Please critique our itinerary: leaving for Chicago in two days!
A friend and I will be visiting Chicago for six days beginning July 4, and of course, much of our trip will revolve around food. We'll be staying in the Loop for the first three nights, then River North for the last two nights, and relying exclusively on public transportation—so we're not looking to venture too far, though we're certainly willing to travel for a good meal. We're 29 & 30 and just want to eat good food, whether it be high-end or hole-in-the-wall. After extensive research, our tentative itinerary is listed below. Any and all suggestions are welcome!
I really appreciated the format posted by TeacherFoodie at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9065... was extremely helpful in planning my own itinerary—so I'm posting in the same format. TeacherFoodie, if you're reading this: thank you!
Thursday, July 4:
- Arrive at O'Hare around 1 pm, take L to the Loop
- Check in at hotel in South Loop
• LATE LUNCH at Pizano's in the Loop
- Walk around the Loop, visit the Rookery if open
- Walk to Navy Pier, walk around
* We want to eat a light snack at/around Navy Pier, just to tide us over until we go over to The Purple Pig for a late dinner. Is there anywhere halfway decent in the area?
• LATE DINNER at The Purple Pig
Friday, July 5:
- Bus to the Museum Campus area
• BREAKFAST at The Bongo Room
- Spend the day at Adler, Shedd, and Field
• LUNCH at Kim & Carlo's Hot Dog Stand (so we won't need to leave Museum Campus—and we want to try a real Chicago dog anyway!
)- Bus back to the Loop, relax a while
- Bus to Logan Square (arrive around 5:30–6 pm)
• DINNER at Fat Rice
* We really want to eat at Fat Rice, but it is somewhat out of the way. Worth it? And if so, is there anything to do in the Logan Square area? We may want to walk around before or after our meal to check out another part of Chicago.
Saturday, July 6:
- Bus to Lincoln Park area
• BREAKFAST at Green City Market (our other option was Lincoln Park Farmers Market, but Green City seems to be better for prepared food and tourists like us—true?)
- Lincoln Park Zoo
• LUNCH at Slurping Turtle
- Walk around Millennium Park
- Visit Art Institute
• DINNER at Sable (have reservation)
Sunday, July 7
- Check into new hotel in River North area
• BRUNCH at GT Fish & Oyster (have reservation)
- Walk around Magnificent Mile
• LATE LUNCH at _____________
* Our Sunday is currently pretty open, so if there's a great place for lunch or a must-do activity that we should try, please let me know!
• LATE DINNER at Next (this is a definite!)
Monday, July 8
- Bus to Hyde Park area
- Museum of Science and Industry
• LUNCH at _____________ (is there a good lunch option located within walking distance to MSI and the Robie House?)
- Robie House tour
* We may walk around Hyde Park after the Robie House tour—recommended? What is there to see in the neighborhood?
- Bus to Girl and the Goat
• EARLY DINNER at Girl and the Goat (don't have reservations, so we'll show up at 4:30)
- Return to River North area and walk around, possibly relax at a coffee shop
- Drinks at the Signature Lounge at the 96th Floor
Tuesday, July 9
• BREAKFAST at _____________
- Museum of Surgical Sciences
• LUNCH at Frontera Grill
- Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise
- Walk around and shop for gifts
• EARLY DINNER AT _____________
- Take L to O'Hare at 6 pm (flight departs at 8:30)
And finally, some other places we're interested in trying that haven't yet been scheduled onto our official itinerary include:
- Hoosier Mama Pies
- Doughnut Vault or Do-Rite Donuts
- Batter & Berries
Please let me know if you have input on any of these places. And all comments on our itinerary—whether we should shuffle activities/meals around, forget about certain places, add in others—are greatly appreciated. Thanks so much! (And thanks for reading this LONG post.) We can't wait to visit your amazing city.
Sounds like a great itinerary so far!
As for your questions, and other comments...
>> Thursday, July 4:
>> * We want to eat a light snack at/around Navy Pier, just to tide us over until we go over to The Purple Pig for a late dinner. Is there anywhere halfway decent in the area?
>> • LATE DINNER at The Purple Pig
I haven't been all that thrilled with anything on the pier itself. Fox & Obel, our premier gourmet grocery store, is only a couple blocks from the pier, and it's the perfect place to get a snack - such as their sandwiches or salads or other prepared foods, and/or their baked goods like their yummy cinnamon swirl rolls.
Just another idea - it seems that the schedule for this day centers on the idea of going to the Purple Pig for a late dinner. Which is fine; the waiting times drop off when you dine past 10 pm. However, as another suggestion, on Sunday you're having brunch and then a late dinner, and you asked about a place for a late lunch, presumably early to mid afternoon. You might want to consider that time slot for your meal at Purple Pig; that time of day, they're not likely to be busy. And then you could do a dinner somewhere else on this holiday, perhaps one of the places I mention below for your Tuesday dinner. Just a thought.
>> Sunday, July 7
>> • LATE LUNCH at _____________
>> * Our Sunday is currently pretty open, so if there's a great place for lunch or a must-do activity that we should try, please let me know!
See above regarding the possibility of moving your Purple Pig meal to your late lunch on Sunday.
Another suggestion within walking distance of the Mag Mile is Café Iberico, for tapas.
>> Monday, July 8
>> • LUNCH at _____________ (is there a good lunch option located within walking distance to MSI and the Robie House?)
Hyde Park doesn't get a lot of discussion here at Chowhound, which is unfortunate. Two of the more comprehensive discussions are these:
>> * We may walk around Hyde Park after the Robie House tour—recommended? What is there to see in the neighborhood?
Yes, highly recommended. You can also walk around the University of Chicago campus.
Incidentally, I am not a fan of the Medici. It's a longtime university hangout, known primarily for its pizza, which is nothing special. It may be worth going to because it's convenient, but keep your expectations low. :)
>> Tuesday, July 9
>> • BREAKFAST at _____________
If you want to keep it within walking distance of your next stop at the Museum of Surgical Science, you could consider Perennial Virant. Otherwise, this would be a good time to go to Jam.
>> • EARLY DINNER AT _____________
>> - Take L to O'Hare at 6 pm (flight departs at 8:30)
There are several possibilities here. If you don't otherwise include tapas in your itinerary, you could have dinner at Mercat a la Planxa in the Loop. Or you could go to one of our great Italian places downtown (which include Vivere, Piccolo Sogno, Piccolo Sogno Due, tesori, and the Florentine). Another possibility is to eat at Lula Café on the way to the airport. It's a block from the Logan Square stop on the CTA Blue Line. It features contemporary American foods with an emphasis on local, natural ingredients.
>> - Jam
>> - Doughnut Vault or Do-Rite Donuts
Both have good donuts, although the lines at Doughnut Vault can be problematic. Also consider Firecakes in River North, and the many locations of Glazed & Infused.
Feel free to ask more questions, and enjoy your visit!
Thank you!! Your suggestions are so helpful. I think we just may follow your idea of having a late lunch at Purple Pig on Sunday. I also think that Fox & Obel sounds absolutely perfect for our Navy Pier day—I had seen mention of F&O in other places and wanted to check it out, but for some reason, I thought it was located outside of the downtown area. So happy to realize that it's close to Navy Pier. That's just the kind of dinner/snack we were hoping for that night (tasty, quick, grab & go).
For the lunch near MSI.. I am not sure if it is walking distance, but I have heard great things about Medici in Hyde Park.
Also make sure you try-out Garrett Popcorn downtown for the caramel-cheese popcorn mix. Or you can grab some at O'hare.
I am so glad you are visiting the Museum of Surgical Sciences--it is an absolute gem!
We will definitely get some Garrett Popcorn—sounds like a perfect piece of Chicago to bring back for co-workers. My office always appreciates something to eat.
And thank you for your confirmation on the Museum of Surgical Sciences. My friend stumbled across it online just last night, and we both thought it sounded neat and worthy of a visit. Now I'm even more excited about it!
Re Friday -- I'm assuming you meant 'Blue line' to Logan Square instead of a bus -- the L will be much, much faster.
I like Fat Rice a lot but I go early and on non-peak nights. The place is small and it gets crowded. But there's a good reason for that and if the cuisine sounds appealing, go for it. Just be prepared to wait.
Nearby are several other solid options, too. Yusho (Japanese-inspired street food/small plates; accepts reservations), Lula Cafe (contemporary American; accepts reservations) and Longman & Eagle all come to mind (gastropub, heavy on the meat and salt - great cocktails, too; no reservations). If you wanted any cocktails before or after dinner, The Whistler (no food) and Billy Sunday are both very good.
Re Monday -- I had more meals than I can remember at the Medici and 'great' doesn't come to mind. It's cheap and feels like any other comfortable, college-area hole-in-the-wall. Since school is out, it shouldn't be that crowded, too.
Also, I don't know if there's much to really look at in Hyde Park but the U of C campus itself is gorgeous.
Other -- Do-Rite is very good and unlike Doughnut Vault, they keep making doughnuts throughout the morning (ie. they're less likely to sell out early in the day). Personally, I'd rather have brunch at the Publican than GT Fish & Oyster -- but if you're already going to Next that evening, you may not want to spend so much time on Fulton Market in one day.
Well, we will certainly be sure take the L to Logan Square now. Thanks for the tip!
Do you think we'd have a long wait even if we got to Fat Rice around 5:45 on Friday? And would you recommend any particular dishes there? After looking at the menu, we were most interested in the linguica, po kok gai, and piri piri chicken, but I'd love some feedback from someone who's actually eaten there.
Is there anything interesting to do in the Fulton Market area? Since our Sunday is still mostly open, perhaps we should have lunch at the Publican, then stay in Fulton Market until our late dinner at Next...
>> Do you think we'd have a long wait even if we got to Fat Rice around 5:45 on Friday?
In my experience, most restaurants can give you a pretty accurate answer to questions like this if you phone them to ask.
>> Is there anything interesting to do in the Fulton Market area?
Not really. It's pretty much a restaurant row, with some wholesale food stores that are closed on Sundays. It's not like our other restaurant areas, which tend to be in trendy residential and shopping neighborhoods (e.g. Bucktown, Lincoln Square, etc).
I really like the namesake dish, Arroz Gordo, but that would probably be a good meal for 2 and you might be too full to try much else from the menu. The pickles section is usually a fun way to start the meal. I'm always a sucker for potstickers, too, and Fat Rice's do not disappoint. Fat Rice also has a decent waiting area with some small snacks and cocktails. If you get there by 5:45, I'm suspect you would be able to grab a table when the first few start turning over. But like nsxtasy said, I'd just give them a call and ask.
While there isn't much to see or do in the Fulton Market area, it's also a 10 minute L ride (via the new Morgan stop) back to the Loop.
Went to Fat Rice today--got there at 5:50 and ended up getting seated right when they opened! Great start to a great meal. Will do a full report after the trip (when I can type on a real computer and not just my phone), but we loved Fat Rice. So glad we went--would definitely return. Thanks for the tips.
Hyde Park has a Giordano's pizza plus the Woodlawn Pub which has been around forever. Countless U of C students met there and got married! I'd go for a drink, but they do have okay burgers.
Keep in mind that Navy Pier is going to be crazy packed and I would bet that the waits at Purple Pig that night will be long, even at a late time. You may want to switch like nsxtasy suggested.
>> Keep in mind that Navy Pier is going to be crazy packed and I would bet that the waits at Purple Pig that night will be long, even at a late time.
Good point! I didn't even think of that, but with hundreds of thousands of people just a few blocks away, all watching the fireworks, I bet you're right!
Yes, good point, and thank you! I think we've decided that we'll go to Purple Pig another day—most likely for a late lunch on Sunday as nsxtasy suggested, or if we decide to do Publican/Next in the same day, perhaps an early dinner on Tuesday before we leave for the airport. Although I do want to try Lula Cafe as well. Chicago has too many delicious restaurants, I tell you. Not a bad problem to have...