Mid week brunch and other suggestions.
I am traveling to Chicago with buddy for a midweek culinary extravaganza in the week between Christmas and New Years and need advice about our culinary tour.
We are both foodies and appreciate a good meal (and will pay for It) and we eat anything you put in front of us. My buddy will be on leave from someplace warm and sandy and I want to take him to some great places to eat so that he can recall a few great meals over his next cold MRE.
So we are visiting mid week Tues-Thursday and I was wondering if there is a place that offers a great brunch like something akin to the Publican on a Sunday…except mid week. I know this might be a stretch.
As far as our dinner selections I was thinking go big and magnificent one or two nights. Here is my short list. (Assume we do the tasting menu where offered):
Graham Elliot (been here before but would go again)
….of course we would love to go to Alinea, but have been on wait list at least a dozen times and have pretty much given up….ditto with getting "tickets" at Next.
Next assignment -- eat something interesting (something I can't get in Metro Detroit). Great ethnic food would be great….authentic mexican also good. Considering TOPOLOBAMPO, but open for suggestions.
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661
217 W. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60654
Yes, I wasn't sure whether you were referring to "fine dining" or something else. I've named an assortment of "best in class" restaurants above where you can get a great culinary experience. Avec, not so much, IMHO, for the food as well as the user-unfriendly experience described above, although some other people like it.
>> So we are visiting mid week Tues-Thursday and I was wondering if there is a place that offers a great brunch like something akin to the Publican on a Sunday…except mid week. I know this might be a stretch.
No, not at all! Chicago has dozens of restaurants that specialize in breakfast/brunch. Some of them are just your conventional places with pancakes and eggs, but others have really unusual menus and specialty dishes. Here is how I would rank the best ones around Chicagoland, starting with the very best:
1. Walker Brothers (six locations in the north and northwest suburbs)
2. M. Henry (Chicago/Andersonville) and M. Henrietta (Chicago/Edgewater)
3. Bongo Room (Chicago/Wicker Park and Chicago/South Loop)
4. Jam (Chicago/Logan Square)
5. Marmalade (Chicago/Lakeview)
6. Southport Grocery (Chicago/Lakeview)
I strongly advise checking out the menus on their websites to get an idea of what each has to offer. In a few words, though, Walker Brothers takes a very good national chain and elevates it to an even higher level of quality, decor, etc; M. Henry / M. Henrietta and Marmalade offer creative dishes, both sweet and savory; Bongo Room specializes in unusual versions of pancakes topped with sweet sauces; Jam is like a breakfast version of an upscale contemporary American bistro; and Southport Grocery has a whimsical, humorous menu with very good quality.
>> As far as our dinner selections I was thinking go big and magnificent one or two nights. Here is my short list. (Assume we do the tasting menu where offered):
Avec is not at all "big and magnificent". Quite the opposite, in fact, with its communal seating, long waits and no-reservations policy, uncomfortable seats, etc.
If you really want "big and magnificent", it's probably too late to snag a reservation at Alinea, so I'd consider TRU, Everest, or Spiaggia, if you enjoy formal high-end dining. For the next tier down, along with Graham Elliot and Blackbird, I'd be considering Naha, North Pond, and Boka in the contemporary American genre, and Piccolo Sogno for contemporary Italian.
I would also consider one of our upscale provincial Mexican restaurants. These are unlike your conventional Mexican places (no slam against Detroit, you can't find such places in most U.S. cities), and may even belong in your "big and magnificent" category rather than "mere" ethnic food. Topolobampo is a good choice, but you would need to reserve RIGHT NOW and it may already be too late for dinner, since they start to fill up when they open the book three months in advance. You can probably still get a lunch reservation there though. Mexique is another excellent choice.
And there are also our "small plates" restaurants like Sable (contemporary American), Quartino (Italian), and Mercat a la Planxa (tapas). Other restaurants serving upscale ethnic food include Carnivale (Latin fusion), Le Colonial (Vietnamese), Shanghai Terrace (Chinese), and Heaven on Seven (cajun/creole). We also have the usual steakhouses (David Burke's Primehouse, Chicago Cut Steakhouse) and seafood places (GT Fish & Oyster, Shaw's Crab House). As for casual ethnic restaurants such as are often found in neighborhood storefronts, we have many such places for almost any nationality/ethnicity you can name, many of them in neighborhoods filled with residents from the associated locations. It's just a matter of what you enjoy most - Indian/Pakistani, Ethiopian, Thai, Polish, Vietnamese, Chinese, and on and on and on. Just let us know what kind of food you prefer, and we can make recommendations.
The only thing that I would avoid here are our Jewish delis - not because there's anything wrong with them (some of them are very good), but because the ones you have at home in Metro Detroit are as good as anywhere on the planet.
Incidentally, it's pretty easy to get a reservation at Alinea, as long as you understand their reservation policy and you can plan three months ahead of time. They start accepting reservations for an entire month on the first day (business day, I think) of the month 2-3 months in advance. So if you had called on the morning of October 1 or thereabouts, when they opened the book for December reservations, you probably would have gotten any day and time you wanted.
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
1729 North Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614
1470 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642
1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605
David Burke's Primehouse
616 N Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611
676 North Saint Clair, Chicago, IL 60611
2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614
626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654
440 S La Salle St Ste 4000, Chicago, IL 60605
108 E Superior, Chicago, IL 60611
445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610
Mercat a la Planxa
638 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605
Southport Grocery & Cafe
3552 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
937 Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611
Heaven on Seven
600 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
1529 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Shaw's Crab House
21 East Hubbard St., Chicago, IL 60611
464 N Halsted, Chicago, IL 60622
980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
500 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610
5707 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60660
702 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60661
217 W. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60654
Sable Kitchen & Bar
505 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654
1969 West Montrose Avenue, Chicago, IL 60613
Chicago Cut Steakhouse
300 N LaSalle St, Chicago, IL 60654
1133 West Granville, Chicago, IL 60660
3059 W. Logan Blvd., Chicago, IL
GT Fish and Oyster
531 N. Wells St., Chicago, IL
I assume you know that Schwa is not a breakfast restaurant. It's very difficult to get them on the phone to make a reservation; like you with Alinea, I've tried, and eventually gave up. What's worse, they have frequently cancelled reservations at the very last minute (just a few hours before dinner), giving excuses that sometimes turn out to be untrue.