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Jun 26, 2013 11:35 AM

Staying at the Hilton without a car - where to eat?

I will be traveling to Chicago with my daughter to tour UChicago, staying at the Hilton. We're only there for two nights, no car - any recommendations for restaurants close to the hotel? Nothing fancy - that's a different trip. And anything not to miss in our one free afternoon?

Thanks in advance!

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      1. re: debershell

        Mercat a la Planxa, a tapas restaurant, is right across the street in the Blackstone hotel. It.s very good and not "fancy" in that you'll be fine in jeans.

        You can also walk South on Wabash (the street just West of your hotel) and you'll hit a few spots worth visiting. Gioco is a really good Italian spot (about 4-5 blocks down). The Scout has good bar food (and now that the nightmare of Hawks fandom is dying down you may even be able to carry on a conversation in there).

        Heading North from the hotel you'll hit The Gage, a gastropub which has really good food.

        And if you want Chicago-style pizza, Lou Malnati's is also close by.

        As far as the free afternoon goes, sort of depends on the weather, but given your proximity to the Art Institute, if you've never been then you have to go.

        1. re: ferret

          Those are excellent suggestions.

          >> Lou Malnati's is also close by.

          Their nearby location is at 8th and State.

          >> And anything not to miss in our one free afternoon?

          If you mean food, then Lou Malnati's deep-dish pizza qualifies. If you mean non-food activities, places within a few blocks walk of your hotel include the Art Institute (our famous art museum) and Millennium Park just to the north; just to the south, the "museum campus" includes the Field Museum of Natural History, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium.

    1. Note that, even without a car, there are literally 100s, if not 1000s, of restaurants within "walking distance" of the Hilton, if you include walking the 3 blocks to the Red Line station of the EL (at Harrison & State), taking the El north to Grand Ave. or Chicago Ave., and then walking a few blocks from there. So, if Ferrett's suggestions don't appeal to you (and they are fine suggestions), you should not feel limited to the few blocks near your hotel.

      6 Replies
      1. re: masha

        My suggestions were merely the prominent tip of a very large iceberg. And I was just assuming that you'd be tired by the end of the day and appreciate a quick trip to and from dinner.

        1. re: ferret

          Those are great suggestions, thank you! And your assumption was correct - we will be flying in from the west coast on Sunday evening, heading out to the school first thing in the morning and going all day, so between a long day and the time difference, close and easy is exactly what we'll want. And adding to my requests, if you were going to explore and maybe grab some lunch near UChicago, where would you go?

          1. re: debershell

            I assume you're referring to the main campus in Hyde Park.

            Incidentally, it's a quick and pleasant ride there from the Hilton Chicago via the Metra commuter rail trains - see and look for the Metra Electric District. The Hilton is midway between the Van Buren station a few blocks to the north, and the Museum Campus / 11th Street station a few blocks to the south. Depending on where you're going at the U of C, you will want either the 55th/56th/57th St station or the 59th St station.

            If you're departing from the Museum Campus / 11th St station, you can get breakfast near there at the Bongo Room at Wabash and Roosevelt (12th), one of our more unusual breakfast-specialty restaurants. They specialize in pancakes with unusual sauces, such as pretzel pancakes with white chocolate caramel sauce. Note, their standard portion size consists of three ENORMOUS pancakes, but you can also order one-third and two-thirds portion sizes at reduced prices, which allows you to try more than one dish.

            Hyde Park doesn't get a lot of discussion here at Chowhound, which is unfortunate. Two of the more comprehensive discussions are these:

            What's Good To Eat Near The Museum of Science & Industry -
            Near the University of Chicago -

            1. re: nsxtasy

              Yes, that's where we're headed - those links are hugely helpful, thank you! And my daughter would like to explore around the campus, since if she is accepted, that's where she'll be.

              1. re: debershell

                I've edited my post above to add a few more notes... :)

                1. re: debershell

                  The most popular real restaurant around campus for decades has been the Medici, on 57th. Nothing amazing, but kids considered it special enough while still being able to afford it on a semi-regular basis. The Medici Bakery a couple doors down is pretty well-known in the neighborhood (they had t-shirts say "Obama eats here").

                  Next door to the Medici on the corner is Noodles etc. It won't impress anyone who is into ramen, pho or other Asian noodles, but it still gets a lot of student traffic.

                  Clarke's diner (popular 24 hour spot) and Five Guys Burgers both have opened branches on 53rd street. I haven't been to either, but I understand that students go a lot, even though the service and management at the Clarke's is below even late-night/after drinks standards.

                  In terms of other chains, there's a Giordano's on 53rd and an Edwardo's on 57th for deep dish pizza. There's also a location for Harold's Fried Chicken Shack on 53rd, which probably isn't anything to try during a parent visit, but your daughter will come to regard as comfort food if she attends UChicago.

                  La Petite Folie was the fancyish French place where faculty and high ranking University administrators took guests. My one experience left me thinking that if you're going for a reasonably expensive meal, there are a lot of better options elsewhere in Chicago.

                  Finally, for later this year, you should know that the highly regarded team behind the Longman & Eagle team is opening The Promontory and Matthias Merges, former Charlie Trotter's CDC, is opening a second Yusho and European Bistro/cocktail place. All three will on 53rd, where the University is putting up a lot of redevelopment money.