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friday dinner without the wait

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We're visiting Chicago for a couple days and want to get a cool dinner Friday but not really sure about waiting 1-2 hours which it seems like we would have to at Avec or Purple Pig, the two places we were thinking about. Most of the other good spots seem to require reservations far in advance. Are there any good casual friday dinner spots the locals might know of? We like all kinds of food. I was thinking maybe some place in Chinatown that's less fancy but still really good? Any tips for a nice dinner with less of a wait? We're staying in River North but willing to cab.

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  1. >> Most of the other good spots seem to require reservations far in advance.

    Not true! There are many, many great places in Chicago which don't require reservations far in advance; they just aren't the handful that are constantly hyped. For example, Opentable right now is showing availability this Friday (a week from right now) with at least one opening for a party of two after 6 pm and before 9 pm at the following outstanding restaurants within two miles of River North:

    Boka (contemporary American, Lincoln Park)
    Cafe Spiaggia (Italian, Magnificent Mile)
    Carnivale (Latin fusion, River West)
    Charlie Trotter's* (fine dining, Lincoln Park)
    Coco Pazzo (Italian, River North)
    David Burke's Primehouse (steakhouse, River North)
    Everest* (French fine dining, Loop)
    The Florentine (Italian, Loop)
    Graham Elliot (contemporary American, River North)
    Kiki's Bistro (French, River North)
    L2O* (fine dining, Lincoln Park)
    Le Colonial (Vietnamese, Gold Coast)
    Les Nomades* (fine dining, River North)
    Mercat a la Planxa (tapas, Loop)
    Mexique (provincial Mexican, West Town)
    MK (contemporary American, River North)
    Nacional 27 (Latin fusion, River North)
    Naha (contemporary American, River North)
    Perennial Virant (contemporary American small plates, Lincoln Park)
    Quartino (Italian small plates, River North)
    Sable (contemporary American small plates and craft cocktails, River North)
    Salpicon (provincial Mexican, Old Town)
    Shanghai Terrace (upscale Chinese, Magnificent Mile)
    Shaw's (seafood, River North)
    TRU* (fine dining, Magnificent Mile)
    Vivere (Italian, Loop)

    * Avoid restaurants marked with asterisks if you want to stick to places that are reasonably casual, since jackets are appropriate for gentlemen at these places.

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    Boka
    1729 North Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614

    Kiki's Bistro
    900 N. Franklin St., Chicago, IL 60610

    Charlie Trotter's
    816 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60614

    Salpicon
    1252 N. Wells St., Chicago, IL 60610

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

    Tru Restaurant
    676 North Saint Clair, Chicago, IL 60611

    Quartino
    626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

    Nacional 27
    325 W. Huron, Chicago, IL 60610

    Cafe Spiaggia
    980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

    Everest
    440 S La Salle St Ste 4000, Chicago, IL 60605

    Shanghai Terrace
    108 E Superior, Chicago, IL 60611

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

    Le Colonial
    937 Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611

    Perennial Virant
    1800 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60614

    Mexique
    1529 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

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

    Coco Pazzo
    300 West Hubbard, Chicago, IL 60610

    L2O
    2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

    Les Nomades
    222 E Ontario, Chicago, IL 60611

    Vivere
    71 W Monroe Street, Chicago, IL 60603

    Naha
    500 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

    Carnivale
    702 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60661

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

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

    The Florentine
    151 W. Adams, Chicago, IL 60601

    MK
    868 N. Franklin, Chicago, IL 60610