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Jul 23, 2013 10:42 PM

Some of Chicago's best restaurant

I know - kind of a lame topic - but I'm visiting Chicago in a couple of weeks and we have reso's at Alinea and Grace -

Others we're considering:

Goat and the girl
GT Fish
Schwa (if possible)

Leaning towards Goosefoot/Frontera and/or G&G - but are there any strong reco's, or anything that we shouldn't miss?

We haven't been to Chicago before and this will be our first visit.

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  1. You have a nice list there. Regarding Goosefoot, it is currently the hardest reservation to score in Chicago - far more difficult than Schwa and even Next, so that might take some effort. It is however outstanding.

    Other restaurants I really like that are not on your list would include Sixteen, Boka, The Lobby at the Peninsula, Senza, Moto, El Ideas and Elizabeth.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gonzo70

      I forgot to mention one of my other favorite venues, Embeya.

    2. > Leaning towards Goosefoot/Frontera and/or G&G - but are there any strong reco's, or anything that we shouldn't miss?

      You've chosen two of the most popular restaurants in Chicago where getting a reservation can be a pain if you don't plan months in advance.

      Frontera Grill takes a very limited number of reservations, most of its tables are for walk-in patrons, resulting in long waits. Typically they'll book 8-10 weeks ahead for dinner. Weekday lunch is easier (but not Saturday lunch). Also they are closed Sundays and Mondays. It's a very boisterious restaurant and quite popular -- I was there for Friday lunch last week, and every single table was taken both the dining room and the bar area, and people were actively hovering over / poaching bar stools at the bar. I had an OK meal there last week, not amazing. But I was able to get a reservation for weekday lunch a few weeks in advance -- call ASAP if you want to do.

      GATG opens its books 6 months ahead, and is likely to be fully booked for your dates. Dinner only. They are extremely popular and book months in advance. How long are you willing to wait? If you are OK with a bar seat, or a lounge table, then you can probably wait around until one becomes free. You can order food from the bartender at the bar, and the lounge tables have servers just like the regular tables. Those two areas are first come, first served. However, if you must have a normal table, I'd get there before 4:30pm, especially if you don't want to sit at a communal table. Some of the main dining room is reserved for walk ins. I've asked one of the managers there and they said before 5pm or after 10pm is best when walking in. The food is excellent and very reasonably priced for the quality, especially any wood fired items. I love the place, but it's not always the easiest/most convenient to get into.

      Pre or post GATG, make reservations for cocktails at the Aviary (also by Grant Achatz, only open Tues-Sat).

      I also really love The Purple Pig if you happen to be downtown near Magnificent Mile. No reservations, go for lunch or in between meals, to avoid 1-2 hour waits.

      Also in the West Loop near GATG are Publican & Publican Quality Meats. Publican is not too hard to grab a reservation for and is known for their raw bar, beer selection, charcuterie, seafood, and local produce dishes. The Publican has a fun European beer hall vibe. Publican Quality Meats is more of their deli/lunch/takeout spot. The Publican is also known for their brunch.

      I've also had excellent breakfast/brunch/lunches at Longman & Eagle, Jam, Southport Grocery, and Big Jones. nsxtasy's brunch posts are also very helpful, do a search.

      Au Cheval is also really fun, kind of an upscale, hipster diner. Amazing foie gras and scrambled eggs, as well as a great burger. There can be waits, though, even on a weekday for lunch, but the ones I heard quoted last Thursday weren't too bad (30 min).

      I think you should consider a meal at Yusho. Creative small plates inspired by Asador Etxebarri and Japanese yakitori, helmed by a Charlie Trotter vet. And they've got a great cocktail bar, too, called Billy Sunday, that is a short walk away. Billy Sunday is doing some really interesting things like housemade Zima, a "Cocktail" with ambergris, a great obscure scotch collection, and more.

      See also this "First Time Visitor" post:

      1 Reply
      1. re: kathryn

        Great advice all, thanks very much. The SO and I are more than willing to sit at the bar, we often actually prefer it - so good to know there is some opportunity even though I've not booked any of the other restaurants as yet. Will also study the other thread you linked to. Thanks Kathryn!

      2. Have you thought about trying a chicago style pizza? Lou Malnati's, Pizano or Pizzeria Due do a good version of it. Maybe do a late lunch or snack in the afternoon then go to Girl and the Goat around 9:30ish and see if you can grab a couple of seats? The times I've been to GATG, they seem to have more seats available or at the very least, a much shorter wait after 9:30. If you like strong flavors, you'll love Girl and the Goat.

        5 Replies
        1. re: sunbrace

          Heading to Chicago tonight. Very excited. I'm I've read about Lou Minalti's a few times, is it the place to go for Chicago style pizza? We ended up leaving later than anticipated so we'll probably just opt for pizza tonight when we land.

          1. re: justxpete

            Yes, Lou Malnati's is one of the top examples of Chicago style pizza. They have several locations in the downtown area. It makes a fine, casual dinner.

            1. re: masha

              Thanks Masha. Any others for comparison?

              1. re: justxpete

                Absolutely there are others. Chicago-style deep dish pizza was invented in 1943 by Ike Sewell s at Uno's Pizzaria. It has remained essentially unchanged at that location since then. If you have seen or tried or heard of the Uno's chain or the frozen abomination of the same name, please know that the recipe is entirely different. A sister restaurant, Due, is a block away.

                Lou Malnoti, a family member, was one of the original managers at Uno's and his version of deep dish pizza is very similar. The same family also founded the Pizano's pizza chain.

                All three are very good versions of the original deep dish pizza.

                There are other versions around, but these three are the truest and many believe the best.

                1. re: chicgail

                  Thanks Chicgail. We had Lou's last night. Despite a rather long wait for the food (it was slammed and we lucked out on a bar seat), the pizza was spectacular.

        2. I would definitely do the bar at Frontera. You can order off both menus there and enjoy the Margaritas, Mexican wines, Mezcal or Mexican or local beers. Xoco next door does great breakfast, lunch or dinner.

          Have you looked at MK? They have been around awhile but they always deliver.

          1. While the burger at Au Cheval may be the best I've ever had. The roasted bone marrow with beef cheek marmalade stopped all conversation at the table. Jaw dropping good!

            May I also suggest Nightwood. I sat at the kitchen counter with family and we practically sampled all of the menu. Best meal I had this year.

            1 Reply
            1. re: oysterspearls

              So many options. We should stay longer!