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LizD518

Rounding out my Chicago Itinerary

65 posts in this topic

So far ... booked Sable for Sunday Brunch.

Sable is not a personal preference of mine, but others rave about it. Hopefully you will enjoy it. The cocktails (bar) are great, however! I don't know if the situation has recently changed, but the last time I was there for brunch (on a Saturday a while ago) the place was deserted.

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Just to be clear - we didn't dine at Sable but more than one person recommended it to us.

Other downtown recommendations from people I trust included Au Cheval (more than one rec), Xoco, Big & Little's, Franks N Dawgs, NaHa, Antique Taco, GT Fish & Oyster and Mexique.


"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" (coined while playing with my food at Lolita).

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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For a special 50th, Everest is a good recommendation. Also formal, and French, is Les Nomades. I'd also recommend Naha, which is a very short walk from your hotel (and a bit more casual, although still clearly high-end dining).


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and their 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."

 

"A vasectomy might cost as much as a year’s worth of ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it’s equally enjoyable." -Ezra Dyer, NY Times

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This group is such a valuable resource, I've now become a donor! Thank you all.

My three and a half days in Chicago are now full of food. Dinners at Prosecco and NaHa. Brunch at Sable. Will try Yolk for brekkie and also try for Purple Pig or Avec on the only open evening.

I've booked the Architecture Foundation's bus tour as well. Too bad the boat tour doesn't start 'till April.

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I prefer Les Nomades to Everest, but both are worthwhile. The latter takes a clearly Alsatian tack while the former is more classically French. At either, you'll likely feel under-dressed if you don't have on a suit & tie. For occasions that don't call for getting quite that fancy (though plenty get dressed up for them as well), Sepia or Acadia are excellent options, and both have availability on Opentable for the weekend of your 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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This group is such a valuable resource, I've now become a donor! Thank you all.

My three and a half days in Chicago are now full of food. Dinners at Prosecco and NaHa. Brunch at Sable. Will try Yolk for brekkie and also try for Purple Pig or Avec on the only open evening.

I've booked the Architecture Foundation's bus tour as well. Too bad the boat tour doesn't start 'till April.

I've lived in Chicago for 15 years, and I've never heard or Prosecco. My business lunches at NaHa have been fine, but nothing worth seeking out on a short visit. Cocktails at Sable deserve all the raves they get, but the food doesn't really stand out from dozens of other places in the city.

Don't leave town without trying a Paul Kahan place (Blackbird, Avec, Publican, Publican Quality Meats, Big Star). I'd book Publican for brunch and save Sable for a nightcap.


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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OK, I take it back! Now this site is confusing. :-D Just kidding. I'm enjoying the debate.

How 'bout this: Sable is getting such mixed reviews I'll take the last advice and change it to Publican.

Found Processo on Trip Advisor 'cause my birthday celebrating wife's fav is Italian. Open to alternatives. Everest would be it if it were my birthday. (We went to Chez Panisse in Berkeley for my 50th last October - terrific!) So disappointed I can't get into Alinea. Everything I'm reading about it is right up my alley. I've 'liked' their FB page and will watch for last minute tables (tickets :-)

Keep it comin'. This is fun!

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Have a nice trip!

At Naha, you might mention that you are celebrating a 50th birthday... ;-)

[i will say that it can get expensive there depending on what you order. :-) I've dropped more than $200 dining by myself but then I had several appetizers, double portions of foie gras, wine pairings for the whole meal...and had a not perfect meal (nasty "veal lollipops") on top of that]

If you are going after higher-end Italian (and even higher), next time you might consider some other places besides Prosecco. Some other options: Spiaggia, Cafe Spiaggia, Piccolo Sogno, Coco Pazzo... There are others. (All also show availability on Opentable for your weekend, indicating that - unless things change - reservations would also be available in a similar time frame in the future)

Spiaggia is the pinnacle of Italian cuisine in Chitown but some think it way overpriced for what they serve. Cafe Spiaggia (it's smaller sister right next to it) is cheaper, more intimate/"rustic" and just as decent but with less selections.

Consider Topolobampo for next time too. (Opentable shows limited availability for your weekend)

But really, there are so many good places that don't get booked out months in advance in Chicago. It depends on what you want to eat!


Edited by huiray (log)

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Done and done. I've cancelled Prosecco (I trust all of you far more than Trip Advisor). Its Cafe Spiaggia now. That hits our sweet spot of my 'best of the best regardless of cost' and my wife's preference to slightly below that financial carelessness.

I'm convinced we'll both be ecstatically happy!

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This group is such a valuable resource, I've now become a donor! Thank you all.

My three and a half days in Chicago are now full of food. Dinners at Prosecco and NaHa. Brunch at Sable. Will try Yolk for brekkie and also try for Purple Pig or Avec on the only open evening.

I've booked the Architecture Foundation's bus tour as well. Too bad the boat tour doesn't start 'till April.

If you're with a companion, here's a Groupon for a Chicago History/Pedway Walking Tour. It might be an interesting complement to the the bus tour.


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and their 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."

 

"A vasectomy might cost as much as a year’s worth of ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it’s equally enjoyable." -Ezra Dyer, NY Times

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If you're out by Midway, Boback's Sausage Co. is wonderful. They have a huge buffet with wonderful pork products along with lots of Eastern European vegetable dishes. Don't know if they serve breakfast, though.

I'm sorry to report that Boback's (http://bobak.com/) no longer offers the buffet. They are now just selling groceries.

Our go-to for Polish food near Midway is Szalas (http://www.szalasrestaurant.com/)-- a highlander restaurant in a huge A-frame, you have to pull a cord that rings a bell to get in. Food is excellent, decor includes taxidermy, waterwheel, etc. They serve lunch and dinner.

Cheers, Jen

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Some other places to consider for brunch currently, as compiled by chicago.eater.com:

http://chicago.eater.com/archives/2013/03/07/where-to-eat-brunch-in-chicago-right-now.php

I forgot to mention this list omits one spot that is frequently overlooked by many folks...including on here...the Sunday buffet brunch at Shaw's Crab House, either downtown on Hubbard St or out in Schaumburg. Maybe because it's not new or "cool" enough for eater.com. :-)

Also, brunch at North Pond; or in The Lobby at the Peninsula; or some others...

Some links - here, here, here; & etc.

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Monday eve to Thursday, two weeks from now.  Two adult omnivores.  We don't get good Mexican or Southwestern much and I would love to go to Topolobampo.  Other names I picked up from older threads:

Acadia

Avec

Little Goat

Mexique

Publican

Purple Pig

Sable

Wieners Circle

Comments on these and additional suggestions would be much appreciated.  Our first evening we will need to eat early-ish and I expect many places are not open Mondays so I need to do some homework.  We are New Haven pizza eaters at home and I'm not sure Chicago pizza is a must for me but I'd be happy to hear an argument for it.  I am always interested in local beer; are there breweries or brewpubs we should check out?   

Thanks,  Fern

 

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For pizza: Geno's East with Charred Pepperoni

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Besides "Mexican" and "Southwestern" (each of which is a MULTI-FACETED many-regional issue) what sort of cuisines are you interested in?  HOW MUCH are you willing to spend?  Are you looking for high-end or low-end or a mixture? Any other non-North American cuisines? 

 

Gosh, there are SO MANY restaurants and cuisines in Chicagoland - far, far more than those examples you cite.  Chicago is held to be one of the premier food destination cities in the world – perhaps you might mull over that.

 

BTW, with regards to your list - I would skip Little Goat and simply go for Girl & the Goat instead.  Dunno why LG is apparently recommended on eG, according to what you say.  A reservation for G&tG two weeks out is basically impossible - but you could just turn up before 4.30 pm at their front doors and GET IN THERE the moment they open the doors to ask for a table.  They hold a few tables for walk-ins every day, and they are available on a first-come-first-serve basis.  If it is just "two-of-you", they MAY offer you one of the Kitchen Tables.  If so, GRAB IT!!!  

 

As for Sable - i. do. not. like. that. place.  It's great for cocktails (one of the widest ranging in Chitown, but other places (e.g. Aviary, Violet Hour are also well-known and innovative and maybe better known) and also has one of the widest selections of Scotch in town - but for the food, meh.  IMO.  I'd go elsewhere for food, then decamp to Sable for cocktails and whiskey, if that was what I wanted to do after eating.  I wouldn't go there JUST for the food, but that's my opinion.

 

Purple Pig should be on your list, yes.  Try going there at the off-hours - your wait will be more bearable.  Note that it may be a bit hard to find -- it is on the left side of the building that bears the formal address.  Why are you thinking of Wiener's Circle?  As for Chicago-style pizza -- i.e. deep-dish type --- keep in mind that the franchises of all manifestations of CDD Pizza outside of the originators in Chicago have generally not been good.  If your experience of a CDDP is at some place like Giordano's in CT or similar, it was probably far, far below what the original Giordano's in Chitown puts out.  There are arguments amongst folsk in Chitown itself on which place serves the best CDDP - go to another food forum (CH; cough, cough) for REAMS of stuff on that.

 

But, again, there are so many places in town to try - it is not a place that has just one or two things to eat.

 

(Mexique is a good place to try out besides Topolobampo.  BTW, If you sit at the bar at Frontera Grill (which is side-by-side, connected internally w/Topolobampo) you can order off both the Topolobampo menu and the Frontera Grill menu.)


Edited by huiray (log)

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BTW, just for the hell of it, Alinea in Chicago is usually ranked amongst the best restaurants in the world.  Of course, if Molecular Gastronomy is  not your thing (as it is not mine) then that doesn't matter much.  ;-)  

 

BTW2, Everest (in Chicago) has what might be the most extensive Alsatian (and related) wine lists in all of North America.  Oh, they serve really good food too.

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Fern, I'd like to echo huiray's questions and comments, and add a few more:

1) Any price considerations?

2) You have only three nights, so could you prioritize your desires beyond Mexican/Southwestern?

3) Topo is excellent, of course, and there's the Frontera option. I've never eaten at Mexique, but we like Salpicon as an alternative to Frontera.

4) You'd have to check on which of these are still open, but here's a 2008 article about Rick Bayless's favorite Mexican places in Pilsen. I can vouch for the tres leches cake at Kristoffer's Cafe, which I know is still open.

5) Sable: I like the food better than h. does, although there are places around there I'd choose first. Agree re the cocktails.

6) If you're motivated to eat Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, just to say you did it, well, go for it -- but I wouldn't, at least not on such a brief trip.

6) As h. also said, there are so many wonderful options. Where are you staying? Do you plan to rely on walking/cab/driving/public transportation to get to where you want to go?

7) Would you like more cocktail bar recommendations? Gelato? Doughnuts? Coffee?

8) Would you like some lunch recommendations, too? Breakfast?


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and their 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."

 

"A vasectomy might cost as much as a year’s worth of ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it’s equally enjoyable." -Ezra Dyer, NY Times

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Thank you, gulfporter, huiray and Alex.

 

We will be staying in the Magnificent Mile neighborhood.  We will arrive by car but prefer to leave it parked while we are in town; we expect to use feet and public transit as much as possible.  The last time I was in Chicago (decades ago!) I think I slept on the floor of a graduate student's apartment.  I remember going to a very small blues club and getting chicken, including an order of gizzards, from a South Side place where the cash and the food were passed on a turntable through the bullet-proof glass.  Now I am middle-aged and I have a husband who prefers less gritty venues. :biggrin:  
Let's try for entrees up to $30ish at dinner and nothing too formal/fancy for this trip.  
I would appreciate recommendations for dinner, lunch, cocktails, brewpubs/breweries, strong coffee and "local specialties".  
 
We like lots of different kinds of food.  We live in Connecticut and do most of our eating in New England and NYC.  Local ingredients/preparations are always of special interest and the quality of the food is more important than particular cuisines.  I'm not trying to focus only on Mexican or Southwestern but I have heard about Topolobampo and we certainly don't have anything comparable close to home.  I would say that we have enough access to typical executions of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Italian, Spanish, Thai and "seafood" that I'm not actively looking for them when traveling, but outstanding anything is worth consideration.  
 

I would be curious to go to Alinea but I don't think it's going to happen on this trip: improbable that we would come up with tickets and I would prefer to spread the budget around a bit more.    

 

Girl and the Goat looks great and is open Monday so we might try the early bird walk-in strategy then.  

 

Lastly, Thursday we will be driving away via Oak Park.  Any lunch ideas in that direction?

Thanks,  Fern

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I would recommend Cai  in Chinatown for Dim Sum.


"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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OK. 

 

Have a look at this, if you like.  Look also at the 'eating out' forum there too.  Or, peek here if you like, and narrow it down by searching using relevant terms.

 

As you walk or travel around, consider having a Chicago Dog and Italian Beef at some point (lunch, or a snack) - these two are thought of as iconic Chicago foods.  (NB Wiener's Circle, which is on your list, is more known for char dogs which is a variant of the more usual wet-cooked Vienna dogs)  There are a few well-known purveyors (Portillo's, Al's Beef) close to Mag Mile, well within walking distance.  If you are visiting the Art Institute of Chicago there's an Al's Beef very close by.  There are other places; different folks have their favorites and fierce disputes arise over which is "best".  One convenient way to look for places serving one or both is to go to Google maps, center it on the Chicago Loop/Mag Mile/River North etc area, then type in either "Chicago hot dogs" or "Italian beef" (without the quote marks) into the search box.  BTW, Hot Doug's has closed down.

 

As for cocktails, Aviary and Violet Hour has been mentioned above besides Sable.  I would urge you to seriously consider a visit to Aviary.  It is not a cheap place but consider it still, as the offerings are unique.  A reservation is probably best, if you can manage it - maybe after your meal at G&tG you could hop over to Aviary...or walk there...(Note: the area is, yes, a little gritty but I've never felt unsafe walking around.  Just use common sense and be alert)

 

I can't help you with local breweries, as I've never paid much attention to them (not a beer drinker) - but yes, there are several around Chicagoland, some with national recognition.  Consult other forums, or perhaps someone will chime in here. (Ditto coffee - although a name that comes to mind are the Intelligentsia places in Chitown which seem to get a lot of love.  I believe there is also one of their coffeebars in NYC)


Edited by huiray (log)

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If you can swing it, you should have tea at Dream About Tea in Evanston. Evanston also is home to atleast one wonderful Mexican place, but I forgot the name. Dream About Tea is an authentic Chinese teahouse.


Edited by Naftal (log)

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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The last time I was in Chicago (decades ago!) I think I slept on the floor of a graduate student's apartment.

 

Ah, yes. I remember those days well, too, and with fondness.

 

Coffee not far where you're staying (there are others around the city, of course): Julius Meinl, 211 E Ontario; Intelligentsia, 53 E Randolph (across the street from the don't-miss Chicago Cultural Center); Toni Patisserie, 65 E Washington (also great for lunch and, well, pastries)

 

Cocktails: In addition to those already mentioned: The Drifter (inside The Green Door Tavern) (live music, so best to call and see if the performer matches your taste); Three Dots and a Dash (tiki bar -- OpenTable reservation highly recommended); Ms. Alex likes to take an afternoon break from shopping at Pops for Champagne;

 

Brewpub: I live in Beer City USA (really!), so I don't avail myself of the ones in Chicago. However, 3 Floyds, a few miles south of I-80 in Munster, IN, has a cult following and might be worth a diversion if you're so motivated.

 

"Local specialties": Lots of info and debate (which are not always the same thing) about the best places. Chicago dogs (I suspect that's why you mentioned The Wiener Circle) -- I'm not a fan, so sorry, no further info here; Italian beef (Portillo's and Al's Beef are near you -- however, SeriousEats ranked Bari #1 (W Grand bet. I-94 and Ogden, good subs there, too -- might be a good place to stop on your way to Oak Park; it's easy to get onto 290 from there)

 

Lunch depends on where you'll be. There are so many, many good choices. Some excellent places that are over your price range for dinner would meet that criterion for lunch, e.g., Naha. What do you have planned for that time of day?

 

Dinner Re the rest of your list, we've eaten at Avec several times, which says something right there. I was disappointed with Acacia's pricey prix fixe dinner, but had a good hamburger in their lounge. I've never eaten at The Publican (horrors!). Hmm, what would be different and unexpected? How about Tanta (Peruvian, with Japanese/Chinese influences)? Vera (wine bar + tapas in the West Loop)? Ms. Alex is a big fan of Bistronomic. Finally, I know it's Italian, but if the weather is nice, Piccolo Sogno, where Grand, Milwaukee, and Halsted meet, has a wonderful patio on which to enjoy their excellent food and service. They also run Piccolo Sogno Due, in River North.

 

Here are some of Grant Achatz's favorite places. It would be hard to go wrong with any of them (except Hot Doug's, which is no longer). We've eaten at GT Fish several times, but as you mentioned, you have no shortage of good places in CT.


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and their 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."

 

"A vasectomy might cost as much as a year’s worth of ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it’s equally enjoyable." -Ezra Dyer, NY Times

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Further to Alex's post - Naha is a nice place, and has been on my rotation for years.  Be warned though that you need to be aware of what you are ordering or how hungry you are.  I've had lunches there before that topped $70 (just for myself) when I ordered according to my healthy appetite, and at least one dinner that exceeded $200 for myself - but that was with a double order of foie gras plus full wine pairings. :-) 

 

ETA:  Oh, if you're going to be around Naha or Topo/Frontera during the day I wonder if you might be interested in taking a peek at an interesting antique shop. :-) (NB: I have no financial interests in that place but have got lovely pieces from them)


Edited by huiray (log)

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Further to Alex's post - Naha is a nice place, and has been on my rotation for years.  Be warned though that you need to be aware of what you are ordering or how hungry you are.  I've had lunches there before that topped $70 (just for myself) when I ordered according to my healthy appetite, and at least one dinner that exceeded $200 for myself - but that was with a double order of foie gras plus full wine pairings. :-) 

 

ETA:  Oh, if you're going to be around Naha or Topo/Frontera during the day I wonder if you might be interested in taking a peek at an interesting antique shop. :-) (NB: I have no financial interests in that place but have got lovely pieces from them)

 

Careful, definitely, although they offer a three-course, no-choices "Spring Menu" for $26 -- with which I suspect I'll have a close relationship when I'm in Chicago very soon. You also can get an enormous burger, with fries and crispy onions, for $18, or $21 with any of their cheeses. Me, if I didn't do the Spring Menu, I'd probably just get the starter of "Organic Carnaroli Risotto with Braised Fennel and Spinach, 'Early Spring' Green Garlic, Preserved Black Truffle, and Parmesan Reggiano," for $17. Add a glass of wine, and I'm out the door for well under $50, including t/t (or very nearly so if I opted for the Spring Menu).


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and their 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."

 

"A vasectomy might cost as much as a year’s worth of ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it’s equally enjoyable." -Ezra Dyer, NY Times

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