Casual Eats & Drinks near Hotel Allegro
There are two of us going to a trade show at the Furniture Mart. We're staying at Hotel Allegro, West Randolph and North La Salle.
I am a jeans and sneakers kind-a-girl that appreciates good quality food but doesn't like to pay a premium for expensive decor. Love finding great mom & pop places or hidden gems. We're from Toronto and definitely tend to head towards 'dive bars' or pubs rather than upscale places with dress codes.
Looking for some nearby restaurant recommendations as well as a few places to have drinks in the evening.
These are all great suggestions, thanks so much!
I'm in town from Thursday to Monday so have some time to explore a little. Wicker Park and Logan Square are two places I'm really hoping to visit. This trip is mainly work (trade show) but I do hope to come back again for a pleasure visit and stay in the Wicker Park area and would love to hear suggestions.
The city is full of interesting neighborhoods. Those along the CTA Blue Line, going northwest from the Loop, include Wicker Park, Bucktown, and Logan Square. Those along the CTA Red Line, going north from the Loop, include River North, the Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Uptown, Edgewater, and Rogers Park. All have worthwhile dining and drinking venues. And then there are the great neighborhoods surrounding the Loop, including the ever-burgeoning West Loop, and the South Loop, and on and on.
When I think of Wicker Park and Logan Square, I think of their great places for breakfast, such as Bongo Room in Wicker Park, and Jam and Lula in Logan Square. There are lots more, but those are the places that have impressed me the most. I could go on and on about restaurants in the other neighborhoods I've mentioned, but it's probably better for you to get more specific rather than rattle off the names of dozens of places! :)
Just around the Logan Square stop, in addition to Lula's (which is great for dinner and brunch), I like Longman & Eagle a lot. Small plates, lots of meat (and salt) -- it can get a little hectic (they don't accept reservations), but it's a fun vibe. Great cocktails, great beer. Yusho, a Japanese Yakitori-type spot, is just to the north -- another destination for small plates and great drinks. They accept reservations and the atmosphere is a little more quiet than at L&E.
Around the corner and a few blocks away is a newly-revamped regional Mexican restaurant called Masa Azul. The chef comes from a well known (relatively speaking) Chicago family that's been cooking in Pilsen for years. To the East (probably a cab ride away, if I'm being honest) is a great cocktail bar (that also nails the food section, too) called Scofflaw.
Milwaukee Avenue pretty much connects Logan Square to Bucktown to Wicker Park (and on through West Town and into the Loop, more or less). You could easily start at one end and make your way down the street. In addition to those first few spots I mentioned off the Logan Square stop, there's The Owl (great dive-ish bar; no food), The Whistler (amazing cocktails; no food); Revolution (brewpub with really good food - nothing terribly innovative but the execution is great; fun, crowded, too, with lots of great beer); Belly Shack (Asian/Puerto Rican-ish fusion plates in a counter-service setting; they're also BYO); Green Eye Lounge (next to Belly Shack, it's a good bar - very casual, not scene-y in the least -- they don't mind if you bring in carry-out from Belly Shack, next door).
Further down, there's Big Star (crowded bar with amazing bourbon/whiskey drinks and very good tacos... lots of great people-watching); Violet Hour (a great cocktail lounge where, even in a t-shirt and jeans, you won't feel out of place); Hot Chocolate (contemporary American - the chef/owner just won a James Beard award for Outstanding Pastry -- so I'd try the desert, too); it might be worth checking out The Carriage House, which just opened -- expect Southern/Low Country cooking in a very nice-looking space; SmallBar (creative bar food, local/seasonal ingredients, very good beer list - SmallBar stands out to me in a sea of generic/forgettable sports bars); Rainbo Club & Gold Star (I'm grouping these together because they're both the epitome, for better or worse, of slightly cleaned up dive bars -- I believe they both pre-date Prohibition and ooze character. Expect crowds, though); Antique Taco (very good tacos with excellent, locally-sourced ingredients - limited drink selection, it's more of a lunch spot, for me, rather than a place to spend time hanging out and having a few drinks -- the cheese curds are excellent, though). And... that's what comes to mind most immediately.
A few blocks East is Miller's Pub -- good beer list, decent enough food (though they're hardly reinventing the wheel, cuisine-wise) and comfortable atmosphere.
Are you in town for just the one night? If so, you might enjoy a quick trip on the city's Blue line to Wicker Park or Logan Square. It's about 10-15 minutes by train and both neighborhoods are just packed with dive bars, pubs and great restaurants. I'd be happy to list some if you think it would be useful for you!
All of the following places are fine for casual attire (e.g. blue jeans), and none are particularly expensive. All are within a 10-12 minute walk from your hotel. And oh yeah, all have great food!
Lou Malnati's (deep-dish pizza, Wells location is closest) - www.loumalnatis.com
Sable (contemporary American small plates, craft cocktails) - www.sablechicago.com
GT Fish & Oyster (seafood small plates) - www.gtoyster.com
Quartino (Italian small plates) - www.quartinochicago.com
Province (contemporary American small plates) - http://chicago.provincerestaurant.com
Piccolo Sogno (Italian) - www.piccolosognorestaurant.com
All except Malnati's accept reservations, including on Opentable.com At Malnati's, you can phone ahead with your pizza order and they will have it ready at your specified time - it's sort of like having a reservation. And that way you won't have to wait 30-45 minutes while you're seated for your pizza to bake.
I will preface my comment with my uniform is black t-shirt, jeans and sneaks.
Au Cheval is my favorite new opening this year, W Randolph and Halstead, an 8 minute cab from Allegro.
Old school Chicago bar (with average food but a fantastic vibe) is the Green Door on N Orleans and Erie. My neighbor hood bar and also less than 10 mins cab from Allegro. The Green Door is the olderst operating bar in the city.
One of my other favorites is Slurping Turtle on W Hubbard.