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Nov 11, 2011 03:11 PM

Suggestions for dining with teen-pizza and asian?

I'm a bit behind the curve planning a long weekend with my husband and teenage daughter. We'll be in Chicago next weekend and I have been too busy to think about restaurants (something's wrong there). Obviously, we won't be snagging any hard-to-get reservations but I would appreciate a little advice.

Teen's tastes run beyond the usual to asian (sushi, thai, vietnamese) and because it's her birthday trip, we'll cater to her a little. She also enjoys italian and we would definitely like some Chicago pizza.

We'll be walking most places and are staying on E. Delaware near Michigan and spending some time shopping-probably Nordstom's and others. I'm hoping to find lunch and dinner not too far from the hotel/shopping. We will also go to the Apollo Theater Saturday night so dinner near there-if there is such a thing-would work.

I'm a first timer to Chicago. A friend says not to miss hot chocolate and breakfast at Xoco-other than that I'm starting from scratch. We're from New Orleans so we're much more about the food than what's trendy. Guidance would be much appreciated.

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  1. For Asian, your daughter would probably like Sunda, which is a 10-15 minute walk from your hotel. Sunda has sushi and pan-Asian cuisine, so it covers a wide variety. It's also a VERY lively atmosphere with a young (hip and sometimes noisy) crowd - a level of grown-up nightlife that would probably appeal to her. By way of contrast, Le Colonial is an excellent Vietnamese restaurant about five minutes walk from your hotel, but the atmosphere is more upscale and laid-back (it's in a converted townhouse).

    If you want to take the el (that's our subway, portions of which are elevated) to travel to the outlying neighborhoods, you could take the CTA Red Line to the Argyle stop, where there are several blocks chock full of Vietnamese restaurants (such as Tank Noodle) and shops, or to the Sheridan stop, where TAC Quick is a good authentic Thai restaurant.

    For our local specialty of delicious Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, go to Lou Malnati's at State and Rush (1120 N. State), a ten-minute walk from your hotel. If you don't have a lot of time, you can phone ahead with your pizza order and they'll have it ready when you specify; otherwise you'll be waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for your deep-dish to bake. But see below about the Lou Malnati's location near the Apollo.

    I wasn't sure from your statement whether you'd like an Italian restaurant in addition to the pizza. If so, Spiaggia and Cafe Spiaggia are both a two-minute walk from your hotel and excellent. Spiaggia is VERY expensive and formal (jackets required for gentlemen), whereas Cafe Spiaggia, next door, is moderately-priced and casual.

    For recommendations near the Apollo Theater, see this previous discussion:

    Restaurant suggestions near the Apollo Theater? -

    As noted in that discussion, the Lou Malnati's on Wrightwood is right near the theater. So you could have your deep-dish pizza as your meal near the Apollo, killing two birds with one stone. Again, phoning ahead with your pizza order to avoid a long wait for it to bake while seated would be a good idea.

    Chicago has many, many great restaurants for breakfast/brunch, so don't limit yourself to XOCO (which isn't one of our best anyway, IMHO). The Original Pancake House on East Bellevue is excellent, and a five-minute walk from your hotel. Unfortunately, most of our very best places - Bongo Room, M. Henry / M. Henrietta, Jam, Southport Grocery - are away from downtown. But Bongo Room is worth the trip if you enjoy sweeter dishes for breakfast/brunch. They specialize in creative pancakes, such as their pretzel pancakes with white chocolate caramel sauce. The standard portion size is three GIGANTIC pancakes, but you can order one-third or two-thirds portion sizes at a reduced price, which lets you try several different dishes. The Wicker Park location is about three miles northwest of your hotel; the one at Wabash and Roosevelt is about three miles south. Beware long waits to be seated on weekends between 9:30 and 1:00.

    Sunda, Le Colonial, Spiaggia, and Cafe Spiaggia all accept reservations, including on

    I've created links to the above recommendations so you can see where they are on the map to your right. You'll need to zoom in on the area near your hotel to see those places, since they're otherwise sort of clumped together.

    Feel free to ask more questions, and enjoy your visit!

    TAC Quick
    3930 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60613

    Pho Xe Tang (Tank Noodle
    )4953 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640

    Bongo Room
    1470 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

    Bongo Room
    1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

    Cafe Spiaggia
    980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

    Le Colonial
    937 Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611

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

    980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

    Lou Malnati's Pizzeria
    958 W Wrightwood Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

    110 W. Illinois St., Chicago, IL 60654

    449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

    Lou Malnati's Pizzeria (Gold Coast)
    1120 N State St, Chicago, IL 60610

    3 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Wow, nsxtasy, what a wealth of information! Thank you for all of the suggestions and the details. Sunda looks like a great call for us-and you are right that she will like the vibe. We'll be having both pizza and dinner at one of the Spiaggia locations. I'll also check out a couple of your breakfast recs. Looking forward to some good eating!

      980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

      1. re: GTCmom

        While nsxtasy is not a Xoco fan, a lot of us are - the Aztec hot chocolate gets me through our wu yrs, the churros are a great treat and it's all fun. Genuinely tasty food ... At times a long line so plan accordingly or just stop in for cocoa to carry as you explore.

        Xoco, Sunda, La Madia are all near the shopping scene ... As is Sable which as a great menu!

        Right near the Vietnamese spots on Argyle in an amazing Chinese spot with Beijing Duck that will knock you out - and is cheap besides - Sun Wah. Definitely worth the el ride.

        449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

        Sun Wah
        5039 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640

        1. re: Siun

          If you want a light morning snack, like hot chocolate and churros, XOCO is a good choice. But if you want a nice sit-down breakfast with the ability to choose from many different breakfast dishes, both sweet and savory, it doesn't provide the variety that our breakfast specialty places do; XOCO's breakfast menu is *very* limited. If you're looking for a sizable breakfast, look at the menus of the places you're considering on their websites, and then make your decision.

          I do think Chicago's provincial Mexican restaurants, including the other two Rick Bayless restaurants (Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, around the corner from XOCO) offer creative food that is not found in most of the United States. Again, you can take a look at the sample menus on their websites with your daughter to see if this is something that might appeal to you. Frontera Grill holds most of its seating for walk-in customers; waits to be seated are often lengthy (90+ minutes), but if you can arrive 15-20 minutes before they open the doors for an early meal, you'll be seated right away.

          All three are closed on Sundays and Mondays. If you'd like to try another provincial Mexican restaurant (including Saturday/Sunday brunch and open for dinner on Sundays too), Mexique is two miles west of your hotel and is excellent. It's another lively bistro type place.

          Frontera Grill
          445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

          1529 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622