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Sep 24, 2013 02:59 AM

one night in chicago and ann arbor. where to eat?

Hi all,

I'm flying over to the USA from Singapore for a quick business trip. Will be spending one night in Ann Arbor and one night in Chicago. Where would y'all recommend I go/book for a great night of amazing but unpretentious food. Something that I won't forget for a long time.

Many thanks,


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  1. What a great adventure. Chicago is a destination for great restaurants so I think we need a little more information.

    Chicago covers a lot of real estate. Where in the city will you be?

    How will you be getting around? Car? Taxi, Public transportation?

    You mention "unpretentious food." Does that mean simple, homey food or relatively inexpensive food? And what is your budget?

    Are there particular cuisines or styles of cooking you are seeking or prefer to avoid?

    6 Replies
    1. re: chicgail

      Hi, thanks for the response. I have no idea where I'll be staying. My hosts on this trip have yet to tell me.

      I'll probably take taxis or walk if possible. I have only ever been to Chicago once before.

      I love all foods honestly. I guess I just didn't want to go to an uber-fancy 10-12 course ultra-modern tasting menu kinda place. I would love to go somewhere where the chefs are doing extraordinary things with local ingredients in novel ways, but are doing so in non-fine dining digs. As an example, when I spent Christmas in Charleston, South Carolina a few years back, my favourite restaurant from the trip was FIG. I actually felt that McCrady's was a tad too pretentious and trying too hard to be trendy.

      Any cuisine is great, but since I live in Asia, I'd probably avoid Asian food.

      I run a food site as a hobby, url is It might give you a good sense of the kinds of foods I love.

      Thank you so, so much.

      1. re: aunkoh

        Are you willing to wait for a seat at a bar or table? For how long? Sounds like you might enjoy Girl & the Goat, Frontera Grill, or Purple Pig, but waits can be quite long for dinner at all 3.

        If you are staying at a hotel, you are very likely going to be in River North or the Loop, downtown. So it will be fairly easy to take any train line out from downtown as well.

        1. re: kathryn

          Ah, I've read about Girl & The Goat. That sounds great. I've also never tried Rick Bayless' food, despite having many of his books. Would be great too. Do these places take reservations?

          1. re: aunkoh

            Girl and the Goat takes reservations, but they are hard to get. If your visit is three months out, you stand a good chance. But even if your visit is sooner, you can get reservations on early or late in the evening.

            Rick Bayless has three restaurants, all three next to each other. Topolobambo is the most upscale. It is all reservations. Frontera Grill is the middle of the three. They take a few reservations, but most are walk-ins. You can try open table, but a phone call often works when open table shows that they are full. Xoco is excellent street food (churros and caldos to die for) all walk-in. Breakfast, lunch or dinner.

            1. re: chicgail

              Thanks again! This has been really helpful.

              1. re: chicgail

                I don't think Frontera is on OpenTable, only Topolobampo is. To get a Frontera reservation you need to call.

                The two share a bar area and you can dine there (and order from both menus) if you can grab a seat.

      2. For Ann Arbor, you need to post your inquiry on the Great Lakes Board.

        2 Replies
          1. re: aunkoh

            I'd be appy to elaborate on the great lakes board, but for Ann Arbor I'd do Mani (sit at the chef table) or Frita Batidos.