer.

        2. d
          danimalarkey Aug 15, 2011 08:05 AM

          As far as the beer issue -- since it sounds like your itinerary is great, as is, and I can't really add anything to Nsxtasy -- my favorite brewpub in the city right now is Revolution, in Logan Square. Unfortunately, their brewpub, while steps from an L stop, is still 5 miles from your hotel (or about 30 minutes travel time by public transit, each way). Piece, in Wicker park, is closer and is still very good. Both brewpubs tend to have 6-8 of their own beers on tap, in addition to guest taps. Food at both is very good - Revolution is clean, well-executed pub food and Piece is New Haven-style pizza. Neither brewpub distributes beer (yet) and won't be found outside their brewpubs.

          Goose Island is probably the easiest brewpub to get to but I think their quality has really dropped off lately (I'm talking about their first location, on Clybourn -- the Wrigleyville pub has a much weaker in-house program and I would avoid it -- Sheffield's, nearby, has a much better taplist even if it's not a brewpub). They have well over a dozen beers on tap at any time, but only half is made in-house. The other half comes from the production facility on Fulton (which is now owned by AB-InBev). I don't think they have a wide variety these days -- generally a lot of saisons that are not very successful. The Clybourn brewpub is across the street from one of the larger Binnys in the city, however, and is well-stocked with local/regional (hell, international) beer. Limited/rare releases go fast, though, since it's a high-traffic store.

          Haymarket, in the West Loop, has medicore food and some decent beer. They're very new and I don't think they've hit their stride yet. Beers are typically IPA's, Belgians or Belgian IPA's. Haymarket does have a large number of guest taps, however.

          Revolution, Goose Island and Haymarket are really good about updating their beer menus, though. I'd take a look and see if anything jumps out at you.

          As mentioned, Hopleaf has one of the best taplists in the city, hands down. Open for over 20 years, Hopleaf is a pioneer for serving craft beer in Chicago. They get some really, really great kegs, too, of stuff you won't see elsewhere. Maproom, in Bucktown (~4miles from your hotel) is another 20+ year veteran, and also has some great beer. Maproom can get mobbed, though, and service can definitely land on the 'surly' side. They don't serve any food. Both places keep their websites reasonably well up-to-date.

          Clark St. Ale House and Jake Melnick's are pretty close to your hotel and both have great taplists. Clark St. Ale House doesn't have food and Jake Melnick's is a step above TGIF-level (though the chicken wings actually are pretty great). Clark St. tends to have a stronger local/regional focus but Jake Melnick's seems to have a strong relationship with Shelton Brothers and pick up solid kegs now and then of stuff that you won't see elsewhere. Both bars keep their pages on BeerMenus.com updated reasonably well (note - Clark St. is listed as "Clark Street Ale house").

          Another great bar would be Local Option (1102 W. Webster), in Lincoln Park. Food is not so good but the beer list really cannot be beat. Prices eek out on the high side, for me, but again, you're going to see a great taplist. They also update regularly on BeerMenus.com.

          As far as the Publican, I'm a big fan, though it's not really a brewpub since they don't make any beer made on-site is a fruit lambic. The taplist isn't the largest in the city, but it's well-chosen and goes really well with their food.

          For bottle shops, I'd start with Warehouse Liquors (634 S. Wabash). Unlike Binny's - mentioned above - they don't get quite as much foot traffic and limited/rare releases tend to stick around longer. If you head further south, there's Lush (1257 S. Halsted) -- expensive, but they have a deep cellar with lots of hard-to-find bottles (and usually different vintages). Fox & Obel might have some good bottles and I'd recommend Un-Cork-It, too, since it's across the street from Fox & Obel.

          My favorite bottle shop is, unfortunately, not that close to your hotel. West Lakeview Liquors is amazing, with a very friendly staff, deep cellar and great selection covering local/regional craft as well as a number of international releases. They also sell beer via their website, so if you want to nab local bottles when you're back home, check out their website for additional details. West Lakeview Liquors is also near another outpost of Lush, making for a really expensive 1-2 combination.

          Some of the local breweries to look for include Half Acre (their Daisy Cutter pale ale is a really nice, hoppy, bitter pale, bodering on an IPA), Two Brothers (Domaine DuPage is a great bier de garde and Cane & Ebel is a fantastic rye pale), Metropolitan (they focus only on German styles, with their Iron Works Alt and Kranshaft Kolsch being my favorites), Goose Island (I know many craft beer fans were disappointed with the sale to AB-InBev, but they still make good beer; their Matilda and Sofie are amazing Belgians and a lot of people seem to love Fleur, a wild ale with a hefty dose of hibiscus and kombucha (that one has left me a little underwhelmed)) and lastly Three Floyds - yes, it's in Indiana, but just barely and Chicago accounts for 80% of their market share. Many of their beers are agressively hopped and they live up to their slogan of "We're Not Normal". Alpha King (pale ale), Robert the Bruce (Scottish Ale) and Gumball Head (wheat ale) pop up often - if you're lucky, you'll find Dreadnaught (double IPA with tremendous tropical fruit notes to balance the high alcohol and screaming hops) or Arctic Panzer Wolf (another double IPA, but one that focuses on piney, super-sticky hops).

          Jolly Pumpkin, based in Michigan, focuses on wild ales and are very much one-of-a-kind, at least in these areas. Bottles, 750mL, are too pricey for me, but I'm not a fan of wild ales. Dark Horse, Founders, Boulevard and Bell's are all very solid regional breweries, too. You'll find them on draft and in bottles in this area.

          -----
          Warehouse Liquors
          634 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL

          Hopleaf Bar
          5148 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

          The Local Option
          1102 W Webster Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

          Three Floyds
          Munster, Munster, IN

          West Lakeview Liquors
          2156 W Addison St, Chicago, IL 60618

          5 Replies
          1. re: danimalarkey
            nsxtasy Aug 15, 2011 08:26 AM

            That's a great post. danimalarkey, your expertise in this area is terrific and appreciated. Thanks for posting!

            1. re: danimalarkey
              m
              midweb23 Aug 15, 2011 02:23 PM

              Thank you so much danimalarkey for the great local info! I really appreciate your time and expertise! I am very familiar with Three Floyds, I have a few bottles of Dreadnaught in the fridge right now, and I love the Gumballhead and Alpha King. I have had a few Two Brothers, I really like their Domain Dupage. I buy Founders and Bell's often here at home (Cleveland). I do like the Sofie and Matilda from Goose Island. I haven't had the Fleur yet. I also have a few bottles of Jolly Pumpkin beers in the fridge, they are very unique. I would love to try Hopleaf, I have read great things about it. Thanks for the bottle shop options, I will definitely check one or two of those out. I wish we had more than 3 days to try all these suggestions! Thanks again!

              -----
              Hopleaf Bar
              5148 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

              Three Floyds
              Munster, Munster, IN

              1. re: midweb23
                nsxtasy Aug 15, 2011 02:28 PM

                Just remember that any beer you are taking home with you, needs to be packed inside luggage getting checked. They won't let you go through security with it inside a carry-on.

                1. re: nsxtasy
                  k
                  kathryn Aug 15, 2011 05:49 PM

                  I've had decent luck flying back to NYC using a badget called a JetBag -- it's made out of diaper cloth, and meant for those checking wine and liquor on flights. One of those to nestle a coveted bottle, plus jeans wrapped around it, placed carefully towards the center of one's luggage.

                2. re: midweb23
                  d
                  danimalarkey Aug 16, 2011 10:48 AM

                  Yeah, about halfway through writing up my reply, I realized I was probably going way overboard with information that you can actually put to use, given that your trip is relatively short and already pretty well mapped out.

                  I should have mentioned, too, that there is a Binny's not far from your hotel. Like the one across from Goose Island, it gets a fair amount of foot traffic, but there are still a number of good bottles. It's about 1/2 mile, due West of your hotel at 213 W. Grand Ave. Chicago gets a number of great bottles from California which you may/may not have access to in Cleveland. Lost Abbey and The Bruery are a little hit or miss for me, but I know they have plenty of big fans. Stone is well represented here (their Sublimely Self-Righteous, an imperial black IPA is pretty killer and if you can find a fresh Ruination double IPA (Stone is great about dating bottles), it will compare very favorably to Dreadnaught) and Firestone Walker just popped up (their Double Jack double IPA is very good, another one that gives Dreadnaught a run for its money). Boulevard released a collaboration with Deschutes that I've really been enjoying - it's a white IPA, so plenty of Belgian yeasty-ness with strong, citrusy hops at the same time.

                  Having said that, definitely try for Warehouse Liquors if you can -- I was just in there this past weekend and they still had bottles of FFF's Apocalypse Cow. Another double IPA, this one adds a healthy dose of lactose sugar giving it a really creamy texture. It's their July seasonal - I'd love to see it year-round, but it's not my company to run!

                  -----
                  Warehouse Liquors
                  634 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL

              2. h
                hoppy2468 Aug 16, 2011 06:50 AM

                You're probably aware but the Palomar, being a Kimpton hotel, has a wine reception each night from 5-6. It's not great wine but it is a chance to interact with fellow travelers and get other ideas on what to eat, where to go, what to see.

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