some specific requests/questions about Old Town and more
Hello Chicago hounds!
My husband and I will be visiting from Baltimore for most of a week in late September. I've been overwhelmed researching all of the marvelous food Chicago has to offer, and am turning to you for some specific things that the CH archives haven't supplied me with. Thanks in advance for your patience reading my short novel.
Some background: I'm vegetarian, husband is most decidedly not, though he doesn’t care for seafood. Other than those limitations, we’re both very adventurous eaters and especially fond of Middle Eastern food. We prefer eating at restaurants with both meat and veg options (besides salad or a sad perfunctory pasta dish). Mostly trying to limit ourselves to cheaper options, both for budget and attire reasons, and as we’re in our mid-30s, aren’t looking for anywhere with an overly loud/college-esque atmosphere. We'll be renting an apartment in Old Town, a bit north of the Sedgwick Brown line stop. No car but comfortable with public transit and walking. So, here goes with the questions:
*Any suggestions for neighborhood bars or casual restaurants in Old Town? When we go to bars, we generally drink craft beer or bourbon, so bars will ideally have more than Bud/Miller/Coors on tap. Since we’ve got an apartment, takeout places are fine for food.
*Also in the neighborhood, anywhere to get good bread, as well as good grocery stores in general? We’ll definitely be hitting the Spice House and Green City Market.
*Is it worth a special trip to go to the French Market? We’ll certainly go if we happen to find ourselves nearby, but I can’t tell if it’s worth it as its own destination. My sister lives in Philly, so we get to go to Reading Terminal Market a few times a year, and I’m imagining that the French Market is similar but perhaps smaller. We’ve gotten a little spoiled by Reading.
*Going to the last Cubs home game of the season! (Unbelievably excited about this.) Any suggestions for places nearby to get sandwiches to bring in with us? Banh Mi and Nhu Lan are both sounding good.
*Is Hot Doug's worth the trip? My husband's a big fan of hot dogs and sausages, but we'll have just spent a few days in Milwaukee where he will attempt to consume his own weight in Usinger's.
*Planned to go to Maxwell Street Market on Sunday, and then possibly wander through Little Italy afterwards. Are a lot of those businesses closed Sundays?
*Looking for a breakfast/brunch spot for Monday morning, either a short cab ride or easy train/bus trip. Batter & Berries and Southport Grocery both sound amazing. I tend to prefer sweet breakfast items while husband goes for savory, and bonus points would be awarded for exceptional coffee or tea.
*Any good food trucks to watch for?
*Last but certainly not least, any restaurants that would be particularly good for our meat/veg needs? Karyn’s Cooked and Chicago Diner have been suggested as very good for vegetarians, and both look great, but I don’t want my husband to have to eat veg the whole trip. Location not terribly important, anywhere between South Loop and Andersonville is fair game.
Any advice you can share will be fantastic. Thanks!
Trip report! We had a fantastic time, lots of memorable sights and great food. And having Lake Michigan right nearby to run next to in the mornings was a real treat, the perfect way to burn off some of the indulgences.
*Green City Market - everything a farmer's market should be. Friendly vendors, plenty of samples, and wonderful fresh produce. We got grapes, corn, and honeycrisp apples plus some incredible chili tofu. Sampled a ton of stuff from the tofu booth and liked it all, but that was our favorite. Also had tamales while walking around, and loved them.
*La Fournette - baguette was decent but not remarkable, but the miche was very good. Both ended up making nice toast to go with some of the cheese that we'd brought from Milwaukee.
*Banh Mi - got sandwiches for the Cubs game and liked them so much we got more for the flight home. I got lemongrass tofu and husband got different varieties of pork, and everything was well-seasoned and spicy but not overwhelming. Baguettes were nice, light and crisp. Bonus points for the to-go cups of sriracha that were small enough to pass airport security.
*Guthrie's Tavern - on a tip from an outside source, we came here after the Cubs game and had a great time despite a seriously grouchy bartender. Asked to order pizza, he grunted that it wasn't happening today, and shoved a coffee can of takeout menus toward us. Okayyyy. Cue for us to leave the bar and find a table. Decent beer list but the allure for us was a quiet, low-key crowd, and two full bookcases of board games. They've got some new stuff plus most of your classics - no joke, we played the game of Life. More fun than it sounds like, especially after a few drinks. Highly recommend if you're in Lakeview/Wrigleyville.
*Art Institute - hadn't intended to eat in the cafe there, but we were in desperate need of a snack. It's predictably overpriced, but not as bad as some other major museums, and they had some creative offerings. I got vegan carrot pho, and husband got a sandwich with goat cheese and some other stuff that escapes me now, but both were good.
*Native Foods Cafe - fun space, enthusiastic staff, and tasty, filling food. Kind of an odd experience for me to have so many choices on a restaurant menu, took me a looooong time to decide. I ended up with the gyro bowl, husband got the scorpion burger, and we split some sweet potato fries. Everything was great, and my uber-carnivore husband genuinely enjoyed the veggie burger, and even more so the chipotle dipping sauce that came with the fries. We were too stuffed for dessert there (portions are generous) but got an oatmeal cream pie to go, and it was very, very good. I'm generally skeptical of vegan desserts but this one was solid.
*Lou Malnati's - exceptional for a couple reasons. We arrived at the end of our waitress' shift and she switched the toppings on our pizzas, so when our pizzas arrived, the pepperoni that was supposed to be on my husband's that also had sausage was on mine, so they were both wrong. She was obviously tired and apologized profusely for getting the orders wrong, especially since I couldn't eat either one. We were tired and hungry, but hey, mistakes happen, and we assured her it wasn't the end of the world. She rushed new pizzas and we got all 4 on the house - was not expecting that. We tipped her on what we would have paid, and she seemed very surprised and kept telling us how nice we were to not make a big deal out of the situation, kind of a sad commentary on how most tourists must treat the staff there. Anyway, the pizza was delicious, absolutely worth the wait, and I sincerely appreciate it when a restaurant goes out of its way to correct a mistake. I need to remember to send them a note...
*Old Town Pour House - extensive beer list, and we liked that everything came in half and full pours. We got a flight of beers that had been barrel-aged, some better than others but all nice. Good service, and the atmosphere was lively but not deafening, though we did leave on the early side, probably 10:30. No food here, we were still full from Lou Malnati's probably 4 hours earlier.
*Sultan's Market - we went here as part of a food tour and came back later for seconds. Seriously good falafel, and husband got lamb schwarma that he enjoyed. Baltimore doesn't have a ton of good cheap Middle Eastern food (love Lebanese Taverna but it's more on the fancy side), so this was nice. Added bonus, got to witness hipsters in their native environment - a couple brought in a case of PBR to have with dinner. Classic.
*Bangers & Mash - had a couple drinks here, nice beer list including Stone Woot Stout, which I didn't think I'd ever have the chance to try on tap. If you like beer that's almost as strong as wine, that one's for you. We split a pretzel with an intriguing dipping sauce they claimed was chocolate stout mustard, but tasted nothing like mustard and was thin enough to pour. Tasty if a little confusing. They had a couple of gelato flavors from Black Dog, and we tried the bourbon butter pecan, which was sadly a little disappointing. The bourbon flavor didn't come through at all, and the nuts were mushy, which said to me that either they hadn't been toasted (cardinal sin!) or the gelato had been hanging out too long. Bummer, but I'd give them another try if we went to their shop, not a reseller.
*Franks n-Dawgs - super friendly and helpful staff set the tone here. We didn't realize it was BYOB and they directed us toward Binny's down the block, and holy moly, what a store that is. Returning with a 750mL tripel in hand, my husband got a sausage with kimchee, and I got the tofu with Indian-inspired toppings. They said they could make most of their menu items vegetarian with a tofu substitution, and I really appreciated that. Brussels sprout salad was light and fresh, and it was nice to eat some vegetables to counteract sausage, beer, and pizza.
*Batter & Berries - one of the best breakfasts I've ever had. French toast flight for me, chicken and waffles for husband. They make their own hot sauce and have one specifically for the chicken and waffles that's different from the hot sauce they use for everything else. That's attention to detail. All of the French toast flavors were lovely, but the lemon was my favorite, and the maple butter was divine. Owner (I assume) chatted with us for a while, and you could tell how much pride he had in the place, as well he should.
Sadly, we didn't make it to Old Town Social, Sable, Chicago Diner, or Karyn's Cooked, but there are only so many meals in a trip. Nor did we make it up to Andersonville; we'd saved that for our last day and were too tired to deal with a 40 minute bus ride each way. But that's why we keep lists for our next visit.
Thanks again to everyone for your helpful suggestions. Chicago is a beautiful city and I eagerly look forward to coming back.
In Old Town I would recommend the following: Old Town Social- Great beers and cocktails, also enjoy the food and they do have items that would appeal to both you and your BF.
Old Town Pour House- I have only eaten here once and it was good. They have an overwhelming amount of beers on tap so pretty sure you would be able to find something you would enjoy.
I love Reading Terminal- French Market does not compare and would probably be a waste of your time in comparison. Green City is a great farmers market. You can grab breakfast here as well.
As far as middle eastern food in Old Town, I wouldnt recommend Old Jerusalem. If you have been to Lebanese Taverna in Baltimore/VA/DC, you would be disappointed going there. If I were to go anywhere it would be Kan Zaman in River North (BYOB and belly dancers) or Maza in Lincoln Park. Or if you are looking for great falafel try Sultans Market for a quick lunch.
I saw somewhere in the thread about Mussels. I recommend Bistro Margots mussels. They are right in Old Town and some of the best I have had although some of their other food is hit or miss but the mussels and brunch items are always solid.
I wouldnt do Little Italy here, Baltimore's is way better.
By the way, I am heading back to the DC area next weekend and cannot wait to get my hands on some GOOD Maryland crabcakes again!
Ugh, CH just deleted my response. That'll teach me not to copy to notepad before hitting reply.
Anyway! Thank you for the suggestions. I'd found Old Town Social through a map search before asking here, and reviews indicated that the service was poor enough to warrant skipping it. How has your experience been?
Definitely hitting Green City on Wednesday, possibly Saturday depending on how willing my husband is to get out of bed. Are the same vendors typically there both days?
Old Jerusalem struck me as a possible takeout place, not necessarily dine-in - would you not recommend it on the basis of the food, or the overall experience? And I adore Lebanese Taverna, we've probably eaten there more than any other restaurant in Baltimore.
Have fun in DC! Weather is beautiful right now, perfect for outdoor dining.
I have been to Old Town Social at least a half dozen times, sometimes at the bar, sometimes at tables. I have not had bad service once. They do get busy the later in the night that you go and like many other Chicago places can turn "clubby" after 10pm or so. My husband and I are upper 30s and aren't into the club scene, but we usually head out once it starts to get too loud.
Green City does mostly have the same vendors on Wednesday and Saturday.
While I have seen people dining outside at Old Jerusalem, it is very much a take out place and not a great one in my opinion. I lived in Arlington, VA before moving to Chicago 4 years ago and used to go to one of the Lebanese Tavernas at least once a week. Definitely one of my favorites. Sultans Market is a great casual/take out if you are looking for a good falafel sandwich, otherwise I would say you get better at home.
For Veg friendly I don't know about Karyns Cooked, but my friends that have gone to Karyns Green have enjoyed it.
Enjoy your trip!
I've lived in Old Town for many years now and there's so much to enjoy in a casual way - try Old Town Social for drinks (house made charcuterie for your husband, good beverages in general), La Fournette for bread - on Wells, amazing bread, good soups, Spice House as mentioned is a must and on Saturday (and Wed if you are in town) shopping - and eating - at the Green City Market in the park is essential. One of the top 10 farmers markets in the country, it's where we shop the most. For general groceries, Treasure Island is fine, Plum is lovely if you don't mind the hike with groceries. (TI at least will deliver - not sure about Plum)
and Perennial Virant is superb - the best Saturday mornings are spend shopping the Green City Market and then sitting on the patio at Perennial for brunch. Perennial is in the Hotel Lincoln and they also have a wonderful little coffee spot, Elaine's, which is addictive and a bar up on the roof with an amazing view and matching cocktails.
For a meal to make both vegetarian and not happy, I often take guests to Sable which always delivers a great mix of dishes for both tastes.
Thanks for the suggestions, Sable does look like a good place for a drink & snack. Will likely hit that after our architecture tour, so it's nice to hear about a place that isn't a massive tourist trap (I hope?).
Any of the grocery stores near our place are at least half a mile away, so hiking with groceries seems to be in the cards no matter what. How are Dominick's and Potash? Those are the closest, and we're not looking for anything extensive. Just basics like milk, cereal, yogurt, snacks, maybe a bag salad.
Dominick's is just a standard big grocery store - I would not necessarily walk to the one at Sedgewick and Division as I've had some issues near there. Potash is a very small and rather pricey option but fine for the basics ... Treasure Island will deliver and is my favorite - and mostly sensible price wise.
Sable is a great bar - but also a very good spot foodwise and not just in a bar snacks way ... you can snack happily or put together a full meal and every guest I've taken there (and there have been many) has enjoyed and gone back on their own. After the architecture tour would be lovely - Enjoy!
These are all Old Town spots I've tried and liked. Some are new, some old school.
Kanela Breakfast Club
1552 North Wells Street
Chicago, IL 60610
Taco Fresco (def an order-in option - also check Grub and Seamless for other ideas
I'm veg and every trip to Chi I eat at Karyn's Cooked (and sometimes order it in) but except for the ribs, I'm not a huge fan. Have been to Chicago Diner a few times and always disappointed.
About a mile south of you, Bar Toma is a cool place with great pizza. It's not deep dish, but it's fun, and you can do some sight seeing in the process.
For Middle Eastern food, I haven't tried Old Jerusalem in Old Town, and their website is down, but maybe you can take a walk by and see if it's open and if it appeals:
1411 N Wells St
Orso's is really old school Italian, but decent food and a dark, old-world ambience:
The bars on Wells are totally zoos, but I'm an old lady, so what do I know.
Hope this helps.
Bit of a late reply, sorry... curious what turned you off about Karyn's Cooked and Chicago Diner. Several other veg friends highly recommended both.
When you say the bars on Wells are zoos, what about them doesn't appeal? Too loud? Meat market singles vibe? Overly enthusiastic sports fans? Hipster bartenders? I'm mid-30s but old in spirit.
Not all vegetarians like faux meats, but I embrace and relish the stuff. I cook with it all the time, and I guess I like what I make better than the stuff I've tried at both those restaurants. There's something about some of Karyn's dishes that just taste off (right now all I can recall was throwing out the cole slaw and the corn bread, and I think maybe one of the bean or greens sides). I went to Chi diner originally to try their famous reuben sandwich, which was gloppy and just not good. I learned out to make "corn beef" seitan and thus make my own reubens, and to my taste. I can't remember what I had on other visits, but whatever I had was not memorable.
Also, the service at both Chi Di and Karyn's can range from apathetic to downright forgetful. Just never had a good experience at either. I do order in from Karyn's, as I mentioned, when I'm in town, but I think I'm over it. Altho you can do it online, if you want any changes you really have to call them. I did this on one of my recent trips, and got a response along the lines of, "well, we're not supposed to make changes or substitutions, but we'll do it for you this time. "
As far as the bars, I'm in my 60's so clearly I'm not in the target market for the Wells bars. My daughter and son-in-law live in Old Town, are just a bit younger than you, and they find the bar scene on Wells to be too raucous for them. My only exposure to Wells is when we walk the dog in the evening when I'm in town. Does seem rather loud, which is not to say that that's bad - to each his own!
By the way, my kids are huge sports fans, not hipsters, and love to go out, but I think they prefer bars where the crowds are a bit less "enthusiastic."
I'll do my best to remember to post when I get back in ~2 weeks. Again, thanks to all who posted here, I really appreciate the help. Very much looking forward to my first trip to Chicago since 1999 over a college summer break - sadly, the only food I remember from back then was my roommate's cousin's ghastly wedding buffet. And White Castle that I skipped but my traveling companions all got sick from. I have a feeling the food on this trip will be better, in many ways.
Based on your location, you might want to look at Corcoran's (1615 N. Wells) as a casual neighborhood bar/restaurant. They usually have 15 or so beers on tap and loads of options in bottles. The food is mainly pub grub but they do have some tasty vegetarian options. They are just a few doors down from a Treasure Island grocery store which would probably be the most convenient place to get groceries in the area you'll be staying. Further south on Wells is Plum Market, much higher end than Treasure Island but also much more expensive. For bread check out La Fournette Bakery just south of North on Wells, there will are also bakeries selling at the Green City Market. Wells is packed full of restaurants, bars and shops, a good place to wander around if you have the time. If you plan on going to The Spice House you might want to also check out Old Town Oil which is just a few doors north on Wells. Great selection of olive oils and vinegars. There are a couple of middle eastern paces within easy walking distance. Old Jerusalem is located at 1411 N. Wells and Dawali is at 1625 N. Halstead (just north of North).
Coogles wrote regarding Treasure Island and Plum Market:
"They are just a few doors down from a Treasure Island grocery store which would probably be the most convenient place to get groceries in the area you'll be staying. Further south on Wells is Plum Market, much higher end than Treasure Island but also much more expensive."
While I agree that Plum Market is much more upscale than TI in terms of selection, quality of items, service and knowledge of staff I have to strongly disagree that it is "much more expensive". That runs entirely counter to my experience. I had to go shopping today anyway so I first went to TI on Wells (I had to go to Plum Market anyway as I needed a few things TI doesn't carry and somethings I would never buy there because their product is so inferior particularly in regard to seafood). This is not a scientific comparison because I was only buying the things I wanted for today and this week. But Plum Market came out almost universally cheaper and in some cases by a significant margin than TI.
On my list: Sparkling water at TI San Pellegrino was $2.19 per bottle at PM $1.00 per bottle. Pasta, I usually buy DeCecco dried and sometimes Rustichella d'abruzzo. At TI DeCecco ranged from $2.69 for simple spaghetti/linguine to $3.59 for farfalle/fusilli to $5.29 for lasagna (why lasagna was so high is beyond me) PM sold all DeCecco at the flat price of $2.00 but this was a special price all are normally $2.89. At TI rustichella was either $6.98 or $7.98 except for lasagna which cost $5.98. At PM it was, depending on type/shape, $5.39, 5.69 or 6.49.
Cheese I needed parmesan and Maytag blue At TI reggiano parmesan 2 year aged was $19.98/lb at PM it was $14.98. At TI Maytag blue was cheaper at $15.98/lb compared to $18.99.
Heavy cream (pasteurized not ultra pasteurized). For years TI was the only store in the neighborhood that carried pasteurized cream - almost everywhere else carries ultra pasteurized. Pasteurized tastes better but it comes with a significantly reduced shelf life. At TI they frequently only sell it in 32 oz containers which is usually more than I need but today they had it 32 oz (Dean's) for $6.19 and in 8 oz size for 1.99. At PM they carried Kilgus Farms (locally produced) pasteurized in 16 oz size at $2.38.
Canned Tomatoes San Marzano brand and type were $3.85 at TI and $3.59 at PM. A few things I couldn't compare even though for example both carry Nueske's bacon they sell in different weights and styles a 12 oz package at TI was &7.99 but a 16 oz package at PM was $9.99.
Based on my experience PM is by far and away the better value by any yardstick. TI's seafood selection is so awful I stopped buying there years ago. They carry no live shell fish and no fish with a head on it. When they did carry clams or mussels a lot had to be thrown out because they were dead. I have been shopping at Dirk's for seafood ever since but bought littleneck clams at PM on Friday and they were delicious. They also had live lobsters on sale for $9.99 for a 1lb lobster. I'll be back here for seafood and meats for sure plus their assortment of cheeses makes TI's look sad.
I am really liking the newish Plum Market on Wells near Division. They carry a lot of hard to find ingredients including spicy Calabrian peppers so now I have a second source for these in the city. They have a great cheese section even if the prices are sometimes odd (example reggiano Parmesan is $14.95/ lb. while Grana Padano is a few dollars more per lb. I haven't tried their prepared foods but they look fresher and nicer than those offered at Whole Foods.
Thanks, all, very helpful feedback.
I had considered the brewery tour of Goose Island, but with your feedback, danimalarkey, I think we'll just stick with a visit for drinks. We did a tour of Lakefront in Milwaukee a few years ago and enjoyed it, but like you said, another one is probably not a must-do, especially since they preselect your tastings and neither of us are IPA fans.
Sounds like Hot Doug's and French Market will both be a miss, and I'm not too broken up about it. I try pretty hard not to craft itineraries without a ton of extraneous travel time, because no, I don't want to spend multiple hours every day on a bus/train. It's striking me that Chicago is a lot bigger than I realized. (File under "duh"?)
Love the Wicker Park suggestions. I think we're going to do the food tour there and then spend the rest of that Saturday exploring the neighborhood.
For brunch, Jam and M Henri both sound great but pretty far from where we're staying, and we're flying out that afternoon, so want to stay a little closer. Batter & Berries is definitely the frontrunner. Any thoughts on wait times for a Monday mid-morning?
Would also like to get opinions on the better choice for our Sunday plan: Maxwell Street market and Little Italy vs. sleeping in, a walk on the beach, and Andersonville.
And thanks for the reassurance about being able to get good vegetarian food. We'll likely hit the Native Foods Cafe on Clark Street after we go to the Art Institute. It always strikes me as funny that all of the 6-8 major US cities I’ve visited are all kinder to vegetarians than the one in which I live. Sigh.
Without going totally off the rails (and with a great deal of simplification here), when the first Mayor Daley pushed for an outpost of the University of Illinois in the city, he picked the Little Italy/Greektown neighborhoods -- and promptly tore down/condemned much of both neighborhoods in order to build that campus. Point being that these days, I don't think Little Italy consists of more than a few blocks surrounded by University of Illinois buildings.
Which is a long way of saying that I'd personally suggest Andersonville and the beach. Big Jones is delicious and Hopleaf is worth visiting if you're a craft beer fan. Not necessarily food-related, but the Galleria is a fun "mall" filled with an eclectic mix of local merchants (including some popcorn and chocolate vendors, if memory serves).
Thanks for the info. That's too bad about Little Italy, I'm a sucker for Italian groceries.
Andersonville does sound like a lot of fun, and thanks in particular for the tip about the Galleria, that's right up our alley. Hopleaf is definitely happening, as we're both big fans of Belgian beer. How are the mussels there? I know I said my husband wasn't a seafood fan, but that's one notable exception.
There's a fantastic Italian grocery store in the West Loop (and pretty convenient to the Morgan L stop on the Green and Pink lines), J.P. Graziano. They recently started selling gelato that is incredible.
The mussels at Hopleaf are solid -- certainly one of the more popular dishes (it seems like every other table has an order every time I stop by). They usually have 2-3 preparations available (ie. steamed in a Belgian wit or wine, etc.). Their lunch menu is pretty limited, and doesn't appear to be on their website, for some reason, but I'm 99% sure the mussels are available at lunch, in case you went earlier in the day.
I prefer Banh Mi on the southern portion of Broadway(they have 3 branches within a mile of each other) vs Nhu Lan. I find that their sandwiches have a stronger flavor. Also, if you go at the right time, you'll be rewarded with a yummy anise aroma from the pho broth they're cooking:). Within the area as well are La Tacorea for Korean tacos and Falafill for falafel sandwiches.
For breads, you can try La Fournette on Wells St in Old Town close to the Spice Market or La Boulangerie on Belmont(just east of the Belmont brown line). La Boulangerie also has one in Logan Square just in case you would like to go visit the area. Publican Quality Meats in the West Loop also makes good bread. I'm still dreaming of the olive bread I had from them last year. Speaking of which, Publican, while known more for their meats and seafood, also has several dishes that are vegetarian. So if it's within your budget and atmosphere, you can try that as well.
Unless you have a lot of time on your hands, I would agree with danimalarkey and skip Hot Doug's and probably the French Market.
For brunch, you can try Jam or M Henry. Both are delicious and serve good coffee. There shouldn't be too much of a wait on a Monday morning.
For that brunch, if sweets are calling, I would skip Jam and M Henry (I'm a savory girl and love them) and go to either Batter and Berries on Lincoln or the Bongo Room on Milwaukee. While they are both stellar in the sweet department, their savory offerings are also very good.
Most places in town do very well for vegetarians. You shouldn't feel restricted most places. But I would also suggest you check out Native Food Cafe on MIlwaukee Ave. It's totally vegan disguised as fast food and meat-eaters enjoy it also.
The French Market is a whisper of Reading. Echoing others, I wouldn't bother with that or Hot Dougs with everything else you are doing.
Chicago has some odd and restrictive regulations for food trucks so I wouldn't even bother considering them at this point.
Touching on a few things:
You're situated pretty close to the Goose Island Brewpub, the city's oldest brewpub. Their vegetarian options aren't the most impressive but the beer is generally worthwhile (ask about flights - they don't list them on the menu but they'll do four 4oz. pours @ $10) and it's a comfortable space with warm, friendly service. They also offer tours (call ahead - they can book up), but if you've done one brewery tour before, I wouldn't make a point of going on this one. In Logan Square, about 3.5 miles Northwest, is my favorite brewpub in the city, Revolution Brewing (the bourbon selection is all right, too). It's not the most convenient via public transit but the beer is killer and they nail vegetarian options and meaty options, too. The Logan Square neighborhood is chock full of other bars/restaurants, so you could easily hit up several options while you're around. Longman & Eagle isn't vegetarian friendly, but the cocktails, beer list and bourbon selection is top notch. Lula's could work for dinner or lunch (they have a very veg-friendly, and affordable, cafe menu available all day). Blue Sunday and The Whistler are cocktail bars in the same area and are some of the city's best.
Closer to Old Town... one idea is the Whole Foods market about a mile West. It's huge and they have a large number of take-out options (the back of the store is basically a food court with eat-in or take-out options, covering diner food to BBQ to Mexican to Italian, etc etc). It's probably not the most exciting option, but it's not bad. They also have a great craft beer bar in the store.
Is Hot Doug's worth it? Good question and... it depends? If you visit on a Tuesday or Wednesday, maybe around 2pm, I wouldn't expect much of a line (if at all). But especially via CTA, it will take you a while to get up there and only you can decide how much of your vacation you want to spend on a bus or a train. Having said that, I love Hot Doug's. Doug is always smiling and happy to exchange a few words before moving on to the next person. The sausages and fries are great and the atmosphere screams fun. Much closer to where you're staying is Franks 'n Dawgs, another sausage/hot dog emporium. FnD has better buns, hands down, but I think they go a little overboard with the toppings. Still, they're much closer to you and they don't typically experience lines anywhere near as long as at Hot Doug's.
In Wicker Park, there's a restaurant called mana food bar that's entirely vegetarian/vegan. Even for an avowed meat eater like myself, I can walk out satisfied (tell your husband to fill up on their sliders). They're small, though, and don't take reservations. Nearby is Bangers & Lace, and you could always wait there until your table is ready (or visit afterward). The crowd can get pretty bro-y but they also have great beer and a solid list of sausages and hot dogs. Or, better yet, plan on eating at both and I think all of your bases should be covered.
D'oh -- that's Billy Sunday, up in Logan Square. Brain fart.
Also, you might consider Big Star, in Wicker Park. They do tacos, beer and bourbon in a stripped down, casual space (great music, too - think 1950's Bakersfield, CA on vinyl). Lots of outdoor seating, too, weather permitting. They get very crowded, though -- allows for great people-watching, if nothing else.