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the right places to go in chicago?

hello all,
im traveling next november with my wife to chicago, and i need help to get all my eating correct
i allready have dinner reservations at ALINEA :) ........
that being said, i have also reservation at L2O and schwa but have to cancel one of them, and it is a big dilime, asi dont know what to do. all the help i can get will be amazing.

also for brunch i read that the best place is sprout..... is this correct ?

for deep dish pizza (for the real chicago experience) where should i go ? is uno really de best?
is hot dougs worth the wait and distance ? or is it over rate?
and what are the best recommendations for late breakfast/early lunch? (mexican time, and no rick bayless please, as much as i want to go, im from mexico so it doesnt make sense to go to a mexican restaurant in chicago for me)

last but not least is the aviary worht going to for a drink,as a regular bar ?

thanks to all for all, and all the extra info i can get will be great (where to go and what not to miss) as it is our first time in CHICAGO

thanks again

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L2O
2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

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  1. <<i have also reservation at L2O and schwa but have to cancel one of them>>
    Schwa often cancels on people at the last minute. If you don't have another alternative, you may want to keep L20.

    <<also for brunch i read that the best place is sprout..... is this correct ?>>
    Many good brunches. Sprout is one of them. I also love The Publican, Longman and Eagle and Jam.

    <<for deep dish pizza (for the real chicago experience) where should i go ? is uno really de best?>>
    Uno is the original (1940s) and it has retained its original recipe and ambiance. I love it (and sister restaurant DUE - up the street), but Lou Malnotis and Pizanos are all part of the same family (literally) and have very similar recipes.

    <<hot dougs worth the wait and distance ?>>
    It is excellent. If you go early (by 11) and during the week the wait shouldn't be more than 30 minutes. Whether it's worth it or not depends on what ever else you want to do and how important it is to you. Dawgs and Franks on Clybourn is closer. IMO, not really as good, but not a bad substitute in terms of time.

    <<is the aviary worht going to for a drink,as a regular bar ?>>
    I don't know what you mean by "a regular bar." It's special. More like a lounge. In the same category as Sable and Velvet Room. Unusual and excellent cocktails in an excellent environment with good - sometimes very good - bar food. It's not a place to sit at the bar and nurse a beer or whiskey while commiserating with the bartender.

    1. >> the right places to go in chicago?

      There really aren't "right" places to go. Chicago has many, many great and interesting restaurants. In a brief visit, all you can do is sample a few. You're on the right track with a reservation at Alinea - excellent!

      >> i have also reservation at L2O and schwa but have to cancel one of them, and it is a big dilime, asi dont know what to do.

      Given Schwa's history of frequently cancelling reservations at the last minute, I would avoid it if at all possible. I'm not a big fan of L2O; if I were you, I would switch your reservation to TRU, or Everest, or Spiaggia. But if it has to be between those two, I would pick L2O.

      I would also consider whether you wish to have two high-end dinners while you're here. We have many casual finer dining restaurants that also turn out outstanding food, including contemporary American (notably North Pond, Perennial Virant, Sable, and Boka), contemporary Italian (Piccolo Sogno), tapas (Mercat a la Planxa), etc. But if you want to do two high-end dinners, by all means do so!

      >> also for brunch i read that the best place is sprout..... is this correct ?

      I haven't been there, can't say.

      >> for deep dish pizza (for the real chicago experience) where should i go ? is uno really de best?

      As noted above by chicgail, the original locations of Uno and Due are among the best. So are Lou Malnati's and Pizano's. Depending on where you'll be (which you don't mention), I would go to whichever location of these is closest to you.

      >> is hot dougs worth the wait and distance ? or is it over rate?

      IMHO it's not worth the wait, not worth the distance, AND it's overrated. I would skip it; to me it's a place that tourists go to stand on line and laugh with each other about how far they've come from to wait hours to eat hot dogs. But some people like it; like most places, there are varying opinions.

      If you feel the need to have unusual hot dogs/sausages, Franks 'n' Dawgs is much more convenient and doesn't have the long lines, and again IMHO, it's just as good. I wouldn't waste hours of a short trip here going to Hot Doug's and standing in line, unless you really really really want to see whether or not the hype is worth it.

      >> what are the best recommendations for late breakfast/early lunch?

      Bongo Room if you like sweeter dishes (they specialize in unusual pancakes), otherwise Jam or, depending on where you'll be spending time, places on the North Side including Southport Grocery or M. Henrietta / M. Henry.

      >> it is our first time in CHICAGO

      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

      Enjoy your visit!

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      Hot Doug's
      3324 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

      Boka
      1729 North Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614

      Bongo Room
      1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

      Tru Restaurant
      676 North Saint Clair, Chicago, IL 60611

      North Pond
      2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

      Everest
      440 S La Salle St Ste 4000, Chicago, IL 60605

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

      Southport Grocery & Cafe
      3552 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

      Perennial Virant
      1800 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60614

      L2O
      2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

      Piccolo Sogno
      464 N Halsted, Chicago, IL 60622

      Spiaggia
      980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

      M. Henry
      5707 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60660

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

      Franks 'n' Dawgs
      1863 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

      M. Henrietta
      1133 West Granville, Chicago, IL 60660

      9 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        thanks both for the info.
        very helpfull indeed,
        so i will def avoid schwa, and re think of going to L20
        and hot dougs is also of the list, thanks for clearing that up.

        regarding the aviary, im assuming as chicgail said not a bar to go for a drink and people watching, where can you recommend me to go for a great drink speaeasytyoe/molecular drinks type of bar.

        regarding the high end dinners, doesnt have to be that type just looking for the really different experience, (something i can only find there, if you know what i mean?)
        and last if you are so kind i will arrive on a thursday night, and will be able to grab a bite after 1 am, ill be staying at the sutton place any recommendations,? even if i have to take a cab ?

        thanks again

        1. re: super_al

          Given your comment about finding something unique, I'd suggest trying Moto or Ing for truly fun cuisine that's truly delicious.

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          Moto Restaurant
          945 W Fulton, Chicago, IL 60607

          1. re: Siun

            For that type of pizza I prefer Lou M. and Uno/Duo the best. I was at Tru a couple of months ago and I think it is as good as it ever has been. Since you've got Alinea reservations already I think Tru may be the second best in Chicago. That said, I have reservations for L2O this weekend and am looking forward to it. I have heard from a couple of people that they are really on top of things. I've been to L2O several times when L. Gras was still there and loved it.

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            Alinea
            1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

            L2O
            2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

          2. re: super_al

            "regarding the aviary, im assuming as chicgail said not a bar to go for a drink and people watching, where can you recommend me to go for a great drink speaeasytyoe/molecular drinks type of bar."
            ----------
            I'm afraid I'm still nonplussed by what exactly you are getting at. Do you mean a place for good drinks at a traditional long bar type place, a bar with food/lounge where you still interact with people around you, or a bar where you go to have a drink and pick up someone for the night? Heterosexual or homosexual?

            1. re: super_al

              I certainly wouldn't avoid Schwa. The meals that I have had there recently have been very memorable. There may be a certain risk that the restaurant might not be open the night of your reservation but I would do whatever I could to dine there.

              That being said, Schwa is not for everyone. If you have an aversion to a loud space, this would not be the place for you.

              1. re: super_al

                The Aviary is THE place to go for "molecular gastronomy" cocktails. I'm not aware of anywhere else doing these types of cocktails. It's not a place to go meet other people, or chat up the bartender, or people watch. The focus is on the cocktails.

                However, if you like watching bartenders work / chefs cook, they have standing height tables in the front ,where you can watch the kitchen. The "kitchen" at Aviary is behind a big mesh cage and it's really fun to watch the bartenders work / make the drinks. The rest of the room is like a lounge with cushy chairs and couches. There's no physical bar with bar stools that you can sit at, so you can only really watch the bartenders work at the standing table area.

                Note that the "bar food" at The Aviary is quite literally: bites. Everything is hors d'oeuvres sized and meant to be eaten in a single bite, so the bill can really add up when you pay $3-6 for a single bite of food. Plus, you must order the bites in 3's.

                IMO the drinks at The Aviary are amazing and not really to be found elsewhere.

                For a more traditional faux speakeasy vibe, with a physical bar that has seats, try the Violet Hour, which has a door hidden in plain sight (disguised as something else) and no sign. Sable is also excellent but doesn't have the speakeasy feel.

                But neither has the molecular gastronomy drinks that The Aviary has, although both will have cocktails w/ spirits infused with another ingredient usually.

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                Violet Hour
                1247 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

                1. re: super_al

                  >> regarding the high end dinners, doesnt have to be that type just looking for the really different experience, (something i can only find there, if you know what i mean?)

                  The one type of food that we have but is difficult to find in most places around the country is provincial Mexican cuisine. I know you mentioned you are from Mexico and not interested, but if you miss the creativity of the chefs in Mexico City and other big cities south of the border, you might consider places like Topolobampo/Frontera Grill, Mundial Cocina Mestiza, Mixteco Grill, Mexique, etc.

                  Otherwise, you might consider some of our more unusual ethnic cuisines and/or fusion cuisines, even though they might not be something unique to Chicago. Excellent places near downtown serve tapas (Mercat a la Planxa, Cafe Iberico), pan-Asian/sushi (Sunda, Aria), Latin fusion (Carnivale, Nacional 27), contemporary Italian (Piccolo Sogno), and French bistros (La Sardine). There are many, many restaurants serving cuisine from almost any nationality/ethnicity, often in outlying neighborhoods where people from a given area reside; if there's anything you're particularly interested in, just ask.

                  >> i will arrive on a thursday night, and will be able to grab a bite after 1 am, ill be staying at the sutton place any recommendations,?

                  Me? I'd go to Pizano's on State for deep-dish pizza, open till 2 during the week and a five-minute walk from the hotel. Call ahead with your pizza order and they can have it ready for whatever time you specify, to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake.

                  For more options, see this discussion (and you may want to phone any place you're considering, to verify their exact hours):

                  Magnificent Mile Late Night? - www.chow.com/topics/753925

                  Also note that the Sutton Place is right across the street from the Original Pancake House, a very good place for breakfast.

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

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

                  Cafe Iberico
                  737 N Lasalle Drive, Chicago, IL 60654

                  La Sardine
                  111 N Carpenter St, Chicago, IL 60607

                  Nacional 27
                  325 W. Huron, Chicago, IL 60610

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

                  Mixteco Grill
                  1601 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL 60613

                  Mexique
                  1529 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

                  Original Pancake House
                  22 E Bellevue Pl, Chicago, IL 60611

                  Aria
                  200 N Columbus Drive, Chicago, IL 60601

                  Piccolo Sogno
                  464 N Halsted, Chicago, IL 60622

                  Carnivale
                  702 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60661

                  Sunda
                  110 W. Illinois St., Chicago, IL 60654

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    thanks all, very helpfull all the info, now i have a better idea of what i want to do

                    1. re: super_al

                      Sprout's brunch seems good although this is only based on one meal. From a very small sample size of items i prefered the savory over the sweet. The skirt steak n eggs dish was very good. Their "lithuanian bacon buns" I did not find special. They were like a mediocre cha siu bao. The vanilla butter they were served was more flavorful than the bun itself.

              2. For what it's worth, this non-tourist has stood in line many, many times for Hot Doug's and will continue to do so. I've never been anywhere like it, and the experience is always worth the wait. Always.

                1 Reply
                1. re: sis2catbat

                  . . . and at 10:30 yesterday there was no line at HD's. (If you don't cotton to a banger or a thuringer for late breakfast, 20 seconds or so in the microwave will bring it back to life for lunch.)

                2. My wife and I had dinner at Alinea on September 15th. As the restaurant has been well reviewed, there isn't much point going into the details. The meal was fantastic with each course creatively presented with a veritable barrage of interesting ingredients. I took the wine pairings and my wife a few glasses matched for multiple courses. It was a thoroughly enjoyable dinner. For the final course, Chef Grant came out to create his dessert masterpiece on our table - frozen chocolate mousse with cilantro, pepper and banana sauces.

                  I noted a few reviewers mentioned rude, abrasive service. My experience was the exact polar opposite. The staff were impeccable, properly attentive, timing perfect, etc. Frankly it was a magical evening that I have no recommendations for improvement - well, maybe if someone else picked up the $880 tab. :)

                  Enjoy your evening. We sure did!

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                  Alinea
                  1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                  1. Hi Al

                    I would not bank on Schwa. I had heard recently they had closed temporarily and a rumor (on Eater) that the chef/owner was possibly moving to California. I'm not sure if this is true but at the least, as others have said, they do have a history of canceling.

                    Do not be deterred by going to L20. I have been twice in the past month and think it is fantastic! Right up there with Alinea as the 2 top restaurants in Chicago. Their new chef de cuisine--Matt Kirkley is from Ria, his sous chef Nick is from Eleven Madison Park, and their pastry chef they recruited from Ria. It will blow your mind.

                    I've never been fond of the wait in line for Hot Dougs. Enjoyable but IMHO not worth the wait.

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                    Alinea
                    1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                    Hot Doug's
                    3324 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: DutchOenophile

                      sounds amazing, thanks for the review on Alinea and it is also the first time i have heard somebody say that L20 after the exit of the chef is still great (always read great things before never after) and i think ill skip the aviary, im more of a bar/club type of dude, so if there are any special recomendatios for that also will be great (my type of place is like 10june in NYC or surrender in vegas) and food wise i think im ok, unless somebody has any other advice, let me know,
                      cheers
                      Ps if somebody need some recomendations in mexico let me know, ill be more than happy to help

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                      Alinea
                      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614