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One dinner in Chicago

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We are returning to Chicago. Last time our favorite dinner was at Anteprima so we will return there. So help us pick out a dinner spot on are last night in Chicago. Let's keep main courses under $30.

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Anteprima
5316 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640

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  1. That doesn't narrow things down much.

    Where are you staying? Downtown? On the North Side near Anteprima? (Be specific!)

    And what kind of food/meal would you like? Upscale finer dining? Ethnic cuisine? Steak? Deep-dish pizza? Something else?

    7 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      We are staying on E Ohio but we will have a car so location is not critical. Not pizza or steak or Asian. Something unique to Chicago..

      1. re: professor shorthair

        Short answer - creative provincial Mexican cuisine, at places like Frontera Grill/Topolobampo, Mexique, or Mundial Cocina Mestiza.

        And 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

        I'll type more later tonight, gotta go eat...

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

        Mexique
        1529 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

        1. re: nsxtasy

          >> Something unique to Chicago..

          As elaborated in the topic to which I posted a link above, there are various foods and places unique to Chicago, including deep-dish pizza (which you say you don't want), Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches (in the cheap eats category, a good choice for lunch one day), provincial Mexican restaurants (see below), Alinea (best restaurant in the country - expensive, but the experience of a lifetime), North Pond (for its exquisite, unique setting in the middle of the park, facing its namesake pond with the city skyline looming over the opposite shore), and Fox & Obel (named by Bon Appetit magazine as one of the ten best bread bakeries in the country, and a 5-minute walk from where you're staying).

          Beyond those places, though, most of what you find here are types of food you can find in many other cities in the country, including fine dining, more casual finer-dining restaurants and bistros (including contemporary and non-contemporary American, French, Italian, etc), small plates restaurants (American, Italian, Spanish/tapas), ethnic foods from all over the world, gastropubs (see below), breakfast specialty restaurants, and just about everything else you can imagine. In all of these categories, we have a great selection that includes some absolutely terrific places. So if there's anything in particular you're interested in, just ask.

          Some of our very best restaurants in various categories are no more than 10-15 minutes walking distance of where you're staying, which you can see by zooming in on the map to the right of this post. In addition to Topolobampo and Frontera Grill, these include David Burke's Primehouse (steaks, which I know you said you don't want, but they do a great burger for lunch), Shaw's Crab House (seafood), Sable ("small plates" of contemporary American food, and craft cocktails), Cibo Matto (contemporary Italian), Cafe Iberico (tapas), Nacional 27 (Latin fusion), Purple Pig (pork/charcuterie/cheese/organ meats), Heaven on Seven (cajun/creole), Quartino (Italian "small plates"), and Pops for Champagne (wine bar).

          Oh, and if I were you, I'd reconsider and spend a lunch on deep-dish pizza, unless you've had it here before. The original Uno and Due are near your place and still have the original delicious recipe, unlike their dreadful franchised counterparts.

          HTH - Feel free to ask more questions!

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          Pizzeria Due
          619 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

          Pizzeria Uno
          29 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611

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

          Alinea
          1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

          Cafe Iberico
          737 N Lasalle Drive, Chicago, IL 60654

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

          Frontera Grill
          445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

          North Pond
          2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

          Quartino
          626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

          Nacional 27
          325 W. Huron, Chicago, IL 60610

          Topolobampo
          445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

          Heaven on Seven
          600 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

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

          Cibo Matto
          201 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601

          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

          1. re: nsxtasy

            Cibo Matto is closing September 10 :-(

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            Cibo Matto
            201 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601

            1. re: delk

              Wow! That was fast. I'm really sorry to hear that. It probably hurt them when Todd Stein, the chef that started the place, left for the Florentine.

        2. re: professor shorthair

          Professor, there are two types of restaurants/food that are unique to Chicago. The first is regional Mexican cuisine. I'm not talking about tacos and enchiladas here. Some of the best examples of this cuisine are Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. For main courses under $30 I would stick to Frontera. The downside is that Frontera takes few reservations. The best strategies would be to 1) go at lunchtime or 2) arrive when it opens for dinner (5:30 pm).

          But there is other good regional Mexican in Chicago and I would recommend Mexique (which is Mexican/French fusion) in West Town or Mundial Cocina Mestiza in a neighborhood called Pilsen, a little southwest of where you will be staying. I also really like Fonda del Mar on West Fullerton Avenue. Your car will help with all of these.

          The second type of food that is unique here is the gastropub. High marks to all of these: The Publican, The Purple Pig, Longman & Eagle (1 Michelin Star), and The Bristol. Publican takes reservations; the others do not. You'll find interesting applications of farm-to-table food and an emphasis on seafood and pork at most. Again, what works is to avoid weekend prime times (7-9 pm). I think they all have (really good) brunches on weekends. There is also The Gage, which classifies as a gastropub and that many people like. I have been there 3 times and am not impressed.

          Hopefully this is more of what you had in mind.

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

          Frontera Grill
          445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

          Topolobampo
          445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

          Mexique
          1529 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

          Purple Pig
          500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

          Longman & Eagle
          2657 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

          1. re: chicgail

            Just to add to what chicgail has said...

            The easiest way to understand the difference between the creative provincial Mexican cuisine found in Chicago, and the conventional enchiladas-tacos-and-fajitas you find everywhere else, is to check out the menus on their websites. It's a HUGE difference.

            I think Topolobampo is a great choice for lunch, for a couple of reasons. One, the lunch prices there are less than dinner and similar to Frontera's (most lunch entrees $15-20 at both, dinner entrees mid to upper twenties at Frontera, upper thirties at Topo). Two, it's easy to get a reservation at Topo with only a few weeks advance notice, whereas dinner reservations at Topo fill up shortly after they open the book three months in advance. It's hard to get reservations at Frontera Grill, because they only accept a handful, leaving most of the dining room available for walk-in traffic. If you want to eat there, call for a reservation (you've got nothing to lose by trying), or else arrive 15-20 minutes before they open the doors. Otherwise, you may wait 90+ minutes for a table (even for Saturday brunch!). Oh, and they are about a 10-15 minute walk from your hotel.

            I really love Mundial Cocina Mestiza and Mexique a lot, and both are significantly less expensive than Frontera/Topo, with dinner entrees in the high teens to low twenties. Also, both are open on Sundays (Frontera/Topo aren't) and both serve brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. And it's easy to get reservations at either one. (I've been to Fonda del Mar too, and it's quite good.) If you don't want to drive, Mexique is easy to get to on the #66 CTA bus which goes straight up Chicago Avenue, and Mundial Cocina Mestiza is a few doors down from the 18th Street station on the CTA Pink Line (elevated train).

            I don't think gastropubs are unique to Chicago; it's a trend in every large and small city in the country. In fact, the second item on Zagat's recent article* on "8 Food and Drink Trends That Are Totally Played Out" is pork-themed eateries, which many of these places are. Still, if you enjoy them, we have some here for you to enjoy. I would add these tips about each of them as follows. Half of the seating at the Publican consists of those communal tables, which you may love for dining solo, or hate if you want any privacy. When making an advance reservation, you can specify your preference for the communal seating or your private table (for up to 6) and they will try to accommodate you. I thought Publican had some excellent dishes (e.g. mussels), some so-so (pork rinds), and some awful (desserts) and it's VERY NOISY. Purple Pig does not accept reservations, and waits during dinner hours (even during the week, and even going somewhat early or somewhat late) are horrendous, typically 2+ hours. Go at lunchtime, mid-afternoon, or late night (after 10) to avoid the waits. And you won't be missing anything by having lunch there; they serve the same menu all day long. (There is no separate brunch menu at Purple Pig.) I ate at Longman & Eagle earlier this week and it was absolutely dreadful, the worst meal I've had in quite a while, as I reported at www.chow.com/topics/804480

            *Ref - www.zagat.com/buzz/8-food-and-drink-t...