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No Pizza for LA Hound! Help!

Fresser Aug 17, 2011 02:29 PM

Will be in the Windy City for 2 nights in October. Want to experience some great Chicago food!
What are the do not miss restaurants? Something unique perhaps and definitely no formal stuffy dining spots. Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

  1. nsxtasy Aug 20, 2011 12:17 PM

    I know you say "no pizza", but have you actually had deep-dish pizza in Chicago? The real stuff here, not the imitations you find elsewhere (such as the dreadful franchise locations of Uno's Chicago Grill)? If you haven't, then you should really try it - at places like the original locations of Uno and Due (which, unlike the other chain locations, still use the original recipe), as well as Lou Malnati's and Pizano's. All of these have locations in the downtown area, and I'd go to whichever of these is convenient to where you'll be. The closest to the Hotel Allegro are the Lou Malnati's on North Wells and the Pizano's on Madison.

    Also, our provincial Mexican restaurants are outstanding. Are you coming from Los Angeles, or Louisiana? I know there are some in Los Angeles too, but they are a real treasure, and unlike what you can find elsewhere (check out their menus to understand the differences, even from those in Los Angeles). Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill and Topolobampo are still outstanding. Topolobampo starts accepting reservations three months in advance and they fill quickly, so try reserving NOW. If you can't get a dinner reservation, make one for lunch. Otherwise head over to Mexique or Mundial Cocina Mestiza, which are also excellent (and easier to reserve).

    We have some excellent contemporary American restaurants. My favorite is Sable, in River North. They have terrific food, with many dishes available in half portions so you can try a lot of things. I love their sweet corn creme brulee, a savory riff on the classic dessert. It's casual and surprisingly inexpensive. They also have amazing artisanal cocktails. Three other great contemporary American restaurants are in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, about three miles north of River North: North Pond (notable for its exquisite location in the middle of the park), Perennial Virant, and Boka.

    We have some terrific Italian restaurants. Several newer ones are serving Italian cuisine with a contemporary, global twist. Piccolo Sogno may be the best of these; other good ones include Cibo Matto and the Florentine.

    Mercat a la Planxa is excellent for tapas.

    These are among our most popular places. Fortunately, all of the places I'm mentioning (except the pizza places) accept reservations in advance, and all except Frontera Grill are on Opentable. I strongly recommend making reservations as soon as you can, so you don't get disappointed and end up getting stuck at one of the places that don't accept them where waits at prime times can be two hours or longer.

    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 - www.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? - www.chow.com/topics/697829

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

    -----
    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

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

    Boka
    1729 North Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614

    Lou Malnati's Pizzeria (River North
    )439 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654

    Frontera Grill
    445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

    North Pond
    2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

    Topolobampo
    445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

    Mercat a la Planxa
    638 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605

    Perennial Virant
    1800 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60614

    Mexique
    1529 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

    Piccolo Sogno
    464 N Halsted, Chicago, IL 60622

    Cibo Matto
    201 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601

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

    1. Fresser Aug 18, 2011 10:43 PM

      Will be staying somewhere downtown... Loop or River North area. Not planning on a car until the weekend when heading out to suburbs to visit family. Looking for something more upscale than deli.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Fresser
        k
        kathryn Aug 19, 2011 06:39 AM

        The Loop plus River North area is actually a pretty big swath of land. Any specific hotels you're looking at? What intersection?

        1. re: kathryn
          Fresser Aug 19, 2011 04:57 PM

          Kathryn,

          Looking at the Hotel Allegro. Walking distance would be nice, but cab distance is ok too! Have Red Onion (Bayliss) here in LA so probably won't go for Topo or Frontera. You might weigh in on danimalarkey's list below. Thanks.

          1. re: Fresser
            k
            kathryn Aug 19, 2011 05:11 PM

            I've been to Girl & the Goat, Publican, Purple Pig, and Xoco from that list. They are all excellent. Xoco is his quick-service style restaurant, and is good for a fast non-hotel breakfast. Purple Pig is excellent but popular (no reservations, go for lunch).

            If you're interested in the Girl and the Goat (Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard's restaurant), book NOW. They tend to start booking up months in advance. I just checked OpenTable and all of October is already available.

            -----
            XOCO
            449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

            Girl and the Goat
            809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661

            Purple Pig
            500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

        2. re: Fresser
          d
          danimalarkey Aug 19, 2011 08:14 AM

          Without knowing more, I'll toss these out there for your consideration --
          Girl & the Goat
          Maude's Liquor Bar
          GT Fish & Oyster
          Boka
          Avec
          Topolobampo
          Perennial Virant
          The Publican
          Purple Pig
          Xoco
          Mercat a la Planxa

          Covers a wide range of budgets and cuisine. Some are probably already booked, others don't take reservations at all. I think they serve great food.

          -----
          Avec Restaurant
          615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661

          Boka
          1729 North Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614

          Topolobampo
          445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

          Perennial Virant
          1800 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60614

          XOCO
          449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

          Purple Pig
          500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

        3. s
          seminole phil Aug 17, 2011 02:51 PM

          a must in my opinion, mannys at jefferson and roosevelt for authentic jewish style deli and diner food, a corned beef and potato pancake you will never forget,

          2 Replies
          1. re: seminole phil
            f
            ferret Aug 17, 2011 03:22 PM

            There are better delis than Manny's in LA.

            1. re: ferret
              nsxtasy Aug 20, 2011 12:22 PM

              There are better delis than Manny's in Chicago, too. :)

          2. s
            seminole phil Aug 17, 2011 02:49 PM

            its a huge city, what area are you going to be in and how far are you willing to travel and do you have a car while their?

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