In Chicago for the weekend. Looking for good food and kid-friendly.
I'm heading to lovely Chicago this weekend (though weather outlook is kind of bad) with my wife and 9-month old baby. We'll be doing some of the classic fast food joints (e.g. Portillos). But it would also be nice to have something a bit higher end (not talking Alinea here or anything) where we can try out some of your more varied offerings. However, as we'll be with a little baby in tow, kid-friendly and relatively early seating (like 5pm) would be a necessity. By "kid friendly", I'm not looking for colouring books...just a place where it won't feel awkward to bring a little one.
My wife and I like oysters (really enjoyed Shaw's oyster bar during our last visit), small plates stuff to get a good variety of dishes, local beers.
We'll be staying at a hotel on corner of N. Michigan and E. Chestnut. No car, but we walk a lot and can take a cab, I guess.
Well, I've been back for a few weeks, but got sidetracked. Overall, had a great time. I love Chicago, it's a beautiful city and the food is great.
Thanks Ms. Mika for your suggestions. Although we didn't get to GT Fish & Oyster, we went to Xoco...twice in fact. The second time was a failed attempt to get into Frontera, but being told it was going to be a 2hr wait was a no-go. We had breakfast there and, what else can I say that hasn't been said about Bayless places. It's flavourful, fresh and, in this case, good value. Have to say I liked the breakfast more than the dinner. I had a torta that, while very flavourful (it was the cabrito special of the day) didn't knock me off my chair or anything. My wife loved the churros.
Shaw's for the all-you-can-eat brunch...well, I have mixed views. Quality ingredients all around, and a good selection from the raw bar to the cooked to the desserts. But I found myself concentrating on getting my money's worth (i.e. classily inhaling oysters and king crab) than actually enjoying the experience. My bad. The oysters weren't as nicely shucked as they are during regular dining. No surprise.
Had a late lunch at the purple pig. I don't remember all the dishes, but overall it was a great experience. Service was friendly and prompt. I like the small plates format. 1/2 the dishes felt like good value (pork rillettes for example) while the other half felt a bit stingy (merguez and clams) but the flavours were all spot on. I really like the fava beans with gremolata and mint.
Then Portillo's. Good chicago dog, weak italian beef. I've never had an italian beef but felt I needed to try it. i just felt like it was a dense wad of beef in a soft bun with giardiniera that wasn't spicy enough.
Hot Dougs. I don't need to tell you guys, this is a special place. The owner, forget his name, is super friendly and doesn't make you feel rushed despite the line coming out the door. I had a bit of the foie gras dog and yes, it's amazing. His version of the Chicago dog was better than Portillo's. I also had a chili cheese dog and the hot italian. Both were great, what can I say.
Loaded up on Vienna Beef for the flight home and that was it for Chicago. Can't wait to go back.
What about GT Fish & Oyster? It gets a bit crowded later in the evening, but I would think a 5pm dinner would be ok with a baby. Also thought of Frontera Grill or Xoco for lunch. Frontera does take limited reservations- so you could try and call and see if you could get in for brunch or an early dinner on Saturday.
FYI, we're booked for Sunday brunch at Shaw's.
We'll be going to Portillos (west ontario st.) on the Saturday either at lunch or for dinner. Frankly, that one can move around in the lineup.
So for now, we need at least one lunch and two dinners. On average, we would like to keep these below $100 average cost.