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RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FIRST-TIME VISITORS

My three girlfriends and I are heading to Chicago (from Ontario, Canada) at the end of April, to celebrate our 40th birthdays. We're staying at the Palomar. We'll be there from Thursday to Sunday. Any suggestions for must-visit restaurants, bars, shops, etc.? Thanks so much!

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  1. Chicago is a mecca for "must-visit" restaurants (and bars, shops, etc.). Regarding restaurants and bars (the focus of the board), is there anything you want to say about likes/dislikes or price points?

    In addition, you may want to browse this board to see what appeals to you. If you have questions about specific restaurants or bars, I'm sure we can be helpful and answer them.

    3 Replies
    1. re: chicgail

      We've booked at Sable at the Palomar for the first night after reading the boards here. We like fairly casual dining, places that aren't tourist traps, and great food, obviously. Also places for drinks that are fun, with good people-watching, but not slimy. Re: shopping - we'd like to avoid too many of the big chain stores. We'd rather seek out the independent shops. I've read Wicker Park is good. What do you think?

      1. re: friskypete

        Sable is great for cocktails (the drink menu has chapters!) and the food is very creative bar food. Some of it is pretty good; some not so much. Other good bars are Aviary (the Alinea folks) and Violet Hour which is in Wicker Park, a cab ride from where you are. Across the street from the Violet Hour is Big Star with really great tacos and margaritas. You might also enjoy Maude's Liquor Bar in the West Loop.

        Most of the casual dining places that aren't tourist traps are in neighborhoods like Wicker Park or Logan Square, West Town or the West Loop.

        Other places you might enjoy are Publican, The Bristol or Hot Chocoate in Bucktown (near WP). Chicago has superb regional Mexican cuisine including Frontera Grill or Xoco or Mexique in West Town and for Chicago-style deep dish pizza, Uno, Due (which started the trend nearly 70 years ago and is nothing like the chain of a similar name), Pizarros and/or Lou Malnoti's.

        1. re: friskypete

          Yusho is a yakitori place with great cocktails.

          www.yusho-chicago.com

          Boka has very good New American cuisine and solid cocktails. Plus a good wine list.

          www.bokachicago.com

      2. Thank you! We'll check as many of these places out as we can, and let you know what we thought.

        1. Wow, spooky, I'm going there the following weekend with my husband and one of our best friends to celebrate our mutual 40th birthdays. That's why I'm on this board instead of the LA board. Happy Birthday to us all!
          Me, I'm looking for some great Greek food (Just not that common in LA). I think I'm headed to Greektown.

          4 Replies
          1. re: khh1138

            Spend a few hours shopping and browsing on Armitage, between Halsted and Sheffield, in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. After that, you could head to dinner at just-opened Balena, on Halsted just a couple of blocks away. Wear comfy shoes, or buy a new pair at Lori's Shoes on Armitage.

            1. re: khh1138

              Chicago has a Greektown with tons of popular Greek restaurants. Greektown is on Halsted between Van Buren and Madison. If you are not familiar with Chicago, that is about a mile due-west of The Loop downtown area.

              Greek Islands is very popular. I happen to partial to the Parthenon.

              1. re: chicgail

                Thanks for all the recommendations!

                We had Saturday brunch at The Publican, and really loved it. A great space and great food (although the waitress was sullen). Dinner at Sable was also lovely. Great service, interesting cocktails, and we really enjoyed the food (we tried 5 different dishes for sharing). The only thing I didn't love was the pulled pork sliders - too sweet for me. And the Palomar was a great hotel. Loved the 5 p.m. wine hour with flatbread pizza from Sable!

                Portillos for lunch on the first day was fun. And we LOVED breakfast at Xoco. The Chocolate Cafe Con Leche was amazing (anyone have a recipe?!).

                Oh, and we went to Wicker Park/Bucktown for some shopping, but Hot Chocolate was closed for renovations :( Will have to come back to Chicago soon.

                1. re: friskypete

                  Glad to hear you had fun. Thanks for reporting back.