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Chicago Restaurant Rec

Staying on E. Wacker Dr. on Friday night. Need a dinner recommendation for middle-aged male foodie and two almost-20 college students. Upper limit of $150 or so, including my martini (my martini is a must), but we need not hit the limit, and can also exceed it by a bit! The girls are pretty adventuresome, but fond of steak and other quality proteins. No pasta palaces, please. Walking distance preferred, but none of us are shy about a bit of a walking trek

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  1. Wildfire at 159 W. Erie is the most affordable steakhouse in the area. Food and martinis are good. About a mile from your hotel.

    5 Replies
    1. re: camusman

      Wildfire is an okay place but nothing you haven't seen 20x over. If you're up for a scenic walk (and not very far) then I'd recommend The Gage, it's a gastropub on Michigan Ave. less than half a mile south of Wacker. Another few blocks South takes you to Mercat a la Planxa, a really good tapas spot in a lovely room.

      There are numerous options going North across the river, but these two are close and very good.

      1. re: ferret

        Agreed, we eat at Wildfire all the time but it's our family Tuesday night, don't feel like doing anything else restaurant. That and my sister and bro-in-law have their name up on the wall as a top customer. It's consistent, good and reasonable.

        Every River North or downtown restaurant is no more than a 10 mins cab (20 to 10 mins walk) from the Swiss, Hyatt, 71, Club Quarters, or Renaissance at which you're likely staying, I recommend the following that could fit in your price range.

        1) Slupring Turtle - great snappy casual noodles (i love the pork shoulder dish), yakitori and some sushi
        2) Roka Akor - higher end robata grilling (really tasty steak) and creative sushi
        3) Purple Pig

        A little farther (8 -12 mins cab) but may be right up your alley is Carnivale, Publican, and Au Cheval.

        1. re: jbontario

          Chicks dig Carnivale. If they've never been they'll like it.

          1. re: ferret

            Good point. This would be a smart choice.

          2. re: jbontario

            I don't think Purple Pig or Publican would have the martinis he's looking for though. PP is more of a wine bar, Publican more of a beer hall.

      2. Many good food recommendations here, but it sounds as if a good martini is important to you, and I wouldn't trust many of these places to execute a classic martini as well as Wildfire does.

        3 Replies
        1. re: camusman

          After dinner, send the students back to the hotel and check out Sable. One of the strongest cocktail programs in the city (I think), I'm sure they could do a great classic martini, too.

          1. re: danimalarkey

            Agreed on sable. A martini is good, but really it's just a lot of Gin and an olive. Go have an artisinal cocktail at Sable you will be much happier. Mike Ryan, who's the head mixologist at Sable even got me to try some gin drinks that i really enjoyed and I am not a juniper fan.

            1. re: jbontario

              Sable is great for cocktails (the drink menu has chapters!) and decent bar food. It's relatively inexpensive, but a long way from my favorite place to eat and certainly not for teenagers.

        2. Thanks for all of the good suggestions. Any reason not to consider Sable for dinner? The menu looks pretty good.

          3 Replies
          1. re: lawyerbriefs

            No reason at all, unless the young ladies are Top Chef fans and have an unfavorable view of the proprietor.
            ;->

            1. re: camusman

              Oh, we all know that reality tv is "reality", at best. :D

              Which is to say, there may be all sorts of valid reasons to not eat at Sable, but staying away because of how Bravo edited a tv program isn't one of them (in my book, anyway!).

            2. re: lawyerbriefs

              The food at Sable is excellent too. And extremely reasonable in price. They specialize in small plates so they're easy to share. I especially recommend their absolutely delicious sweet corn creme brulee (a savory riff on the classic dessert), their corned beef reuben strudel, the pistachio duck sausage, and for dessert, whatever flavor panna cotta they have that evening. I've seen families eating there, with kids enjoying the food as much as the adults. It's one of my favorite restaurants.

              I've posted detailed reports on some of my meals at Sable in the topic at www.chow.com/topics/704524