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Jul 24, 2012 10:36 AM

Low-Key Quick Saturday Lunch, Higher-End Sunday Lunch

Me and a few friends are coming out for Lollapalooza the weekend of August 3rd, and we're all Chicago newcomers hoping to try out some great food. We'll be staying at the Palmer, and on Saturday are looking to try something delicious and relatively quick (and on the cheaper side, although cost is not a big concern), while on Sunday we're hoping to do something a bit more involved and high-end (no real budget restrictions here). Unfortunately we won't have any time for dinners because of the festival, but are hoping we can do pretty well with a couple of lunches. We're certainly willing to travel a bit from the hotel, but ideally nothing too far, and we have no dietary restrictions or preferences - whatever restaurants/places you think are best! Thanks in advance!

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  1. For quick/inexpensive you can try Bodega No. 5 which is the sibling of Mercat a la Planxa, the great tapas restaurant. Most things are $5 and under (or not much more than $5) they have a nice assortment of sandwiches, empanadas and some other menu items. A personal favorite is Cafecito, a Cuban-styled coffee and sandwich shop. Both are walking distance from the Palmer House and the Park.

    5 Replies
      1. re: Marcusf

        One other option for Saturday: Macy's State Street has a food court on the seventh floor that has a Rick Bayless tortas place, a Marcus Samuelsson burger joint, and a Takashi Yagihashi noodle shop.

        1. re: camusman

          Thanks! That's really helpful. Safe to say none of those places require reservations? We're all New Yorkers who are fans of Red Rooster, so the burger sounds great, although we're also big fans of Mexican food, so I'm sure grabbing a torta will be in the discussion! As for the noodles, we're all ramen fans, but with so many options out here in NY I'm thinking we're probably better off trying to chase down something different (such as a burger or a torta or something from Bodega No. 5), especially given that I'm guessing it'll be pretty hot out.

          1. re: Marcusf

            No reservations. Pretty much a typical food court set-up. I believe the hours are 11-3.
            Yeah, the ramen probably wouldn't knock your socks off compared with your NY faves.
            The burger place has great shakes, and the fries are good.

            1. re: Marcusf

              You could also just go to Xoco, Rick Bayless' torta place. The only catch is sometimes the line can be long, which might make your wait a bit longer but it is really good.

      2. Keep in mind, Graham Elliot is running Lolla's Chow Town with Jose Garces and Mercat a la Planxa, former Sixteen chef Frank Brunacci and his new company The Australian Truffle, Gibsons Restaurant Group, MBurger, Chizakaya, Kamehachi, Edzo's Burger Shop, Chubby Wieners, MasterChef competitor Suzy Singh's food truck Suzy Samosas, Homemade Pizza Company, La Colombe Torrefaction Coffee Bar, Lagniappe—a Creole/Cajun Joint, Peeled, Timothy O'Toole's Pub and more.

        Plus all the usual Chicago places like Kuma's Corner, Grahamwich, Franks N Dawgs, The Smoke Daddy, Wow Bao, Lou Malnati's, Goose Island Brewpub, Connie's Pizza, Robinson's No. 1 Ribs, Burrito Beach and more.

        1. For Sunday, I would suggest going to a place that serves a really great Sunday brunch, AND accepts reservations. (Places that serve Sunday brunch but don't accept reservations get mobbed, with waiting times of 30-60 minutes or more to be seated.) If you don't mind taking a cab or CTA bus three miles from your hotel, consider North Pond, in the middle of the park, facing its namesake pond with the city skyline looming overhead. The setting is exquisite, and the food from James Beard Award-winning Chef Bruce Sherman is excellent. If you'd like to keep it within a few blocks walking distance of the Palmer House Hilton, I recommend Atwood Cafe, in the Hotel Burnham. Both North Pond and Atwood Cafe accept reservations on as well as over the phone. You can check out their brunch menus on their websites at and

          1 Reply
          1. re: nsxtasy

            North Pond is lovely, especially at this time of year, but their brunch is not at all notable.

          2. For your Sunday option, consider Paul Virant's Perennial Virant just a quick bus or cab ride away ... Reservations needed, price sensible, food superb.

            I've also heard raves about the brunch at Publican and at Sable.

            Also, on Saturday I'd definitely head to Xoco itself rather than Macy's ..the lines may be long but the food is great and they move fast.