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Recs for breakfasts/cheap lunch/dinner needed

  • t
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Hi!

Coming to Chicago at the end of the month from Toronto with my girlfriend. We are both 35. We are staying at the Crown Plaza Avenues at 160 E Huron. We are staying 5 nights, so plenty of opportunity for good chow :)

We are looking for:

1. Breakfast recommendations. Close to the hotel. A good greasy spoon would be good for one or two mornings. Maybe a good diner type breakfast in the local area? Walking distance would probably be good.

2. Cheap but good lunch options. We are going to be walking a lot, seeing all the local sights, the Mag Mile, the loop area, I guess we need to see Cloud Gate too! Maybe decent sushi lunch? Or something that Chicago is renowned for (I think cheap but good hot dogs????).

3. We are looking for a couple of good dinner's. Now, I am not talking about the tourist places where you end up paying for a view, but the food is average (like, if you are coming to Toronto, I wouldn't send you to the to top the CN Tower...even though the view is great). We are looking for something gourmet, but affordable ($20 to $30 entree's). French Bistro maybe? As a point of reference, our favourite restaurants in other cities have been Le Select in Toronto, Gramercy Tavern in New York (front bar, super social, but great food), and L'Express in Montreal.

Thanks!

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  1. >> 1. Breakfast recommendations. Close to the hotel.

    I'd eat at least one breakfast, maybe more, in the cafe at Fox & Obel. F&O is our premier gourmet food store, and there's a casual cafe in the rear where you order food in line, then go sit down. I recommend their cobb omelet. Also in the area is the Yolk location at Grand and McClurg. If you're willing to travel further (NOT walking distance) for a more creative breakfast, consider Bongo Room or Jam. None of these places accept reservations; beware long waits to be seated on weekends, especially Sundays.

    You can find more recommendations in this discussion:

    River North Breakfast Ideas - www.chow.com/topics/693985

    >> 2. Cheap but good lunch options. We are going to be walking a lot, seeing all the local sights, the Mag Mile, the loop area, I guess we need to see Cloud Gate too! Maybe decent sushi lunch? Or something that Chicago is renowned for (I think cheap but good hot dogs????).

    From your hotel, you can walk to Portillo's on Ontario, where you can get Chicago hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches. Another great local specialty is deep-dish pizza. Gino's East is right near your hotel, but it's not my favorite; I'd walk the few extra blocks to the original Uno or Due. Again, no reservations.

    For a more elaborate lunch, Coco Pazzo Cafe is an inexpensive Italian restaurant near your hotel. And Topolobampo is walkable, for creative provincial Mexican cuisine. David Burke's Primehouse is perhaps our best steakhouse; it's expensive at dinner, but very affordable for lunch. These three accept reservations in advance (especially Topolobampo). The Purple Pig is near your hotel and features cheese, charcuterie, and organ meats; they don't accept reservations, but the waits at lunchtime aren't bad, whereas the dinnertime waits are loooooooong.

    >> 3. We are looking for a couple of good dinner's. Now, I am not talking about the tourist places where you end up paying for a view, but the food is average (like, if you are coming to Toronto, I wouldn't send you to the to top the CN Tower...even though the view is great). We are looking for something gourmet, but affordable ($20 to $30 entree's). French Bistro maybe?

    Rather than eat something you can get plenty of back home (like French bistros), I'd recommend going to one of our more creative, unusual restaurants, with food different from back home. If you don't have lunch at one of our creative Provincial Mexican restaurants, I'd recommend them for dinner. I recommended Topolobampo for lunch, but at dinner it's very expensive and books up well in advance, and Frontera Grill without reservations usually means horrendous waits unless you can go early. Instead, hop on the #66 CTA bus that runs along Chicago Avenue and go to Mexique, or take the el (subway, portions of which are elevated) via the CTA Pink Line to 18th Street for Mundial Cocina Mestiza. Additional moderately-priced restaurants with terrific food, suitable for dinner (as well as a nice lunch) include Sable (contemporary American food with craft cocktails; a few blocks from your hotel), Piccolo Sogno (contemporary Italian bistro, a mile west of your hotel), and Mercat a la Planxa (tapas, a mile south of your hotel). All of these accept reservations (including on Opentable.com) and I strongly recommend making them.

    -----
    Gino's East
    162 E Superior St, Chicago, IL 60611

    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

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

    Bongo Room
    1470 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

    Bongo Room
    1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

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

    Frontera Grill
    445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

    Topolobampo
    445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

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

    Coco Pazzo Cafe
    636 N St Clair, Chicago, IL 60611

    Mexique
    1529 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

    Piccolo Sogno
    464 N Halsted, Chicago, IL 60622

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

    Purple Pig
    500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

    Jam Restaurant
    3059 W. Logan Blvd., Chicago, IL

    1 Reply
    1. re: nsxtasy

      I wouldn't normally think of Mexican, but I'll definitely look those up! Sable is a place I've looked up, and sounds pretty interesting. The Purple Pig seems to be mentioned on this forum a lot, so I'm guessing is a fair farvourite?

      Thanks for the detailed answer, that gives me a lot of options to start with :)

      -----
      Purple Pig
      500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

    2. Tboy, re "cheap"---your hotel is around the corner from Northwestern Memorial Hospital (Huron-Erie-St Clair-Fairbanks). Allspice Cafeteria, second floor, public welcome, has decent weekday lunch, (forget breakfast and dinner) when all chef stations are open because more employees are there. Salads run high as charged per ounce but "American" hot station is okay and ethnic stations can actually be pretty good. Prices run 40-60% of restaurants in this expensive neighborhood---Northwestern is not a bad trick for visitors to have up their sleeves as prices on the Mag Mile are high. Caveat: make sure you are in the cafeteria and not Au Bon Pain next door which is much more expensive. Meals other than weekday lunch tend to be ratty, just saying.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Querencia

        I added the hospital cafeteria to the restaurant database so it can generate links and be displayed on maps in topics.

        -----
        Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Allspice Cafeteria
        251 E Huron St, Chicago, IL 60611

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Nsxtasy, thank you so much for your recommendation of Allspice. I found it to be quite an insightful suggestion as the quality of the items offered was as good or much better that many of the other area establishments that charge what a normal person brings home with their weekly paycheck.

          1. re: Mobiusring

            Well, I'm in Chicago tomorrow. I have a reservation at Sable for Friday dinner, excited about that. I'm also definitely going to check out Fox and Obel for breakfast, and do lunch at Portillo's, Purple Pig and Topolobampo. I'll play dinner a bit more by ear, see what comes up. Thanks for the recs :)

            -----
            Topolobampo
            445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

            Purple Pig
            500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

            1. re: Tboy

              Oh, I just managed to make a lunch reservation at Topolobampo! Excellent!

              -----
              Topolobampo
              445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

            2. re: Mobiusring

              >> Nsxtasy, thank you so much for your recommendation of Allspice.

              Please note that the recommendation came from Querencia. I merely added it to the Chowhound restaurant database. I'm glad it worked out for you though!