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Aug 23, 2011 12:54 PM

4 days in Chicago, where to eat?

We are staying at the Embassy Suites (600 North State Street)
- we wont have a car so places within walking distance preferred but can take cab
- best Gastropub (price not matter, we dont have any dn here in Nashville, TN)
- best pub to grab beer , enjoy the high gravity beers
- Chinese (upscale for dinner, dive for other meal)
- Mexican (price not issue just something we can walk to)
- Sunday Brunch (price not issue, love a great bloody mary)
- Steakhouse (Gibson's was recommended to me but looks like cant go wrong with a lot of them)
- any other interesting suggestions since there are so many typed of restaurants Chicago has that Nashville does not

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  1. I can't answer everything, but here goes:

    Best Gastropub: Publican, Longman & Eagle (1 Michelin Star/ no reservations), The Bristol (also no reservations). Haven't tried Purple Pig. Don't care much for The Gage.

    Best pub -- someone else's venue.

    Chinese -- for upscale probably Shanghai Terrace in the Peninsula; Lao Sze Chan, Moon Palace or Emperor's Choice in Chinatown (I would go there for dinner anyway). Others will have other favs there.

    Mexican - Frontera Grill or Topolobambo (make your reservation for Topo NOW - if you can; Frontera takes few res). Or take a cab to Mexique on West Chicago Ave. Not that far and really good. Or get yourself to Mundial Cocina Mestiza in the predominantly Mexican Pilsen neighborhood.

    Sunday Brunch -- too many good options for me to choose. I'll leave that up to others.

    Steakhouse -- Gibson's has good steaks and a particular character -- located in the Viagra Triangle: (Rush and Bellevue). Older men spending too much money on much younger women. A scene but great people-watching if that's your thing. I would much prefer Burke's Primehouse in the James Hotel at Rush & Ontario.

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

    Frontera Grill
    445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

    Shanghai Terrace
    108 E Superior, Chicago, IL 60611

    Moon Palace Restaurant
    216 W Cermak Rd, Chicago, IL 60616

    Emperor's Choice
    2238 S Wentworth Ave, Chicago, IL 60616

    1529 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

    Purple Pig
    500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

    4 Replies
    1. re: chicgail

      D'oh! As with the Map Room, I didn't realize that Longman & Eagle is a short ride by car from the OP's hotel (again, traffic notwithstanding). Another great idea for sure.

      Owen & Engine, too, is a great gastropub (and about as far from 600 N. State as L&E). I don't think it reaches quite as high as L&E and it hews a little closer to British standards (but done really well and with more modern touches than you'd find in a traditional pub). I guess that makes it more pub than gastropub. Still, probably the best fish & chips I've had in the city and they have a great taplist, focusing on European selections (again, will be your friend here). They also always have four cask options, and those are relatively rare.

      Nearby is Quenchers, another longtime craft destination. Not much else in the immediate vicinity, though it would be a short cab ride to Logan Square and nightlight/options there (Revolution Brewing, The Whistler, Longman & Eagle, etc etc etc).

      The Map Room
      1949 N Hoyne Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

      1. re: danimalarkey

        Where is a good place to buy good beer to take back to the hotel while we are there? thx for all your help on the places to get a beer.

        1. re: lpverner

          There is a Binny's on Grand about 5 minutes west of your hotel. Most Binny's have a very good beer selection, but I cannot speak for this particular location.

    2. I feel I can speak pretty well to your questions on beer - I'll leave the other points for those who know more about them!

      The Publican (837 W. Fulton Market) is probably the best gastropub right now in terms of menu variety, execution and beer selection. Overall vibe is very brasserie/beerhall with a strong focus on oysters and pork. There's a fair amount of offal on the menu, too, which may or may not appeal to you (their menu posted online may not be up-to-date but it should give you an accurate idea of what to expect, broadly speaking). Beer selection isn't the largest but what's there is very good. The restaurant can get noisy and is mostly limited to communal tables - personally, I don't find that these factors detract from the experience but others feel differently. Your mileage may vary.

      You're also very close to the Purple Pig (500 N. Michigan Ave.). They do not accept reservations and you might find yourself waiting for quite a while at prime dining hours. If you're open for a late lunch/early dinner/late dinner, it would work out well. Lighter menu than The Publican but still plenty of pork and offal. Beer selection is not great here - the wine options are plentiful, however, and well priced.

      Near your hotel, bars with good beer lists are few and far between. Jake Melnick's (41 E. Superior St.) is an exception (though it feels more like a sports bar with a pretty generic, unexciting food menu). Depending on when you're in town, maybe the weather will be cooperative and you can sit outside.

      Another great choice is the Clark Street Ale House (742 N. Clark St.). No food but lots of beer available (and whiskey, actually). They have a back patio but it's hemmed in on all sides by neighboring high-rises. I think they only have two tv's and the sound is rarely on. They have a pretty selection of local/regional beers.

      If you're willing to take a 10-15 minute cab ride, you can make it to Local Option (1102 W. Webster Ave.). They always have a variety of beers from local cult favorites like Three Floyds and Jolly Pumpkin as well as rare international breweries (especially Evil Twin and Mikkeller). Food is... well, I'd eat elsewhere (it's not terrible, just nothing to write home about).

      Clark Street Ale House, Jake Melnick's and Local Option all update their pages on, though not always every day. Particularly with Local Option, it would be good to check out once you're in town to see if it's worth the trip for you.

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

      Clark Street Ale House
      742 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

      Three Floyds
      Munster, Munster, IN

      Purple Pig
      500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

      6 Replies
      1. re: danimalarkey

        Ah, don't forget the Map Room. At Armitage and Hoyne, it's not close to where you are staying (but neither is the Local Option), but it's renowned for its selection of beers and might be worth the cab ride. There's also Hopleaf, but that's even further and you'd probably wind up on public transportation.

        The Map Room
        1949 N Hoyne Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

        1. re: chicgail

          You know, it didn't occur to me that since the Map Room is close to the expressway, travel time wouldn't be that bad -- only about 10 minutes from your hotel in a car (traffic notwithstanding). And yes, the Map Room is absolutely a worthy destination (more than 20 years of serving craft beer in Chicago). They are also on and update relatively frequently. I don't see as many high gravity beers there as at Local Option but their prices are certainly better (and their selection is great, don't get me wrong, with more beers that many would consider more sessionable). Cash only and no food, though you're welcome to order delivery or bring in take-out.

          The Map Room
          1949 N Hoyne Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

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

        2. re: danimalarkey

          had a late lunch with a group of seven on 04/06 and enjoyed it. the beer menu is very unique and broad with a lot of hidden gems. i was pleased with an "against the grain quiet rye-it" and a "green flash hop head red." we ordered a plate of onion rings as an app. eight big rings came and went pretty quick. we immediately ordered another and added an order of housemade bbq chips served with crumbled blue cheese and a tangy blue cheese sauce. i had a pretty good bbq brisket sandwich, though the slaw was bland. two got bbq pork sandwiches and they enjoyed them. two got half slabs of ribs (the waitress ordered a whole slab, split it, and gave each a side, saving a few bucks) and they ate all of them. one thought they were a bit spicy (wimp). one got the bbq pork nachos and it was a mountain of chips, toppings and pork. i tried them and they were decent, but a bit too heavily sauced for me. and one got a small skillet of bbq beans and a small skillet of cornbread and picked off of the nachos and ribs. bill for 7 was about $150. i enjoyed it and would go back even if it was only to work though more of that beer list.

            1. re: lbs

              I'm guessing Jake Melnick's (and totally agree that its beer list is better than you'd think).

              1. re: danimalarkey

                it was jake melnick's. sorry - my bad for leaving that out.

        3. >> - best Gastropub (price not matter, we dont have any dn here in Nashville, TN)
          >> - best pub to grab beer , enjoy the high gravity beers

          danimalarkey is our expert on that, but I'll take a stab until he/she can chime in. (EDIT - I see he/she was typing his/her reply at the same time I was typing mine!) The Publican is always a candidate. And you can make reservations there too, either at or over the phone; when doing so, don't forget to mention a preference between your own private table (for up to 6) or the looooooong communal tables. It's a little over a mile southwest of your hotel. Lots of folks like the Gage, and it too accepts reservations; it's about 3/4 mile south of your hotel. Beware, Longman & Eagle and Purple Pig don't accept reservations and at normal dinner hours waits to be seated can reach two hours. If you want to do the Purple Pig, which is only a couple of blocks from your hotel, do so at lunch or mid-afternoon when the waits aren't so bad; they serve the same menu all day long so you won't miss anything by doing so.

          >> - Chinese (upscale for dinner, dive for other meal)

          Shanghai Terrace is the only truly upscale choice; it's a five-minute walk northeast of your hotel.

          For Szechuan food, I enjoy Double Li, with Lao Sze Chuan a second choice. Both are in Chinatown, 3.5 miles south of the hotel (take the CTA Red Line to Cermak/Chinatown).

          >> - Mexican (price not issue just something we can walk to)

          I agree with chicgail's recommendations. Topolobampo fills up 2-3 months in advance for dinner but only 2-3 weeks in advance for lunch, so consider it for lunch. Frontera Grill (same location, a few blocks southwest of your hotel) has long waits but if you're willing to arrive 15-20 minutes before they open, you can walk right in. Otherwise, Mexique is two miles west and it's pretty easy to get reservations there. Mundial is further, about four miles southwest.

          >> - Sunday Brunch (price not issue, love a great bloody mary)

          There are lots of good Sunday brunches around. If you enjoy seafood, Shaw's Crab House has a great one, with an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring breakfast dishes (eggs, benedicts, great caramelized thick-cut bacon), seafood (Alaskan king crab leg "bites" hot or cold, great crab cakes), a carving station (beef tenderloin), and desserts (great creme brulee and chocolate pots de creme). It's a few blocks south of your hotel. A few blocks north of your hotel is Cafe des Architectes, which does a nice a la carte brunch, with a nice complimentary basket of French breads/pastries. Both accept advance reservations on Opentable and over the phone, which I strongly recommend, as Sunday brunch can get very busy anywhere.

          >> - Steakhouse (Gibson's was recommended to me but looks like cant go wrong with a lot of them)

          Gibsons is good, although in all my dinners there, I've never seen that whole older-men/younger-women thing that chicgail refers to, LOL! However, I find it a bit too... "men's club-ish", kind of boisterous and traditional. I too prefer David Burke's Primehouse, for the steaks (dry aged), for the variety of other foods if you're not in the mood for steaks, and for the atmosphere (more like a contemporary upscale restaurant than a traditional steakhouse). Gibsons is a half mile north of your hotel; David Burke's is a block from your hotel. Both accept reservations; Gibsons tends to fill up well in advance, more so than Burke's, but I'd make one as soon as you can decide, either way.

          >> - any other interesting suggestions since there are so many typed of restaurants Chicago has that Nashville does not

          I'm surprised you haven't mentioned deep-dish pizza, our delicious local specialty, great for lunch or dinner. Uno and Due are a block from your hotel, and Pizano's on State is a few blocks north.

          Here are some additional great places for various kinds of food:

          Mercat a la Planxa (tapas) - about 1.5 miles south of your hotel
          Nacional 27 (Latin fusion) - a few blocks west of your hotel
          Sable (contemporary American food, artisanal cocktails) - a block south of your hotel
          Sunda (sushi/pan-Asian) - a few blocks south of your hotel
          Quartino (Italian small plates) - less than a block from your hotel
          Pops for Champagne (wine bar) - less than a block from your hotel

          All of these are shown on the right, with links to their listings on Chowhound where you'll find links to their websites with menus.

          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

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

          Lao Sze Chuan
          2172 S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60616

          David Burke's Primehouse
          616 N Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611

          Frontera Grill
          445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

          626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

          Nacional 27
          325 W. Huron, Chicago, IL 60610

          Shanghai Terrace
          108 E Superior, Chicago, IL 60611

          445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

          The Gage
          24 South Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603

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

          Cafe des Architectes
          20 East Chestnut Street, Chicago, IL 60611

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

          1529 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

          Shaw's Crab House
          21 East Hubbard St., Chicago, IL 60611

          Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse
          1028 North Rush, Chicago, IL 60611

          110 W. Illinois St., Chicago, IL 60654

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

          Purple Pig
          500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

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

          Double Li
          228 W. Cermak Rd., Chicago, IL 60616

          4 Replies
          1. re: nsxtasy

            Wow - thanks to all of y'all for your suggestions. Unbelievable feedback! I will plan accordingly and will let you know if I have any more questions. I will be sure to reply back when we get back from our trip.

            1. re: nsxtasy

              I did not ask about the pizza because I like the thin crust and did not want to offend the home of the deep dish but I am still going to try it while I am in town. It would be Un-American no to. Thx for your various recs, I will def try a few of those.

              1. re: lpverner

                I wouldn't call it Un-American not to try pizza, whether deep-dish or thin-crust, and those who do should find something else to be upset about. I myself don't particularly like pizza and doubt that I have had more than maybe a couple dozen pizzas in my life.

                1. re: lpverner

                  Deep-dish pizza is a local specialty that we are well known for, and many of us absolutely love it. If you think you might like it and/or if you enjoy trying local specialties of places you visit, then I recommend trying it. If you think you're not going to like it, then I suggest skipping it.

              2. I meant to reply to entire post. Thanks again. Wow - thanks to all of y'all for your suggestions. Unbelievable feedback! I will plan accordingly and will let you know if I have any more questions. I will be sure to reply back when we get back from our trip.

                1. You have gotten tons of excellent suggestions already, but I will add one thing: since you're interested in the Gastropub experience, definitely hit up Longman and Eagle for a dinner, and save Publican for your amazing Sunday brunch/bloody mary. I just had brunch there a couple weeks ago and everything we had was fantastic. We had the much talked-about bacon, the waffle, the fried oyster, egg, cheese on house-made biscuit, and the mussels- couldn't pick a favorite and prices are pretty decent too. Bloody Mary's come with a craft beer accompaniment of your choice.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Bdav1818

                    Bdav, you're brilliant! What a great idea! I totally agree.

                    If you go to L&E relatively early -- by 6 or 6:30 -- you'd won't have a long wait, but you will have an opportunity to try a great brew and chat with the bartender before dinner.

                    And brunch at The Publican is terrific. Talk about Bloody Marys!

                    1. re: Bdav1818

                      Great idea re Publican for brunch, thx. I love the enthusiasm you all have for your city. I have not been to Chicago since i saw Jordan play in '92. I was just 16 then, looking forward to this trip with my wife.

                        1. re: delk

                          Have you been there yet? Wondering if it has any sort of sports memorabilia or is a straightforwards "upscale-type" steak restaurant with decor to match. I presume this is the "replacement restaurant" at the Intercontinental.

                          1. re: huiray

                            Yes, it's in the location formerly occupied by Zest in the Intercontinental.

                            1. re: huiray

                              Have not been, but the pictures I have seen look like an upscale steak place.

                              1. re: delk

                                It seems there are some basketball-related/Michael Jordan-specific elements to the decor. Oh, the menu is also shown in the link below.