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Apr 23, 2014 02:23 PM

Recommended Casual Place To Eat Near Riviera Theatre or Notebaert Museum?

Hello Everybody,

I'll be visiting Chicago in a few weeks for a 3-night trip. On the Friday we're there, I know we'll be going up to the Notebeart Nature Museum in the afternoon, and then to the Riviera Theatre for a concert after the museum.

Is there any place to eat that someone can recommend around there? Pretty much it can be any kind of food - and perhaps something that might be unique to Chicago!

Many thanks for suggestions, advice in advance!

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  1. How casual are you looking for because near the Notebart Museum there is North Pond - - for something uniquely Chicago near the museum there is Lou Malnati's on Wirghtwood, Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder on Clark - all are within a mile of the museum.

    2 Replies
    1. re: weinstein5

      Right, I would say Lou Malnati is much more in the vein of what we'd be looking for, since North Pond does look a little dressy, etc.

      Would you happen to know if LM is easily accessible by train from the museum, or would it be easier to simply take a cab? :-)

      1. re: Combination

        Lou Malnati's is another excellent suggestion, but it's a bit far for most folks to walk (1.2 miles via Fullerton and Lincoln, the most direct route). The el doesn't go east and west around there, so it's not an option. But the #76 CTA bus route starts at the museum (the bus turns around in the small parking lot on the west side of the museum), and you could take it to Diversey and Sheffield, then walk south 1/4 mile to Malnati's.

        Remember, you can phone ahead to Malnati's with your pizza order and a time you'll be there, and they'll have it ready for you at that time. That way you won't have to wait 30-45 minutes for your pizza to bake while you're seated there.

    2. North Pond is right next to the Notebaert Nature Museum in the middle of the park. However, it's not exactly casual - business casual prevails - and it's not exactly inexpensive - figure $100/pp including moderate alcohol and tax/tip. But the food is outstanding and I can't think of any place that's more unique to Chicago. Also in the vicinity of the museum is Mon Ami Gabi, the excellent French bistro.

      In the vicinity of the Riviera, there are numerous options. Lao Sze Chuan, one of our best Chinese restaurants, is practically across the street, and so is Demera for Ethiopian cuisine. Magnolia Café is a casual upscale bistro a few blocks south of the theater. And a few blocks north is the cluster of Vietnamese restaurants around Broadway and Argyle, such as Tank Noodle.

      Food that's relatively unique to Chicago includes contemporary Mexican cuisine. One of our best is Mixteco Grill, and transportation from the museum and then to the Riv, by car or by taxi or by CTA, is relatively easy.

      4 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        Many thanks, nxtasy - you always present so many damn good options. :-)

        I know the concert would finish at roughly 11, and I see that Lao Sze Chuan stays open until midnight on Fridays.

        Do I have anything to worry about with taking the train back to downtown that late at night? I just haven't been up on the north side of town very much at all.

        1. re: Combination

          >> Do I have anything to worry about with taking the train back to downtown that late at night?

          No, just take the usual precautions when walking around any big city at night - be alert to your surroundings and those around you, etc. The el system is generally well patrolled, even at night, and the area around the theater and the el stop is well lit.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            Maybe its just me, but the Wilson Red Line stop is really not somewhere I generally think is very "nice" especially at night. There are actually lots of Blue Light Chicago Police cameras around that area and there has been gang activity nearby. Unless you are on a real tight budget, taking a cab back downtown from there is about $10 - $15 if you jump on Lake Shore Drive.

            1. re: jbontario

              As someone who grew up and still lives in the area, I agree that neither Wilson or Lawrence are the best stops to be waiting for a train after midnight. Right after the show should be fine especially if you are with other concert goers. If you go to Lao Sze Chaun after the show, call a cab after you are done eating. The other suggestions for eats are (especially Demera) are top notch.

              Also, if you have want, you could look to eat in Andersonville pre-show. Depending on how much time you have. That will open up a whole slew options.

        1. The Riviera (along with Lao Sze Chuan) is at the Lawrence stop on the Red Line, not the Wilson stop.

          If security is a concern - and again, I don't think it needs to be (you're probably more at risk standing around trying to hail a cab than you are at the el station), but if you feel uncomfortable about it - then take the el back directly from the concert, when you will be part of a crowd of concertgoers taking the el afterwards. And if you want to eat after the show, then you can do it near wherever you're staying, rather than near the concert.

          1. You don't need a cab. 1) Just west of the museum the 151 bus runs both north and south. 2) Barely west of that, both the Clark 22 and the Broadway 36 buses run. Go to the CTA website for map that can orient you to surroundings and where buses go. 3) If you walk over to Clark you will find a rich supply of casual restaurants, in both directions, including a Five Guys on the corner of Clark & Fullerton. 4) A few blocks northwest of there, at Lincoln & Sedgewick, is a casual treasure, Stanley's Bar, with great BBQ and real mashed potatoes---and see Stanley's website for schedule of weekend all-you-can eat buffet for about $12.