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Chicago Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations


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#1 Allen

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Posted 16 March 2002 - 03:20 PM

I'm interested learning about any little known restaurants or bars that are frequented by locals and those in the industry. I am fairly familiar with Chicago and have been to most of the places that get regional or national publicity. Now I'm looking more for hidden gems. Any suggestions, from a favorite hot dog stand to white tablecloth, would be appreciated.

#2 BarbaraM

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Posted 20 May 2002 - 05:42 PM

I know the show is still in town so if you happen to read this... Chez Joel, La Sardine,Spring,North Pond Cafe(a wonderful place)

#3 Aurora

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Posted 29 June 2002 - 05:10 PM

Hi Allen,

Check out the following:

Cafe 28--on Irving Park. Cuban/Mexican. Casual, relaxed atmosphere. Moderately priced. They prepare a honey jalepeno glazed pork chop that makes all dinner conversation cease until the plates are cleared.

The Weiners Circle-- on Clark. Yup, it's a hot dog stand in the truest sense, right down to the abusive service at the counter. It's good stuff. If you are a calorie counter, STAY AWAY! In terms of the service, it is not for the faint of heart. In terms of the abuse, be prepared to give as good as you get because you are gonna get it.

Arun--on Kedzie Avenue. Thai. Upscale. I enjoyed a wonderful meal there, and I gotta tell ya, I'm not a Thai fan. This place changed my mind.

Here's one that you might not have considered:

Margie's Candies--on Western. It is an ice cream parlor and confectionery that has been in business for about 60 years (I actually think it's longer than that) Margie's is pretty much an institution. It's a family affair. Margie went on to her rewared several years ago. It is now run by her sons. The decor reminds me of a visit to my elderly aunt's house, but don't let that stop you. One turtle sundae and you will be a believer.

OK. You can't sleep. It's 4:13 in the morning. You're hungry, and the only thing that will make everything better is a taco or four.

Arturo's--on Western (kitty corner from Margie's Candies). It's open 24 hours. I recommend the Al Pastor tacos sprinkled with fresh lime, and a dab of crema.

With the acception of Cafe 28 and Arun, the other places are off-beat, and there is no need to worry about what your're wearing, as long as you aren't naked. Relax and enjoy.

#4 chopjwu12

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Posted 04 July 2002 - 06:07 AM

hello,

I am going to chicago for three days starting monday. I am going to eat at trotters, tru, and tropolombombo. I need to find a couple small places for lunch but since the others are going to brake the bank, they cant be in the others price range. Anyone have any ideas?

#5 Aurora

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Posted 04 July 2002 - 06:32 PM

hello,

I am going to chicago for three days starting monday. I am going to eat at trotters, tru, and tropolombombo. I need to find a couple small places for lunch but since the others are going to brake the bank, they cant be in the others price range. Anyone have any ideas?

Those are some heavy hitters. CA-CHING!

For lunch, consider the following:

Bistro 110

Heaven on Seven (on Wabash) - Great place, just go as early as possible. It's not a big place, and it fills up fast. People gladly wait in line. It serves dinner several times a month but is primarily a lunch spot. Heaven on Seven has three locations in Chicago. The Wabash location is the best (cash only).

The Chicago Chop House

Also, stop at Lou Mitchell's for an omlett. It's one of the best breakfast spots in the city. :rolleyes:

#6 Lady T

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Posted 05 July 2002 - 02:03 PM

On Wabash, a few doors north of Adams and on the west side of the street is Miller's Pub. It's a steak-housy, sports-bar sort of place, not haute at all -- but the steaks/chops/sandwiches/ribs are okay, the drinks arrive promptly and aren't watered down a bit, you won't be rushed, and the prices won't bankrupt you. You can put their wine list in the dictionary as an illustration for the word 'limited', but what's there will go well with the food, and will cost you within reason.

Enjoy your stay in Chicago, and please do post reviews of all those good places you're going, when you get a chance! :biggrin:
Me, I vote for the joyride every time.
-- 2/19/2004

#7 Waz

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Posted 05 July 2002 - 04:29 PM

I always try to hit Penny's Noodle Shop for lunch when I'm there if I can. It's on Sheffield north of Belmont (also on Diversy east of Sheffield). Lad Nar, pad se eu. Yummy stuff. Bring your own wine if you want to drink.

Breakfast at Ann Sathers is always good too.

#8 chopjwu12

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Posted 05 July 2002 - 08:59 PM

Cool thanks alot and keep it coming

#9 tommy

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Posted 05 July 2002 - 09:03 PM

isn't there a plethora of pretty good thai restaurants in chicago (arun's aside)? not that chop couldn't get good thai near home in NYC, but i generally have a thai lunch or 10 when i'm in chicago. good value and pretty damned good eats! i can't recall any names however. :sad:

#10 Aurora

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Posted 05 July 2002 - 10:39 PM

Following up on Tommy's Thai post, here are a few:

Amarit - on Delaware

Star of Siam - on Illinois

Taparos - on Clark

Miller's Pub is good. Go with a crowd if you can.

Check out Cafe 28 on Irving Park (at Ravenswood). It's Cuban/Mexican.

#11 Robert Nesta Marley

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Posted 06 July 2002 - 10:42 AM

go to north pond cafe....they should be open for lunch by now & it's on the pond in lincoln park. lunch won't break your bank (dinner might not, either, and the wine list should still be outstanding dispite the departure of their gm/sommelier. but sit outside. it's so peaceful, and the food is slamming. i can't believe i forgot his name, but the chef is committed to supporting local farmers & artisans while executing very well.
cafe 28 is fun. stay away from wicker park.

#12 Kim WB

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Posted 08 July 2002 - 02:32 PM

I am going to chicago for three days starting monday. I am going to eat at trotters, tru, and tropolombombo.

I'm headed to the Windy City the last weekend in July, and wil be free Sat nite and Sunday brunch. One of the best meals in my lifewas at Trotter's, I guess close to 10-11 years ago...is it still the best? What's the scoop on these others? Or, all you Chicogo-ans vote for an e-gullet get together on either of these days and my problems will be solved! LOL!

#13 pariah_kerry

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Posted 20 July 2002 - 12:44 AM

Try Club Lucky, the Matchbox, Gunther Murphy's...anyone know if Bucket of Suds is still around?

#14 Aurora

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Posted 22 July 2002 - 06:33 PM

Try Club Lucky, the Matchbox, Gunther Murphy's...anyone know if Bucket of Suds is still around?

I don't think Bucket O' Suds is still in operation :sad:

#15 Allen

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Posted 27 July 2002 - 09:36 PM

Thanks for the suggestions. I’m making a list for my next trip to Chicago.

Barbara M – I’ve heard that the North Pond Café one of the most unique dining experiences in the Chicago. Lincoln Park has always been one of my favorite parts of city.

Aurora - I was in town about a week before your post and happened to stop by the Weiner’s Circle and your description is dead on. When I ordered my dog with mustard only the cashier seemed almost stunned, as if pondering whether a hot dog could be actually be eaten that way. I'm sorry but I had a college roommate from NYC who taught me that the only acceptable condiments for hot dogs were mustard and or kraut. I love Chicago but I can’t put a salad bar on my dog.

Has anyone tried Keefer’s. I would like any comments on the food. I happen to walk by it on my last visit but I didn’t have time to stop.

Allen

#16 Aurora

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 01:06 AM

Has anyone tried Keefer’s. I would like any comments on the food. I happen to walk by it on my last visit but I didn’t have time to stop.

Allen

Allen - Just this evening (morning) the local PBS station ran a documentary on the hot dog in America. I thought of you. The Weiner's Circle was not mentioned, but they did mention Superdawg on Milwaukee. I agree, I don't like the "salad bar" style hot dog either, and in these parts, saying so is sacrilege. Still, I believe in to each his own, and I persevere. I like grilled onions, kraut and mustard (brown, please). I like relish, but the neon green variety, common to Chicago, took some getting used to. I'm still not there.

With regard to Keefer's, check out the thread on Chicago steakhouses. It is in this forum. Keefer's is good. It's in it's first six months of operation and has recieved consistently good commentary. As a result, Keefer's is attracting more of a "trendy" crowd than a serious dining crowd. The food and service are good, but I think it falls more under the heading of chop house than steakhouse, but that's me.

Chicago Steakhouses Thread

BTW - The hot dog documentary is titled A Hot Dog Program.

#17 Beachfan

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 01:24 AM

Any comments on the places mentioned in today's NY Times?

Hip, Friendly Places on Chicago's New Dining Strip
beachfan

#18 Simon Majumdar

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 04:51 AM

My "must go to" place in Chicago every time I am in town is El Tinajon a superb guatemalan place.

I wonder what the locals make of it?

S

#19 Aurora

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Posted 30 July 2002 - 11:07 AM

My "must go to" place in Chicago every time I am in town is El Tinajon a superb guatemalan place.

I wonder what the locals make of it?

S

Which location are you referring to? I assume you mean the one on Western Avenue, which is more established. There is a recent second location on Roscoe Street, one block south and several blocks east. Either one is just fine.

I would guess that the reason for creating the second location was to establish a presence among the quietly developing restaurant row on Roscoe Street, which is more intimate and accessible (the neighborhood, Roscoe Village, takes it's name from the street that runs through it).

Great food. The service was warm and homespun. Overall, reviews on the restaurant are mixed, but mostly favorable. I think the reason for this is that some go there using Mexican food as a yardstick for comparison. This is unfair, yet easy to do. I also think some folks are unable to relax their fine dining expectations when they venture to the neighborhood restaurants.

#20 awbrig

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Posted 30 July 2002 - 04:14 PM

Although some think it may be touristy, Chicagoans love Big Bowl, especially the one on Cedar! The food is fantastic, the ingredients fresh and the prices reasonable! I guarantee you'll love it!

#21 Aurora

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Posted 30 July 2002 - 04:36 PM

Although some think it may be touristy, Chicagoans love Big Bowl, especially the one on Cedar!  The food is fantastic, the ingredients fresh and the prices reasonable!  I guarantee you'll love it!

Hello Awbrig - Let me be the first to say WELCOME.
:biggrin:

#22 awbrig

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Posted 31 July 2002 - 06:22 PM

Now do I say "thank You"? Then you would have to say "welcome " again being your second time...

#23 Aurora

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Posted 01 August 2002 - 06:37 AM

Now do I say "thank You"?  Then you would have to say "welcome " again being your second time...

You being here and posting is thanks a plenty. :biggrin:

#24 awbrig

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Posted 02 August 2002 - 04:31 PM

aurora,

going to signs the movie tomorrow night and want to go out for dinner before the movie...

sice we are going to mcclurg i thought that we would check out boston blackies for a burger before the movie - havent been there but have heard good things

my wife suggessted ruths chris - which we like and then i thought about keefers which i heard was good...

any suggestions??

#25 Aurora

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Posted 02 August 2002 - 09:44 PM

aurora,

going to signs the movie tomorrow night and want to go out for dinner before the movie...

sice we are going to mcclurg i thought that we would check out boston blackies for a burger before the movie - havent been there but have heard good things

my wife suggessted ruths chris - which we like and then i thought about keefers which i heard was good...

any suggestions??

I think Blackies is good, but I don't quite understand what all the raving is about. I think this is due to the fact that I grew up with an amazing burger stand in my home town (Kopps in Milwaukee on Port Washington Rd.). There isn't a burger in the world that compares to what they serve for my money.

Given that I am viewing Blackies through a filter, I may not be the best person to ask. My opinion is you won't be diappointed, but you won't be blown away.

Still, lets consider the fact that you're going to a movie, and a scary movie at that. I think burgers might be the appropriate pairing.

Ruth's Chris is good if you are going after the movie and not before. You don't want to sit in a movie theater seat for two hours after a meal there.

Keefer's is good too, but if you go there call ahead. Getting a table is a little difficult on weekends without a reservation, but you could sit at the bar. Again, go AFTER the movie.

Also, consider The Original Billy Goat (lower Michigan). This is more of a nostalgia place, but I do enjoy going every now and then, and it's quite close to McClurg Ct. Have you considered Bandera? I like it more as a lunch spot, but it also works well as a before-or-after movie restaurant; provided that your're going to an early screening.

Beef seems to be your aim for tomorrow's meal. If you're open to one more suggestion, consider Heaven On Seven at Rush and Ohio. No, it isn't steak or burgers, but it's good food in a lively atmosphere and it's only a few blocks away from McClurg Ct.

BTW, Theater 1 in McClurg Ct. is the only way to go. Of the three screens, it is the largest, and its sound system is far superior to the other two. Call and find out which screen Signs is showing on. Attend the Theatre 1 screening. It's worth it.

There it is, my humble opinion. I hope it helps. Most importantly, have a great time!

#26 awbrig

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Posted 05 August 2002 - 04:17 PM

First off, I, too am from milwaukee- pewaukee lake to be exact and then wauwatosa...Kopps burgers are very very good - I love the pad of butter they put on in the end...

we considered heavan on seven before your suggestion since it is in the Lowes movie theater - but Signs wasnt playing there and it is a pretty long walk when you are short on time...I love their gumbo however...

Ruths chris we decided was too far...

keefers we will check out when we have more time...

billy goat - too much of a lunch spot and a little too cheesy for us...

so we went to Blackies and, like you said, was good but we werent blown away...but it was a great burger...

and yes we did goto the digital theater at mcclurg...there is no substitute...the movie SIGNS was awesome....

then went to le bar at the Sofitel to meet w some friends..very nice...and then to le Colonial on the balcony for a last drink and a few late night apps...

good night and thanks for the input...

#27 Aurora

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Posted 05 August 2002 - 11:46 PM

First off, I, too am from milwaukee- pewaukee lake to be exact and then wauwatosa...Kopps burgers are very very good - I love the pad of butter they put on in the end...

we considered heavan on seven before your suggestion since it is in the Lowes movie theater - but Signs wasnt playing there and it is a pretty long walk when you are short on time...I love their gumbo however...

Ruths chris we decided was too far...

keefers we will check out when we have more time...

billy goat - too much of a lunch spot and a little too cheesy for us...

so we went to Blackies and, like you said, was good but we werent blown away...but it was a great burger...

and yes we did goto the digital theater at mcclurg...there is no substitute...the movie SIGNS was awesome....

then went to le bar at the Sofitel to meet w some friends..very nice...and then to le Colonial on the balcony for a last drink and a few late night apps...

good night and thanks for the input...

I'm glad you enjoyed the movie.

Le Colonial was under consideration for my list. Stilll very good.

The finishing touches are being put on a new restaurant that will open in the hotel Sofitel. I'm not sure of the opening date.

When I mentioned Heaven on Seven, I should have told you that I prefer the location on Wabash that is generally only open for lunch. Jimmy Banos' recipe for orzolaya is delicious. You can also call the restaurant and order the meat, seafood and sausages from the vendors that they use for the restaurants.

Does anyone have any thoughts about the restaurants in Greek Town? My impressions of Greek Town generally conclude at mediocre and touristy. A meal that I had at The Greek Isles last Friday didn't do much to change my thinking. In fairness, I will say that my lamb shishkebob was beautifully prepared--served medium, tender, and juicy. I should have stopped on that good note. I could use their baklava as bait.

#28 Patrice

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Posted 12 August 2002 - 03:40 PM

I will come to Chicago Saturday ( august 17 ). I already have reservation for all my meals:
-saturday for dinner: Tru
-sunday for brunch: North Pond
-sunday dinner: Trio
-monday lunch: Blackbird
-monday dinner: NoMI
-tuesday lunch: Topolobampo
-tuesday dinner: Spring

Is there anythnig new in Chicago I should check: pastry shop, fine food store, wine bar...?
Patrice Demers

#29 GordonCooks

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Posted 13 August 2002 - 04:42 AM

Personally, I would swap the monday lunch/dinner for vice-versa.

#30 Aurora

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Posted 13 August 2002 - 10:22 AM

Personally, I would swap the monday lunch/dinner for vice-versa.

I would second that. I would also swap the Tuesday lunch/dinner.