Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Chicago Area >
Dec 26, 2012 11:42 AM

ny to chicago review and recommendation

I'm on a last-min trip from NY to Chicago and is going to stay here for only 4 days.
also this is mt first time in chicago, so i probably will need some place that i can walk-in for solo dining(can do extremely early or late dinner to avoid the long waiting)

I did some quick research, here is my list:

breakfast/brunch : m Henry/m Henrietta, Jam,
Batter and berries, lb bistro
(was in bongo room but not really impressed with the food)

(for the reference, Lupa in nyc is somewhere I've been to often, the food is decent while the atmosphere is casual and warm, I love fine dining for the food but I'd prefer to keep it around 2 time.s during this trip.

please help to review my list and I really appreciate any suggestion! Thank you!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You've only named your breakfast/brunch dining places. The list is pretty good. If you don't get to do all four, I'd choose the first two over the second two, assuming geographical proximity doesn't matter.

    As for dinner places, you don't say where you're staying, you don't mention what kind of places you like, and you don't mention any other factors (other than solo dining, which you can do comfortably *anywhere*), so there's not much we can do to recommend places that might appeal TO YOU. (Maybe you meant to list places you're considering for dinner, but accidentally left them out?)

    Which days, exactly, will you be here? (Are you already here?) And where will you be staying and/or spending time?

    1. hi, tks for the reply! sorry I'm not familiar with posting with mobile device, my dining list has been somehow accidently deleted...

      I am already in Chicago and will be going back to NY this sunday. I live close by the Harrison station. travel a little for dining to where public transportation could access is no problem for me, I'll probably spend more time in art district and where the major architectures are located.

      the dining places in my mind:
      sixteen, purple pigs, publican/blackbird, yusho (are they all walk-in possible? )
      besides, is there any good Italian restaurant that you'd suggest??

      thanks for the help again!

      3 Replies
      1. re: smarlie

        I would not walk in to Sixteen, or any other high-end restaurant. Dining solo at a high-end place is fine, but I strongly recommend making a reservation in advance (even if it's earlier the same day). At the high end, Sixteen isn't yet where they aspire to be. Instead, I recommend TRU, Everest, and Acadia, all of which are fantastic right now. Acadia is new (one year old now) and getting raves all around - I ate there a few weeks ago and loved it - while TRU and Everest have been among our best for years. Everest and Acadia are both pretty close to (10-15 minute walk from) the Harrison station on the CTA Red Line. TRU is in River North.

        For Italian, right now Piccolo Sogno Due and the original Piccolo Sogno are IMHO the best mid-priced Italian in Chicago. PSD is just across the river from the Loop; you could take a bus up Dearborn, or the Red Line to State/Lake or Grand/State. If you want to stay closer to the Harrison Red Line station, Gioco and Vivere are both much closer (one stop south and one stop north, respectively, or a 10-12 minute walk).

        I think you will be missing something special if you don't try our delicious deep-dish pizza and one of our contemporary Mexican restaurants while you're here. For deep-dish, Lou Malnati's at 8th and State is only a couple of blocks from the Harrison Red Line. For Mexican, you could go to Frontera Grill or Topolobampo, both from Rick Bayless. If you can't get a reservation, arrive 15-30 minutes before they open the doors. If you are seated at the bar, you can order off either menu, Frontera's or Topolobampo's. Take the Red Line to Grand/State. Other excellent Mexican places include Mundial Cocina Mestiza (at the 18th Street station on the CTA Pink Line), Mixteco Grill (near the Montrose station on the Brown Line), and Mexique.

        I also recommend our "small plates" places, especially the ones that accept reservations; they're always fun as a solo because you can order as much or as little as you feel like, keep a menu and if you want, order more. Mercat a la Planxa has great tapas, right near the Harrison Red Line. Sable (contemporary American small plates, my favorite restaurant downtown), GT Fish & Oyster (seafood small plates), and Quartino (Italian small plates) are all in River North, near the Grand/State stop. All of these are on Opentable. (Note, I've found some places that accept reservations for solo dining over the phone but only accept Opentable reservations for parties of 2 or more, due to the fees they have to pay Opentable.)

        The Purple Pig doesn't take reservations, and you would need to dine lunchtime or mid-afternoon to avoid horrendous waits (although this week being a holiday week, who knows). You'd probably be better off with Publican, which is similar but accepts reservations and doesn't have the horrendous waits. Do Purple Pig at lunchtime or mid-afternoon instead. Girl & the Goat is another place I would not walk in, because the waits at any reasonable time will be horrible (although if you can arrive when they open at 4:30 - thanks kathryn - that should work). Blackbird is a bit fancier and I would not go without a reservation; it's also a good value for lunchtime.

        1. re: smarlie

          Yusho takes walk ins but they also take reservations on their site. I'd make one ASAP, maybe for Sat night when other places will be slammed. Great cocktails there, too.

          For GATG, love the place but they open at 4:30pm not 5pm, actually. You could try to snag a bar seat as soon as they open or later on, at like 10-10:30pm. Also the lounge area also serves the full menu, in addition to the bar seats. I'd do GATG tonight or tomorrow night, I wouldn't want to try on a Friday or Saturday. Don't miss the grilled broccoli, the Shishito peppers, the wood fired pig face, the sugo...

          I'd also consider Publican or Big Jones for brunch. Both take brunch reservations. There is not a lot like Big Jones in NYC. Publican Quality Meats is also a good way to get your Publican fix during lunch. Don't miss their charcuterie.

          Or Frontera for lunch Thurs, Fri, or Sat (closed Sundays). If you do the bar at Frontera, you can try both the Frontera or Topolobampo menus. I would say that a Bayless restuarant is not really comparable to what you find in NYC, and a good choice for your trip.

          While I like the food at GT Fish & Oyster and Sable, they're not really musts for a NYer. I don't think Mercat would be either.

          1. re: kathryn

            >> Or Frontera for lunch Thurs, Fri, or Sat (closed Sundays).

            The same advice above applies for lunch as for dinner - arrive 15-30 minutes before they open the doors to avoid waits of 90+ minutes to be seated. Such lengthy waits are equally true of their Saturday brunch. (Although again, this being a holiday week, you may luck out on the waits, I don't know.)

            >> I don't think Mercat would be either.

            While New York has tapas restaurants, none of theirs is only two blocks from where you're staying near Harrison and State. :) So if you feel like keeping it close to the hotel one night rather than traveling, Mercat a la Planxa is an excellent option. As is Lou Malnati's for deep-dish, also only two blocks away.

        2. As nxstasy stated, there are a few gaps within your query, but Publican, Girl and the Goat and Sable might satisfy your needs.

          I'm from NY, and I find Chicago to be an amazing food city. It would take you only a few minutes to check out nxstasy's (and other Hounds') eminently valuable posts. Time well spent.

          1. I notice that your choices are geographically very scattered so I am assuming that you have a car. If that assumption isn't accurate, you might want to say where you are staying because Chicago covers a lot more real estate than Manhattan and public trans can take a lot of time.

            You also didn't say if you were going to be here on a weekend or weekday. It matters. Some places have very long waits on weekends; others don't offer breakfast/brunches except on weekends.

            If you didn't like Bongo Room, you won't care much for Batter and Berries. Both emphasize and specialize in very sweet breakfasts. You'll enjoy Jam and the Henrys much more I think.

            Kathyrn's recommendations, as usual, are very good. I'm not a big fan of the food at Sable. It's more very creative bar food, but because of that is pretty good for a single diner.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chicgail

              I thought the OP answered these questions in his/her reply above:

              >> you might want to say where you are staying

              Near the Harrison stop on the CTA Red Line.

              >> You also didn't say if you were going to be here on a weekend or weekday.

              Already here as of yesterday, leaving Sunday.


              >> If you didn't like Bongo Room, you won't care much for Batter and Berries. Both emphasize and specialize in very sweet breakfasts.

              That's simply not true about Batter & Berries, despite the name. (And even Bongo Room has savory dishes, but they're not all that unusual or impressive, the way their pancake dishes are.) As I posted in my review of Batter & Berries at , I really enjoyed the lunch-oriented items I tried - a very good sandwich and truly outstanding soup - every bit as much as the French toast. I agree with you that M. Henry/Henrietta and Jam are excellent and would be my top two picks, but Batter & Berries is also very good and is NOT just for those who love sweet dishes.

            2. sorry for the late reply, I tried to post my long feedback two times but they disappeared when I clicked the button Reply :(

              First of all, thank you all for so many valuable advices, they were all tremendously helpful, especially nsxtasy and kathryn's lengthy and detailed replies.

              below are my experiences and personal opinions about the restaurant that I went to: (most of them are very positive)

              as kathryn suggested I tried to hit GATG first, the first night I tried to be there at 10 pm, but the area around Morgan station was extremely quiet, I'm not sure about the safety in the neighborhood especially when I probably need to stop regularly to check the map, so I decided to play safe and returned the other night at 7:30pm, luckily it took me less than 20 mins to get a bar seat. The waitress are very considerate to make almost everything in half for me, so that I think I tried everything kathryn suggested (and more) . Everything is good, I enjoy the food and the atmosphere very much. But next time I'll skip the dessert, at least the pumpkin ice cream, it's very strong and unbalanced in flavor of the combination of the ingredients. (please forgive my english / inaccurate description)

              It took me longer to get a bar seat in Purple Pig at dinner time(maybe around half an hour). The waitress/bartender is SUPER friendly who made the dining experiences very enjoyable (those who are at the doors are not nice though). I tried bone marrow, pig ear, pig shoulder and a couple of non-pork appetizer, generally speaking I like their pork dishes, but it can be a little too heavy to eat alone instead of sharing between several people.

              Acadia is very very good. (sorry I don't really know what to say when it comes to fine dining except very good as always...)

              I made the reservation at Blackbird for their lunch prix fixe menu. food is good. cocktail is amazing. service is sort of polite but cold (sort of because the sommelier basically didn't look at me at all when I said no to the wine, it was very bad.) I'll stay with ice cream instead of cheese cake next time, the pastry is a little starchy to my taste when the ice cream is smooth and delicate.

              Both my friend and I feel Publican somewhat disappointing. nothing really stands out, oysters are alright, seafood and pork dishes are forgetful, the salad we ordered is bad. the portions are tiny(if the food falls on the delicate side then that's fine, but we don't find them very delicate)
              We went to Gilt Bar afterwards, the food there are more acceptable.

              the food in M Henrietta is not bad, it'd be a good choice if I lived closing by, but considering the distance to downtown, I don't really think it's quite worth the trip back and forth.

              I tried the deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati which is very different from the ny style. :P I really really want to try some mexican restanrant because I know we don't quite have a good one in nyc, but didn't really have time to... the brunch at Big Jones and Jam are two other places I'd like to hit but couldn't make it. I guess that gives me the reason to come back again :)

              Overall my dining experiences in Chicago were very pleasant, thank you all very much again for you help!!!