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Sep 10, 2012 06:26 PM

Ryder cup dinner

A group of 4 will be coming to Chicago Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for the Ryder cup. We will be staying near downtown. I am looking for dinner ideas for 4 nights. We would like to enjoy chicago's great restaurants but are overwhelmed with the choices. Since we will be out all day we don't want to have to get too dressed up for dinner. We know we would like a steakhouse, Mexican, and Italian. We would like ideas for these 3 plus any other interesting idea anyone might have for another type of restaurant. Reservations are much preferred. This is a bucket list trip so we are not too worried about cost. Thanks so much.

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  1. Here are some great places in and near "downtown Chicago":

    Steakhouse - David Burke's Primehouse (River North), Chicago Cut Steakhouse (River North)

    Mexican - Mexique (West Town), Salpicon (Old Town)

    Italian - Piccolo Sogno (Greek Town/River West), Piccolo Sogno Due (Magnificent Mile, south end), Gioco (South Loop), Cafe Spiaggia (Magnificent Mile, north end)

    Other - Sable (contemporary American small plates, craft cocktails - River North), GT Fish (seafood small plates - River North), Mercat a la Planxa (tapas, Loop), Lou Malnati's (deep-dish pizza - Gold Coast, River North, South Loop), Pizano's (deep-dish pizza - River North, Loop)

    All of these accept reservations on as well as over the phone, with the exception of the two places for deep-dish pizza. Both places for deep-dish work slightly differently; you can phone ahead with your pizza order and they will have it ready at the time you request, so if you arrive shortly before it's ready, they should be able to seat you quickly.

    If you care to mention where you're staying (the hotel name or a nearby intersection), we can tell you which of these is closest.

    15 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      One thing to consider is traffic. Even on the weekends it can take upwards of 45 mins to get from Medinah to downtown. Just be cognizent when making reservations.

      1. re: jbontario

        We were thinking about getting a car service but received an email from the Ryder cup site telling us that public transport (train) would be a great option. Do you have any experience or opinion with those 2 options. Also, I was looking at frontera grill. How hard would it be to get a 7:00 reservation on Thursday? If it's impossible, what is the latest they will seat a party?

        1. re: Klocke

          Frontera is almost impossible to get a reservation for unless you stand in line and wait. You may have better luck at his restaurant next door, Topolobampo, they do open table.

      2. re: nsxtasy

        We are at the fairmont. What is your opinion of the purple pig? I hear great things about the food but that it is crowded and hard to get into at peak times. Also, is there any significant difference between piccolo song and piccolo song due? I have read some of your posts and you are very knowledgeable about the Chicago dining scene. What are your favorite restaurants? If you could go anywhere in town where would it be?

        1. re: Klocke

          Actually you can take the Metra (commuter rail) there and I assume they have a shuttle or its about a mile walk from the station. There is no food worth it around the club so take the train back and enjoy. Frontera takes very limited reservations, however, Topolobombo, it's fancier sister does.

          1. re: jbontario

            More details about Metra... The commuter train is very nice and comfortable. Note that the downtown stations are on the west side of the Loop, so you may have a bit of a walk at that end as well, depending on where you're staying. You can find schedule and fare information and other details on Metra's website at

            More details about Frontera Grill and Topolobampo... Frontera only takes a handful of reservations over the phone, and leaves most of the dining room available for walk-in traffic. Without a reservation, you can arrive 15-20 minutes before they open the doors and you'll walk right in; otherwise you're usually looking at 60-120 minutes before getting seated. I've heard that the waits are lengthy even later on in the evening. You can check their website at for hours. Topolobampo does indeed take reservations, at as well as over the phone, but they book up 2-3 months in advance for dinner, 2-3 weeks for lunch. You can try getting reservations at both of these, but as you can see it's not easy unless you're planning way in advance. That's why I didn't mention them when recommending Mexican places; they're certainly among our best. But you'll also get excellent creative Mexican cuisine at Mexique and Salpicon, which I mentioned above.

            I didn't mention the Purple Pig because you asked about places that accept reservations. Waits there at dinner are often 90-120 minutes or more. If you're interested in trying it and you want to avoid the waits, go very early, very late, or for lunch.

            There are two main differences between Piccolo Sogno and Piccolo Sogno Due. One is the location. The other is that the menu at Piccolo Sogno Due has a bit more seafood. Otherwise, they have a lot in common, including including delicious contemporary Italian food (natch), a fairly spacious layout (with a noise level that is only moderately high, not at all oppressive), available outdoor seating, some of the best bread service you'll find anywhere, and extremely knowledgeable and helpful servers.

            What are my absolute favorites in or near downtown, where I would go if visiting from out of town? Sable, for sure - I love that place, and it has some of my favorite dishes, including the sweet corn creme brulee and the corned beef reuben strudel and the duck sausage. I love our creative Mexican cuisine; my favorite, Mundial Cocina Mestiza, is a bit further from downtown, in the Pilsen neighborhood and half a block from the 18th Street stop on the CTA Pink Line (but Mexique and Salpicon are also excellent and a bit more convenient to downtown). CTA info is at I love our deep-dish pizza. The two Piccolo Sognos are among my favorites too. I also enjoy our high-end restaurants, such as Everest and TRU, but they're expensive and dressy (jackets) which rules them out for many folks. I wouldn't go to a steakhouse; not that ours aren't excellent - they are - but every city in the country has good steakhouses. OTOH if you or your companions really love a great steak, then by all means go to Chicago Cut or Burke's. I enjoy French bistros once in a while, and La Sardine in the West Loop would be my pick there; the food is traditional and their execution is top notch.

            HTH - feel free to ask more questions, and enjoy your visit!

            1. re: nsxtasy

              We are planning on waiting in the bar at frontera until a table opens up. We have reservations at gene and georgetti and sable. We still need an Italian spot for Friday. The piccolo song group was full Friday when we wanted to go. What else might you recommend? Also, what are some quick breakfast spots close to the fairmont? We don't want to spend much time in the morning, just something to tide us over. Thanks.

              1. re: Klocke

                Consider RPM Italian or La Scarola for Italian.
                I would go to Gene & Georgetti only if someone in your party is a Chicagoan with clout, as the best tables and service goes to those such folks. I think you'd be better off with David Burke's.
                Breakfast: Wildberry.

                1. re: camusman

                  La scarola is our choice. I understand that a non-regular group would get a less desirable table at gene and georgettis but would the service also be sub par? Has anyone out there had bad service simply because they weren't a regular?

                  1. re: Klocke

                    I hope others will chime in, but I have found that for nonregulars, service can be more hit or miss. There is a chance you will have a great experience, but . . .

                    1. re: Klocke

                      To be honest, I just think that G&G sucks for lack of a better culinary term. The cottage fries are good, but the steaks are average at best and while the decor is classic old school steak house, it's just not good regardless of your regularity.

                      Scarola also has a bunch of regulars and while I've been there at least a dozen times over the past year or two and would not be considered a "regular" we're always treated well and I really like the food.

                      1. re: Klocke

                        La Scarola is mine and my husbands favorite Italian restaurant in Chicago. Very old school vibe, food is always great, and service is usually good as well. You will find Armando the owner walking around socializing through the dinner as well. They also do a hand written list of specials daily in addition to the menu online. One of my favorites that they have quite often is the Sinatra Pasta, It has scallops, shrimp, mussels in a tomato cream sauce. Also love their linginue and clams, the veal mondelli, and lasagne there. The grilled calamari is always my starter.

              2. re: Klocke

                I love, love, love The Purple Pig and I eat there a lot but almost always at off hours and usually alone because my SO will not wait for a table at peak times. Late afternoon works best for me as I cam combine lunch and dinner. If you have flexibility than by all means go as the food is terrific. We went a few weeks ago at about 9:15 on a weeknight (fairly late by Chicago standards) and there were no seats at the bar (where I normally eat) and the wait time was 60 minutes! That wasn't going to work so we headed over to the Peninsula and ate at Shanghai Terrace which is a fine dining Chinese restaurant. We had a really delicious al fresco meal (terrace outdoor garden). I hadn't been in awhile and I forget it's there but the service and food were terrific.

                I've only been to Picollo Sogno but last time I went it was significantly better than my previous visit and it is so nice to dine in the garden area.

                For the bucket list I have had two exceptional meals in the past two months at Les Nomades. The food was so perfectly prepared that it was almost scary to me as an avid home cook. How do they absolutely nail it with every dish? Also for the bucket list I recommend Tru for it's elegant atmosphere and excellent food. Just a few thoughts.

                1. re: Klocke

                  Purple Pig is good. I would personally also recommend The Publican. If you want to risk it and try the bar area or wait a few hours, Girl and the Goat lives up to the hype.

                  Piccolo Song Due I know just opened. The original is fantasic. weather permitting it has the nicest patio around.

                  1. re: Dee74

                    i wanted to check in and let you all know how our dining experience went. we had a late lunch at the purple pig and it was great. we told our server what we liked and let her choose a few starters. she did so well we turned over the ordering to her. we especially liked the pork neck gravy. after 2 drinks at the bar we got a table at frontera. everyone enjoyed their appetizers (ceviche trio, guacamole). the spice rubbed ribeye and the duck breast were stand out entrees. fridasy we had dinner at la scarola and it was a blast. the grilled calamari and grilled octupus were at treat for us. there's not much octopus in texas. our meals at pp, frontera, and la scarola were great. thanks to all who took the time to guide istook the time to help us. saturday we went to gene and georgetti. i should have listened to jbontario. it basically sucked. the service was fine but the food was tasteless. lesson learned. sunday we were "fooded out" and went to sable for a few drinks and a few plates. the scallops were good, but the pork loin was somewhat flat. you guys gave great recommendations, i wished i would have listened to them all. thanks again.