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Aug 28, 2013 08:12 AM

Labor Day Weekend Chi-Town Line up

Hi all,

Long time lurker. Reviewed many Chicago threads. Will be visiting over Labor Day weekend staying in Mag Mile. Here is my line up, any tips, suggestions, greatly appreciated. We do not mind bar/lounge seating if it means we get to eat. Price range not an issue, but we wont be going to Alinea.

Friday: (arrival)
Late night Dinner:
- Giordanos or Purple Pig (will we get in to PP?)

- Breakfast supplied by hotel (means more $$ for lunch/dinner)
- Lunch - Billy Boat Tavern (going for burgers)
- Dinner - Girl & the Goat (no resv. hoping for bar/lounge seating)
- Need rec for late night cool bar/snacks on mag mile?

- Breakfast at hotel
- Lunch - Portillos
- Dinner - Frontera
- Want to try a cool dessert place?

- Need a killer breakfast place, i see Little Goat Diner recommended throughout the board.

I know from the baords the best BBQ places are a hike, we will have no car so it will be public transportation. Any rocking BBQ places that we should sub out one of my picks?


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  1. For Saturday, you may want a back-up for lunch. Billy Goat is... a fine place to get a cheap beer or two and soak up atmosphere but the food... I wouldn't say it's bad but it's certainly not great. Considering how many amazing options there are for food in Chicago, I would be sad if you spent one of your meals at Billy Goat. Again, stop in for a drink -- but I'd consider Xoco for food instead.

    Also, while there are a number of bars that are open late in/around River North, most are pretty forgettable. I'd just stick around the West Loop area after dinner at Girl & the Goat. Maude's, Au Cheval, Carnivale (maybe?), Aviary... even the Publican all come to mind as good late night options.

    On Sunday, Frontera will be closed (and still closed on Monday). Maybe take the opportunity to hop on the CTA and get out to one of the neighborhoods? I never tire of suggesting Logan Square -- Yusho (Japanese), Longman & Eagle (gastropub-ish with a killer whiskey selection), Billy Sunday (cocktail bar), Lula's (farm to table contemporary American) and even Revolution Brewing (brewpub -- if you really do want a burger, their Workingman Burger is a favorite of mine) all come to mind.

    Honky Tonk BBQ (in Pilsen, about .5 miles from the 18th Street Pink line stop) and Smoke Daddy (in Wicker Park, about .3 miles from the Division Blue line stop) may not be the best BBQ in the city, but they're pretty easy to get to. Lively atmosphere at both, and, pretty frequently, live music, too. Smoque is amazing (and BYO) and is very close to the Irving Park Blue line stop -- but from Michigan Avenue, you're likely to spend more time traveling back and forth than you would eating.

    6 Replies
    1. re: danimalarkey

      Thanks for the heads up on Frontera, shame, great reviews.

      We were not attached to Billy Goat, just saw it was a touristy place...but I'm more for food than for tourist points -- Xoco will be a good sub for our Frontera-fix then.

      I've heard very good things about sad the transit time is estimated at 45 min each way.

      Maude's looks great...might have to hit that up!

      Now thinking the following for Sun Night dinner:
      - Boka; The Lobby at the Peninsula; Yusho, Kabocha, Juno, Goosefoot

      I will check to make sure all are open and see if we cant get in w/o reservations

      1. re: explorer06

        Goosefoot is only open Tuesday through Saturday. CLOSED Sundays.

        1. re: explorer06

          Sadly, it is highly improbable you will get into Goosefoot over Labor Day weekend. They take reservations on OpenTable 60 days in advance and typically are booked within hours of when the reservations open.

          Of the other places that you've mentioned, I've only eaten at Boka and Yusho. Very different places but both good in their own way. It depends what you are in the mood for. (Also, a lot of restaurants close that weekend, even if typically open on Sunday pm so you do need to check that they are open.)

          1. re: explorer06

            You have some great places you are considering for Sunday's dinner. I would forget Goosefoot; while it is phenomenal (and one of my favorites), it has become the hardest reservation to score in Chicago (and they do not take walk ins or have a bar/lounge area).

            Boka and the Lobby are also among my favorites. Chef Wolen has created an impressive menu (that is also well executed) and the staff is so friendly there. Outstanding value. I have had several consistently great dinners at Boka the past couple of years; I would advise the tasting menu if you choose either Boka or the Lobby. Reasonably priced and they are so flexible (if you see something you want on the a la carte menu they will generally add it to the tasting menu for you upon request; likewise they will not serve food you dislike).

            Yusho and Kabocha are both great and I have heard wonderful things about Juno (heading there in September for my first visit). Embeya though has become my favorite of Chicago's new Asian venues, so you may want to check out their website. Sundays are the perfect night to dine there; a prix fixe menu where for a very inexpensive price you get to sample several different dishes. Nice cocktail program at Embeya as well as extremely warm staff.

            I agree about skipping Billy Goat; really mediocre food - and there are so many wonderful options in Chicago. Only reason to visit there is if you are a big fan of the Saturday Night Live skit that put Billy Goat on the map.

            1. re: explorer06

              You should be able to get into The Lobby without reservations. If it helps with the decision making process, Boka offers a 3 course pre theater menu before 6:30 pm.
              For Saturday night at GATG, what time are you planning to go and how long are you willing to wait? If you go during prime dinner hours, be prepared to wait for some time. Do you have any back up places you plan to visit just in case? FYI, Au Cheval is within striking distance from GATG.
              For BBQ, you can try Chicago Q close to the Division stop on the red line. Not the best but good enough in my opinion.

            2. re: danimalarkey

              Love the Yusho/Billy Sunday combo. Especially since Yusho takes reservations.

            3. > Friday: (arrival)
              Late night Dinner:
              - Giordanos or Purple Pig (will we get in to PP?)

              How late is late? Love Purple Pig, but waits can be insane on Friday nights from what I've heard. Perhaps call ahead and ask approx how long the wait is before you venture out.

              Lou Malnati's (pizza) in River North is open until midnight as is Sable (small plates) and GT Fish & Oyster (seafood).

              You could also try for a bar seat at Frontera, which is open until 11pm. If you get lucky and score one, you can order from both Frontera and Topolobampo's menus.

              > Saturday:
              - Breakfast supplied by hotel (means more $$ for lunch/dinner)
              - Lunch - Billy Boat Tavern (going for burgers)
              - Dinner - Girl & the Goat (no resv. hoping for bar/lounge seating)
              - Need rec for late night cool bar/snacks on mag mile?

              If you like burgers, Au Cheval's is excellent, and it is short ride on the train from the River North area.

              You could also try Frontera for lunch on Saturday. Get there early, before they open.

              For post-GATG, I would definitely schedule a reservation for The Aviary, Grant Achatz of Alinea fame's experimental cocktail bar. They're only open Tuesday through Saturday.

              Closer to Magnificient Mile is the aforementioned Sable which has excellent cocktails and small plates. You could also try the newly opened Three Dots and a Dash and Berkshire Room.

              > Monday:
              - Need a killer breakfast place, i see Little Goat Diner recommended throughout the board

              If you're interested in Longman & Eagle, they do brunch from 9am to 3pm, daily.

              I'm jealous, now I want to take your trip! I might do:

              Friday - Purple Pig or Lou Malnati's
              Saturday - lunch at Frontera, early dinner at Girl & the Goat, drinks at the Aviary, late night snacks at the Publican, drinks at Sable, Berkshire Room, or Three Dots and a Dash
              Sunday - lunch at Au Cheval, dinner at Yusho, drinks at Billy Sunday
              Monday - brunch at Longman & Eagle

              1 Reply
              1. re: kathryn

                Lots of good recs. If you are considering the Giordono's on Rush reconsider. I've has three bad experiences there. Go to Lou Malnati's or Pizza Uno/Duo.

                Sable, GT Fish & Oyster are very solid recs.

              2. Just to add to everyone's recommendations... For a burger, you must go to Au Cheval. Best burger anywhere, not just in chicago. Brunch... Longman and Eagle is fantastic! Little Goat is good too. Go early to avoid the insane wait.