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fellow cook vacationing in Chicago july 25-30

Hi, fellow foodsters!

my name is Dickson and i will be in Chicago from the 25th to the 30th. my trip revolves around Charlie Trotter's restaurant as it is closing and would love to finally meet him/eat his food. i will be staying at the dana hotel located between the loop and lincoin park, i do not have access to a car, but am willing to take public transportations.

i already have a few places I'm going to, but i would love some suggestions in bars (where bartenders like to drink), nightlife, restaurant and possibly sight seeing ideas

places I'm going to already include
-trotters (26th)
-hot doug's (possibly lunch of 27th because of duck fat fries)
-bert's place (tony bourdain recommendation)
-alinea (on the wait list, but will try to hound them for a table)
-riverside boat tour (recommended by my chef at work)

if anyone in the industry would be so kind to show me around, i would really appreciate it!
you can reach me on my email address leungdickson@gmail.com

thanks in advance
Dickson

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  1. FYI, others will know better than me about public transportation options, but Burts Place is in a suburb (Morton Grove) probably 20 miles north of the Loop. Plus make sure you order your pizza in advance.

    5 Replies
    1. re: rjka

      thanks! i didn't realize it until now but i found out it's a 25min cab ride away from my hotel! :o is it worth the cab money? or is there somewhere else you'd recommend?

      1. re: noskcid

        No it's not. Your cab ride will be 25 minutes and probably $25. Try Unos, Dues, Lou Malnoti or Pizzanos.

        1. re: chicgail

          second chicgail's recommendations -

        2. re: noskcid

          If you want something similar to Burt's there is a Pequod's location 3 miles away from your hotel at 2207 N. Clybourn. Burt was the original founder of Pequod's.

          1. re: noskcid

            The trip to Burt's is 25 minutes on a good day with all the planets in alignment, otherwise it can get closer to an hour, and it's more like a $35-$40 fare each way. If you're a Zip car fan, they're nearly everywhere and only $8 an hour.

        3. Have you considered dining at one of Rick Bayless' restaurants? Hot Chocolate has amazing desserts in Bucktown. Had friends that had an amazing meal at Geaham Elliot's. Aruns is also wonderful.

          3 Replies
          1. re: TTownFoodie

            i was considering going to one of his restaurants, but i don't know enough about mexican food to enjoy his food properly, so it'll be "if i have anytime left i'll go there" kinda thing

            1. re: noskcid

              You might consider. Xoco for breakfast if you want a taste of it. Topolo really isn't like any mexican you've likely ever had. You can get both menus at the bar too.

              1. re: TTownFoodie

                thanks TTownFoodie! will look into that! sounds like i should really try topolo

          2. Sort of repeating my comments in an earlier thread, but I would make sure to check out the Logan Square neighborhood (very easily accessible via the city's Blue line -- just take it to the Logan Square stop!). In particular, there's Yusho -- many of the key members at Yusho all came from Trotters, including the executive chef/owner, Matthias Merges (14 year veteran of Trotters). Lots of small plates with strong Japanese street food/yakitori influences they also have one of the move innovating cocktail programs in the city. Kathryn just reviewed Yusho (and other spots) in a recent thread.

            Logan Square is also home to Longman & Eagle (no reservations; busy/lively atmosphere with lots of meaty small plates; very good cocktail program with a huge bourbon list; open late); Lula's (chef driven, farm-to-table mainstay); The Whistler (tiny cocktail lounge; no food; live music on a pretty regular basis); and Revolution (brewpub with very good food and fantastic beer - the best in the best in the city, at the moment, I think; another very lively, late night crowd). You could easily start at the Logan Square L stop and work your way southeast along Milwaukee Avenue and make a lot of stops. Those above are my personal favorites, but other options would include The Owl (4am bar), Rocking Horse and Cole's -- or for something more dive-y, Two-Way Lounge or the Whirlaway.

            Bucktown and Wicker Park are further southeast and is another area full of bars and restaurants. This includes Hot Chocolate (the chef/owner just won the James Beard award for Outstanding Pastry Chef) -- other ideas would be Danny's Tavern (no food, just drinks and dancing -- crowd can skew a little young), Map Room (20+ craft beer destination; no food, cash only), Big Star (great bar with decent food -- tacos, for the most part, that used to be great but lately... not so much; plenty of country western on the record player and some of the best people-watching in the city, too; cash only), and the Violet Hour (one of the city's pioneers for great cocktails, try and grab a seat at the bar and chat up the bartenders; very quiet and low-key inside, it's not necessarily a place to rock out and meet/chat up new people).

            Division Street is home to a ton of mostly non-descript, unexceptional drinking/dining options. Exceptions would be SmallBar (food/drinks), Rainbo Club (drinks only), Goldstar (drinks only), Mana (vegetarian restaurant) and Bangers & Lace (beer bar with good sausages).

            As for some of the some of the other items on your list, I wouldn't go to Hot Doug's just for the duck fat fries -- I don't get the fuss and think his standard fries are much better besides. And yeah, while you can to Burt's via public transit (or a cab), there are probably closer options that may be just as good (Tony Bourdain's stamp of approval notwithstanding).

            13 Replies
            1. re: danimalarkey

              Burt had Pequod's and Gulliver's before he opened his namesake pizza joint. Both are still around but Pequod's in Lincoln Park tastes closer to what Burt's current pizza is like.

              1. re: ferret

                thanks! Pequod sounds like a great alternative to burt's place!

              2. re: danimalarkey

                that's a lot of suggestions danimarlarkey! Yusho is definitely on my ''togo" list since i love yakitori!

                i was drinking with my bartender last night and he was in chicago not too long ago and suggested Balzna, Sable, Violet hour, Avery and Howl @ the moon.

                Longman and Eagle, The whistler Hot Chocolate, Danny's Tavern are all now on my hit list!

                im also looking into the Publican and one more multi course restaurant, i know Tru and L20 are good, but i wanna see what graham elliot is doing as well, which of the 3 would you choose if you only had time for one?

                1. re: noskcid

                  Cocktails in Chicago:
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/847204

                  I think you mean the Aviary and not Avery. Scofflaw, Whistler, Barrelhouse Flat should also be on your list.

                  Here is my recent trip report:
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/859890

                  Big Star is great for drinking pre or post-Violet Hour, but I thought the tacos at Antique Taco were much better on my visit there.

                  1. re: kathryn

                    thanks for the great read!

                    your mouthwatering trip report was the reason i looked into Yusho =D

                    i will try to goto both the Aviary and Voilet hour! i am so spoiling myself! antique tacos sounds good too! nice and close to Violet hour. thanks!

                  2. re: noskcid

                    Longman & Eagle is a place that started out strong and has refined that strength over time. I had an excellent meal there just last week (after maybe a 6-8 month absence). It was so good that I'm trying to find an excuse to go back very soon.

                    1. re: noskcid

                      Not entirely sure how Howl at the Moon made that list unless your bartender is a middle-aged housewife.

                      1. re: ferret

                        ROFL! he just said it's worth going for the duelling pianos

                        1. re: noskcid

                          They have a talented group of performers but it's otherwise a forgettable joint.

                          1. re: ferret

                            good to know, thanks! i was wondering how it could fit into my schedule, but now i don't have to! haha

                            1. re: noskcid

                              Yeah, I wouldn't go out of my way to visit it. But I would schedule an architecture tour on the river. CAF for a really knowlegeable tour or Wendella for a more laid back tour. And to keep this on food, once you are done - you can stop at one of the riverside restaurants to have a drink!

                              1. re: lbs

                                yes! i am doing the architecture river tour and my bartender recommended the Chicago beer experience!

                      2. re: noskcid

                        FWIW I think he meant Balsan and you heard Balzna. Balsan is a nice brasserie type of place

                    2. that's also one of the reasons why I'm going to Trotter's. There're sooo many big name chefs that have gone through that restaurant and became great chefs! i think that's largely due to Trotter's training even though some may not admit it (cough Grant Achatz)