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Help!!! Need a Restaurant Recommendation near the Congress Theater (Milwaukee and Armitage)

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Los Angeles Hound coming into Chicago for a concert this month. I need a solid restaurant to eat at before a concert at the Congress Theater. I heard Smoke is good, but are there any other places nearby that are tasty?

All Help is Appreciated!!!

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  1. Smoque is not really near the Congress Theater; they're about three miles apart.

    For recommendations in the vicinity of the theater, see this previous discussion:

    Dinner near Congress Theater -- HELP!! - www.chow.com/topics/671918

    Two of the places mentioned there, Mado and Cafe Matou, have closed, but the other recommendations are still current.

    You should be aware that some of the places mentioned in other replies in this topic (the one you're reading now) are a mile or more away from the theater. Maybe that's okay, maybe it's not (such as if you're driving and you want to avoid having to park your car twice). You can refer to the map to your right, and I've made sure all the recommendations in both topics show up there so you can see for yourself which ones are where. You may want to zoom in on the map to get a better view, given how many markers there are.

    -----
    Irazu
    1865 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

    Bonsoiree
    2728 W Armitage, Chicago, IL 60647

    Lula Cafe
    2537 N Kedzie Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647

    Honey 1 BBQ
    2241 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

    Smoque
    3800 N Pulaski Rd Ste 2, Chicago, IL 60641

    Bin Wine Cafe
    1559 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

    Real Tenochtitlan
    2451 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647

    Fuego Mexican Grill & Marguitia Bar
    2047 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

    Las Asadas
    2045 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

    90 Miles Cuban Cafe
    2540 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

    Lillie's Q
    1856 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

    Belly Shack
    1912 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

    Cumin
    1414 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

    2 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Usagi Ya is Pan Asian/sushi and is very close, but if you have a hankering for bbq, there's a great new place on North Avenue called Lillie Q.
      There's also the Southern (yes, southern comfort food) about a block east of Lillie Q.
      Bin (related to Bin 36) does a really nice dinner.
      Cumin has excellent and authentic Nepalese and Indian food.
      A little further up Milwaukee Ave is Francesca's Forno, part of the Francesca's Italian chain (mentioned in the earlier thread, but recently re-opened with a new menu).

      -----
      Francesca's Forno
      1576 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60647

      Usagi Ya
      1178 N Milwuakee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

      The Southern
      1840 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

      1. re: nsxtasy

        Incidentally, it wasn't clear from your post exactly what kind of restaurant you're looking for. If you're looking for an upscale place, the Asian-inflected Bonsoiree is less than a five-minute walk from the theater. 90 Miles Cuban Cafe and Belly Shack (Korean-Puerto Rican) are both less than a five-minute walk as well. Fuego is only a block from the theater, but it (as well as Big Star and Las Asadas) might not appeal to you, since you're coming from perhaps the only other U.S. city with as vibrant a Mexican dining scene as Chicago's. These are the closest restaurants to the theater, all within a few blocks.

        -----
        Big Star
        1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

      2. Las Asada's, I've also walked from Honey 1's many times (last time when I saw DEVO)

        http://honey1bbq.net/

        1. Hi Scweinhaxen. Nice name. I was in Munich a few weeks ago and had some Scheinhaxen myself. So between the name and your interest in Smoque, I'd guess you're a meat lover? The Congress is to the Northwest of Bucktown with tons of great restaurants, so if you give a better idea of what you like I oculd give a better recommendation, but if you're looking for BBQ, LillieQs is great. A bit of a walk to the theater, but you could always grab a cab. They have a wonderful pulled pork snadwich on Brioche and come to the table with 5 kins of sauce you can pour on top. Nice collard greens too. Gets real busy on weekends.

          Maybe the closest good option is Belly Shack which is run by a real talented Kroean American cook that runs the even better Urban Belly noodle shop in a different neighborhood. Its pretty casual, a big open industrial type room under the El tracks with counter service, but an interesting mix of sandwiches, rice dishes, and a number of sides that mix together mexican and korean influences. And of course some great kimchi.

          Anyway, there are probably 50 good restaurants in the Bucktown/Wicker park area, so you're in a good place for a good meal.

          -----
          Smoque
          3800 N Pulaski Rd Ste 2, Chicago, IL 60641

          Urbanbelly
          3053 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

          Belly Shack
          1912 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

          1. I'm sorry. I was thinking of the Chopin Theater that is a bit further east ans south. Here are my revised recommendations for you:
            Big Star for insanely good tacos and beer or margaritas.
            90 Miles for Cuban food.
            Irazu, the only Costa Rican restaurant in town. (BYO)
            Belly Shack for really good Latin/Asian fusion. (BYO)
            Honey One BBQ is close, but spotty in quality.

            -----
            Irazu
            1865 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

            Honey 1 BBQ
            2241 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

            Belly Shack
            1912 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

            1. The area around the Congress is a little sketchy as far as dinner before a show goes.The good news is you aren't far at all from tons of places.If your staying downtown take the blue line train to Damen ave. or cab it to Milwaukee ave. and Damen ave.The Congress is the next stop at Western ave. on the blue line or less than a five minute cab ride from Milwaukee and Damen.You can walk from there if you wish.It's about a mile.Sometimes your better off walking some of that food off.If you know what I mean.Go to Lillie Q if you want BBQ (shrimp and grits,fried chicken.Yum!)you won't be disappointed.Either way it's a fun area to go for dinner before the show and lots of places to go after the show also.

              1. Revolution Brewing isn't far and is probably the best brewpub in the city (if that's something that appeals to you). Menu isn't exactly pushing any boundaries but everything is executed very well. The beer is excellent, too. Revolution can get crowded, though, especially if their second floor space is closed due to a private party, so allow extra time.

                If you headed Northwest from the Congress Theatre (rather than Southeast, towards Wicker Park/Bucktown), you could try Lula Cafe or Longman & Eagle. Lula's is currently expanding and while they're still open, seating is a little more limited (or, if they're done by the time your concert rolls around, there will be more seating than before and they will accept reservations). L&E doesn't accept reservations and is often packed. Depending on the size of your party, you could wind up with a long wait. I like the food a lot, though - a fair amount of meat-focused, very hearty (and often salty) dishes. Not exactly subtle, but in a good way (for me). Lula's is much more balanced with a strong seasonal/farm-to-table approach in a less raucous setting.

                -----
                Revolution Brewing
                2323 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

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

                1 Reply
                1. re: danimalarkey

                  And I forgot that there's a new wine bar in the same general area as Lula's and L&E (if a wine bar sounds more appealing) -- Telegraph. It has garnered decent praise in the local press so far and the owners have a good track record (Bluebird and Webster's Wine Bar). It looks like they accept reservations, too.

                  http://telegraphwinebar.com/
                  2601 N Milwaukee Ave.

                2. Thanks everyone for the plentitude of responses. Funny about Lillie's Q, I met the owners (Father and Son) at the Memphis in May event this year. They were competing in the shoulder competition and unfortunately I was not there the day they were offering up there shoulder. We did try the redneck nachos which were tortilla chips and deep fried spicy wings....... Delicious. Bill Kim from Urban Belly is opening up a new concept here in LA, and I was hoping to check it out when it opens. What do the chi-town hounds recommend at Lillie's Q or Urban Belly?? Good Karma is bestowed upon you chicago hounds that have helped out here on my thread!!!

                  -----
                  Urbanbelly
                  3053 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

                  Lillie's Q
                  1856 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: Schweinhaxen

                    Lillie's Q and Urban Belly are two of your best, most interesting options. What a shame you have to choose.

                    -----
                    Urbanbelly
                    3053 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

                    Lillie's Q
                    1856 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

                    1. re: chicgail

                      Urban Belly over Belly Shack........ I am interested because we have the Kogi truck out here that too is a combo of Mexican and Korean influences, and that is a good thing!!

                      -----
                      Urbanbelly
                      3053 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

                      Belly Shack
                      1912 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

                      1. re: Schweinhaxen

                        Just to help distinguish between the two... Belly Shack is a couple blocks south of the theater; Urbanbelly is a mile and a half north. Bill Kim owns/manages both restaurants, whereas I believe his wife, Yvonne Cadiz-Kim, is only involved at Belly Shack. This explains why Urbanbelly is strictly Asian/Korean, whereas Belly Shack is a fusion of Korean and Puerto Rican (not Mexican).

                        -----
                        Urbanbelly
                        3053 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

                        Belly Shack
                        1912 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

                    2. re: Schweinhaxen

                      Owing mostly to its BYO license, I would go with Belly Shack (see nsxtasy's clarification) -- but it will probably come down to what type of food you're looking for on that evening.

                      -----
                      Belly Shack
                      1912 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

                      1. re: danimalarkey

                        LA does not have a large Puerto Rican population so I think I will have to try Belly Shack....... mofongo with kalbi and kimchee? mmmmm

                        -----
                        Belly Shack
                        1912 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

                        1. re: Schweinhaxen

                          Belly Shack is good and very convenient, but for my money I'd choose Urban Belly over just about any restaurant in the city. Even with its strong reputation I think it under-rated. The dishes combine to make such a fully formed concept between the rice dishes and noodle bowls and kimchi sides all combining traditional korean flavors with a unique contemporary twist for a perfect combination. (dumplings not bad either). The noodles are served in such delicious savory broths that I never miss a drop. But as mentioned above, no liquor license and not particularly convenient to public transportation. But if you want the real Bill Kim experience, I'd go there. Maybe UB for lunch and BS before the show?

                          -----
                          Urbanbelly
                          3053 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

                          Belly Shack
                          1912 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

                          1. re: wak

                            Wow! UB over just about any restaurant in the city? I wish I felt that way about a single restaurant.It sure would make going out to dinner a easy decision.lol

                            1. re: paulhollyus2

                              It is a bit of a hyperbole for a restaurant destination city like Chicago. Urban Belly is good, but it's not even close to THAT good. I guess wak really likes it.

                              Would I go to Urban Belly and Belly Shack in the same day. Not likely.

                              -----
                              Urbanbelly
                              3053 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

                              Belly Shack
                              1912 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647