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Apr 29, 2013 11:12 PM

8 nites with wife in Chicago may 22-30

We lived in LA for 30 years and 6 years in Vegas so we know our way around good foo.
We have both been to Chicago a number of times on business but never for pleasure. We are reserved so far at David Burke Prime, Topolobampo and Girl & Goat. Now I need help as we are open for suggestions and we dont mind going to other neighborhoods from downtown where we are staying.

. We arent snobs and will try a lot of things but not sure if I really need a prix fixe dinner that will cost $400 before sitting down and having wine.

We are also open for lunch options as well. Will be at Wrigley on the 29th .
Thanks everyone

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  1. Great places with long waits (go outside peak hours)
    Purple Pig
    Fat Rice
    Hot Dougs

    Great places without such large mobs

    Chicago classics
    An Italian beef at Al's on Taylor followed by an Italian lemonade across the street at Mario's
    Deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati's
    Corned beef sandwiches at Manny's
    Omelets at Lou Mitchell's

    I think you'll enjoy the three places you've already selected.

    6 Replies
    1. re: camusman

      Hot Doug's is only open Monday - Saturday, 10:30am - 4:00pm, cash only, and usually closed for a few days around major holidays. Memorial Day is May 27th this year, so it's possible they'll be closed most of the days OP is in Chicago.

      Yusho, Sepia, and Naha all take reservations. Yusho takes them on their web site. Sepia and Naha are both on OpenTable.

      Yusho can get a bit of a crowd -- so I'd definitely have a reservation.

      1. re: camusman

        Although another poster calls Lou Mitchell's a waste of time, in his usual courteous way, the place has great Chicago atmosphere, as does Manny's.

        1. re: camusman

          The simple fact is, most people come to Chowhound looking for great food, not for atmosphere. If someone actually says that they are seeking places that have been around for many years, Mitchell's would be an appropriate answer. Otherwise, it's all about the food. And the food (and atmosphere) at Lou Mitchell's are pretty darn unimpressive - not dreadful, but unimaginative and no different from what you can get in a diner-type place any big city or small town in America. In a short visit to a city full of unusual, terrific, and creative breakfast-focused restaurants, I would consider that a waste of time indeed.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            Atmosphere is great, but I live in Vegas where atmosphere trumps food much of the time. I don't want to feel that I need to be hosed off when I leave a restaurant, but I really am looking for something that is Chicagocentric that i can't get elsewhere

            1. re: jeff j

              >> I really am looking for something that is Chicagocentric that i can't get elsewhere

              As mentioned above, Chicago has some unusually creative breakfast-focused restaurants. Even among those, Jam is unique. Think of what it would be like if a veteran of high-end haute cuisine opened a restaurant specializing in breakfast/brunch, combining his creativity with the casualness and low price points of other breakfast restaurants. That's what Jeff Mauro, a veteran of Charlie Trotter's and North Pond, has done by opening Jam.

              Which is not to take anything away from all our other truly creative breakfast places, including the other three I mentioned (M. Henrietta/M. Henry, Bongo Room, and Southport Grocery), all of which are also worth considering as part of your itinerary. There are other unusual breakfast places around town too, including Batter & Berries, Marmalade, Walker Brothers, and Over Easy, to name a few more.

        2. re: camusman

          <<An Italian beef at Al's on Taylor followed by an Italian lemonade across the street at Mario's >>

          -- Excellent idea and one of my favorite summer time traditions. I always get the Italian lemonade and eat it in the UIC campus. Easy cab from down-town, or off the Blue Line. If you are so inclined, it is not a bad walk (I walk it from the loop)

        3. Some of our best and most creative (and reasonably priced) restaurants are the ones that serve in a small plates format: Sable (contemporary American, also craft cocktails), GT Fish & Oyster (seafood, also craft cocktails), Province (contemporary global), Perennial Virant (contemporary American), and Mercat a la Planxa (tapas). All of these accept reservations. I would otherwise include Purple Pig, but their no-reservations policy creates horrendous waits (1+ hour at lunch, 2+ hours at dinner) unless you can go mid-afternoon or late at night.

          I would also recommend trying to work North Pond into your itinerary, if not for dinner, then perhaps for Sunday brunch. This is a special place unique to Chicago. They have excellent contemporary American cuisine from James Beard Award winner Chef Bruce Sherman. What makes it unique is its exquisite setting in the middle of the park, facing its namesake pond, with the city skyline looming over the opposite shore.

          Deep-dish pizza is a delicious local specialty. Lou Malnati's and Pizano's both have several locations in the downtown area.

          Other restaurants worth considering include our excellent Italian restaurants downtown (Piccolo Sogno, Piccolo Sogno Due, Vivere, the Florentine, tesori, Coco Pazzo, Café Spiaggia), Nightwood and Boka for contemporary American, La Sardine and Le Bouchon for French bistro fare, Han 202 for Chinese/French/BYOB, and Edzo's for terrific burgers and shakes.

          Most of the restaurants in the downtown area that are great for dinner are also great for lunch. Blackbird is a particularly good choice for lunch, thanks to their bargain prix fixe menu.

          If you'd like to get out into the neighborhoods (and suburbs), here are some of my favorites. (1) Deleece serves contemporary American cuisine, not bleeding edge but competent, delicious, and bargain-priced. This would also be a good choice for lunch or dinner before or after the game, since it's just a short walk from Wrigley. It's on Southport in Lakeview; the most direct way by public transit from downtown is via the #22 Clark bus, or you can walk past Wrigley from the Addison stop on the CTA Red Line. Reservations accepted and recommended. (2) Anteprima has delicious Italian cuisine. Sundays through Thursday they do a prix fixe, any three courses for $29 (app/pasta/entrée or app/entrée/dessert). Again, the most direct way by public transit from downtown is via the #22 Clark bus, or you can walk from the Berwyn stop on the CTA Red Line. Reservations accepted and recommended. (3) Found is a comfy small plates place in Evanston, a few blocks from the Davis stop on the CTA Purple Line. No reservations accepted, and get there early (around 5:00) to avoid long waits to be seated. (4) Michael is one of the very best restaurants in the Chicago area, serving contemporary American food with a French accent. It's in north suburban Winnetka, a block from the Indian Hill station on the Metra UP North line. Reservations accepted and recommended.

          Chicago has a huge selection of breakfast-focused restaurants, and the best are well away from downtown. Jam, near the Logan Square stop on the CTA Blue Line, has the creativity you'd find at the high-end temples of haute cuisine. M. Henrietta, at the Granville station on the CTA Red Line, has lots of great stuff. Bongo Room, at the 12th/Roosevelt/Wabash station on the CTA Red, Orange, and Green Lines has creative pancakes (e.g. pretzel pancakes with white chocolate caramel sauce). Southport Grocery, near the Southport station on the CTA Brown Line, has bread pudding pancakes and adult pop-tarts. (Don't waste your time with Lou Mitchell's, which serves very ordinary breakfast food, nothing you won't find at any diner back home.) Note, none of these breakfast places accept reservations; waits are typically 30-60 minutes on weekends between 9:30 and 1:00, are non-existent on weekdays.

          Website links for restaurants mentioned here:

 (CTA trains/buses)
 (Metra commuter rail)

          P.S. I bet you made those reservations a couple of months ago - good job! (Topolobampo and Girl & the Goat both fill up quickly when they open the book three months ahead.)

          5 Replies
          1. re: nsxtasy

            Girl & the Goat opens their books 6 months ahead over the phone, but only 3 months on OpenTable.

            1. re: nsxtasy

              Yes we made the reservations in early March.. we also had flexibility as we we had multiple days we could visit the restaurants

              1. re: nsxtasy

                A breakfast choice downtown is Wildberry, East Randolph just east of Michigan Avenue, crepes loaded with fresh berries. Then if you keep walking east you will come to a huge and varied market, Mariano's, which will be fun if you are a foodie. An offbeat breakfast option is Heaven on Seven, 111 N Wabash in the Loop, up in an office building, for such New Orleans choices as Shrimp Creole Omelet or Bananas Foster Pecan Pancakes.

                1. re: nsxtasy

                  These are all great suggestions - I concur - so to speak. I would also add 'Au Cheval' and Bavettes,, both downtown or close to it

                  And neighborhood gems, I would add Hopleaf, Taco Joint and the recently opened "Takito" the latter of which is in the bustling neighborhood area of Division street.

                  Definitely, try to walk some of the better Restaurant rows, such as Division Street (Wicker Park) and Radolph Street.

                2. I am always kind of sad when visitors stay just downtown because there is a whole city out there and it's full of food. If you want an adventure, take the Red Line subway (direction Howard) and get off at Loyola where you pick up the Devon 155 bus. Ask the driver to call Western Avenue (a ten-minute ride but not an interesting walk). Then walk in the same direction the bus was going. You will instantly be in Mumbai or Lahore---this is our Indian/Pakistani community with dozens and dozens of restaurants offering a lunch buffet for under $10. You can also browse the many shops selling ethnic sweets, videos, mangos, saris, wedding turbans and shoes with turned-up toes, lovely jewelry, religious artifacts, and gifts of all kinds. Don't miss Patel's, the largest of the supermarkets, where you should check out the spices, a great bargain. Many of the restaurants are good but my personal favorite is Viceroy of India. Enjoy our wonderful city. (BTW if you keep walking west you will leave India and find yourself in Russia.)

                  1 Reply
                  1. The original comment has been removed
                    1. Thanks!!!

                      My wife is gluten free and Indian/Nepalese food is always in the rotation.


                      1. re: jeff j

                        Now that you mention GF, I highly recommend Senza, for dinner (tasting menus), Sunday brunch (3-courses, with choices in each), or carryout bakery. While many restaurants offer GF options, or even separate menus, Senza is entirely GF. My GF acquaintances love it as a creative place where they can eat entirely worry-free and feel special, and gluten-eating folks don't seem to miss the wheat, etc when eating excellent food from a former Schwa sous chef. It is in the Lakeview neighborhood, at the edge of Lincoln Park, about a mile southeast (mostly south) of Wrigley Field.

                        2873 N. Broadway

                        Dinner: Tue-Sat, 5:30pm-10:30pm
                        Brunch Hours: Sun, 10:30am-2:30pm
                        Coffee/Bakery Hours: Tue-Fri, 9am-12noon

                        1. re: GourmetWednesday

                          Thanks Gourmet!!! we will be at Wrigley for a game and will certainly try it!!!