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Feb 4, 2014 11:32 AM

Need a Valentines weekend itinerary!

Hi! My husband and I will be arriving on Thursday night the 13th and staying until the 16th. One night at Knickerbocker, 2 nights at Sofitel. Arriving about 9:30 p.m. on Thursday what is a good restaurant near the Knickerbocker? We like a good meal, price not very important as long as meal is good. Not too into as fancy as Alinea, looking forward to the perfect Steakhouse and pizza and hot dogs and a great Italian meal would be perfect. Thank you!

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  1. You have a couple good pizza places within walking distance of your first night hotel such as Pizanos on 864 N. State or Unos on 29 E. Ohio. You are also within a mile of my favorite cocktail lounge, the Berkshire Room on 15 E. Ohio which also has a nice (but small) food menu. Purple Pig (nose-to-tail cuisine in a vibrant, pub type atmosphere) is also about 10 minute walk. These all could be good options for your first night for a late meal.

    For the weekend, Valentine's weekend is a big weekend for dining out, so a lot of the hot/trendy venues may already be fully reserved. Balena in the Lincoln Park neighborhood is my favorite Italian venue and does have some availability that weekend. My favorite steakhouse is Bavette's Bar & Boeuf, but unfortunately they look booked (you can always try calling them though). Dave Burke's and Chicago Cut are also popular, but likewise fairly booked for Valentine's weekend. Other good places that might have spots open would by GT Fish & Oyster (seafood), Boka (upscale Contemporary American food but relaxed, non formal/stuffy ambiance) in the Lincoln Park neighborhood or the Bristol (nose-to-tail) in the Bucktown neigborhood. You could also arrive at opening of iconic venues such as Stephanie Izard's Girl & the Goat or Rick Bayless' Topolobampo/Frontera Grill and try to snag seats at the bar (where you can order off of the full menu).

    Chicago also has some great brunches; I would look into Publican in the West Loop, North Pond in Lincoln Park (Sundays only), Jam in Logan Square, Bongo Room (various locations), Little Goat (West Loop) and M Henry in Andersonville.

    1. Gonzo has very good advise but the weather is literally so awful this year that I might be leery of traveling beyond artic chill walking distance of your hotels. In this weather Purple Pig (one of my favorites) may be too far unless you are a taxi cab champion procurer . Near, maybe two block away, from Knickerbocker is Pelago at the Rafaello hotel which has very good Italian, house made pasta, great seafood and some terrific meat dishes. This area is hotel central and we frequent Allium at The Four Seasons which is dedicated to upscale comfort food. Sometimes they run special themed meals on weekdays that can be amazing. In September 2013 they had a fried chicken special on Tuesdays that featured perfect fried chicken, wonderful biscuits, awesome mashed potatoes and gravy and a few other touches I can't remember. Their spiced Spanish sausage cantimpalitos "bites" are literally addictive. A lot of people like Bar Toma which is close to both hotels. I really like the pizzas I have had there but it is a Neopolitan style and wetter in the center than some like which is fine for me but not for everyone. They are quite amenable to modifying the pizza to fit individual tastes. I am a big fan of the four cheese with the addition of Calabrian chile peppers.