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Dinner suggestions -driving though Chicago To Evanston

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We are going to be driving form Philadelphia to Evanston and wanted to stop in Chicago for dinner on our way. We will probably get to the southern section of Chicago at around 7 pm on a Wednesday evening and are hoping for something casual. We were thinking possibily Chinatown - Lao She Zuan or Double Li, perhaps, but were somewhat concerned about the true level of spicyness we have read on Chowhound. We do eat a lot of spicy food, but the threads we've read seem to point out that the food is extremely spicy. Can anyone comment on this?

I realize there are so many restaurants in the various neighborhoods, but we would appreciate some suggestions for ethnic except mexican and deep dish pizza (having mexican next evening), italian, american, middle eastern, good pub food. Since we'll be driving we could really go just about anywhere, but I would like it to be more south to downtown rather than to the north side of town since that would be a little too late by the time we would get to those points. Price wise I think no more than $25/person should be ok before drinks.

I appreciate your assistance.

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  1. Chinatown is a good choice. I think you shouldn't worry about them being too spicy....
    Middle Eastern is mostly north side. My favorite is about two miles north of the Kedzie exit from the Kennedy. It is called Semiramis. If you want Thai, I would recommend taking Lake Shore Drive north from the Dan Ryan to Lawrence and heading north on Broadway to Thai Pastry. If you want great neighborhood Chinese, Sun Wah is just up the block on Broadway just north of Argyle... Argyle is also home to great Vietnamese places. Enjoy your trip.

    3 Replies
    1. re: debbypo

      Thank you. Can you recommend a vietnamese restaurant in that area?

      1. re: bobygee

        Tank Vietnamese is right in that area as well - in fact Argyle St near Broadway is a Vietnamese neighborhood with all sorts of food options.

        1. re: Siun

          Tank is closed on Wednesdays.
          Other good options on Argyle are Nha Hang Viet Nam and Pho 888.

    2. Spiciness shouldn't be a problem - I had the same worry but loved my dinner at Double Li.

      That said, adding no more than 15 minutes or so travel time would take you to Sun Wah and their amazing duck!

      Both good options!

      1. The Andersonville neighborhood just off Lake Shore Drive also has lots of good choices: Big Jones for coastal Carolina cuisine, Great Lake for thin crust pizza, Hopleaf for pub food, Anteprima for Italian.

        1. >> Since we'll be driving we could really go just about anywhere, but I would like it to be more south to downtown rather than to the north side of town since that would be a little too late by the time we would get to those points.

          It sounds like you are overestimating travel times around Chicagoland. If you arrive just south of Chicago in Chinatown at 7 pm and keep driving, you'll be in Evanston around 7:30. So anyplace on the entire north side would be along your route and wouldn't change your dining time by very much.

          Note, coming in from PA, bring your EZ-PASS; the best, quickest route is to take exit 16 from the Indiana Toll Road to stay on I-90 as it becomes the Chicago Skyway, then exit onto I-55 northbound to get to Lake Shore Drive past downtown Chicago towards Evanston. Do NOT take the Kennedy/Edens expressways (I-90/I-94) north of downtown Chicago, as the route is longer and more likely to have traffic delays.

          Of course, there are literally thousands of restaurants to choose from. But here are two recommendations, neither of which is downtown (so you can avoid the traffic and expensive parking). Both of these places serve amazing, outstanding food, and are extremely friendly, moderately-priced, casual neighborhood bistros, the kind of place that make you feel at home even on your first visit there. Deleece on Southport is one; it's in the Lakeview neighborhood, about halfway between downtown and Evanston. www.deleece.com Campagnola is the other one; it's in Evanston, and is nominally Italian although much of their menu is no different from a contemporary American bistro like Deleece. www.campagnolarestaurant.com These are my two favorite "neighborhood gems", places I keep going back to because the food is so fantastic and the places are so accommodating/comfortable. I've posted several detailed reports on dinners at Deleece at www.chow.com/topics/757360

          1 Reply
          1. re: nsxtasy

            Thank you for the advice about the route. Actually, we had planned to go to Campagnola one of the nights we are in Evanston - looks really good.