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Jul 5, 2012 03:54 PM


Hello fellow foodies!

I am going to Chicago for about a week pretty soon, and I am looking for some of the best food around. I am particularly looking for slightly out-of-the-way places that are smaller and unknown by most tourists. Another way to phrase that is that I am looking for the gems. Two members of my party are pescetarian, no meat, but fish, but a restaurant with some meat is good. I would prefer places with $10-$25 entrees. Also, fun places, like breweries, donut-shops, and ice cream places would be great, too. Lastly, I am particularly looking for places in or close to Near North, Old Town, or Gold Side.

Thanks so much, and I look forward to exploring the culinary delights Chicago has to offer!

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  1. Here's a list.

    In order from casual to more dressy, all within a cab ride or walking to any of the areas you mention.

    Hot Dougs *


    Slurping Turtle *

    Au Cheval *

    Sable (terrific cocktails and good nibbles)

    Publican *




    Aterisk indicates current favorites.

    5 Replies
    1. re: jbontario

      I love Naha, but you're not going to find many entrees on their dinner menu under $25.
      Similarly with Hot Dougs, awesome "encased meats," but not in the area you asked about, inconvenient to get to, and frequently long lines out the door and down the street.

      For doughnuts, try the Doughnut Vault on Franklin St.

      For great hot dogs and Italian beef (a Chicago specialty - order it "wet" with sweet and hot peppers - Portillos is convenient, good and inexpensive).

      1. re: jbontario

        JBONTARIO- Thank you SO much! You have been the most helpful, and after some more research on your list, most are on mine. I am particularly looking forward to some excellent bitter hot chocolate and churros... Thanks!!!

          1. re:

            Ha ha, the farthest thing from. You can catch me avoiding grilled cheeses and burritos made by less than clean hippies on the Phish lot. Had to make it food related so as to keep with the theme of the board.

            The Aztec hot chocolate at Xoco is my favorite. I am not a fan of breakfast there, though some are, but a torta for lunch is always nice.

            Agreed with all of Chigail's comments, though don't try for Doughnut Vault on Saturday--while they are awesome (I wrote one of the first gushing reviews about the place here) don't waste 1.5 hours in line if you only have limited time.

            1. re: jbontario

              Awesome! Do you know any good ice cream?

        1. Unfortunately, your preference for Old Town, Near North, and Gold Coast is going to take out of play almost all of the gems that are "slightly out of the way" and "smaller and unknown by most tourists" in the $10-$25 entree range.
          A few other places that might work with your narrow criteria are Gaylord India, Quartino's, and Hendrickx Belgian Bakery.

          1. Check out Old Town Social; it meets a lot of you criteria. Don't get turned off by the sports bar atmosphere; Jared Van Camp is an excellent chef particularly where charcuterie is concerned (but many non-meat delights, too, including cheeses, and the mussels were quite good last time we had them.):


            1. Does anyone know this place called Nomi? Have you been to the new one yet, Chicgail?

              1 Reply
              1. re:

                I have not been to NoMI since it reopened. I didn't care for the former version (I thought it was stuffy and the food didn't warrant the attitude), but I hear better things about the new one.

              2. Hey everyone! Thanks for all the input.

                Update: I'm in Chicago right now. So far, had a pretty good time. Went to Publican last night. Had an excellent fried cauliflower and fish. I'm not sure how it was made, but I think there was no batter, and was actually just rolled in chickpea flour, turmeric, and cumin. The lemon dripped on it afterwards was great. Unfortunately, that, the service, and the atmosphere were the only pluses on any review I'd write. Other than that, it would probably get a 3 1/2 star review. The bread was a bit stale, the mushrooms I ordered were boring, and the raspberry dessert had no lavender, as on the menu, and the olive oil cake either didn't have a high-quality oil, or the oil was added too early, as it just tasted like pound cake. Too bad. I was excited.

                1 Reply
                1. re:

                  Publican's big strengths are in the raw bar, charcuterie, and pork dishes, for what it's worth.