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Mar 15, 2013 08:05 AM

Leaving Chicago: Help me create my Restaurant Bucket List!

I just found out that I am most likely moving away from Chicago this summer. I am suddenly faced with the feeling that I need to hit all of the great restaurant spots that I haven't made it to yet in my five years here!

I'm looking for can't-find-anywhere-else spots, nothing too expensive (grad student budgets!)- where would you go if you only had 3 months longer to live (in Chicago)?

Here's the start of my list:
Hot Doug's
Cafe Lula
Piccolo Sogno
Au Checal
GT Fish and Oyster
Calumet Fisheries

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  1. >> where would you go if you only had 3 months longer to live (in Chicago)?

    Purple Pig
    Mundial Cocina Mestiza
    Lou Malnati's
    Walker Brothers
    M. Henry
    Bongo Room
    Southport Grocery
    Garrett's Popcorn

    And I'd hit all my favorite pastry shops and bakeries:

    Vanille Patisserie
    Toni Patisserie
    Swedish Bakery
    Alliance Bakery
    Three Tarts Bakery
    Gourmet Frog
    Fox & Obel

    2 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Thanks nsxtasy- You've inspired me to go to Anteprima tonight! I'm also going to add Jam to my list. Alinea is not in my cards (or my budget) but I'll put it on the one day when I'm rich list.

      1. re: lemonseleven

        Ironically, I also inspired myself to go to Anteprima today, for their Sunday lunch deal. And it may be the best "great food for the money" deal in all of Chicagoland!

        I'd been to Anteprima before, so I was already familiar with the quality of the food (outstanding, as good as any Italian restaurant in Chicago), the cozy neighborhood atmosphere, and the prices. Now, as great as the food is - truly great - I want to mention those prices. They have an a la carte menu, on which the prices are reasonable (as you can see on their website). For dinner Sundays through Thursdays, they have the prix fixe deal which pamiam mentions below - any three courses for a ridiculously low $29. Well, one of the options for their Sunday lunch is a prix fixe with any three courses for $19. I saw that and I thought, okay, there's got to be some kind of catch. Nope, no catch at all, except that the menu has somewhat (only somewhat) fewer choices than the regular dinner menu, and it's only between noon and 3 pm. You want to get a pasta dish ($12 a la carte), an entrée ($13), and a dessert ($7)? No problem - $19. For amazingly delicious food, in ample portion sizes.

        When I go out to eat, I enjoy trying places I've never eaten before. But Anteprima is so good, I enjoy going back there, over and over again. If you haven't been there, you're missing something special!

    2. Naha - anything
      Lao Sze Chuan - anything
      Girl & the Goat
      Burger at Owen & Engine
      Meatball at Socca or Bavette's
      Italian sub at Bari or JP Graziano
      Ahogada at Xoco
      Old fashioned cocktail at Urban Union
      Escolar Pearls at Kai Zan
      Dumplings at Katy's Dumplings

      1. On the cheaper side of either insanely delish, or "only in the Chi:"

        Las Asadas for fire grilled, real skirt steak tacos

        La Chaparrita for their house made longaniza tacos, and an alfalfa aguas fresca.

        Al's on Taylor. And ONLY the one on Taylor. Beef and well done fries.

        Nick And Vitos (or Vito and Nick's) for thin crust

        Lou's for a deep dish.

        Great Lake for pizza as well.

        My personal favorite sub is Alpine on North Avenue in Elmwood park - bonus, it's very close to Johnnie's for a combo (not just a beef - imo, their beef is nothing special, but when you add one of those charcoal grilled snausages, that when it becomes a delight.)

        Uncle John's for a tip link combo. You're not gonna find much Chicago Style bbq anywhere else.

        I'd also be thinking about how to get a few games in at The Cell to see the "Good Guys."

        1. My original reply got eaten...grrr. I think I recreated most of it below.

          As someone who has moved out of Chicago, and is on a grad student budget, every time I come back to visit my mom, these are the places I think about hitting up:

          Birrieria Zaragoza (if you haven't, you MUST go)
          Ethiopian Diamond
          Sun Wah BBQ (duck!)
          Xoco (ahogada)
          Anteprima ($29 prix fixe)
          M. Henry (breakfast bread pudding)
          Giordano's/Lou Malnati's
          Violet Hour
          Hopleaf (mussels & beer)
          Vito & Nick's or Marie's for thin crust (depending on if I fly into Midway or O'Hare....)