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Jan 6, 2012 06:58 PM

Weekend in June for Foodies, Loop and Near North side

I will be going in June to Chicago for 4 nights.

We live in Texas, I am an architect and my husband and I are foodies (although we try to keep the dining prices in the reasonable range).

I have not been to Chicago for 30 years! and am not familiar with any of the restaurants.

We will be staying in the Gold Coast area, will not have a car.

We would like to go “Chicago” restaurants, we eat about 7 pm, would like to be able to talk (lively is fine, but extremely noisy is not), would like to make reservations, not wait in line.

Love all kinds of food, especially seafood. (Shaws Crab House looks very good).

$125 - $170 is a normal vacation dinner for us for 2 people with a bottle of wine, 2 apps and 2 entrees.
Looking for a dining itinerary to include the loop, north of the loop up to Gold Coast. If there is a restaurant that we just can’t miss, I don’t mind taking a cab to another area.

Below is our tour itinerary.
Can you give me suggestions for these areas for lunch and dinner??
Thurs evening – dinner north of river
Friday lunch - tour downtown and the Art Institute -
Friday dinner – north of river
Saturday lunch – Oak Park tour
Saturday dinner - back to Chicago
Sunday lunch – Hyde Park
Sunday dinner – near Gold coast

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  1. I'm sure folks will have lots of ideas but one or two initial thoughts. The areas of Chicago you are considering (except for Hyde Park (Robie house I assume) and Oak Part are all quite close together. You could easily walk in nice weather from the Art Institute to someplace in the Gold Coast, River North, etc. And along with eating, keep an eye on the Chicago Architecture Foundation tours inc. the one on the river which is really quite wonderful.

    For your Art Institute day, consider Terzo Piano in the museum. The food and room are wonderful. And while you specifiy north of river for that night's dinner, I'd really suggest heading a few blocks south and dining at Mercat a la Planxa for quite lovely tapas in a fun setting. They do some really nice fish and a great lobster a la planxa. If the olive oil poached halibut is on the menu, get it!

    North of the river, Shaws is good solid seafood and I have several friends who would eat there every night if they could. (I'm not so much of a classic seafood fan). GT Fish is an obvious choice and getting raves.

    Non-seafood but quite enjoyable in river north, are Sable and la Madia and I always suggest a stop at Xoco for hot chocolate at least, breakfast or lunch at best (yes there are lines but they move along and it's all fun and a great taste of Bayless)

    You might enjoy heading over to the west loop for a drink at the Aviary (Grant Achatz non-bar) too - with Next tickets impossible and Alinea way above your (and my) pricepoint, it's a great way to sample a touch of his magic.

    And you might look into lunch of dinner at the Atwood in the Hotel Burnham - it's such a historic location.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Siun

      Wonderful information!! I didn't know about Aviary, was drooling at the Alinea web site.
      Safety in walking question. Walk or cab to west loop in the day / evening?
      I assume we can walk anytime up & down Michigan Ave, how about the Loop in the evening?

      1. re: SFVIS

        Safety would not be a concern for me. Weather in January or February might be.

        LATE EDIT - Sorry I just re-read your post and you're talking about June. No problem!

        1. re: SFVIS

          I normally take a cab over to Aviary and that area but just because it's not the most fun walk and can take a bit. No reason to worry about safety in the areas you are going.

      2. There are a few threads about finding places near the Wright Tour in OP. Depending on your mode of transportation, and what you would LIKE, I can try to help out for that lunch. For starters, if you are going to be walking and want to stay close to the el, you're gonna be very close to the Oak Park Mall which has plenty of spots for a quick light bite. On the outskirts of the mall, there is the Marion Street Cheese Market which would probably interest a cheese lover, and they have a restaurant as well. The Chicago Avenue outpost of Giordano's is well within easy walking distance from the heart of the Wright tour if you want to get a STuffed Chicago Pizza. Decide if you want light fare, or something more substantial, and your mode of transportation, and the Oak Park leg should be easy for recs. If you have a car, you'll be easily within striking distance for some real gems, but if you are walking, that should limit the choices- no big deal though. You'll find something decent either way.

        Side note - if you have any interest in spice shops, there is a Penzey's in the Oak PArk Mall just E of Harlem ave on Lake Street. If you have any interest at all, plan for half an hour there.Sign up for their catalogue on line - chances are, you'll get a coupon for a free jar or even a gift set with a few jars (no purchase necessary) for when you stop in. Good for gifts for the bakers/chefs in the family. Cinnamon, and Peppercorns are a good bet to become staples from there for you if you don't have a great spice place in your area. If you plan on stopping there, visit their website, and create a list of what you want before going in. It's not a massive place, but they have a lot of stuff. The clerks will help you locate the things on your list.

        5 Replies
        1. re: gordeaux

          Thanks for the ideas. We will not have a car, will be taking the el.
          our lunch is usually 2 to 3 really good appetizers. Looking for a good food place of any type.

          1. re: SFVIS

            Will your lunch be before, after, or during the Wright walk?
            For before or after, I would suggest Marion Street Cheese Market, which is also just a short walk from the Harlem El stop. For during the walk, you'll probably want to just decide on something in the Oak Park Mall unless you want to do the somewhat obligatory "Chicago Style Pizza" at that Giordano's on Chicago Avenue in Oak Park - it really is very close to the concentration of FLW houses on the tour - REALLY Close. For the mall, nothing is really exciting, imo. There are a few Chainms - Potbelly, Chipotle, Bar Louie, but there are a efw restaurants that churn out some average food. Khyber Pass for passable Indian, Jerusalem Cafe for fair Middle Eastern, there is a newer "diner with a flair" called Delia's Kitchen - supposedly simple diner fare, but with a noticeable uptick in quality. If it were me, I'd try Marion Street Cheese Market. Service can be sketchy, but if you like cheese, you'll be in business, and the food from the restaurant has the possibility of being very good - consistency is a mild issue. One thing you can also do (I would, anyway) is stop at the Potbelly in the mall for an oatmeal choc chip cookie to ensure you get to eat something really good with lunch!

            1. re: gordeaux

              I am a HUGE cheese fan. The FLW walk is a Saturday of open houses. I imagine it will be most of the day, and I don't mind walking over to the the Marion St. Cheese Market. I checked out the web site, looks WONDERFUL.
              Cookie sounds great, but hubby and I have given up on sugar (and a lot of carbs too).

              1. re: SFVIS

                Well, you're in business. What I was getting at is that the Cheese Market is just south of the mall - not far at all, but it might be better to go before or after the walk, instead of in the middle to save a few steps. For some decent pocket snacks, there's a Trader Joe's that you will essentially be next door to while looking at some of those houses. I grew up two blocks away from there and still live in the area. When I was a kid, we definitely did not appreciate those houses as much as we should have. Had a few schoolmates who grew in some of them. Very interesting. Have fun. Also, if you're a fan of triple creams, get a piece of Cowgirl Creamery's Mt. Tam. I'm probably not as well schooled in cheeses as you, but I can eat that stuff til it's gone. Don't forget about Penzey's if you have the time and it interests you.

                1. re: gordeaux

                  How fun! to have been inside those houses as a kid. I am very familiar with Cowgirl Creamery. We visit San Francisco at least once a year. The first time I bought some, I tried to take it home on the plane in the little cooler lunch bag. As we walked on to the plane, I kept sniffing something foul. I realized it was OUR cheese, and told my husband DO NOT open that bag on the plane. But I love their cheeses.

        2. I just returned two weeks ago from Chicago on an eating binge. We did three restaurants, Alinea (yes, pricey), Schwa, and The Bristol.

          If you can manage a reservation at Schwa, and want an "experience" you will NEVER forget, then work at getting a reservation. And yes, the mystique of getting a reservation is real. It is essentially a small (20 people?) dining room with no servers. The chef's will bring out the courses, of which you have little control. There may be acid rock or the theme song from Cheer's playing. The head chef / owner turned down the sous chef role at Alinea to start this place. It is NOT a normal dining experience. You may hear foul language. The staff may be drunk (in fact, we brought a bottle of Templeton Rye for the kitchen, and they 'forced' us to do mulitple shots with them). The whiskey offering also led our table to a few extra courses. It is purely BYOB, and the wine glasses are water glasses. BUT, the food is eclectic and imaginative, and it is memorable.

          Also, I would highly recommend The Bristol. It is a 'whole hog' concept. Rustic but refined. Excellent food, excellent variety, cool vibe. The food was spectacular, but not over the top. You get satiated and you feel like you're eating something your grandma would make you - if she was a Michelin starred chef. The roasted marrow bones...yum. And I'm not a guy who would order chicken, ever. But the owner brought it out as an extra course because he swore by it...and wow!

          Those are my ideas!

          1 Reply
          1. re: ssgarman

            Thanks for the ideas, I will go check them out!! And I love roasted bone marrow, can't get enough.