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LizD518

Rounding out my Chicago Itinerary

65 posts in this topic

Another place that is worth a think-about is North Pond Restaurant in the northern end of Lincoln Park.  It is in a beautiful Arts & Craft building with views overlooking the Pond and the Chicago skyline (part of it, anyway) if you get a table next to the floor-to-ceiling windows. Some have declared it a place which gives a crystallizable snapshot of a lovely facet of Chicago. The food is pretty good too, from James Beard-acknowledged chef Bruce Sherman.  The tasting menu has been one of the delights for me in past years too, and they are obliging about adding items from the a la carte menu to the tasting menu and inserting it appropriately in the progression. Plus they give you freebie items depending on the chef's whim - or at least I have had the pleasant experience of being the recipient of that.  One can cab it up there from Mag Mile, or drive there and leave your car with the Parking attendants (for a fee) at the station on N Lakeview Ave just to the west of the restaurant and you then take a brief walk through the park on a well-delineated path to the restaurant.  Sit outside, too, on the benches if you like, to take in the view, before you go into the restaurant (or after).  A meal at the place just before sunset, besides the windows, is quite lovely.


Edited by huiray (log)

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I just thought of something - perhaps a slight thing, but nevertheless...

 

There are Chinese places around Chitown which serve a form of "Spring Rolls"/"Egg Rolls" where peanut butter is used, in a somewhat large-ish roll reminiscent of stuff that one gets from Chinese take-outs in many places, but which have this specific taste, at least part of which is due to the peanut butter used.  Of course it could be considered "American-Chinese" but it seems to be something that the old-time Chinese diaspora in Chicago seem to have "created" as a "Chicago-recognizable" taste, according to what I understand.  But perhaps there are other similar situations in CT or New England (not that I was aware of, when I lived in Boston in the 1980's)  One place "known" for these peanut-butter "spring rolls" is Great Wall, just to the NE of the "center split" in the "New Chinatown" arcade on the NW side of S Archer in Chinatown in Chitown.  This place is also where I tend to pick up roast duck, chicken of various sorts, roast pork, "poon-fei-sau" BBQ pork (char-siu), etc etc when I am in town.  :-)


Edited by huiray (log)

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Another place that is worth a think-about is North Pond Restaurant in the northern end of Lincoln Park.  It is in a beautiful Arts & Craft building with views overlooking the Pond and the Chicago skyline (part of it, anyway) if you get a table next to the floor-to-ceiling windows. Some have declared it a place which gives a crystallizable snapshot of a lovely facet of Chicago. The food is pretty good too, from James Beard-acknowledged chef Bruce Sherman.  The tasting menu has been one of the delights for me in past years too, and they are obliging about adding items from the a la carte menu to the tasting menu and inserting it appropriately in the progression. Plus they give you freebie items depending on the chef's whim - or at least I have had the pleasant experience of being the recipient of that.  One can cab it up there from Mag Mile, or drive there and leave your car with the Parking attendants (for a fee) at the station on N Lakeview Ave just to the west of the restaurant and you then take a brief walk through the park on a well-delineated path to the restaurant.  Sit outside, too, on the benches if you like, to take in the view, before you go into the restaurant (or after).  A meal at the place just before sunset, besides the windows, is quite lovely.

 

Yes, I was going to mention North Pond, but I wasn't sure if entrees of $36-40 qualified as "30ish" and if the place itself qualified as "not too fancy."


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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Yes, I was going to mention North Pond, but I wasn't sure if entrees of $36-40 qualified as "30ish" and if the place itself qualified as "not too fancy."

 

Oh, one does not need jacket and tie...so that would be "informal"  :-) In fact, I don't believe they would turn away someone in jeans.  :-D  As in any other similar place, one can dine relatively frugally or somewhat expansively – it depends on what one chooses. 

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The Chicago French Market might be an interesting place to take a food-coma-producing lunchtime stroll. Included among many worthwhile vendors are Saigon Sisters, Black Dog Gelato, Delightful Pastries, and the superb Vanille Patisserie.

 

Another coma stroll would be to start with a pizza at Pequod's (on Clybourne near Webster), then walk east on Webster to Floriole Bakery & Café, my favorite bakery in the city. Or you could skip Pequod's and also eat lunch at Floriole, too. After that, if you're into such things, you could walk to Armitage near Halsted for McShane's Exchange, a high-end women's resale shop (with a funny URL, if you read it the right way). That stretch of Armitage also has other interesting shops.


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 are going to do the walkabout northwards as Alex suggests then also wander around Division & State. Maybe do the tourist-walk up Wells as well. Drop by the Old Town Ale House, preferably at night, though, (a great dive bar, favorite of many folks) and take in the wall decorations (e.g. Sarah Palin, nude, w/ a hunting rifle & scarlet pumps; Rod Blagojavich almost nude in jail getting ready for his cavity search; etc... :-) )  It also amuses me to walk around Wacker (including some of the riverbank walks), have dinner at wherever I am heading for in the River North area or whatever, wander around after that up State/Clark/Rush, maybe drop by someplace like the Redhead Piano Bar and have a drink or two, back up State/Rush to the Viagra Triangle taking in the, um, Human Scenery as well, have a gelato from the stand in the teeny park at Rush & State, then wander back to my hotel. OK, one could take in a cocktail or two at Sable along the way too. :-) 

 

BTW if you want some nice views of the Chicago skyline a few ways to do that include walking out to the end of Navy Pier (which is pretty touristy, true) and looking back at the shoreline; taking a drive up and down Lake Shore Drive from say, around McCormick Place (which you would do if you were entering Chicago downtown by taking exit 53C off the Ryan Expressway (Route 90)) all the way up alongside Lake Michigan to, say, Uptown or Foster Ave and back down.  (I myself might swing by the Wrigley Field area (lots of bars & restaurants there), or drop by Little Vietnam at Broadway & Argyle for a nice bowl of phở & some shopping)  Another nice drive (albeit traffic is another factor) is a drive down from the northern parts on Rte 90 (Kennedy Expressway), e.g. from the O'Hare area, down towards the city especially towards sunset, and get a view of the skyline from "the other side". :-)

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As a side note, if you're driving all the way from CT, an EZ-Pass or equivalent is highly recommended; tolls are significantly higher if you pay by cash. Using an EZ-Pass means you'll have more money available for food. (There -- now my post is food-related.)

 

Another coma stroll would be to start with a pizza at Pequod's (on Clybourne near Webster)

 

Sorry -- that's Clybourn (w/o the "e").


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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The WaPo visits Chicago

 

 

Writing in “Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie,” a collection of essays by Midwestern authors, Michael Stern says, “I have come to think of [italian beef] as the signature dish that embodies Chicago’s personality better than any other. It is brawny, intense, symphonic, and, for all its apparent disarray, audaciously composed.”


Edited by Alex (log)

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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Nice article.  Tom Sietsema (the author) forgot about the Jean Banchet Awards, though. :-) 

 

As for Italian Beef, I was going to mention "The Stance" but I see Sietsema has mentioned it. Heh. He forgot about rolling up one's sleeves, though, and actually describing the actual positioning of limbs and head and elbows and legs.  Of course, "The Stance" is not necessary but it isn't a bad practical way to eat one of these beauties *especially* the fully dipped ones ("double-dipped") which are dripping wet; but "The Stance" has entered the popular folklore of HOW to eat it anyway, especially if you are to be considered a resident of Chitown.  :-) ;-)   Here's one description (amongst others). :-) 

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Thank you all--this is an awesome amount of information and I'm enjoying the research (less fattening than the actual dining)!  Still hashing out a general plan with Mr. Fern.  We will be driving from and back to Cincinnati, not all the way from CT, thank goodness; the Chicago excursion is a mini-vacation embedded in a trip with family obligations in OH.  When I read those great menus though, I'm sorry we will be only two because I want to taste everything.  

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Fern, hope you have a nice time whatever you two eventually decide on.  Do report back, that would be interesting!

 

BTW I realized something - IF you do go to G&tG on Monday, then the "walk over to the Aviary" that I suggested is non-operational as Aviary is closed Monday & Tuesday.  So your only opportunity to go there (with regards to when you are in town) would be Wednesday night.

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Two places I've always loved on trips to Chicago are the Ashkenaz deli on Cedar, but I see from a recent Yelp review that it's closed, which is sad. And I dearly love the Original Pancake House on Bellevue. Their corned beef hash topped with over easy eggs is a thing of beauty.

 

Been a while since I was up there, but I always loved eating at Bistro 110, Shaw's Crab House, and Hugo's Frog Bar.


Don't ask. Eat it.

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Oh, where to begin!  :)

 

North Pond is one of my favorite restaurants.  Just terrific.  Entrees are in the mid to upper thirties.  If that's too much, consider going there for Sunday brunch.  It's just as special in daylight as at night.  All of our leading mid-priced contemporary American restaurants - North Pond, Naha, Boka, MK, Acadia - are very good, and North Pond is my favorite of this group.

 

If you can swing a reservation and the money, my recent meal at Alinea was the best dinner in my life, even better than previous visits.  I've eaten at Grace, which is similarly priced, twice; the first time was excellent but my second dinner there, I was highly disappointed with the food as well as the service.

 

If you're looking for maximum value, some of our best places have nice three-course prix fixe lunch menus.  These include Naha ($26 - unlike the others I'll list, they recently changed to a set menu, one choice per course, no substitutions), Topolobampo ($25), Blackbird ($25), and Travelle ($29).

 

Our contemporary Mexican restaurants are definitely special, but I'm not sure I'd devote more than one meal in a short visit to them.  Topolobampo is pricy at dinner but great for lunch (see above), when its prices are similar to those at Frontera Grill.  Both Mexique and Salpicon, both previously mentioned, are very good as well.

 

I loved Sable when Heather Terhune was running it, but she recently left and I haven't been back since then, so I can't really express a currently-valid opinion until I do.

 

I love Purple Pig but they don't take reservations, and the waits to be seated at normal meal times are horrendous (one to two hours or more).  If you can go mid-afternoon or late at night, it's a great choice, otherwise you're better off somewhere that takes reservations so you don't have to wait.  If you enjoy a small plates format, I instead recommend GT Fish & Oyster for seafood.

 

If you've never had our delicious local specialty of deep-dish pizza, it's an absolute must.  Lou Malnati's is the leading practitioner and IMHO the very best in town; they have several locations in the downtown area as well as in the outlying neighborhoods and suburbs.

 

We have some terrific restaurants that specialize in breakfast/brunch, but the best are away from downtown (although easily accessible from public transportation).  I consider Jam the very best of these; other great ones also include M. Henry, Southport Grocery, and Bongo Room.

 

To add some variety to your itinerary, we have some terrific restaurants serving international cuisines, often with a contemporary spin.  The best of these include Salero (northern Spain), Carnivale (Latin fusion), La Sirena Clandestina (South American), Yusho (Asian fusion), and Mercat a la Planxa (tapas).  I absolutely love the food at Tanta (Peruvian), but it is excruciatingly noisy.  For more mainstream international cuisines, consider Italian at Piccolo Sogno, Piccolo Sogno Due, or tesori, or French bistro fare at La Sardine.

 

I do not like Publican, in part because it is horribly noisy, and in part because you're probably going to be stuck sitting at the two looooong communal tables.  Whoever dreamed up that concept should be shot.  I also do not like Girl & the Goat at all; I have found more misses than hits among the savory dishes, and the desserts are uniformly dreadful.  Little Goat Diner isn't much better; I ate there recently and several of the dishes had items swimming in grease.  Those two places were the worst meals I've had in Chicago in recent years.

 

If you want to try Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches, Portillo's is a good place for both.  I wouldn't devote more than a lunch to them, though.

 

You mentioned Cincinnati; I visited there recently and really enjoyed my dinner at Jean Robert's Table.  For Sunday brunch, go to the Orchids at Palm Court. It's a sumptuous AYCE buffet.  Before or after brunch, spend a little time walking around the Cincinnati Hilton Nederland Plaza, the hotel where the restaurant is located; it's an art deco architectural gem, completely restored to its 1930s grandeur.


Edited by nsxtasy (log)

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Two places I've always loved on trips to Chicago are the Ashkenaz deli on Cedar, but I see from a recent Yelp review that it's closed, which is sad. And I dearly love the Original Pancake House on Bellevue. Their corned beef hash topped with over easy eggs is a thing of beauty.

 

Been a while since I was up there, but I always loved eating at Bistro 110, Shaw's Crab House, and Hugo's Frog Bar.

 

Ashkenaz is indeed closed.  Bistro 110 closed several years ago, and the space is now Bar Toma, a bar/pizza concept from Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia fame.  If you're looking for a good French bistro, consider La Sardine.  For seafood, Shaw's is still good; their Sunday brunch buffet is absolutely awesome, but for a great seafood dinner, I prefer GT Fish & Oyster.


Edited by nsxtasy (log)

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