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Is it possible to eat well downtown?

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...on a moderate budget?

Some friends and I are planning a trip to Chicago this summer, partly to celebrate our 30th birthdays, but also because none of us have never been to Chicago. So we will be doing a lot of the touristy stuff for sure. We were thinking of renting something downtown, to be able to walk as much as possible, and take public transportation when necessary. However, we also enjoy good food and drinks, and at least at night, we’d like to be able to have some good supper options. Are there some good restaurants in downtown Chicago that are not tourist traps/high end? We have a decent budget, mod-prices, but still like to get some value.

I’m not necessarily looking for a long list of options at this points, just whether this is manageable, OR we should just get lodgings in a neighborhood like Lincoln Park, do our visiting during the day, then come back and have supper closer to our lodging (I’m saying lodging because there will be 6 of us, so we were thinking of renting something, so no hotel)

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Personally I would stay downtown just because all of the Mass Transit starts out from downtown so you have ability to take the EL to go to some of the great ethnic neighborhoods that Chicago has to offer - in regards to eating well downtown it should not be a problem - like Chicago deep dish pizza, some truly outstanding Mexican food, Greek food, or Chinese food just south of down in Chicago's Chinatown

    Also to add in Chicago you will find even the tourist destinations like the deep dish pizza spots are excellent-

    1. Are you thinking more The Loop or Magnificent Mile/River North area?

      We usually stay in River North at the Palomar (just off the Grand Ave red line stop) due to proximity to Xoco/Frontera/Topolobampo, Purple Pig, Sable, and GT Fish and Oyster.

      Do-Rite doughnuts, Grahamwich, Naha, Doughnut Vault and Lou Malnati's aren't very far from the Magnificent Mile/River North area either. Friends also love Slurping Turtle for ramen in this neighborhood, but I think it might be just because Chicago doesn't have a wealth of ramen places like other cities do.

      Naha or Frontera/Topolobampo might stretch your budget, but the others aren't too bad, IIRC.

      Sable also has great cocktails. The margaritas and other tequila based drinks at Frontera Grill and Topolobampo are pretty good as well. There is also an upcoming, unnamed tiki bar next to Frontera/Topolobampo, with drinks by Paul McGee (formerly of the Whistler) that is supposed to be open by the end of the summer. And the Drawing Room is a short cab ride/long walk from downtown.

      If you're staying further south, by the Loop, there's the Bongo Room, Mercat a la Planxa, Bodega No. 5, The Gage, and some other higher end options in hotels that I'm probably forgetting.

      Unique restaurants downtown:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/834506