Dinner for One on a Monday
Travelling from Los Angeles the first weekend of March. I would like to enjoy a good meal on my last night in the Chicago area. I'm an infrequent visitor, but last time I visited I enjoyed: Alinea, Frontera , Girl and the Goat, Lou Malnati and Xoco. I did not enjoy Blackbird (not bad per se, but I did not enjoy the flavor combinations) and Sable (which was one of the worst meals I've ever had.) Open to suggestion. Not opposed to bar seating. However, I know that Monday nights are kind of slim pickings. Any ideas are greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Autre Monde is in the suburb of Berwyn, a good 10 miles from the Loop, further if the OP is staying north of the River. It's good but not worth traveling 10 miles when there are literally 100s of good restaurants within the central downtown area. (Also, according to their website, they are closed on Monday, http://www.autremondecafe.net)
We've enjoyed Perennial Virant in Lincoln Park. It is open on Mondays. Here is a link to their website, http://www.perennialchicago.com
Mondays are tough; not only are some of the best venues closed but of those are open - the top personnel often have the day off. As such I do not recommend splurging for one of the very expensive venues such that is open such as Sixteen or Tru would be wise. Fortunately some excellent venues are open:
*Publican: If you enjoyed Girl & the Goat, Publican would be worth looking into. Also in the West Loop featuring nose-to-tail cuisine: http://thepublicanrestaurant.com/
*Tanta: New Peruvian restaurant from restaurateur Gastin Acurion, River North: http://www.tantachicago.com/
*GT Fish & Otser (also mentioned by TeacherFoodie) for outstanding seafood in River North.
*Boka: Sister restaurant to GT Fish and Girl & the Goat featuring Contemporary American cuisine in Lincoln Park: http://www.bokachicago.com/
*Balena: Italian in; also part of the Girl & the Goat/Boka/GT Fish restaurant group; in Lincoln Park: http://balenachicago.com/
*Emebya: Modern Asian fusion, West Loop: http://www.embeya.com/
*Bavette's Bar & Boeuf: My favorite steakhouse in Chicago; also lots of great non-steak options in River North: http://bavetteschicago.com/
These are all restaurants I enjoy that are open on Mondays, would work as a solo diner and I think are relatively safe to eat at even if some of the top personnel have the day off.
+1 for Publican. Or if you enjoyed Girl and the Goat, maybe go the her other restaurant...Little Goat Diner? Generally speaking, it shouldn't be hard to find a place downtown, especially by the touristy areas.
Also, if you are willing to venture out of the downtown area, Wood in Lakeview and Reno in Logan Square are tasty in my book too.
I'm a big fan of the Publican but not as a solo diner -- they tend to seat you at their cramped "bar" area. And because the bar seating is in normal chairs (low to the ground, not stools), you wind up facing a half-wall that serves to cover up the tap lines/ etc. This picture demonstrates what I mean:
I really like avec, though, when eating on my own. I've often found that you can order half-portions of most plates, even if it's not listed as such on the menu.
I hesitate to make this suggestion since you didn't like Blackbird but the new Nico Osteria on Rush (yea, THAT part of Rush in the Viagra Triangle) has some pretty great dishes on its menu. We almost left when we got seated because the tables were too close together and the place was really loud and boisterous but after a judicious relocation from a table to a bar counter and a slow start in service we had a very good meal. My SO swore we would never return until he got his fritto misto (a really nice mixture of fried vegetables; Brussels sprouts, artichokes etc. and fish; scallops and yellowtail with a caper aioli). I had a terrific salad with chicory, radicchio, apples, pork belly, candied walnuts and Parmesan with a slightly sweet vinaigrette. Both of our pastas were terrific and house made. We had ordered an additional course but realized after we got our starters that it would be too much food and our waitress happily cancelled it.
I think dining alone here would be just fine unless you want quiet and a good book.