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Dec 19, 2012 05:57 PM

Night on Mag Mile

My girlfriend and I are staying at the Marriott on Mag Mile for a night in December to celebrate our anniversary. We will have all day Saturday and Sunday. I am going to try the Publican brunch on Sunday, but I would like some dinner recommendations: <$30 a person, <mile walk or 5 minute cab. Open to any cuisine. I would like a vibrant, young atmosphere, unique dishes. Open to tapas or anything new.

Thank you for your help

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  1. Is your budget for food only or inclusive of drinks, tax (recently decreased to 9.5%!) and tip? Either way, it's a bit tight for that neighborhood. I advise against a cab for you, because you can't get anywhere in Chicago in <5 minutes by car that you couldn't get to faster by walking, and even a short cab ride (15 minutes to get to Publican, etc) will cost $10+ once you add a tip and 2nd person charge.

    You might be able to do Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill in your budget, but reservations are limited, and the weekend waits are lengthy. Same goes for Purple Pig ("cheese, swine & wine"), except it does not accept any reservations. More bar-oriented places, such as Hub 51, might be a good option. For tapas, Cafe Iberico is reasonably-priced and definitely a young and vibrant atmosphere; it's how I picture a college dorm cafeteria in Spain might look. Newer and trendier tapas but also more expensive, I recommend Tavernita. I really enjoy Slurping Turtle, by Takashi Yagihashi, for Japanese comfort food, small plates, and soups.

    Obviously the most budget-friendly places, like everywhere, would be fast food. Perhaps not for an anniversary celebration but on another day or visit, consider Chicago style pizza at Pizzeria Uno, Pizzeria Due, Gino's East, or Giordano's. For Italian beef sandwiches, there is Mr Beef, Al's, or Portillo's (also good hot dogs and chocolate cake at Portillo's). Good burger options include 25 Degrees and M Burger.

    Hope this helps. I look forward to seeing what other Hounds suggest.

    2 Replies
    1. re: GourmetWednesday

      I really appreciate the reply.

      $30 is just for food, not including tip or drinks. I am open to rethinking the commute if the food is worth it.

      I definitely want to do the Chicago style pizza. I was thinking lunch on Saturday.

      Is the Publican brunch worth it? Or is there somewhere else that is good for breakfast more in the neighborhood (or not)?

      Also, desserts or bakeries near Mag Mile worth trying?

      1. re: cline3200

        >> Is the Publican brunch worth it?

        I haven't been there for brunch, wasn't overwhelmed for dinner. It's a little over a mile west of the hotel, in the West Loop area. They accept reservations, including on Opentable. About half of the seating consists of two looooong communal tables; the rest is private two-, four-, and six-tops. When you make a reservation, you can express a preference for a private table or for the communal seating, and they will try to accommodate your preference.

        >> Or is there somewhere else that is good for breakfast more in the neighborhood (or not)?

        My favorite Sunday brunch in the city is only a couple of blocks from the hotel, and that's Shaw's Crab House. They serve an all-you-can-eat buffet that will fill you for the entire day. Some of the standouts include thick-cut caramelized bacon, chilled crab and shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, a carving station, creme brulee, and chocolate pot de creme. And the food is outstanding, not your typical buffet fare; I'm talking about my favorite bacon, the best crab cakes in the city, the best creme brulee in the city, etc. Not inexpensive - it was $48 when I went earlier this year - but SO worth it.

        For a breakfast-focused restaurant in the neighborhood, I like Meli Cafe, on Wells, about a half mile west of the hotel. They have a huge menu, including a dozen kinds of French toast, etc.

        Another breakfast restaurant is also close by, called Yolk, at Grand and McClurg.

        >> Also, desserts or bakeries near Mag Mile worth trying?

        Your hotel is only a few blocks from Fox & Obel, our premier gourmet food store, which has one of the best bakery departments in the city. I love their rich cinnamon swirl rolls, and they have great croissants, brioche, and rustic fruit-nut loaf. As you can see, F&O leans towards breads and baked goods rather than pastries.

        The best pastries close to your hotel are at Toni Patisserie, about ten minutes walk south of your hotel. If you enjoy coffee, you can stop a block away at Intelligentsia, on Randolph.

        I'm not particularly fond of Hendrickx, and besides, it's not all that close - it's up at the other end of the Mag Mile from the hotel. You'll probably be very pleased with the selection at Fox & Obel and Toni, which are both closer to the hotel. If you're still interested in trying another place beyond those, I would instead go to the French Market, which is located in a commuter train station just west of the Loop, just over a mile from the hotel. They have a booth for Vanille Patisserie, one of the very best pastry shops in the city; they specialize in entremets (individual-sized mousse cakes) and have excellent French macaroons. Closed Sundays.

    2. GW gave you some good advice. Otherwise:
      Stick with the Publican brunch.
      A couple of other dinner options: Sable and Quartino.
      Hendrickx Belgian bakery is convenient to your location. The macarons and croissants are solid.

      3 Replies
      1. re: camusman

        If you're looking for a fun night out for the anniversary, I would suggest a two-fer. Go to Quartino for dinner, it's fun, loud, and has good reasonable wines and really nice food. Then stop at Sable in the bar on your way back for a craft cocktail and maybe a treat. Both of these are less than 5 blocks from Marriott.

        1. re: camusman

          I looked up the menu for Quartino and I think that could be a solid option. It looks like a fun time! Thanks for the recommendations!

          1. re: cline3200

            GT Fish and Oyster is another solid option. Maybe a touch higher on the price points.

        2. Don't know that I have any suggestions, but I loved this question because my wife and I are staying in a Mag Mile hotel for our anniversary on the same Saturday and Sunday. And, we're having brunch at Publican on Sunday. Our dinner budget is quite a bit bigger, but then again, it'll be our 28th anniversary!

          5 Replies
          1. re: jorlofsky

            With the bigger budget, where are you considering eating?

            1. re: cline3200

              We're having dinner at Sixteen in the Trump Tower. The views are supposed to be the best and they recently got a Michelin star.

                1. re: jorlofsky

                  The view is astonishing - enjoy!

                  And I've heard good things about the food recently - the service when I was there a while back was superb.

                  1. re: Siun

                    Thanks. Since it's an anniversary, of course, it'll be a good night out regardless!

            2. You've gotten some good advice and recommendations. Here are a few more, as well as more details about places that have already been mentioned.

              I'll start with Sable, which is my favorite restaurant in the downtown area. The menu is contemporary American, and almost everything is available in half portions, so you can try a lot of different things. I've loved just about everything I've had there. Four of us ate there a few nights ago; we ordered eight half-portions and four desserts, which cost us right around $125, and were nicely satisfied. They also have craft cocktails from one of the best bartenders in the city. It's two blocks from your hotel. They accept reservations, including on Opentable.

              GT Fish & Oyster was also mentioned, and I like it *a lot*. They specialize in seafood (of course) and the menu format leans towards small plates. They too have excellent craft cocktails. The only downside is that it's over on Wells, so it's about a half mile from your hotel. And they take reservations including on Opentable.

              Quartino is good too, but it's more of a "fun" place, rather than a "great food" place. The food is consistently good, but it just isn't as unusual or impressive as Sable or GT Fish, IMHO. It's worth considering, though. And they take reservations, including Opentable, and they're about 4 blocks from the hotel.

              Cafe Iberico was recommended and it's a really good place for tapas. It doesn't get as much attention as some of the other places in the area, for whatever reason. Two downsides, though. They don't take reservations, and it's a little further (a little over half a mile away).

              Another good place for tapas is Mercat a la Planxa. It's a bit more expensive than Cafe Iberico, though. It's about 3/4 mile south of the hotel, and they take reservations including Opentable.

              Frontera Grill and Purple Pig were both mentioned. Both are worth considering, but both are nightmares during dinnertime, with waits to be seated typically as much as two hours or more. At Frontera Grill, if you don't mind eating early, you can avoid long waits by arriving 20-30 minutes before they open the doors (lunch or dinner). At Purple Pig, you can avoid long waits by going mid-afternoon or lunchtime (they serve the same menu all day long). Both are close by.

              For authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza, the original Uno and Due are both just a few blocks from the hotel. Pizano's on State is about ten minutes walk north. Lou Malnati's on Wells is about ten minutes walk west. All three of these are very good representations of deep-dish. At Pizano's and Malnati's (but NOT Uno or Due, I believe), you can phone ahead with your pizza order and they'll have it ready for you at the time you specify, thereby avoiding the need to wait 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake.

              And I'll second the recommendation for Portillo's on Ontario for Italian beef and Chicago-style hot dogs. It's about four blocks west of the hotel.

              1. Sable is a great suggestion. I like Lou M.'s for pizza. Portillos Italian beef is solid if you are looking for "Chicago" food. Bar Toma is also fits your criteria. Spiaggia Cafe is another option but may be our of the price range. Bistonomic would be another option.