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New Years in River North

c
chicagoali Dec 13, 2011 06:34 PM

Hi everyone! I am a huge fan of chowhound and have rarely been let down by the reviews / recs on this site. Now whenever we visit a city or area our meals usually have to pass the chow board test. lol. My wife and I and our 5 month old daughter will be staying at the Hotel Felix in river north new years eve and new years day. We would love to get some recommendations for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the area that are walking distance from the hotel. Our budget is mid-range. I only eat halal meat so that narrows my options down significantly to vegetarian and seafood unless the restaurant serves halal meat. Thanks in advance!

  1. nsxtasy Dec 13, 2011 07:47 PM

    Keep in mind, New Year's is a goofy holiday, and many places will have special plans for NYE, while some may be closed on New Year's Day. So you'll need to double-check with any places you're considering going. And you'll DEFINITELY want reservations for your dinner on NYE. (Some places that don't normally take them, do so that one night.)

    For lunch and dinner... Cafe Iberico is two blocks from the Felix, and has great tapas, but they don't normally take reservations. You're about four blocks from a new, terrific place called GT Fish & Oyster that specializes in seafood, in a small plates format. You're two blocks from Graham Elliot, one of our more creative contemporary American places. You're five blocks from Quartino, which does Italian small plates. A couple blocks south of GT Fish is Lou Malnati's, for authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza. Three blocks west of the hotel is Nacional 27, for Latin fusion cuisine. I have not been to Elate, the restaurant right inside your hotel, but the convenience makes it worth checking into.

    For breakfast, Meli Cafe is right across the street from GT Fish and has a lot of varieties of French toast, as well as other breakfast items. For more breakfast recommendations, see this discussion:

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

    That ought to give you some places to start with!

    -----
    Cafe Iberico
    737 N Lasalle Drive, Chicago, IL 60654

    Lou Malnati's Pizzeria (River North
    )439 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654

    Quartino
    626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

    Nacional 27
    325 W. Huron, Chicago, IL 60610

    Graham Elliot
    217 W. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60654

    Elate
    111 W. Huron, Chicago, IL 60654

    Meli Cafe & Juice Bar
    540 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654

    GT Fish and Oyster
    531 N. Wells St., Chicago, IL

    3 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy
      c
      chicagoali Dec 13, 2011 08:05 PM

      Thanks nsxtasy. We have been to Quartino and really enjoyed it. We are still kind of skittish about eating out with the baby but we try to eat early when places are less crowded. We will definitely check out GT Fish and I will look at the other places as well.
      You are the man on the chicago board!

      1. re: nsxtasy
        c
        chicagoali Dec 27, 2011 07:02 PM

        So this is what I have planned so far:

        Dec 31 -
        Early dinner at GT Fish and Oyster around 5:30 PM. Trying to avoid the new years eve crowds with the baby plus couldn't get a later reservation. We will probably be hungry again later so I was thinking about picking up some sandwiches/snacks from Grahamwhich or checking out a dessert place. Tru's tasting menu would be ideal but it doesn't seem to be kid friendly and I am not planning on wearing a jacket. Would the chocolate bar at the Lobby be appropriate with a 5 month old baby on new years eve?
        Any other dessert recs in that area? We love gelato, macaroons, and chocolate.

        Jan 1 -
        Brunch at Elate in the hotel or Meli cafe?
        Lunch at Cafe Iberco
        Dinner at Quartino or Fontera Grill if we can get a table

        Jan 2 -
        Was going to try XOCO but they are closed on Monday. Any other recs? We are big fans of Tweet and M. Henry but are trying to avoid driving that far. If we can get up early enough we might have time for breakfast and lunch. A breakfast place close to the hotel and then lunch somewhere driving distance would be ideal.

        Thoughts please?

        Also would some places for really good desserts, snacks (thin crust pizza, small bites) around the hotel. We will have time before we check in on Saturday and also on Tuesday afternoon. We will have a car but prefer to walk instead of taking the car in and out of parking. Wouldn't mind driving once checking out on Tuesday or before checking in on Saturday.

        Thanks in advance!

        1. re: chicagoali
          nsxtasy Dec 28, 2011 06:08 AM

          >> Early dinner at GT Fish and Oyster around 5:30 PM.

          Great choice!

          >> Would the chocolate bar at the Lobby be appropriate with a 5 month old baby on new years eve?

          As long as the baby isn't crying, sure! The Lobby is quite spacious (lots of space between tables), which helps.

          Note that the Chocolate Bar is now $40. Just so it's not a surprise.

          >> Jan 1 -
          >> Brunch at Elate in the hotel or Meli cafe?

          I haven't been to Elate. I like Meli Cafe; they have a dozen kinds of French toast. It will be busy, though, and you can't make reservations there, whereas you can make a reservation on Opentable for Elate. I would imagine places will be very busy for New Year's Day brunch.

          I've mentioned a few more breakfast/brunch places below, but most of them don't accept reservations, and waits can be long on Sundays (typically starting around 9:30 or so).

          I still think Shaw's is terrific for Sunday brunch, and they accept reservations. But it's an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring their seafood (as well as great breakfast dishes and desserts) so you'll be full all afternoon, which may or may not be what you're looking for.

          For more recommendations, including some that accept reservations, see this discussion:

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

          >> Lunch at Cafe Iberco
          >> Dinner at Quartino or Fontera Grill if we can get a table

          Frontera Grill is never open on Sundays. And besides, without a reservation, the only way to get a table without a huge wait is to arrive before they open.

          >> Was going to try XOCO but they are closed on Monday. Any other recs? We are big fans of Tweet and M. Henry but are trying to avoid driving that far. If we can get up early enough we might have time for breakfast and lunch. A breakfast place close to the hotel and then lunch somewhere driving distance would be ideal.

          Meli Cafe is close. So is the Orange location on Clark Street. The Original Pancake House on East Bellevue is a bit further, always a good choice.

          >> Also would some places for really good desserts, snacks (thin crust pizza, small bites) around the hotel. We will have time before we check in on Saturday and also on Tuesday afternoon. We will have a car but prefer to walk instead of taking the car in and out of parking. Wouldn't mind driving once checking out on Tuesday or before checking in on Saturday.

          I'm not sure what's *really* close, but there are two places that are about a mile away. So they would be a long walk, but driving would be an option also, since both offer free parking with validation. One is Fox & Obel, our premier gourmet food store, with some of the very best foods around. Their bakery is superb (for breads as well as pastries) and they have lots of ready-made sandwiches, salads, and other prepared foods. For validated parking, drive past it on Illinois, The other is the French Market, in the train station just west of the Loop. Their stalls include Vanille (one of our best bakeries for desserts), Canady (one of our best artisanal chocolatiers), and Pastoral (one of our best places to get cheese and sandwiches). The validated parking is in the area under the train tracks; you'll find directions on their website at www.frenchmarketchicago.com

          -----
          Fox & Obel Food Market
          401 E Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60611

          Shaw's Crab House
          21 East Hubbard St., Chicago, IL 60611

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

          The Lobby
          108 E Superior, Chicago, IL 60611

          French Market
          131 North Clinton, Chicago, IL 60661

          Meli Cafe & Juice Bar
          540 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654

          GT Fish and Oyster
          531 N. Wells St., Chicago, IL

          Orange
          738 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

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