Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Chicago Area >
Dec 1, 2012 08:35 AM

Chicago Trip Review

My husband and I visited Chicago last weekend to celebrate our 10th anniversary. This was our first visit to Chicago and we were very impressed with how clean the city was, the amazing culture, architecture, great food and friendly people. We can't wait to make a return trip, maybe in warmer weather!

Friday lunch-XOCO-We only waited about 35 minutes to get in. We were impressed with how organized the whole wait and ordering process was. My husband had the short rib soup and I had the wood roasted chicken pozole. Both hit the spot in the frigid temps and the depth of flavors of both dishes was really nice. We couldn't leave without trying the hot chocolate and churros. The hot chocolate was really interesting. I've never had a drinking chocolate before. It was really good. The churros were served hot and were so delicious. Still thinking about them!

Dinner-Alinea-This was a spectacular experience. I can't say I've ever had a meal like this before. Really indescribable and probably the best meal I have ever had from the experience, food, service. Attention to detail was amazing. I can't say I love the process of getting tickets but understand why they need something like that.

Breakfast-Wildberries-O.k. food, huge portions, not really remarkable though. We found several of the dishes a bit bland.

Lunch-L'Appetito-I would love to have a place like this in Texas. The sandwiches we had were really good. The rainbow cake from the bakery was very flavorful and moist. We did get a dozen cookies to take home and were a bit disappointed in those. They looked delicious but all tasted the same-very plain, boring. I do wish I had tried the cannoli cake.

Dinner-Lao Bejing-We really loved the food here. The dried chile tofu was outstanding. Service was absolutely horrid. It was so bad we could only laugh about our experience. Atmosphere also left something to be desired. Seeing the website and knowing the chef had three restaurants we were expecting something a bit nicer. At least the food did not disappoint.

Breakfast-Yolk. I had the autumn french toast and it was delicious. My husband had the Irish Benny. It was good but not anything that stood out. They had lots of interesting things on the menu. Definitely want to go back for the bacon waffle.

I was barely able to scratch the surface on all the places I want to eat. Amazing city for food.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Glad that you enjoyed your tour of Chicago, the city in which I grew up. Did you indulge yourselves in a Chitown favorite, the Italian roast beef sandwich?

    Notice my Chowhound name. My auto license plate reads "TX CHILI." Any questions?

    3 Replies
    1. re: ChiliDude

      >> Did you indulge yourselves in a Chitown favorite, the Italian roast beef sandwich?

      There is never, never, NEVER the word "roast" in the name when discussing the local specialty, the Italian beef. :)

      1. re: nsxtasy

        The word "roast' was part of the sandwich name when I grew up in Chicago and 'burbs. I left Chicago, where I went to school K thru 12 until 1953 (moved to Berwyn in 1953), in 1960 after getting married and moved central Illinois. When I was a student at U of I in Champaign, I worked at Timpone's on campus where we made Italian roast beef sandwiches. Things change! (And not always for the better...don't talk to me about the Illini football team this year!)

      2. re: ChiliDude

        My husband had a roast beef sandwich with giardineria at L'Appetito but I' m not sure if that is the exact same thing. We really wanted to try a Chicago Dog and were surprised at how few places there were around. We ended up having one in the airport.

        If you are in Texas now you must really miss the food in Chicago. The only thing I would miss would probably be the Tex-Mex. I wish we had all of the ethnic food neighborhoods.

      3. Yes, we have some amazing food - glad you enjoyed it!

        Sounds like you enjoy going out for breakfast. Some of our breakfast specialty restaurants are really impressive and creative. I'm not sure why you chose the ones you did (convenience perhaps?). The "best of the best" include M. Henry, M. Henrietta, Jam, Bongo Room, Southport Grocery, and Walker Brothers. In the downtown hotel area, Meli Cafe is pretty good too. Please come back again, and consider trying those instead!

        Oh, and about Lao Beijing - as I've reported here, I had an absolutely horrendous service experience there too - laughably awful - but it was on Christmas Day last year. Thanks to your report, now I know that it's no better on non-holidays!

        1 Reply
        1. re: nsxtasy

          Wildberries was a pick recommended by our hotel. We were looking for something nearby as we had a full day of plans ahead. Yolk came recommended by some friends. Would definitely love to try some of the places you recommended. I don't feel like either we went to was the best of what we could have found. Hopefully, we will plan another trip back.

          We went to Lao the weekend after T-giving. The people we were seated with mentioned it was particularly bad because of the holiday. Yelp reviews seem to indicate lots of service issues even on non-holidays. Even with the bad service we would definitely go back again. The food was stellar. We now know the service will be added bonus entertainment!

        2. The Lao restaurants I've been to all can have atrocious service, BUT, that's not why people go there. I've been to three of his joints, and usually service is well below what we'd consider good if comparing it to many "Western" (I guess) restaurants. But, I gotta tell you, a few of his joints have some of the best dishes in this city, imo. And, when it's good, you can put their chili oil on an old Nike, chop it up, and just give me some chopsticks, and I'll be just fine. Seriosuly tho, if you come back, and you want to try them again, just be aware that the service can be just as bad.