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Aug 3, 2013 09:43 AM

Staying in two very different areas in Chicago soon

We meet in-laws in Chicago on Aug 13. We will be spending the 13th and 14th at an O'Hare airport hotel, working. We then move to what I believe is the Near North End neighborhood, Residence Inn, 201 E Walton Pl.

We love interesting food, trying new wines and craft beers, relatively casual atmosphere (bistro) or neighborhood bar/food. Budget is not unlimited but can be stretched for a good cause.

First, is there anything close to the airport that comes close to our interest?

Regarding staying at our second hotel, I've been reading over past Chowhound posts. We don't mind short cab rides and there appear to be some very interesting places on West Randolph St. (although Blackbird may be pushing our budget). Just reading about the various options there make me wish we could extend our visit.

I don't know the city at all, and don't have a good feel for what other fun/interesting places may be withing a short cab ride.

Regarding places within possible walking distance of our hotel, I did find Chowhound references to The Purple Pig (sounds great) and DiSotto Enoteca (perhaps). Any suggestions regarding other close places.

Also, we have to try a Chicago hot dog, just as we eat boudin when in Louisiana. Anything close to the hotel? Thanks much.

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  1. The area where you will be staying in Chicago is generally referred to as the "Magnificent Mile" or Mag Mile, for short, and/or "River North." It is adjacent to the "Gold coast" (generally considered to be the area north of Oak St, which is one block north of Walton), and close to "Streeterville," the area to the east of Michigan Ave. If you search the board for those neighborhoods, you will find a plethora of options although many may be beyond your budget as these are upscale neighborhoods. You can also use the El (blue lines and red lines are closest to your hotel) to travel to other areas that have more of a neighborhood/ bar food feel. Search options in Bucktown and Wicker Park, which are chockful of interesting bars and hip joints, and reachable on the blue line.

    For Chicago-style hot dog close to your hotel, go to Portillos.

    Beyond that, are there particular types of food that you prefer?
    Bar Toma and Quartinno are within a few blocks of your hotel with small plate Italian and moderately priced. Piece, in Wicker Park, is a very popular bar, with craft beer and excellent New Haven style pizza. Reza's, in River North is a perennial budget friendly option, serving Persian food. The Slurping Turtle, also in River North, features ramen and other Japanese dishes. For a more upscale dinner that's not budget-breaking, you might consider Perennial Virant in Lincoln Park (walkable but more than a mile from your hotel). Volare in Streeterville serves moderately priced Italian.

    In terms of you 2 nights near O'Hare, will you have a car? Most of what is close to the airport consists of chain steakhouses and the like. You might do better taking the blue line El from ORD (or River Road, depending on the exact location of the hotel) to the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods (get off at Damen) or to Logan Square, which is a couple of El stops closer to O'Hare. (I don't personally get to Logan Square so I've got no personal recommendations. Lula's Cafe gets recommended a lot and there are lots of other popular places there --just search the Board and/or use the neighborhood filter on Opentable.)

    BTW, there is no Near North End in Chicago. The term Near North Side is used to refer somewhat amorphously to the areas of the Gold Coast and to the north (Old Town, Lincoln Park, and Lakeview) although just what is encompassed by the term is debatable.

    2 Replies
    1. re: masha

      Wow, just so many places, so little time. I finally got to your suggestions for "close to O'Hare with a car". I had been focused on downtown.

      As Logan seems to be closer to the airport, I looked there first. It looks so inviting that I don't know if I will even explore Bucktown or Wicker Park.

      I've already emailed multiple possibilities for downtown (menus, atmosphere, and so on) to the couple meeting us in Chicago. Now I need to send info on the Logan area. What wonderful options!

      We would be so broke if we lived in Chicago--so much great food.

      Thanks to all of you.

      1. re: rlcole4346

        Just to be clear, my recommendations for Logan Square, while you are in the O'Hare area was on the assumption that you would not have a car and might want to take the El in towards the city. You can certainly drive there from O'Hare if you have a car.

    2. We are tourists too, so don't have a wide range of experience in the area. But we stayed in the River North area last week and walked to Blackbird for lunch one day. They have a $22 prix fixe lunch special with three courses, which we ate (we had a very big meal planned for later that night or would have had more). It was pretty good for $22, so maybe check their menu and see if the choices look interesting.

      The second day we walked back to that area (lots of walking to grind off some of the calories from meals at Grace and L20) and grabbed another light lunch at the French Market, which is just off Randolph at Clinton a couple of blocks closer than Blackbird to our hotel. There were some good inexpensive options among the 20 or so food vendors, I felt.

      I went against type for a change and had a tasty sandwich from a vegan health food take-out place called RAW, while my wife had a Vietnamese dish from another vendor. RAW also had a good low cal dessert, I think she called it "apple pie" but there was no sugar or flour. And there was a great looking patisserie shop near the exit, which we skipped in a rare show of willpower :)

      The Purple Pig sounds great and I just read here on Chowhound that if you get there early you can get a seat without waiting, so we'll probably try that next time we visit, but Blackbird and the French Market were good options for our needs. for the entire market RAW RAW's main site

      1. I guess I'm replying to myself, but I forgot to ask questions as follows: The menus for Girl and the Goat (love the name), Little Goat, and The Purple Pig do not show prices. I don't mind going beyond my budget but really like to know when I walk in the door. Would you consider Girl and the Goat to be similar to Blackbird, or a bit more moderate? I'm assuming the other two are somewhat more moderate. And, I really do have to try a pig face.
        Budget is of concern primarily because my wife and I are traveling with my brother & sister-in-law who tend to be a bit conservative on spending.

        BTW, thank you so much for already having posted two responses.

        6 Replies
        1. re: rlcole4346

          For Purple Pig prices, Tripadvisor says the price range is $10-$15 ... the people who voted on TA also have Purple Pig as the # 4 dining option in Chicago out of 7,800 so they were pretty happy with it.

          Girl and Goat prices are listed as $30 and it's ranked # 18.

          Note that anyone can post a review on TA, even if they haven't dined there, but there are 1,200 and 600 reviews for these two restaurants so they can't all be fake (can they?).

          1. re: willyum

            $10-15pp TOTAL? For a full meal at Purple Pig? Maybe for ONE of the larger small plates, but that is way off.

            1. re: kathryn

              I took the TA prices to mean $10-15 per dish.

              1. re: willyum

                That would be accurate about the Purple Pig. You will probably want to share plates and then you get to decide how much you will order to both eat and drink.

                Girl and the Goat is one of the toughest reservations to get in Chicago. It is booked months in advance. If you call, you might be able to get in early - like 4:30-5:30. Their vegetable dishes are stunners. It, too, is mostly small plates so you decide how much you want to spend by how much you order.

                LIttle Goat is Stephanie Izard's upscale diner and prices fit that description.

                1. re: willyum

                  Looking at other restaurants on there, it looks like they are trying to estimate total meal costs. Another reason not to trust TripAdvisor...

            2. re: rlcole4346

              There are sample prices on I'd budget around $40pp before tax and tip.

              The pig face at GATG isn't served on the bone or in "head" form. It ends up being a small patty of meat.

              GATG and the Purple Pig are great; have visited both on multiple occasions, sometimes even on the same Chicago trip.

              However, GATG is very popular because it is so delicious and reasonably priced. It tends to book up 3-6 months in advance. They have a lounge area and a bar area for walk ins, as well as some walk in tables. But waits can be long for a seat. The lounge and bar are first come first served. The bar area does get pretty packed and noisy.