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Chicago geography - a general inquiry

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GDPhalp Jun 25, 2012 02:38 PM

I am coming to Chicago in August - flying into O'Hare, staying by O'Hare, with no car. I will have my wife & 4 year old with me. Im in town for a short meeting, but will be staying 3 nights - Thurs-Sunday. Here's my question - from someone who is not familiar with Chicago, or its geography/public transportation - what can I do for food?
In a perfect world, there would be options close for:
Italian Beef/Sausage
Pizza (Cracker crust & Deep Dish)
Hot Dogs
Mexican
Thai
Other regional specialties

I see that you have wonderful public transportation with cabs/El, but I come from Kansas City, where we have no PT options - with family in tow, I'd need detailed directions as to where to get off & where to walk from there. Are there any great options that are easily accessible off the blue line, or near the airport, or am I generally out of luck?

Thanks for your help.

  1. paulj Jun 26, 2012 11:27 AM

    The Blue Line, from OHare first runs along the freeway median, then is elevated, and then subway. It makes a C turn as it loops under downtown (the Loop). It enters downtown under Lake, and turns south under Dearborn.

    The 'Loop' itself is a circle of elevated track; I'm not sure which lines currently run on it. In addition there is a subway that runs NS under State St, one block east of Dearborn. You can switch among the elevated and subway lines for free, either with an underground passage, or a paper transfer and stairs.

    Buses are also routed to take you past train stations.

    There are things you want to see in the Loop, particularly along State, and the big park to the east. But you'll also want to go north of the Chicago River, either up State or Michigan Ave. The State street subway is a good way of getting up that way.

    And certainly pay attention to ideas about things to see in the neighborhoods along the Blue Line before downtown. Many of those were old ethnic neighborhoods (e.g. Polish), now with newer groups, or gentrified.

    1. d
      danimalarkey Jun 26, 2012 07:38 AM

      As others have already said, the Blue line should work just fine for you as far as getting into the city.

      In the immediate Loop area, there's Pizano's for pizza (which does trace its roots, one way or another, to those who invented the Chicago-style deep dish). If you cross the river, you'll find plenty more options for pizza (including my personal favorite, Lou Malnati's). Portillo's has a large outpost in River North, too, for hot dog's and I think there are a few options for Italian beef.

      Rick Bayless has his restaurants in that area, too -- Xoco might work best for you or I'd consider calling Frontera Grill about making a reservation. I don't think you'll find any worthwhile Thai food downtown (Star of Siam is okay -- but there are better destinations) and you would have to take a second train to reach some of these other options. Which is absolutely an easy thing to do but it may take more time than you'll have. Aroy Thai is steps from the Damen stop on the Brown line (ask for the Thai Classics menu); TAC Quick is under the Sheridan Red line stop.

      Logan Square is home to a lot of choices but I'm not sure how child-friendly they are. Lula's is always delicious and is steps from the Logan Square Blue line stop. I also think Revolution Brewpub, off the California Blue line stop, could be fun -- great, local beer with well executed comfort food, I often see families in there.

      2 Replies
      1. re: danimalarkey
        chicgail Jun 26, 2012 10:49 AM

        At the Damen stop in Wicker Park/Bucktown you can choose from Big Star (gourmet tacos), Francesca's Forno, Hot Chocolate, Cumin (Nepalese), Piece Pizza, Antico, Ripasso, Cafe Laguardia (Cuban), Lilie's Q, Peoples Lounge -- among many others.

        1. re: danimalarkey
          f
          ferret Jun 27, 2012 10:41 AM

          "In the immediate Loop area, there's Pizano's for pizza (which does trace its roots, one way or another, to those who invented the Chicago-style deep dish)."

          Arguably, Pizanos and Lou Malnati's (owned by descendants of the creator of deep-dish) have more of a connection to the original than Uno's which was sold by the original owners.

        2. k
          kathryn Jun 25, 2012 07:41 PM

          You can get point to point directions on Google Maps, the CTA's web site transitchicago.com, or Hopstop.com. Do you have a smartphone? You can download apps to help.

          The blue line will take you directly to Logan Square or Wicker Park, if you don't feel like going to the Loop/Downtown.

          1. weinstein5 Jun 25, 2012 06:25 PM

            If you are staying at hear the choice would be the EL Blue Line which will take you downtown in 40 minutes and to add when my kids were 4 they LOVED taking the EL - The hotel will be able to provide detailed information on riding the el -

            Once downtown the choices were wide varied to satisfy you dining needs including the birthplace of Chicago style deep dish pizza - Pizzeria Uno's -

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