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First Chicago Trip


tirgoddess
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While restaurants are opening and closing all the time, most of the recommendations here should still be current (even ones that are a year or two old). Remember, with literally thousands of places in and around downtown Chicago, it's impossible to mention every single place. If there is anything you're particularly interested in - specific places or types of food - let us know and we can help.

Weather in mid-November is generally cool, with average daytime highs in the upper forties and overnight lows around freezing. Snow is unlikely although not unheard of; for the entire month of November, we average two inches of snow, and it tends to occur more towards the end of the month.

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Frontera has a nice lunch/brunch.. I would definitely go there for Rick Bayless.. Hot Doug's is a great hot dog spot.. Really like the Patio for Chicago Beef... These are just a few that come to my mind.

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I will be in Chicago from Nov 7 to Nov 11 staying downtown.  Looking for updates for lunch/dinner and what to see and what to expect weather wise.  I will be by myself most of the time as my husband will be working.  Thanks.

Could you say something about your preferences (both yea and nay) about food type, cost, willingness to take public transportation and/or taxi, etc?

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Thanks for mentioning that prior posts should still be fairly current, I have read through most of them and will be considering some of those places for dinner out. Thanks too, for the lunch/brunch suggestion 'cause I would like to treat myself to nice lunches with good reading material. Cab or public trans are both options. I was trying to look at the "attractions" and the Fire Museum looked interesting to me. In the information that I found, it was hard to tell if it is still an open exhibit. I recall hearing of a terrific library that I would like to visit, but I can't remember the name of it. I am also having a hard time finding a decent map to get an understanding of the city layout. Please keep your suggestions coming. I've got San Francisco pretty well figured out, I should be able to navigate Chicago. When I take folks to "the City" I avoid pier 39 'cause it is so manufactured for tourism, this is the impression that I get from Navy Pier, am I off base?

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Thanks for mentioning that prior posts should still be fairly current, I have read through most of them and will be considering some of those places for dinner out.  Thanks too, for the lunch/brunch suggestion 'cause I would like to treat myself to nice lunches with good reading material.  Cab or public trans are both options.  I was trying to look at the "attractions" and the Fire Museum looked interesting to me.  In the information that I found, it was hard to tell if it is still an open exhibit.  I recall hearing of a terrific library that I would like to visit, but I can't remember the name of it.  I am also having a hard time finding a decent map to get an understanding of the city layout.  Please keep your suggestions coming.  I've got San Francisco pretty well figured out, I should be able to navigate Chicago.  When I take folks to "the City" I avoid pier 39 'cause it is so manufactured for tourism, this is the impression that I get from Navy Pier, am I off base?

Might you be thinking of The Newberry Library?

As a regular visitor, I agree that Navy Pier is undoubtedly touristy, but it does house the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the Smith Museum of Stained Glass, and is a relatively convenient place for a walk to the Big Lake.

I've found the CTA transit map, sometimes in combination with a standard Chicago street map (I use Rand McNally), to be the most useful. I'm sure others will have different suggestions. I don't know if CTA will mail you a map, but you can contact them at 1-888-968-7282 (weekdays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.) or email them at ctahelp@transitchicago.com. You can view CTA maps online here.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Where will you be staying downtown? What's referred to as "downtown Chicago" spans a large area (roughly three miles from the Gold Coast to the South Loop). There are undoubtedly some great places within a short walk of your hotel, if you just let us know where it is.

Any of the mapping websites (Mapquest, Google, etc) can give you a map of the entire city. Once we know where you're staying, we can give you close by suggestions that you can find on a more detailed map of the immediate vicinity of your hotel and nearby restaurants.

I had never heard of the Fire Museum but according to their website, it sounds like they are in the process of moving. Apparently it was created to preserve memories of the parochial school fire here in 1958. If you're interested in seeing museum exhibits about the Chicago Fire in 1871, the Chicago Historical Society is on the near north side and its website is here.

If you've never been here before (or even if you have), we have museums and attractions galore. The Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau has lots of information on its website at choosechicago.com.

Edited by nsxtasy (log)
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That's at the north end of North Michigan Avenue ("the Magnificent Mile") and just a few blocks from the Newberry Library that Alex mentioned.

In the immediate vicinity (within a few blocks walk), great restaurants include (all are open for both lunch and dinner):

Cafe Spiaggia, for mid-priced Italian food (this is the sister restaurant of Spiaggia, one of the finest restaurants in the city, only open for dinner); other nearby choices for Italian include Pane Caldo and Merlo on Maple

Hugo's, for seafood

Gibson's, for steaks; other nearby choices for steaks include Saloon and Morton's

NoMI, one of the city's very finest restaurants and the only one of our "top tables" that is open for lunch too

For authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza, you've got Giordano's on Rush for the double-crust "stuffed" style, and Pizano's on State for the single-crust "pan" style

Bistro 110, French bistro

Le Colonial, for Asian and Vietnamese cuisine

Edited by nsxtasy (log)
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You're also going to be very near Sarah's Pastries and Candies. Excellent baked goods, chocolates, coffee (Intelligentsia), and sandwiches.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Stop by Fox & Obel for lunch or a snack and to browse the shop. It's just a casual cafe setup but the shop is wonderful.

Fox & Obel is a little over a mile away, walking from your hotel. It's a great place, but not exactly convenient to where you're staying.

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  • 1 month later...

Thank you all for the fabulous suggestions. My trip was wonderful. Friday night was Gibsons, outstanding oysters. Lunch at Fox & Obel, tomato basil soup, Saturday Spaggia (See story below), lunch Spaggia Cafe, excellent Tuscan Bean Soup, Dinner twice at Bistro 110, the duck was the best, and service was great. I walked everywhere, taxi only to the airport, it was marvelous. Went to the Newberry library, great gift shop in there for historians and book lovers. The water tower has a nice gift shop as well.

So here's the Spaggia story: Excited to be in this town following such a historic event, I asked the driver from the airport what the city has been like since Obama's election, he had barely anything to say. The next day I asked the woman in the gift shop what it has been like there and she said she had been away from it all, living outside the city; then the bartender, who replied with comments about the weather. I shrugged these blase comments off as we walked to Grant Park to see where he gave his speech. Looking up from the park, I remarked to my husband that I wondered if people had witness parties in their offices as he accepted his win. Ron said, "Babe, you're looking for something that's just not there." I said, "Where's your imagination?!" and he replied that I had enough for both of us. Sort of disappointed with this exchange, we walked to the nearby Art Institute and saw the architecture and home decor exhibits-lots of Stickley, Tiffany, Frank Lloyd Wright stuff - eye candy for me. Prior to leaving home I made a dinner reservation for Spagiia for 6:15, a little early for us, but that was all I could get. This place came highly recommended fromt this forum, so I was looking forward to some refined Italian food. As we perused the menu, we saw a gnocchi dish that we had to try (since we make our own, and both of our Grandmothers made gnocchi for us). Being the season for white truffles, some dishes had them added for $75. (?!). The wording on the menu was unclear so I just had to confirm that the 75 was in addition to the list price, and in fact it was. My husband didn't totally get it so he asked again. Okay, so now we are the Klampets, whatever. Our server was pretty uptight, and we were abandoned at the podium when we confirmed our reservation so we were sort of thinking that the service wasn't to par with the pricing. As we sipped our martinis, we decided on the soup, an app, the gnocchi with the white truffles (My husband-if we are here and they are featuring white truffles, we have to have them.), and the duck breast. As we were ordering we agreed that we both were going to love the gnocchi so we asked our server to "super size" it for us. She was able to muster a grin on that one and we at this point decided to relax and have our own good time, fuck the attiude. So now we've finished our app, enjoying a lovely Italian red, and begining our entrees. The gnocchi was so worth it. They were quill shaped in a creamy ricotta with tons of white truffles shaved on top. The duck breast was fabulous as well. We were chatting about how Ron just bought a $125. pasta story to tell his Italian golf buddies and we were really enjoying ourselves. Looking up from our table guess who walks by????? Michelle and Barack!!!! Yes, really. Ron saw their faces, I just saw the back of their heads as they were being seated in a banquette directly behind us! Ron and I looked at each other like is that who I think it was? And with knowing grins and tightened butt cheeks, we just stared at each other. OMFG! We could barely let it sink in. Secret Service was everywhere. Our entree plates had been cleared, our wine was gone, and we had passed on dessert. Now that all had to be changed, we ordered more wine and dessert, just so we could continue to sit in the same room with him. I went out for a cigarette, and was frisked by Secret Service a couple of times to get back in. The guy posted and the restaurant entrance was so pleasant, he apologized and hoped that I was enjoying my evening. I was like, OMG, I'm so glad you guys are here! Take good care of him! Incredible to say the least to say the most. So my imagination and sense of wonder at this historical event has paid off and I feel vindicated. It is a wonder that we are here at this time, The Sunday Chicago Tribune was such a treat to read, it chronicled his path to November 4 and even mentioned that he and Michelle couldn't attend Saturday's Urban League gala, deciding instead to dine at the resturant where they celebrated Michelle's birthday and their anniversary. Wild, I must say. So thanks guys for getting me to all the right places, definately one of the highlights of my life!

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