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Aug 13, 2013 01:23 PM

Labor Day weekend in Chicago

I have avidly read this Chicago page, and I love all the information on it, and I think I know many of the great restaurants in your fine city. However, we will be there over for a sports weekend over Labor Day (Temple-Notre Dame and Phillies-Cubs). We are staying at the Drake and will be relying on the El and cabs.

If we can't get reservations at some of the more popular restaurants (The Girl and the Goat) or don't want to wait two hours for a table at others (The Purple Pig, Frontera etc), I would be very interested in very good restaurants that might be a bit easier to get into. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.

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  1. A lot of restaurants close over Labor Day weekend. You may want to go to Open Table and plug in your dates, to see what is available (using neighborhood filters as appropriate). Even if you don't want to reserve, it will give you a sense of your choices.

    Beyond that, your question is so open-ended that it's hard to answer. There are 100s, if not 1000s, of restaurants within easy walking/El/cab of the Drake. As an avid reader of these pages, surely you've noted some of the other recommendations besides the few hot-hot-hot restaurants that don't take reservations mentioned in your post, that suit your tastes. At least give us a clue in terms of type of cuisine and budget.

    1. The Publican is somewhat similar in ambiance and cuisine to Purple Pig; is on Open Table and does have slots available that weekend. While Frontera will be tough to get into, if you are willing to trek to another neighborhood, Mexique (a fairly casual Michelin starred venue featuring Mexican cuisine with French influences) also has slots on Open Table. Somewhat near to your hotel is one of my favorite venues, The Lobby (Contemporary American cuisine) and just a bit further away is GT Fish & Oyster (seafood). Sable is also fairly near (craft cocktails and upscale bar food). If you are interested in molecular gastronomy iNG (fairly casual and not too terribly expensive) or sister restaurant Moto (more dressy and expensive) are available in the nearby West Loop. For fine dining Tru, Everest, and Sixteen all are available; for a step down in price and dressiness Naha, Acadia and Sepia are options for fine dining. There are also some great Asian fusion places with availibility; Embeya is my favorite, but I enjoy Kabocha as well. Every venue I mentioned can be booked via Open Table and as of now has slots that weekend at decent times.

      1. Gonzo, thank you for the great suggestions. I appreciate it.

        Masha, sorry, I could have been more specific. We are very eclectic and adventuresome in our eating. About the only cuisine I am not crazy about is Indian. We also don't miond spending $200-250 per couple for that really special meal.

        1 Reply
        1. re: owlman

          Aside from Gonzo's excellent recommendations, I'd also recommend El Ideas for your consideration as a special meal. It's $135/pp, so perhaps slightly above your budget. Also, they are not on Opentable so you will need to check their website (or better yet call) to see if they are open and, if so, availability. It's a very fun but unusual restaurant -- BYOB, located very much off the beaten track (on a deadend street in an industrial zone to the south of Downtown), that does a single seating of about 24 people of a 12-course tasting menu, in an open space where you can interact with the cooking staff as they prepare the meals. Search this board for posts to get more details.

        2. Masha, that sounds like something we'd really enjoy. Checking it out. Thanks.

          2 Replies
          1. re: owlman

            Their web site indicates that they are fully booked Labor Day weekend (unless you can do 8/28) but they sometimes announce cancellations on Twitter:

            1. re: kathryn

              If you call and asked to be put on their waiting list, you've got a decent chance of getting in. Their cancellation policy allows cancellation up until 7 days before, without penalty, so there tend to be openings in that one week period. Especially if you let them know you are coming from out of town, they may put you at the top of the waiting list.