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Dec 17, 2012 07:31 PM

Chicago for Five Days - Ivy Hotel

Hi everyone -

First, I've read through the board a few times, so I feel somewhat sheepish asking this question - but I'm gonna do it anyway! I am staying at the Ivy Hotel (Ontario Street, near Michigan Ave) from the 19th through the 23rd with my friend. It's his birthday and he loves steak, so I wanted to take him out for a nice steak dinner.

So, the recommendations I'm looking for are: good steak restaurants near the hotel AND just general recommendations close to the hotel. We'll have my car, but I don't know how much I want to drive in downtown Chicago.

I like to eat, well, everything. He is a little pickier and I doubt he would like any of the haute cuisine with prix fixe menus (which is sad because I definitely would). I am going to try for an early dinner at Frontera or Topo because I've been there before and I think it's terrific. Otherwise, maybe the Purple Pig since it's on Michigan Ave. But I'm open to your expertise!

Thanks in advance.

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  1. One of our top steakhouses, David Burke's Primehouse, is just a few blocks directly west of your hotel. Not cheap, but then you probably already knew that about Chicago steakhouses.
    Joe's Seafood is another place he might like.
    Quartino's would be a lower-priced option.
    If you liked Frontera and Topo, consider a sandwich at Xoco. Mexican street food par excellence.

    1. Very good suggestions by camusman. The bone-in filet my husband had at Joe's was one of our favorite steaks anywhere; I tend to get the stone crabs.

      Chicago Cut is another good steakhouse. It opened in 2011 and rose quickly to the top tier. It's also one of the current hotspots for celeb sightings, especially athletes.

      For something new, perhaps consider Bavette's Bar & Boeuf. Not a firsthand account, since it is still on my to-do list, but the reviews are good. It seems to be a good balance between the classic style that appeals to your friend with some trendy excitement for you.

      Chicago Cut Steakhouse
      300 N. LaSalle

      Bavette's Bar & Boeuf
      218 W. Kinzie St.
      Anyone find a website? Since I didn't, here's a link to the Chicago Tribune's review:

      1. Here is a Bavette's menu from a few months back. It gives an idea of the focus. I too have heard good things.

        Another place that might appeal to both of you is Balsan, which is walking distance. It has a brasserie vibe.

        1. For steak, I'll just echo the recommendations already made. David Burke's Primehouse and Chicago Cut Steakhouse are top notch. Bavette's just opened recently. Note that Burke's is two blocks from your hotel, whereas Chicago Cut and Bavette's are both about a mile walk from the hotel.

          For your early dinner at Frontera Grill or Topolobampo, try NOW to get a reservation at Topolobampo. They normally fill their reservations 2-3 months in advance but lately I've noticed a few openings on Opentable with the holidays approaching. Without a reservation, it's unlikely you'll get in. Frontera only accepts a handful of reservations, and keeps most of the dining room available for walk-in traffic. If you arrive 15-30 minutes before they open the doors, you can usually be seated when they open. Note that if you sit at the bar at Frontera Grill, you can order from either menu (Frontera's or Topolobampo).

          Other terrific restaurants close to your hotel include the following. Sable offers outstanding contemporary American cuisine in a small plates format, as well as craft cocktails. (It's my favorite restaurant downtown; in fact I just ate their again the night before last.) Sable is a couple of blocks west of your hotel. Quartino, suggested above, serves Italian small plates. If you want truly superb mid-priced Italian food, make a reservation for Piccolo Sogno Due, which is several blocks further. If you enjoy seafood, Shaw's Crab House is close by and always excellent; GT Fish & Oyster is several blocks further and serves a small plates format. If you have any interest in high-end haute cuisine and you don't mind dressing up and spending, TRU is also very close to your hotel and is one of the best 2-3 restaurants in the city.

          Note that Purple Pig does not accept reservations, and waits to be seated during normal dinner hours are often 90-120 minutes or more. To avoid long waits, go at lunchtime or mid-afternoon. They serve the same menu all day so you won't lose anything by going then.

          If you enjoy going out for breakfast, Yolk is okay, and has a location a few blocks from your hotel. Another option is LB Bistro in the Sheraton, which is run by a world champion pastry chef and has a super-high-quality buffet every day.

          You're also only a few short blocks from Fox & Obel, our premier gourmet food store, with the best of everything - meats, fish, cheeses, etc. They have sandwiches and salads ready-made. And their bakery department is outstanding, particularly for breads, such as their rich cinnamon swirl rolls, their rustic fruit-nut bread, brioche, etc.

          1. We were in Chicago over Memorial Day and we were just talking about how some of the best food we had all year was at Purple Pig and Sable in Chicago. I highly recommend both - lunch at the Purple Pig (get there early, though) and dinner at Sable was our day and we were fat and happy.

            I highly recommend both based on our most recent trip to Chicago.