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First trip to Chicago

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SteveGuid May 19, 2013 09:12 AM

Bringing wife and Kid on business for first time in Chicago.

Staying at Swiss Hotel. Will not have rental car. OK with public transportation or cabs.

Looking for cool Chicago experiences. No idea how far places are.

Hotdog ? Hot Doug's maybe? Italian beef? Johnny's? or Als? Pizza? Lou Malnati's? Pequod's? We have a UNO in Fort Worth. (I'm a big fan of sausage pizza. Where do I need to go?

We already have Cubs tickets (day game). My wife loves to tour old homes. Any suggestions. Any cool tours to take? Up for anything quintessential Chicago

Just looking for some good advice for a fun 4 days.

thank you in advance!

  1. s
    SteveGuid Jun 7, 2013 07:31 AM

    *Update & Questions*

    On our 3rd of 5 day trip. Had a great time so far.

    What we have eaten: Deep dish pizza at Pizano's. Fantastic, the crust was nice and crispy and the play between the sauce and cheese was perfectly simplistic. Sausage was pretty good too. Chicago Hot Dog at Downtown dog. Vienna beef had great flavor, bun was nicely steamed, good toppings. Guessing there is not much difference in the best of these since they all use the same dog, huh? (I know get ready to hear otherwise). Went to Portillos for Italian beef. Outstanding. Had mine with both kinds of peppers and dipped. Loved it. Probably my wife and kids favorite so far in town. Over 2 hour wait at Frontera. Wife and kid wanted no part of that so when went next door to their "little sister" street food place ( Xoco?). I thought it was great and the service at this little joint was wonderful to say the least. Everything I got was fantastic and the Mexican hot chocolate was perfect for this weather! (we didn't pack for this cold spell ; ( .

    Thanks to all for their suggestions. Y'all haven't steered me wrong yet.

    We are on our way to Bongo Room for breakfast. Taking red line towards Wrigley. What stop do we get off at? After breakfast heading over to Wrigleyville to have out before the game. Is there a great deli that we can pick up some sandwiches and bring into game with us? Is there any thing we need to do or see while hanging out before first pitch?

    Thanks in advance. You guys have been great!

    1 Reply
    1. re: SteveGuid
      nsxtasy Jun 7, 2013 07:34 AM

      >> We are on our way to Bongo Room for breakfast. Taking red line towards Wrigley. What stop do we get off at?

      Addison.

      >> After breakfast heading over to Wrigleyville to have out before the game. Is there a great deli that we can pick up some sandwiches and bring into game with us?

      Not that I know of; maybe others do. There are some decent places inside the park; for suggestions see http://chicago.eater.com/archives/201...

      >> Is there any thing we need to do or see while hanging out before first pitch?

      Nothing you need to do or see, but it can be fun to relax, watch batting practice, etc.

    2. d
      delk May 21, 2013 09:15 PM

      Try Murphy's for hot dogs near Wrigley. http://www.yelp.com/biz/murphys-red-h...

      1. s
        SteveGuid May 21, 2013 05:36 AM

        Sorry, I did mean the "Swissotel" not Swiss Hotel.

        How is that experience going to be? Thank you all for the great recommendations.

        Can't wait to visit your city.

        1 Reply
        1. re: SteveGuid
          h
          HoosierFoodie May 21, 2013 08:49 AM

          Its been a while but the Swissotel is fine.

          I'd hit Malnati's for pizza. Uno/Duo after that. I personally avoid the Giordano's on Rush. Its not deep dish or "Chicago" but we had a fantastic pizza at Bar Toma a couple of months ago.

          You can get a Chicago dog, sausage, or Italian beef at Protillo's. Also a very under-rated cheeseburger. Al's is great but as shorty mentioned Portillo's offers more.

        2. s
          sammyo May 20, 2013 12:00 PM

          Take the El to Oak Park and tour the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio as well as many Wright homes in the neighborhood.

          1. s
            shorty123 May 20, 2013 07:10 AM

            I think that Al's Italian Beef has better Italian beef than Portillo's. The benefit of Portillo's, though, is that you can have both an Italian beef sandwich and a Chicago style hotdog at one location. For deep dish sausage pizza, I vote for Lou Malnati's. (I go to Gino's East for the spinach pizza). You might want to stop by Navy Pier (http://www.navypier.com/).

            1. c
              CN5_sens May 19, 2013 05:22 PM

              One possibility for a tour of old homes is Oak Park, the home of Frank Lloyd Wright. There is a guided tour, just go to the home and studio at Chicago and Forest. If your wife likes old homes, Oak Park is the place to go. Take the green line to Harlem, then head north. It's a hike from your hotel, but it might be worth it. You could take a cab out to Johnnie's from there, it's the best beef in the city.

              I would recommend Hot Doug's if you enjoy encased meat. Just get there about 15 minutes before it opens, and the wait will be only 30 minutes or so. It's worth it.

              5 Replies
              1. re: CN5_sens
                k
                kathryn May 19, 2013 07:28 PM

                Re: Hot Doug's
                Great place for specialty sausage with creative toppings IF you can make it work into your schedule and don't mind the hassle getting there.

                ALWAYS check the web site before you go. They close for most major holidays. For example:

                "HOT DOUG'S WILL BE CLOSED FOR MEMORIAL DAY

                MONDAY, MAY 27 THROUGH
                THURSDAY, MAY 30

                We will re-open Friday, May 31
                Have a happy and safe holiday."

                Typical hours are Monday - Saturday, 10:30am - 4:00pm, cash only.

                1. re: CN5_sens
                  s
                  SteveGuid May 20, 2013 06:34 AM

                  Thank you so much! I will take her on that tour or the river architecture tour. I'm definitely into encased meats and really wanted to try the duck fat fries, not sure the rest of the family will be up for that one because of being out of the way and the long lines. They don't share all my passions. lol

                  Food at Wrigley good or should we stop in on the way and get something to bring in? Something great and close?

                  Thank you all for the tips!

                  1. re: SteveGuid
                    nsxtasy May 20, 2013 07:25 AM

                    >> Food at Wrigley good or should we stop in on the way and get something to bring in? Something great and close?

                    You can get Chicago-style hot dogs at Wrigleyville Dogs.

                    Like all ballparks, Wrigley has expanded its offerings, in the concourse stands and from roving vendors as well as at the several restaurants located there. OTOH they tend to be overpriced, and may not compare well to some other ballparks. For recommendations check out this article: http://chicago.eater.com/archives/201...

                    1. re: nsxtasy
                      s
                      SteveGuid May 21, 2013 05:42 AM

                      Thank you!

                      http://www.ballparkeguides.com/

                      I actually bought a stadium (Field) guide from these guys so I wouldn;t get obstructed view seats and get the low down on the ballpark.

                    2. re: SteveGuid
                      j
                      jbontario May 24, 2013 12:35 PM

                      A great alternative to Hot Doug's that is much easier to get to from your hotel would be Franks n Dawgs on Clybourn. Probably about a $12 cab ride and they are plentiful to get back in that area. It's become a bit of a shopping corridor. Would actually be great on the way to or from Wrigley.

                      I really like the Lamborgini and Breakfast dogs, but the Reuben Pulaski is damn good too. I personally like the fries better at Franks.

                  2. nsxtasy May 19, 2013 03:15 PM

                    >> Staying at Swiss Hotel.

                    I assume you mean the Swissotel, just south of the Chicago River, just north of Millennium Park.

                    >> Will not have rental car. OK with public transportation or cabs.

                    If you need to take the el (subway) anywhere, the nearest el stop is at State and Lake, where most of the el lines stop. Note that at that stop, the Red Line is underground, and the other el lines are elevated. (We call them all the el, even where they run underground!)

                    >> Looking for cool Chicago experiences. No idea how far places are.

                    We're happy to help, just ask!

                    >> Hotdog ? Hot Doug's maybe? Italian beef? Johnny's? or Als? Pizza? Lou Malnati's? Pequod's? We have a UNO in Fort Worth. (I'm a big fan of sausage pizza. Where do I need to go?

                    For Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef, go to Portillo's on Ontario. It's about a 10-15 minute walk northwest of your hotel. (I'm not a fan of Hot Doug's, due to the inconvenient location and the 90+ minute waits on line, but FYI it's about 7 miles northwest of your hotel and not near an el stop.)

                    There are numerous places serving excellent deep-dish pizza. When the original Uno and Due were purchased from Ike Sewell's widow, it was with the agreement that the pizza recipe at those two original locations would not change. That's why it's so much better here than any of the franchised locations. However, there are others. Both Lou Malnati's and Pizano's were both opened by sons of one of the principals in the early decades of Uno and Due and who grew up working there, so the similarity of their pizza to Uno and Due is not coincidence. Each has several locations downtown, and more elsewhere. The nearest locations to the Swissotel are Uno and Due in River North; only slightly further (still less than a mile from the hotel) are Lou Malnati's on Wells to the west, Pizano's on State to the north, and Pizano's on Madison to the south.

                    >> We already have Cubs tickets (day game).

                    Wrigley Field is about 4.5 miles north of your hotel. To get there, catch the CTA Red Line at State and Lake, and take it north to the Addison stop, right next to Wrigley.

                    Two of my favorite "neighborhood gems" are within a ten minute walk of the ballpark: Southport Grocery and Café for breakfast/brunch, and Deleece on Southport for lunch/brunch and dinner.

                    >> My wife loves to tour old homes. Any suggestions. Any cool tours to take?

                    I know the Chowhound Team frowns upon discussions that are not food-related, so I'll keep this answer brief. The Chicago Architecture Foundation has numerous tours that they give, as well as brochures for self-guided tours. As noted by weinstein, the boat tours are fun, and they leave from a dock that's two blocks from your hotel. You'll find more details at www.architecture.org

                    >> Up for anything quintessential Chicago

                    As for food that is quintessential Chicago, this discussion tells what foods and places are unique or specialties in Chicago, foods that Chicago is particularly good at:

                    first time Chicago - www.chow.com/topics/693477

                    Someone else posted that they will be in Chicago for 36 hours on a first visit to Chicago. You might want to check out what I posted there, at www.chow.com/topics/892329#7924778

                    Enjoy your trip, and feel free to ask more questions!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: nsxtasy
                      s
                      SteveGuid May 26, 2013 09:40 AM

                      Thank you so much. That's a lot of great info. Sooo. UNO, duo or Lou M's?

                      1. re: SteveGuid
                        nsxtasy May 26, 2013 11:01 AM

                        They're all great choices. Can't go wrong with any of them!

                        1. re: nsxtasy
                          s
                          SteveGuid May 26, 2013 11:12 AM

                          Thanks again. You guys have a great Chicago board here.

                          How far is the nearest Bongo Room from my hotel. Looks amazing!

                          1. re: SteveGuid
                            nsxtasy May 26, 2013 06:59 PM

                            Bongo Room is indeed amazing. Tip: Their standard portion size for pancakes is three ENORMOUS pancakes. You can also order one-third and two-thirds portion sizes at reduced prices, like if you want to try more than one menu item.

                            The Swissotel is on East Wacker, a block east of Michigan Avenue. A mile and a half south of there is Roosevelt Road (12th Street), and Bongo Room is at Roosevelt and Wabash, a block west of Michigan Avenue. So it's a little over 1.5 miles. If you don't want to walk, you can take the CTA Red Line subway from State and Lake to the Roosevelt stop, or you can take the #3 CTA bus which runs along that stretch of Michigan Avenue. Or you can take a cab.

                    2. weinstein5 May 19, 2013 10:54 AM

                      fThe chain Uno's are NOTHING like the original UNO's or its sister restaurant Due's with that said you can try Uno's where Chicago Deep Dish was born but Lo Malnati'sis a good choice as wel as Pizano;s -

                      I know this outside the scope of Chow Hound by For tours I would take a look at the Architecture Tours either rhe boat on the Chicago River or there is a walking tour put AIA chapter

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: weinstein5
                        s
                        SteveGuid May 19, 2013 11:08 AM

                        I'm sure it's nothing close to the original. Just looking for best options. Someone from Chicago told me to go to Gino's east. How is that? And who has the best Italian Beef and best hot dog? My 14yr old doesn't eat many things but he loves hot dogs and beef sandwiches and burgers, so I'm looking to find some good ones. Billy Goat Tavern worth checking out? Loved the SNL skits when I was a kid. thanks wasnt trying to insult the originator of deep dish. Love their sausage, actually

                        1. re: SteveGuid
                          s
                          SteveGuid May 19, 2013 01:28 PM

                          And I'm a BIG fan of pizza. This is my backyard pizza oven!

                           
                          1. re: SteveGuid
                            nsxtasy May 19, 2013 03:21 PM

                            >> Someone from Chicago told me to go to Gino's east. How is that?

                            Everyone has opinions about the best pizza. (Some people don't even like deep-dish - heresy!) I think it's better at Uno/Due, Malnati's, and Pizano's than at Gino's East, but Gino's East is good too. If the first three didn't exist, I would probably be raving about Gino's East! :)

                            >> And who has the best Italian Beef and best hot dog?

                            Lots of people argue over this, but one name that comes up again and again in such discussions and has excellent versions of both is Portillo's. Plus, they have a location within walking distance of your hotel.

                            >> My 14yr old doesn't eat many things but he loves hot dogs and beef sandwiches and burgers, so I'm looking to find some good ones.

                            Some places offering excellent burgers have opened in the past few years. I'm partial to Edzo's, which has a location in Lincoln Park (three miles north of your hotel, and walkable from the Fullerton stop on the CTA Red Line). Oh, and their milk shakes are awesome too!

                            >> Billy Goat Tavern worth checking out? Loved the SNL skits when I was a kid.

                            It's worth checking out if you want to see where the SNL skits came from. But not so much for the food, which is nothing special IMHO.

                            1. re: SteveGuid
                              chicgail May 20, 2013 06:48 AM

                              Gino's East would be my last choice for good Chicago deep dish pizza. It was wonderful a long time ago but hasn't been very good for a while. Unos or Dues, Lou Malnotis or Pizzaros is your best bet for real Chicago deep dish pizza. And yes, the chain Unos isn't even in the same ballpark as the original here. The recipe is totally different and very disappointing.

                              You probably would enjoy Portillos for Chicago style hot dogs (no catsup please). Portillos also has very good Italian Beef sandwiches. Get them "wet" with sweet or hot peppers. Johnnie's is iconic, but no need to trapse out to Melrose Park, especially if you don't have a car.

                              Hot Dougs is also wonderful, but it isn't worth the trip or the wait there just for a hot dog. Their exotic "encased meats" are the only reason to go. But, again, without a car it's a little hard to get to.

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