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May 22, 2012 08:12 PM

Restaurant Recommendations Requested

I'm going to be visiting Chicago with my boyfriend and another couple and am looking for some restaurant recommendations. We are not looking for the touristy type restaurants but want good local food. We definitely want to try some Chicago Deep Dish, we've heard the hot dogs are good so want to try those at some point and generally would just want some good places to eat. We are only going to be there for about 3 days so have time for 2-3 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 2 dinners. We're staying on the Mag Mile and none of us have been to Chicago so everything will be new.

We're probably looking for some more casual type resturants and will be there from June 7th-9th.

Also, if there are any good breweries or brewpubs to visit that would be good to know.

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  1. The Purple Pig is nearby. I had a fantastic experience there this week. It is well worth the wait. I suggest you let the server select the dishes, which you will share. It is very casual, with a hip vibe. Great beer and wine election. Probably the best meal I have had in over a year.

    1. There are some fantastic gastropub type places in Chicago; casual vibe but delicious dishes, mainly shared plates. In that genre, I would recommend purple pig, the publican, longman and eagle, owen and engine.
      For a casual lunch and a vibrant atmosphere, big star tacos is a lot of fun. It is in a neighborhood called wicker park, which is a fun area for walking, shopping, eating , drinking. In the same part of the city, there is also a bar called Map Room-- awesome beer list.

      1. I hope you don't mind this gentle needling, but "We are not looking for the touristy type restaurants but ... definitely want to try some Chicago Deep Dish, we've heard the hot dogs are good..." is a little incongruous. :P Point being, the only times I eat Chicago Deep Dish is when I have someone in town. Same with Chicago-style hot dogs.

        As far as breweries, the absolute best in the city right now is Revolution. They have a brewpub in the Logan Square neighborhood (very convenient to the California stop on the city's Blue line) and are making, I think, the best beer in the city at the moment. They have good guest taps, as well. Food is very good - mostly limited to burgers, sandwiches, etc., but they're executed really well with local ingredients. I'd expect a wait in the evenings, even on a weeknight, but they are also open for lunch.

        In the next week or so, they will be opening up a gigantic production brewery complete with its own taproom (no food). I don't know if tours will be offered so soon after opening, but if that's something you might enjoy, consider calling ahead. The production brewery is located a little bit more to the north, but is still pretty easy to get to via CTA. I wouldn't necessarily aim for both stops - for the time being, I'd expect things to be pretty similar.

        Goose Island has a brewpub in Lincoln Park (off the Red line stop at North/Clybourn -- easier to get to from your hotel) that's been open since 1988. Goose is the city's oldest brewery and continues to really push new ideas/recipes (in spite or, or perhaps because of, the AB-InBev buy-out). Half of what's on tap at the brewpub is made on-site; the other half comes from the larger production brewery a couple miles away. This production brewery is not open to the public. Food for me is a little hit or miss - the menu always reads more interesting than the food winds up being once it's in front of me. Not bad, by any means, but I always wish it were little bit better, just the same.

        Across the street, more or less, is a tiny place called Franks 'n Dawgs -- honestly, I'd enjoy some beer at Goose Island (be sure to get a flight - I forget if it's on the menu or not), and then go here for some fancy sausages. You'll be able to get the classic Chicago-style, but they also do have plenty of other options, too.

        Piece is another solid brewpub in the city. Located in Wicker Park (Damen Blue line stop), their food menu is limited to pizza (New Haven style -- and really, really good) and the beer is done really well. Piece is more of a sports bar than a brewpub and will get very crowded when there's a game on. Crowd also skews young (not necessarily a bad thing!).

        There's also Haymarket, in the West Loop. While it has its fans, the beer is generally limited to Belgians, IPA's and combinations thereof. Nothing has wowed me and I find the food there to be pretty terrible.

        elysiumarie suggested the Map Room -- and I totally agree, it's got one of the best beer lists in the city. Cash only, no food, it's located kind of between Piece and Revolution if you wanted to try a 1-2-3 punch. Bad Apple is a burger-centric bar that also has a phenomenal beer list with a lot of local/regional options. They're across the street from Half Acre Beer Co. in Roscoe Village. Half Acre doesn't really even have a taproom, unfortunately - visitors are welcome, and they'll pour you a sample of whatever is pouring that day, but 1 or 2oz. pours of 4-5 beers in a tiny storefront isn't how I like to enjoy my beer. The Local Option is another beer-centric bar. Prices tend to be a little high, I think, but they get some great taps. Food is Cajun/Creole/New Orleans-ish and is all right. Again, a little pricey. Local Option can be really loud, too.

        Closer to downtown, there's Clark Street Ale House (no food) - they have decent taps but I feel like they don't clean them that often; Jake Melnick's - great taps, good food, for what it is, but it's a room that feels like a second-rate TGIF; Farmhouse - strong local/regional tap focus with good food that's just the same a little pricey for my taste.

        As for some other, non-beer centric ideas, I think Xoco would be great for breakfast. Bar Toma seems like it's good for coffee and a pastry (if you want something lighter). The Publican would be great for dinner, especially since they have a very respectable beer list, too (not necessarily large, but lots of different, hard to find options).