A Couple of Questions for this Weekend
We are in town for a few days and have most of our dining plans set. We ate at Xoco this morning which was great and would be pleased eating here at least a couple times more for breakfast/brunch. Is it worth throwing Bongo Room, or another suggestion, into the mix. Just to note, we are going to Frontera tonight. Second, we are in from NC and are big Tarheel fans so we are looking for suggestions on a good place to watch the games with above average food and a good beer selection. Lastly, we have been here before and tried Pizzeria Due, which was good, but wondering if we should do Lou Malnati's or give Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder a shot for something unique? Thanks in advance for all comments and suggestions.
I agree with the prior poster regarding pizza. Malnati's is delicious, but very similar to Due, Pequod's and Pizano's are pretty similar in style, too. But Giordano's is it's own Chicago classic--it's stuffed, meaning it has a top and bottom crust, so it's definitely unique! And it's a real Chicago institution--I've been eating Giordano's since I was a little kid!
>> We ate at Xoco this morning which was great and would be pleased eating here at least a couple times more for breakfast/brunch. Is it worth throwing Bongo Room, or another suggestion, into the mix.
I would definitely go elsewhere, to enjoy more of our vibrant breakfast/brunch-focused restaurants. However, be aware that most of them are some distance from downtown, and don't accept reservations, so waits to be seated are lengthy on weekends. Jam is unique IMHO for creativity; its chef-owner, Jeffery Mauro, previously worked at places like Charlie Trotter's, and it shows. Bongo Room is a great choice for those who enjoy sweeter dishes for breakfast-brunch, since they specialize in creative pancakes (e.g. pretzel pancakes with white chocolate caramel sauce). M. Henry and M. Henrietta are also among our best, and M. Henrietta is right next to the Granville el stop. If you want to stick to something within walking distance of the Mag Mile hotel district, consider Meli Café on North Wells, or the Original Pancake House on East Bellevue.
If you want to avoid the long waits to be seated (which are worst on Sundays), consider making a reservation at one of the places that accept them; my favorites among those are North Pond, for upscale contemporary American cuisine as well as its lovely setting in the park, and Shaw's Crab House for its sumptuous seafood-focused AYCE buffet; some of the best items there, like their thick-cut bacon and crème brulee, are equally superb even though they have nothing to do with seafood! Others that are also excellent and worth considering include Sable in River North, Perennial Virant in Lincoln Park, and Nightwood in Pilsen. Shaw's and Sable are downtown near the south end of the Mag Mile; North Pond and Perennial Virant are 2-3 miles north of there; and Nightwood is 3-4 miles south of there.
I've posted detailed reports on dozens of brunches around town in the discussion at www.chow.com/topics/364403
>> we have been here before and tried Pizzeria Due, which was good, but wondering if we should do Lou Malnati's or give Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder a shot for something unique?
Lou Malnati's is excellent but it is very similar in style to Due - not surprisingly, as there is a family connection. If you would like to try another popular style of thick-crust pizza that's unique to Chicago, I recommend trying the double-crust "stuffed pizza" at Giordano's or Bacino's. I think it's excellent, and as delicious in its own way as Malnati's. I would not recommend CP&OG or their "pizza pot pies", which IMHO is just a gimmick and does not impress. I am also not fond of Pequod's, which is similar to Due/Malnati's except for the charred crust, which I'm not fond of.
I think it is well worth trying out a different spot for breakfast/brunch one day; this in an area where Chicago really shines and has some wonderful options. If you want a more breakfast food oriented meal Bongo Room is great, but my favorite venue would be Jam (M Henry is another great choice). If you want more of a lunch oriented brunch then North Pond and Senza (both only open Sundays for brunch) are my favorites. Some of my other favorite brunch venues would be Little Goat, Publican, Sola, and Nellcote.