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Where to eat in Chicago?


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My girlfriend and I are leaving nyc to go to chicago on july 4th for three days. We are eating at Alinea on the 4th and Moto on the 6th we still need to find lunch spots and dinner for the 5th. We are both culinary professionals in NYC. She, working at Per Se, and I being the chef of a more simplistic nature in the east village. We were thinking Trotters or Graham Elliot, other than that i dont know much about Chicago. Help?

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As a nice change of pace, and for someplace that I think both of you would appreciate, for dinner on the 5th I'd recommend Mado. Small, chef-driven, local/seasonal ingredients, snout to tail cooking. Everything is very simple, allowing the ingredients to shine. I think it would provide a nice counter-point to both Alinea and Moto. You should also consider The Purple Pig, another small spot specializing in wine-friendly pork and pork-related products. Also a good contrast to Alinea and Moto. Note that The Purple Pig doesn't take reservations, so things could be crazy over a holiday.

Both are easily accessible via cab or public transportation.

Mado

1647 North Milwaukee Avenue

Chicago, IL 60647

(773) 342-2340

The Purple Pig

500 North Michigan Avenue

Chicago, IL 60611-3777

(312) 464-1744

-Josh

Now blogging at http://jesteinf.wordpress.com/

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I wouldn't do Trotter's or Graham Elliot. They're just too similar to Alinea and moto. Unless you're absolutely intent on eating only contemporary cuisine with an emphasis on molecular gastronomy. (I'm not sure I would recommend doing moto as well as Alinea, for the exact same reason.)

I think the Rick Bayless restaurants are a great idea. Creative provincial Mexican cuisine is something Bayless and others in Chicago are doing very well, and it's rarely found elsewhere this side of the border. Would it be possible to work them into your itinerary for Tuesday July 6, perhaps lunch at Topolobampo? (If you want to try for dinner that day, you'll need to make reservations NOW, or else eat at Frontera.) Unfortunately they are closed on Sundays and Mondays, so they are out of the question for Monday July 5.

So are Mado and Charlie Trotter's, which are both closed on Mondays as well.

For dinner on Monday July 5, I'd recommend Mercat a la Planxa, the tapas restaurant. Jose Garces (a Chicagoan known for his restaurants in Philadelphia) is doing some great things there.

If you want to take advantage of the big trend right now in pork and charcuterie, Josh's recommendation of Purple Pig is one option; another is the Publican from Paul Kahan. Both are open on Mondays too.

Edited by nsxtasy (log)
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Oh man i totally forgot about bayless. Thanks for the reminder. You know i ate at both tinto and amada in philly and it was good but i dont think ill be making a return trip unless the chicago joint is just better than the philly restos. I like the idea of bayless for lunch though... It seems like the entire city of chicago restaurants close down on mondays. The reservations have already been made for both alinea and moto, and i know they are similar but i feel i gotta eat at both. The sad thing is ill be eating at alinea on the 4th and moto the 6th so it will probably be a bummer by the end of my meal at moto with eating at alinea two days before. Are there any cool culinary shops i should know about to scope out or good vintage cookbook stores?

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Is Mercat a la Planxa at the same level as the NYC tapas spots like Txikito, El Quinto Pino, Casa Mono? Can anybody who has visited both cities compare?

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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Here's the deal if you want to shuffle Bayless into your itinerary on Tuesday. Topolobampo accepts reservations on Opentable. For dinner, they have been filling up as much as three months out. For lunch, you can often get reservations right up to the last minute, particularly on Tuesdays through Thursdays, but I recommend making a reservation in advance if you can. Frontera Grill accepts only a handful of reservations over the phone, and holds most of the dining room for walk-in traffic. Waits for tables can be lengthy, and locals often arrive 15 minutes before the doors open to avoid a wait. However, I was at Topolobampo for dinner a few months ago on a weeknight and the wait for Frontera was minimal. Also, if you eat at the bar at Frontera, you can order off either menu (Frontera or Topolo). Bottom line - if you can make a reservation in advance, do so; otherwise go to Frontera, and not at a peak time like a weekend evening.

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  • 3 weeks later...

so i cancelled my resy at moto and in its place i got one at schwa anyone know much about the place? a cook friend recommended it to me

It's small, operated entirely by the chefs. BYOB. They will take your wine/beer and pair it with the courses they think appropriate (often they will ask to pool the wine of tables who are dining at the same time in order to provide a wider range of pairings). It definitely doesn't hurt to bring something to share with the kitchen. I posted a summary of my visit here.

ETA: They undoubtedly serve some of the best and most inventive food in Chicago. The only complaints I've heard are about the difficulty getting a reservation, and from those who dislike the alternative service arrangement.

Edited by KD1191 (log)

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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sounds great the only problem is that we dont drink. Will that be a problem witht the pooling situation? Im actually excited about the alternative service experience. As a chef im interested to see how this is pulled off.

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sounds great the only problem is that we dont drink. Will that be a problem witht the pooling situation? Im actually excited about the alternative service experience. As a chef im interested to see how this is pulled off.

That won't be a problem. If you don't bring any, you won't be served any. However, if you're opposed to consuming alcohol in any form, I'd be sure to let them know in advance. For awhile, the amuse was always some sort of riff on Hendrick's Gin, and we also had a beer-cheese soup and a dish that involved a tequila gel on our visit.

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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The only complaints I've heard are about the difficulty getting a reservation, and from those who dislike the alternative service arrangement.

One more: I have a friend who refuses to go there because of when they closed for months with no advance warning a year or two ago, leaving in the lurch all the diners holding reservations at that time.

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Congrats on getting into Schwa. It's one of my favorite places and I'm sure you'll have a great time.

Agreed. This is a real 'golden ticket.' To have stumbled onto this is very good fortune, IMO. I'm guessing you'll have a wonderful meal and a great time.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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I'll join in congratulating you on scoring seats @ Schwa.

I'm surprised nobody has recommended either Blackbird or Avec.

You seem to be in for a good time, regardless.

If you want to slum it at lunch and have transportation, you could do worse than Hot Doug's.

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HOT DOUGS!!!! Ive heard so much about that place, i also heard it randomly closes and there is always a line but i definately want to check it out. All we want to do is slum it for lunch so any underground spots with good food cheap are welcome....

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HOT DOUGS!!!! Ive heard so much about that place, i also heard it randomly closes and there is always a line but i definately want to check it out. All we want to do is slum it for lunch so any underground spots with good food cheap are welcome....

Hot Doug's closes whenever Doug goes on vacation, but he just came back from one last week, so I doubt another will occur anytime soon. The lines can be immense on Friday/Saturday (the days duck fat fries are available), especially if the weather is nice. Get there around 11:30 any other weekday and the wait shouldn't be very long.

You can do a lot worse than Big Star for a low-key lunch. If you can't get to Avec/Blackbird/Publican, you'll at least get a little Paul Kahan goodness. Pork belly tacos and queso fundido, topped off with a dulce de leche milkshake.

Edited by KD1191 (log)

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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I'll join in congratulating you on scoring seats @ Schwa.

I'm surprised nobody has recommended either Blackbird or Avec.

You seem to be in for a good time, regardless.

If you want to slum it at lunch and have transportation, you could do worse than Hot Doug's.

I'll join in with the crowd. Schwa was a tough reservation to land and it was well worth it (especially as an out of towner). I enjoyed the entire experience (more at the link), the laid back atmosphere, "service" and of course, the food.

On that same trip, I also had a great brunch at Publican and lunch at Blackbird (more so than dinner at L2o). You might have returned from your trip before I would have these all posted.

Hot Doug's has a few winners (cherry-apple pork!), but I'd advise you to head there early (even when it opens) as the lines were incredible (even before it opened! It was also a rainy day.). I didn't think the duck fat fries were worth a special trip (but we were there on a Friday anyway, so we ordered them) so if you can't make it on the Fri or Sat, it's not a huge loss. (On the other hand, if they served horse fat fries...)

If you want to take a glance at what's at Graham Elliot, or what you're passing up at Moto (old), you are more than welcome to visit my collection of Chicago Dining (including past visits to Alinea, Avenues (when GEB was still heading the kitchen). If you could take a trip out of town, I'd encourage a visit to Vie.

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Get there around 11:30 any other weekday and the wait shouldn't be very long.

Lines have been running 30-60 minutes at just about any hour, even on weekdays. Bring a friend or a book. :smile:

I'm surprised nobody has recommended either Blackbird or Avec.

I'm not a big fan of Kahan's restaurants. They're all REALLY LOUD, for one thing. The communal seating at Avec and the Publican is an abomination if you ask me, but at least at the Publican you have a good chance of avoiding it if you request a private table on your reservation. Avec's no-reservations policy and uncomfortable seats are another irritation. The food at Blackbird is outstanding, but the last time I ate there the portion sizes were too small and I left hungry. I also loved the savory items at the Publican but the few desserts were dreadful. There are so many other great places in Chicago, I just don't get why people laud them; every time I eat at one of his places, I leave with no desire to return.

If you could take a trip out of town, I'd encourage a visit to Vie.

Vie is indeed very good, but it's hardly "out of town"; it's in a suburb, a block from a train station served by Metra commuter trains that take less than half an hour from downtown Chicago. And it is not the only great restaurant in the Chicago suburbs. Tallgrass, Robert Burcenski's place in southwest suburban Lockport, continues to be outstanding. You'll need to drive, though, because the trains there don't run late enough to catch one back downtown. Inovasi, a block from the Metra station in north suburban Lake Bluff, is a wonderful new restaurant with amazing food from John Des Rosiers, and is also shockingly inexpensive for the level of quality. Michael Lachowicz continues to work his culinary magic at his namesake restaurant in Winnetka, a block from the Indian Hill Metra station.

Edited by nsxtasy (log)
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Slumming it for lunch, eh? How about an authentic Mexican restaurant in Pilsen, like Birriería Reyes de Ocotlan, then mosey over to Kristoffer's Cafe for outstanding tres leches cake, chocoflan, and coffee.

"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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