3 day trip to Chicago - 10 friends
We are mostly women, planning a trip to Chicago in early November. We are staying just off Michigan Ave, on Eat Ontario. We are looking for some places that might be in walking distance, reasonably priced, for both lunch and dinner. Possibly brunch on Sunday. Any ideas?
>> We are staying just off Michigan Ave, on Eat Ontario.
I know you mean East Ontario, but East Ontario near Michigan has so many restaurants close by, it might as well be called "Eat Ontario", LOL! All of the recommendations I'm giving are within roughly a five-minute walk of where you're staying, as you can see on the map to the right.
My absolute top choice is Sable. Sable is a wonderful RESTAURANT ;) serving contemporary American cuisine from Chef Heather Terhune, and she is one of our top chefs. The food is simply sublime. Many of the dishes are available in half portions, so you can try a lot of items and they're easy to share too. Not only is everything delicious, but it's incredibly inexpensive for the quality. They also offer unusual artisanal cocktails. Go there for lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch - they do a great job at all of these. Just go!
For my second recommendation, go to Topolobampo or Frontera Grill. These offer creative provincial Mexican cuisine from Rick Bayless. Both are excellent and the food is very unusual, unlike what you get in most other cities this side of the border. At dinner, Topolobampo is rather expensive, while Frontera Grill is more moderate in price; both are very reasonable (and similar in price) at lunchtime. Topolobampo accepts reservations, at Opentable.com as well as over the phone, for the whole restaurant starting three months in advance, and they fill up quickly for dinner, not quite as quickly for lunch. (For both of these reasons, Topolobampo is a great choice for lunch.) Frontera Grill accepts only a handful of reservations and only over the phone; they hold most of the dining room available for walk-in traffic, and waits to be seated without a reservation can be horrendous, 90-120 minutes or more. I strongly advise making a a reservation NOW for your trip in November. At the same location, they also have a place called XOCO which is more fast food, not as unusual but a worthwhile stop when you want something quick rather than a nice sit-down meal.
You're also very close to the original locations of Uno and Due, for our delicious local specialty of deep-dish pizza.
Other nearby reasonably-priced places serving great food include Quartino (Italian small plates), Coco Pazzo Cafe (Italian), Pops for Champagne (wine bar), Sunda (sushi/pan-Asian), and Nacional 27 (Latin fusion). David Burke's Primehouse is perhaps our best steakhouse; it can be rather expensive for dinner, but quite reasonable at lunchtime. Cafe Iberico is good for tapas but only accepts reservations for large groups during the week and for lunch on weekends. For a fast-food type lunch, go to Portillo's on West Ontario for our local specialties of Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches.
>> Possibly brunch on Sunday.
There are lots of good Sunday brunches around, including the previously-mentioned Sable. 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 not inexpensive (around $43) but if you consider it a grand seafood dinner rather than brunch, it's a bargain. Also close by is Cafe des Architectes, which does a nice a la carte brunch, with a nice complimentary basket of French breads/pastries.
I strongly recommend making reservations in advance (the sooner the better) for anywhere you plan on going, especially with a group of ten. Most of these places accept reservations, many of them on Opentable.com as well as over the phone. If you intend on going to a place that doesn't accept reservations (like Uno or Due), you may want to either go at an off-hour (e.g. mid-afternoon) or else call ahead just to let them know the size of your group and find out whether or not they would be able to seat you.
Here are a few more things that may be of interest. If your group has any coffee lovers, of course we have the usual chains all over, including Lavazza on Ohio, but if you'd like to try Chicago's best, walk down Michigan Avenue to Randolph to go to Intelligentsia. If your group has any bread/pastry lovers, walk to Fox & Obel, our premier gourmet food store, for their amazing baked goods, including rich cinnamon swirl rolls, croissants, etc. For a snack, Garrett Popcorn has a shop around the corner, with wonderful caramel popcorn (with or without cashews or pecans), cheese popcorn, or a mix of the two. For a drink, in addition to Sable, consider the Signature Lounge, on the 96th Floor of the John Hancock Building, but only on days that don't have fog or low clouds, because you'll be going primarily for the view.
Feel free to ask more questions, and enjoy your visit!
619 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
29 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611
Fox & Obel Food Market
401 E Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60611
737 N Lasalle Drive, Chicago, IL 60654
David Burke's Primehouse
616 N Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611
445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654
626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654
325 W. Huron, Chicago, IL 60610
445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610
55 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL
100 W Ontario St, Chicago, IL 60654
625 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL
Cafe des Architectes
20 East Chestnut Street, Chicago, IL 60611
Coco Pazzo Cafe
636 N St Clair, Chicago, IL 60611
Shaw's Crab House
21 East Hubbard St., Chicago, IL 60611
Signature Room at the 95th
875 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611
162 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611
110 W. Illinois St., Chicago, IL 60654
Sable Kitchen & Bar
505 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654
Pops for Champagne
601 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654