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Aug 24, 2013 11:58 AM

Restaurant suggestions in loop and miracle mile

We will be in Chicago from Thursday to Sunday and will need three dinners and three lunches. Staying on West Illinois between Dearborn and State. We like most cuisines and would be looking for variety, ambiance and good food at reasonable prices ($50 per person) Not looking for super gourmet. We especially like middle eastern, Spanish and French. Would prefer walking distance but will have Metro passes.

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  1. I believe the Miracle Mile in in LA. You are referring to the Magnificent Mile. Just so you don't confuse any cabbies.

    For Spanish (esp. tapas) you have three good options. Mercat a la Plancha is in the Blackstone Hotel on South MIchigan Avenue and is probably the best food, drink and people watching. Alternately, there is Cafe Iberico on LaSalle near Chicago Ave. Not nearly as pretty. Much less expensive. Decent food. And fun. However, no reservations unless there are at least six of you. There is also Tapas Valencia on South State (about 1500 south) that I ate at recently and enjoyed.

    For French, your best option (IMO) would be Le Sardine, a pretty authentic bistro in the West Loop.

    There are many, many other options including a variety of choices in Greektown (many people like Greek Islands. I prefer the Parthenon).

    For Italian, you may want to consider Bar Toma and Quartinos and Coco Pazzo Cafe (there is also a Coco Pazzo, but that might be out of your budget).

    To try a Chicago-style hot dog (please don't ask for it with ketchup) and/or Italian Beef (order it wet with sweet and hot peppers) at lunch, I would suggest Portillos on W. Ontario.

    Check websites, review menus, see what looks good. Others, I am sure will have other suggestions.

    1. Another option for Spanish is Vera, in the West Loop. It doesn't come up often here but the food is stellar and it's definitely one of those, "Why aren't there more people here?!" kind of places. Not necessarily tapas-style but many of the plates are very shareable and you can try a lot of things just the same.

      I would also recommend avec, again the West Loop. It's tiny, much of the seating is communal and some complain about the noise -- they also don't accept reservations. Those could all be deal-breakers for you but for me, it's some of the best food in Chicago and well worth it. Mediterranean-ish for the most part with lots of smaller plates available. Solid wine list, too. They open at 3pm, so if you wanted a late lunch one day, I'd give them a shot.

      Like chicgail said, take a look at their menus online -- they may not be 100% accurate but they are representative.

      1. You'll be pretty close to Rick Bayless' places (Frontera Grill ($$), Topolobampo ($$$), Xoco ($)), and altho the first 2 may be somewhat out of your price range, check them out. Particularly Xoco (basically Mexican street food at reasonable prices--but go on off hours to avoid long lines) is a good breakfast, lunch option.

        If you're looking for simpler Italian food check out La Madia, which often has inexpensive lunch specials.

        1. Thank you all for the suggestions. We didn't end up going to any of them. My wife didn't want to go eat Spanish food since she feels she can cook it better. The first night we ate at Harry Caray's, mainly because it is so iconic. I had the small sirloin crusted with gorgonzola and it was excellent. My wife had the strip steak which was also good. Interesting wait staff. For lunch the first day we ate at Riva's on the Navy Pier and the crab sandwhich was unique. Dinner that night was Sayat Nova - Armenian. The humus was the best we have ever had and the Shish and Lulla Kabos were both excellent. Lunch the third day was at the Art Institute and was very good. Dinner that night was the Star of Siam. Excellent foot, especially the sauce that comes with the Satay. What was amazing was the first night was the most expensive of the trip at about $60 per person with tip. Sayat was half that at $25. The Star of Siam was only $17 per person but that did not include any alcohol.