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#301 goodeats

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 03:17 PM

NPR's "Wait Wait..." reports Chef Rick Bayless will be cooking in an experimental dinner-play performance experience...

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#302 aaronsinger

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 12:52 AM

NPR's "Wait Wait..." reports Chef Rick Bayless will be cooking in an experimental dinner-play performance experience...


http://www.npr.org/2...lays-not-my-job

He was recently on the NPR game show "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me", promoting 'Cascabel', which opens in a week at Looking Glass Theater, a pretty well-known and respected theater company (I remember going there on a field trip in junior high or high school to see Mary Zimmerman's production of Ovid's Metamorpheses).

http://lookingglasst...office/cascabel

This sounds like a rather bizarre experiment. Although maybe it is not that strange, considering Next sells "tickets."

#303 goodeats

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 01:03 PM

I am excited to visit Chicago the first weekend in May but am no longer familiar with what cheap good eats are around town? This can include diner, BBQ, coffee shops, bakeries, dessert bars.

I'll probably hit Clark's since I miss it - has this place gone downhill? (I realize there is more than one location.)

I'll be reviewing the upthread when I have more time, but the lazy person is asking for a 411. Thanks!

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#304 aaronsinger

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 12:29 AM

I am excited to visit Chicago the first weekend in May but am no longer familiar with what cheap good eats are around town? This can include diner, BBQ, coffee shops, bakeries, dessert bars.

I'll probably hit Clark's since I miss it - has this place gone downhill? (I realize there is more than one location.)

I'll be reviewing the upthread when I have more time, but the lazy person is asking for a 411. Thanks!


Clarke's, the breakfast spot? I have only been to the Evanston location and not the busier one on Belmont, but that's a definite skip, it always seemed pretty terrible to me.

Not sure exactly what you're looking for, and I think the thread has a good list of places as it is.

That said, Chef Paul Kahan has recently expanded his One Off Hospitality (Avec, Blackbird, Publican, Big Star and The Violet Hour) empire with Publican Quality Meats, a combination butcher shop and lunch spot that sounds amazing, though I have not been. They have a good assortment of sandwiches and soup.

Smoque is pretty amazing BBQ, off the beaten path on the NW side (though if car-less, it's an easy walk off the Irving Park Blue Line stop). Maybe not quite as good as Smoque, but still pretty damn good, is Rub BBQ in West Rogers Park.

Donuts have become the new it thing, or so it seems. Donut Vault in River North and Donuts Done-Rite, run out of Petterino's in the Loop, are two new popular places selling gourmet donuts.

Of course, there is always Rick Bayless' empire: Topo, Frontera, and his fast casual spots Xoco (which is always good, and breakfast there is often overlooked; their mexican hot chocolate and churros are delicious) and Frontera Fresco (found on the 7th floor of Marshall Field's, I mean, Macy's).

Also, if you get out into "the neighborhoods" there are lots of good "ethnic" eats; lots of great taquerias all around the city, many good Indian/Pakistani spots along Devon Avenue in West Rogers Park, and other little places I love such as La Unica in (Edgewater?), which has good cuban sandwiches and other caribbean items.

And then there are the various hot dog and hamburger places: the famous Hot Doug's; Kuma's Corner, which reminds me of one of my favorite Yogi Berra lines ("No one goes there anymore, it's too crowded); as well as a number of places in my native Evanston--Bill's, a great old-school burger stand; Wiener and Still Champion, which has a big menu for a hot dog stand and has the best corn dogs I have ever had; and Edzo's, a burger place that is somewhat reminiscent of Ray's, as they offer multiple sources for their ground beef, they grind their own meat, and they make both thin "griddle" style burgers as well as the larger pub-style burgers.

I wish I could recommend a good place for deep-dish pizza, but I don't know what's good anymore. All of the better known places are very disappointing to me; although I have yet to try Pequod and Burt's Place, the latter of which has always gotten good acclaim (and, again, off the beaten path, in north suburban Morton Grove).

#305 goodeats

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 09:04 AM

Clarke's, the breakfast spot? I have only been to the Evanston location and not the busier one on Belmont, but that's a definite skip, it always seemed pretty terrible to me.

aaronsinger - you are awesome! That is the type of info I'm seeking. Much appreciated.

Clarke's just opened a branch in Hyde Park, and that's the only reason why I'll head there -- for nostalgia's sake. I won't have a car, probably, but I miss the el. Riding on the NYC metro only reminded me why I miss the el.

I'll probably be staying near Congress Plaza hotel, since my event is there - are there any decent breakfast places near there for one of the other days? Thanks!

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#306 aaronsinger

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 05:14 PM

aaronsinger - you are awesome! That is the type of info I'm seeking. Much appreciated.

Clarke's just opened a branch in Hyde Park, and that's the only reason why I'll head there -- for nostalgia's sake. I won't have a car, probably, but I miss the el. Riding on the NYC metro only reminded me why I miss the el.

I'll probably be staying near Congress Plaza hotel, since my event is there - are there any decent breakfast places near there for one of the other days? Thanks!


The El won't get you to Hyde Park, although from Congress/Michigan the South Shore line is just a block or two away. Valois is a good diner in HP.

There are a number of breakfast spots you could head to in and around the south Loop:

Manny's is an institution, a Jewish-deli style diner on Roosevelt/Jefferson (a short cab ride away, or a short bus ride from the Roosevelt El stop).

The Bongo Room (1152 S. Wabash) is a trendier place, that also has some huge portions. I had a good meal there before walking over to Soldier Field for a Bears game a couple years ago. Yolk (1120 S. Michigan) is a similar, trendy place, with a bigger menu.

Another Chicago institution, slightly farther away but still nearby near the Loop, is Lou Mitchell's, which is a block west of Union Station on Jackson.

I also noticed that Mercat a la Planxa, normally a high-end tapas restaurant, is also open for breakfast, although their breakfast menu doesn't look too different from anywhere else.

#307 goodeats

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 12:47 AM

The El won't get you to Hyde Park, although from Congress/Michigan the South Shore line is just a block or two away. Valois is a good diner in HP.

Ironically, in my four years in HP, I never ventured into Valois or Mello Yellow. I also meant in my head that I'd probably be taking the el probably to Chinatown, but didn't type it. I do miss the old Jeffrey that went down to HP (I know, I know, same route, different name).

I've wanted to try Yolk for awhile, and I used walk past Lou Mitchell's in the old days but just never ventured in. So many places, so little time. :-( Thanks again, aaronsinger!

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#308 aaronsinger

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 05:15 PM

Ironically, in my four years in HP, I never ventured into Valois or Mello Yellow. I also meant in my head that I'd probably be taking the el probably to Chinatown, but didn't type it. I do miss the old Jeffrey that went down to HP (I know, I know, same route, different name).

I've wanted to try Yolk for awhile, and I used walk past Lou Mitchell's in the old days but just never ventured in. So many places, so little time. :-( Thanks again, aaronsinger!


You're not coming in for the NRA show, are you?

#309 goodeats

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 05:35 AM

You're not coming in for the NRA show, are you?

Yikes! Is that why I couldn't get a hotel? Nope. Reunion with friends. Thankfully, a friend is putting me up because I couldn't find a hotel (I wasn't sure if it was okay since there is now a bf in the picture). Here's a question: arriving in ORD at 10pm, friend lives in South Loop.

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#310 jkwilso2

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 04:36 PM

I'd also recommend Hot Chocolate, which (finally Beard-award winner) Mindy Segal has just remodeled and revamped the menu (adding a cookie cart, with $1 cookies). The grilled cheese, mac and cheese, and burgers are decent dinner selections, and the desserts and hot chocolate are spectacular (and very filling). Hot Chocolate is also one of the rare excellent restaurants you can find on restaurant.com, for $25 off $50 Sun-Thurs dinner.


Chicago has a number of excellent female chefs, such as Stephanie Izard, Girl and the Goat (West Loop), with her diner Little Goat opening soon. There's also Sable, sola, Naha, and good bakeries such as Bittersweet and Bleeding Heart Bakery.


#311 goodeats

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 04:48 PM

Wow - I just realized I never followed up. Well, here is a placeholder...

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#312 Tex Chef

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 03:48 PM

I'm planning to take my husband to Chicago (where he grew up) for a Bears game this fall. We've been several times and tried some fantastic restaurants over the years but its been a couple of years since I was there so I'm hoping to get a few recommendations for some more current fine dining restaurants we should try. Perhaps a tasting menu. We'll eat anything!

Thanks!!

#313 aaronsinger

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 01:34 AM

I'd also recommend Hot Chocolate, which (finally Beard-award winner) Mindy Segal has just remodeled and revamped the menu (adding a cookie cart, with $1 cookies). The grilled cheese, mac and cheese, and burgers are decent dinner selections, and the desserts and hot chocolate are spectacular (and very filling). Hot Chocolate is also one of the rare excellent restaurants you can find on restaurant.com, for $25 off $50 Sun-Thurs dinner.

Chicago has a number of excellent female chefs, such as Stephanie Izard, Girl and the Goat (West Loop), with her diner Little Goat opening soon. There's also Sable, sola, Naha, and good bakeries such as Bittersweet and Bleeding Heart Bakery.


Just an FYI, Bleeding Heart Bakery recently went out of business.

#314 Waitman

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 09:14 PM

List-checkers, crust-punks and general pizza afficianados may wish to bounce from Wrigley Field (arguably overrated) after the game to Great Lake Pizza, a few blocks north in Andersonville for The Best Pizza In America, according to GQ.

I snarfed down a couple of slices of pepperoni and most of a Clam Pie at Frank Pepe's just last week as a baseline comparison and I'd suggest that Great Lake has, without question the most etherial pizza crust I have ever encountered. But it is sandbagged by the unerspiced earnestness of the sauce and toppings.

This is a common failing of "authentic" and (let's call them) Third Wave pizza places: the idea that the ingredients must be so pure and simple -- Amish-like -- that organic pedigree becomes a substitute for actual personality.

Nonethless, there was a certain cosmic somethingness about the tomato sauce, sheep cheese and cremini mushrooms. If only I was stoned or dating a hippie girl or both, it would have been perfect.

Also, the tiny dining room (3 deuces and an 8-person common tobale) is so Shaker and twee that you're tempted to speak in hushed toned throughout dinner. The place needs some White Stripes on the speakers, a more intoxicated crowd (BYOB, btw) and a little more zing in its sauce.

Still, I'd go back for that crust in a heartbeat.

Also, despite its modest notoreity, there was little wait for early arrivals -- it opens at 5.

Finally, no bathrooms.

"Don't go braggin' about how cool and clean your kitchen is. 'Caus if your kitchen's so cool and clean, ain't nothin' cookin'!"

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#315 Robert Rymarz

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 10:21 PM

Great Lake is one of my favorite pizzeria's, and any trip I take to Chicago is not complete without a visit.
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#316 Mrs. B

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 10:51 PM

I agree that the crust was quite good but the whole experience left me with a bad tast in my mouth from the loud (decibel) young man (who was nice enough but never learned what an inside vice sounds like) shouting next to me at the communal table, to the choice of 1 beverage (albeit a very fine ginger ale) to the dour expression shared by the 3 people working I don't believe I witnessed a single smile directed at anyone all night, I would probably not return based on that one experience.

#317 aaronsinger

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 12:08 AM

I agree that the crust was quite good but the whole experience left me with a bad tast in my mouth from the loud (decibel) young man (who was nice enough but never learned what an inside vice sounds like) shouting next to me at the communal table, to the choice of 1 beverage (albeit a very fine ginger ale) to the dour expression shared by the 3 people working I don't believe I witnessed a single smile directed at anyone all night, I would probably not return based on that one experience.


Great Lake is notorious for horrendously bad customer service. They're able to pick and choose their customers since they've become so big, and if you're not cool enough for them, then screw you. My sister and mom walked in once, just after they opened and they were not busy, and they refused to even acknowledge their existence, even as they sat other people. I will not do business with such a snobbish, condescending place. I'm sure the pizza is good, but there are plenty of other good pizza places in Chicago.

And no bathrooms? They oughta be shut down by the health department for blatantly violating the law.

#318 Robert Rymarz

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 09:05 AM

I have often read those complaints about service. Yelp has many of them. Leaves me scratching my head as I never experienced bad or rude service from the owners. Actually just the opposite. Almost always upon leaving Lydia will hand my daughter some homemade cookies or a couple bars of Mast Brothers chocolate.

As for the deal with the bathroom. I don't know the details but will ask next time I am in. "After I eat" I got the impression from their FB page somehow it was abused by a customer in someway. But is it illegal? I can't say for sure, as from my understanding they may be exempt with under 10 seats.
http://www.ada-il.or...s_bathrooms.php

#319 KMango

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 08:01 AM

In the windy city last week for a brief overnight, had the fortune of staying near this small Cuban cafe:

Cafecito

Stop-your-heart delicious cafe con leche ($3-ish), and massive, pressed breakfast sandwiches ($4-ish) that could warm even the coldest of Chicago mornings. The previous evening, I did not choose from the ample and interesting Cuban sandwich menu, but instead opted for a series of to-go vegetarian fare. Jalapeno hummus, black bean and corn salad, and a Caprese salad hit the spot, ample portions for $3 each.

This place is adjacent to a youth hostel, and I was skeptical as to the quality of such inexpensive vittles. My apprehension was misguided, those kids are on to something.

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#320 Waitman

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 09:39 AM

i don't usually complain about the cost of top restaurants - obscene expense is kind of a given. But the $98 3-course meal at Trudid seem a tad outlandish. That being said, the skate wing with orange braised fennel was quite tasty, and the grilled rabbit loin with "a melange of summer" (roasty fresh vegetables) was excellent. Dessert -- a pear sorbet on top chocolate mousse-y stuff -- was definitely forgettable. The room was understatedly -- or, possibly, generically -- elegant, the service was borderline oppressive -- these people need to smile more. Mrs. B's consumme was prepared at the table via a chemistry lab device where an oil lamp warms the bottom bulb until the liquid gets hot enough to surge into the vegetables on top. The result was too salty.

We noshed at Frontera grill. Have to say, they make excellent guacamole, among other things. Mrs. B had oysters with a Mexican-ish mignonette (cilantro, lime and a taste of peppers). I had a lovely plate of duck tacos. I'm not sure the place was revelatory, but we enjoyed it, and the bartenter with the funky mustache was very pleasant.

If you find yourself in the fashionable quarter of Wicker Park -- the kind of place you'd go to buy used clothing and vinyl music -- you can get a tasty bit of Mexican at Big Star (where they have a turntable and not an MP3 player) , as well as any number of tequilas, while sitting outside and watching people younger and hotter than yourself (maybe I project -- younger and hotter than me) stroll by. I was able to indulge my huitlacoche addiction, with a mushroom-huitlacoche tostada, and wolfed down some tasty pork-belly tacos. They say the chef has won some Beard award or another, and it shows. The whole thing is pretty cheap, too -- dollar for dollar, I'd take it over Fronterra.

Also in Wicker Park, on Division Street, was Bangers and Lace, an extremely pleasant place to select from the 30 or beers on tap and enjoy the afternoon breeze -- windows were open on two sides and there was sidewalk space, as well. The bartender was quite friendly and the beer quite good.

Wicker Park also has a passable bagel place located almost across the street from the farmers market (Sundays, in the actual park), and seems like a pretty cool place to retreat to once you get past the whole Loop scene.

The bartender at Bangers and Lace -- where they were playing Muddy Waters when we walked in -- sent us to B.L.U.E.S. and Kingston Mines, across the street from each other on North Halstead -- for some blues. B.L.U.E.S. was a tiny, divey place with an aging naughty diva on the stage with the house band (featuring Carlos on guitar -- proof that in America even a poor Mexican kid can grow up to be bluesman). I quite enjoyed it, despite the fact that, even in Chicago, the blues is largely a tourist attraction. At Kingston Mines, which is much larger, they have two stages in adjoining rooms, the acts alternate stages and rooms. The night we were there, one was a very good horn-anchored act and the other a technically proficient but ultimately boring woman whose name escapes me. A good time was had by all. Kingston Mines features, heavily salted southern-ish food -- the red beans and rice was about right once you crumbled the corn bread atop it. At B.L.U.E.S., if you get hungry, you can eat the lime wedge.

Finally, we rocked down to Chinatown, for my favorite meal of the trip, at Lao You Ju. I realize that the low quality of DC's Chinese food makes for a low bar but this was seriously good eating. Somehow we decided that dumping the fried radishes onto the tongue-numbing dan-dan noodles somehow made for a perfect appetizer, although both were quite tasty on thier own. Mrs. B got some very unusual and delicious Three Kingdom Steamed Eggs (item 165) that she can perhaps describe in greater detail, and I got the delicious boiled tenderloin Chengdu style, which is every bit as tasty as the near-pornographic picture on the menu (item 135) suggests. There are rumors that Lao You Ju is a hotspot for younger, hipper Chineses-Americans, but this was not in eviudence during our visit (except for the vodka-martini-ish-heavy bar menu). Bit of a language barrier, if that sort of think annoys you, but it all worked out great in the end.

The owner of the joint, a Mr. Hu, also has four other Chinatown establishments, all apparently well-regarded, each focused on a different region. We give him two thumbs up.

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#321 Sundae in the Park

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 11:01 AM

It's you're driving past Chicago and don't feel like dropping into the city proper to get some Asian food, I have to recommend stopping at the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights. It's right off of I-90 and is more of a mall than a market - there are a variety of stores and a whole food court with several Japanese, as well as Korean and Chinese food options. Most people looked very happy to be slurping up ramen, but we were in the mood for their "fast food Chinese". Yes, fast food by way of Chinatown or Hong Kong. We had some moderately crappy dumplings and shumai (eh, steam table-type mistake) but a couple of bowls of more than decent roast duck soup. Yellow noodles, rich roast duck, gai lan greens, and stocky broth - what else do you need when you're craving Chinese food? Well, you can pick up fruits and snacks on your way out...

#322 aaronsinger

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 05:11 PM

I have often read those complaints about service. Yelp has many of them. Leaves me scratching my head as I never experienced bad or rude service from the owners. Actually just the opposite. Almost always upon leaving Lydia will hand my daughter some homemade cookies or a couple bars of Mast Brothers chocolate.

As for the deal with the bathroom. I don't know the details but will ask next time I am in. "After I eat" I got the impression from their FB page somehow it was abused by a customer in someway. But is it illegal? I can't say for sure, as from my understanding they may be exempt with under 10 seats.
http://www.ada-il.or...s_bathrooms.php

I'll take other people's word for it that the pizza is good. I won't ever bother giving them my business; there are plenty of good pizza places around here.
Also, yes, every type of food establishment in Chicago has to have a restroom, as far as I can tell:

http://webapps.cityo...Inspections.jsp

It's you're driving past Chicago and don't feel like dropping into the city proper to get some Asian food, I have to recommend stopping at the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights. It's right off of I-90 and is more of a mall than a market - there are a variety of stores and a whole food court with several Japanese, as well as Korean and Chinese food options. Most people looked very happy to be slurping up ramen, but we were in the mood for their "fast food Chinese". Yes, fast food by way of Chinatown or Hong Kong. We had some moderately crappy dumplings and shumai (eh, steam table-type mistake) but a couple of bowls of more than decent roast duck soup. Yellow noodles, rich roast duck, gai lan greens, and stocky broth - what else do you need when you're craving Chinese food? Well, you can pick up fruits and snacks on your way out...

I love Mitsuwa; it's a chain with maybe 10 stores scattered around the country. While I like the food court, I've never had the food from the the chinese stand. I usually get either some form of noodle soup or the other hot options (I like tonkatsu and the Japanese curry). Also, they seem to have decent meat which I've gotten a couple times.

There is a similar Korean-type market a few miles away on Milwaukee in I think Niles (it might be Wheeling or Morton Grove, I don't exactly recall). However, while that store has a similar set-up, they don't have everything else (food court, liquor store, periodicals, etc.) up and running as Mitsuwa does.

We noshed at Frontera grill. Have to say, they make excellent guacamole, among other things. Mrs. B had oysters with a Mexican-ish mignonette (cilantro, lime and a taste of peppers). I had a lovely plate of duck tacos. I'm not sure the place was revelatory, but we enjoyed it, and the bartenter with the funky mustache was very pleasant.

If you find yourself in the fashionable quarter of Wicker Park -- the kind of place you'd go to buy used clothing and vinyl music -- you can get a tasty bit of Mexican at Big Star (where they have a turntable and not an MP3 player) , as well as any number of tequilas, while sitting outside and watching people younger and hotter than yourself (maybe I project -- younger and hotter than me) stroll by. I was able to indulge my huitlacoche addiction, with a mushroom-huitlacoche tostada, and wolfed down some tasty pork-belly tacos. They say the chef has won some Beard award or another, and it shows. The whole thing is pretty cheap, too -- dollar for dollar, I'd take it over Fronterra.


I view Frontera and Big Star a little differently. The latter seems more of a lunch and late-night spot, while Frontera & Topolobampo are more formal dinner restaurants. I'm a fan of both places. Big Star is a One Off Hospitality place, which is Paul Kahan's restaurant group; that also consists of Avec, Blackbird, Publican, Publican Quality Meats (a butcher and sandwich shop; I've had the excellent sandwiches a couple times), and The Violet Hour (a very popular speakeasy-cocktail place across the street from Big Star). While I like Big Star, anytime I have tried to go on a weekend is basically a no-go, as they're seemingly always busy (perhaps moreso now in the summer), whether for lunch or late at night.

As for fast casual restaurants and Rick Bayless, there is the popular Xoco next door to Frontera/Topo, as well his growing number of Frontera Fresco spots (there is one on the 7th floor of Marshall Field's, I mean, Macy's on State St, as well as two in O'Hare [terminals 1 and 3] and one in Macy's Old Orchard in Skokie). Xoco is a little better and a little more expensive than Frontera Fresco.

In the windy city last week for a brief overnight, had the fortune of staying near this small Cuban cafe:

Cafecito

Stop-your-heart delicious cafe con leche ($3-ish), and massive, pressed breakfast sandwiches ($4-ish) that could warm even the coldest of Chicago mornings. The previous evening, I did not choose from the ample and interesting Cuban sandwich menu, but instead opted for a series of to-go vegetarian fare. Jalapeno hummus, black bean and corn salad, and a Caprese salad hit the spot, ample portions for $3 each.

This place is adjacent to a youth hostel, and I was skeptical as to the quality of such inexpensive vittles. My apprehension was misguided, those kids are on to something.

I have not been there (that would have been good post-Art Institute eats a couple days ago, but I didn't think about it), but have heard good things.
As for Cuban sandwiches in the city, I love La Unica way up north near Rogers Park (on Devon, just east of Clark). It's a small, mostly take-out place in the back of a Mexican grocery store, but they have a wide assortment of good Caribbean food.

#323 TinaWDC

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 01:55 PM

I just got back from a recent trip to chicago (2nd time), and ate some really great food, so I wanted to share.

1) The Publican. went for dinner. we ordered way too much food than 2 people can physically consume. Overall, the food was great, noise level comfortable, and a casual vibe. Definitely make a reservation because the wait for a table can be long, and the restaurant has communal table seating, as well as private seating. You can order from a limited menu in the waiting/bar area. I would definitely go again.

Very Pig-centric restaurant (pig art on the walls). Overall, the food was great, we enjoyed everything we ordered and LOVED 2-3 dishes. The portions are definitely meant to be shared and orders come out whenever...no particular order, and wait times between each vary from 10-20 minutes.

Highlights: daily pickles (in-house picked veggies plate) pork rinds (think lovechild of cheetos and doritos, with some spice), charcuterie plate, chicken liver pate (if you love pate, you HAVE TO try this one), and the short ribs.

Ok, but not awesome: blood sausage. It was more soft (mushy) than I preferred. the frites with eggs: it was literally a plate of fries with two sunny side up eggs on top. technically flawless...but kinda boring and bland compared to everything else we ate (maybe we were also so stuffed at this point, it was unfair to judge).

2) The Maxwell Street Market: tacos stands, Rubi's and Lencho's. I won't go into detail since both have a sizeable following on Yelp. Lenchos only has 3-4 options for tacos, whereas Rubi's menu is more extensive. If you like lengua, definitely get an order at Lenchos, they were superb. For all other tacos/quesadillas cravings, head to Rubi's and you won't be disappointed.

3) Hot Doug's: Hot dogs. There's always a line...and I think its justified (duck fat fries Fri/Sat only). Its a small place, with longs lines but usually a seat frees up by the time you're actually ordering (think Ben's Chili Bowl before they expanded). Get the classic Chicago dog, grilled, with everything. They also have speciality sausages, I suggest ordering off this menu too. I got kangeroo (spicy) and boudin noir (exceptional blood sausage) on this trip. and of course, order the duck fat fries (skinny fries) if you're there on fri/sat. I definitely preferred Hot Doug's Boudin Noir over the blood sausage I got at the publican.

4) Glazed and Infused doughnuts. They have multiple locations, I went to the Damen Ave site. I tried maple bacon and creme brulee. Would definitely eat another maple bacon, the creme brulee was so-so. Kudos for the hard sugar crust on top of the doughnut, but I found the brulee filling bland.

5) Rick Bayless has a group of restaurants and you can look up info for yourself on all of them. I've been to 3, all great. Would recommend breakfast at Xoco if you get the chance.

6) Greektown: definitely wished I had more time and stomach to explore all the restaurants here...but my one recommendation for pastries and small bites is Pan Hellenic Pastry Shop. I liked them the best compared to others in greektown.

for what its worth: my two deep dish experiences, I liked Giordano's over Lou Malnati. also, I flew United, and on my way back, close to gate B11 (ORD), there is a Frontera Tortas by Rick Bayless. I was excited to be able to gorge myself on Tortas before leaving Chicago...the gluttony continues even in the airport!

-- Tina

my one attached pic is from Hot Dougs. Bottom is chicago dog, and above is the boudin noir (left) and kangeroo (right). 2 orders of duck fat fries (left) and one reg fries (top). hot dougs.JPG

#324 genericeric

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 12:57 PM

After reading comments on this thread that seemed less than enthusiastic about several Rick Bayless restaurants, I was a little unsure as I headed toward his block of downtown on Saturday for brunch. We stumbled into Frontera Grill of the three - not necessarily on purpose, Xoco was a zoo and just picked one of the two doors within the Topo/Frontera entry way and found ourselves at the bar.

As others have noted, this was one pretty great bowl of guacamole. Having said that, for $9 I do wish there had been a bit more in the bowl...

We then split the Gorditas, which was a large dish of three small corn cakes, each topped with either chicken, chorizo or scrambled egg set in a pureed black bean sauce. This wasn't my first choice on the menu, but as we were splitting I just went with it and was glad I did. The chicken and eggs were both good, but the chorizo - which had a great depth and slightly sweet flavor among the spice, was excellent on its little masa cake. I wish I could have gotten a whole order of those little chorizo cakes of flavor.

Better yet was, surprisingly, the pecan pie. I thought the dish was a bit odd in the setting, but came highly recommended so I gave it a whirl. With a flaky crust and finely chopped pecans, it reminded me strongly of a sort of southern baklava. The only real miss of the day for me was the Mexican Hot Chocolate mixed with Mezcal - the smokiness of the mezcal didn't play well with the hot chocolate.

#325 Xochitl10

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 09:53 AM

I ended up taking an unscheduled, unplanned business trip to Chicago on Tuesday, which left me with no time to plan dining, except for the L ride into downtown from O'Hare.  After a slushy slog from the Clark/Lake stop to the Hyatt Regency at 8:00 pm (I'm cheap on my transportation), I wasn't feeling up to another trip out in the snow.  Dinner was a bowl of matzo ball soup and a Templeton Rye Manhattan in the Skyway Lounge at the Hyatt.  I can't speak knowledgeably to the quality of the matzo ball, having never had one before, but it and the rest of the soup were delicious -- deeply chickeny, with a good serving of noodles.  The Manhattan was delicious, if a little drier than I prefer.  At $18 (at least $4 more than any of their specialty drinks, and twice as much as my soup), it was also more expensive than I prefer.  Given the impending illness I'd felt since leaving DC, I figured the soup and Manhattan would fortify my system for the rest of the trip.

 

Breakfast was a cappuccino and an Oatmeal Latte from Cafe Descartes on Michigan Avenue.  The cappuccino tasted a bit burnt and was not at all milky-- underwhelming.  The Oatmeal Latte was an interesting concoction -- cooked oatmeal, walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, dried cranberries, and raisins in a cup with a cafe latte poured over.  It was a good, fortifying breakfast for a difficult day.  Lunch was out of convenience rather than recommendation -- half an uninspiring Margherita pizza from Sopraffina in the pedway of Two Illinois Center.

I had to go straight from my meeting back to O'Hare, so dinner was a cochinita pibil torta and a Deal-Breaker Margarita from the Tortas Frontera in the B gates of Terminal 1.  Excellent torta -- juicy, flavorful pork and perfectly grilled bread -- and a legitimately good Margarita made X a happy traveler.


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#326 nrubenstein

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 03:01 PM

Anyone interested in a 4-top at Alinea? I picked up tickets without confirming everyone's availability and (of course) ran in to one of two weekends this entire summer that half the party can't make it for.

June 29th, 7:30pm

I'm just looking to recoup my cost.

#327 NolaCaine

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 02:44 PM

I'm in search of a fine-dining establishment for a group of 8-10 company excutives. The place must be quite or have a private dining room. Any ideas? We wil be staying downtown in the 100W block of randolf which is one block of the loop.

 

Although I have been to Chicago, I did not get beyond the airport Westin. 

 

Your advice would be welcome.  Thanks.



#328 stickmoon

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 05:26 PM

We visited Chicago a few weeks ago and had a very enjoyable meal at Girl and the Goat. I made reservations about 10 weeks in advance (incredible how far in advance this restaurant is booked up) but then we walked in a few minutes early and about ten minutes later two seats opened up at the bar and we ate dinner there. The restaurant felt convivial and fun - everybody seemed to be having a good time. The texture of the Chickpea Fritters were incredibly creamy with a crispy outside. We loved them, but they were on top of a coldish veggie salad of tomato, eggplant, and mozzarella that didn't quite work for me, at least, not at the same time as the fritters. The Potato and Green Garlic Wontons were a simple foil for the complex, bright tamarind broth they were dunked in...I loved this dish. The Wood Grilled Broccoli with Rogue Smokey Bleu Cheese worked very well. I also had the Pig Face, it came with a sunny-side egg on top and it was creamy and rich, less exotic than it sounds, oddly enough. The portions of the dishes, most of them are meant for sharing, are bigger than I expected. Four or five dishes will be plenty for most couples. 

 

Speaking of pig, we stopped into The Purple Pig, which was jam-packed at 5pm on a Sunday evening. The front-of-house staff seemed a little bit overwhelmed, which surprised me for such a well-known place right on Michigan Ave. They don't take reservations so expect to wait, and there is very little room around the bar to do so. The highlight dish was a salad of roasted heirloom carrots with avocado, fennel-toasted quinoa, sunflower seeds and a citrus dressing. I know this place is known for cheese and charcuterie but we were most impressed by this salad.

 

Had a somewhat disappointing dinner in the hipstery Wicker Park neighborhood. Went to Trenchermen, which is on a bunch of the "Best New Restaurant in Chicago" lists I had looked up. The space looks very cool, sort of steampunk, but if you're a party of two beware that the two-top tables are a little bit too close together. We ended up having conversations with all our table-neighbors, it's that close. The highlight was a Kale Salad with pickled veggies, that was atop a quinoa bread. Didn't taste the edamame in the edamame dressing, but the dressing had quite an acidic bite that I enjoyed. For an entree I got the Aged Duck Breast, which was served two ways. It was half a breast, seared and sliced, and then the other half was used in a chicory sausage. The sausage part was so very flavorful and rich, but the seared breast had way too much unrendered fat and the skin was flabby. The dessert of Bourbon-glazed Donuts with Vanilla-malt Ice Cream was, like the rest of this restaurant, hit-and-miss, as I thought the donut was pretty heavy but the ice cream was really delicious. 

 

Stopped into a The Wormhole, a cafe in Wicker Park. The theme of this place is a kind of 1980s goofy science fiction type of film (think Weird Science or Back to the Future)...of course it was filled with bearded men hunched over mac computers, crazy me I actually like that atmosphere! It's worth checking out for an afternoon pick-me-up...plus they serve cereal all day :)


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#329 wisehands

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 11:48 AM

List-checkers, crust-punks and general pizza afficianados may wish to [go] to Great Lake Pizza, a few blocks north in Andersonville for The Best Pizza In America, according to GQ.

 

Great Lakes Pizza closed Winter 2013.  The announced reason was a decision not to renew the lease due to dissatisfaction with the landlord.  Rumor is the people who owned it, Nick Lessins and Lydia Esparza, are going to open a new place, but no word that it's happened yet. 



#330 wisehands

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 12:27 PM

... I wish I could recommend a good place for deep-dish pizza, but I don't know what's good anymore. All of the better known places are very disappointing to me; although I have yet to try Pequod and Burt's Place, the latter of which has always gotten good acclaim (and, again, off the beaten path, in north suburban Morton Grove).

 

My favorite for deep-dish is Lou Malnati's.  I think Malnati's is the only deep dish pizzeria that successfully pulled off opening multiple branches and maintained its quality.  I prefer Malnati's to Connie's, Nancy's, Bacino's, and Carmen's, but Giordano's and Edwardo's have declined badly, victims of corporate takeover and clumsy expansion.  The original Gino's East location is still OK, but not so sure about any branches.  Some people like Pizano's, which was opened by another member of the Malnati family.

 

Pequod, along with Gullivers, was opened by Burt Katz, but he sold them.  They're still OK, but not as good as when run by Burt.  Burt decamped to Burt's Place, where he serves up his "carmelized crust" deep dish.  I like Burt's alot, although Burt's Place is a bit quirky.  You can't just show up, you have to reserve your pizza ... not a table or a seat, but your pizza (if you show up and there's empty tables, but you didn't reserve your pizza(s) chances are you are going to leave pizzaless).  NOTE: Burt, who is 76, was hospitalized around the end of September (2013), so Burt's Place will be out of commission for a while (I heard six weeks).  Let's hope he makes it back and can keep it operating.  

 

Uno's is tricky to deal with because the original Chicago locations, Uno on State St. and Due on Wabash Ave. are still good, BUT any other Uno is to be avoided because the Boston restaurant corporation that bought it from the original owner's widow has ruined it.  However, they promised to keep the original Uno and Due deep dish as it was and not mess with how the pizza is made, so that's why it's still OK.



#331 aaronsinger

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 03:23 PM

My favorite for deep-dish is Lou Malnati's.  I think Malnati's is the only deep dish pizzeria that successfully pulled off opening multiple branches and maintained its quality.  I prefer Malnati's to Connie's, Nancy's, Bacino's, and Carmen's, but Giordano's and Edwardo's have declined badly, victims of corporate takeover and clumsy expansion.  The original Gino's East location is still OK, but not so sure about any branches.  Some people like Pizano's, which was opened by another member of the Malnati family.

 

Pequod, along with Gullivers, was opened by Burt Katz, but he sold them.  They're still OK, but not as good as when run by Burt.  Burt decamped to Burt's Place, where he serves up his "carmelized crust" deep dish.  I like Burt's alot, although Burt's Place is a bit quirky.  You can't just show up, you have to reserve your pizza ... not a table or a seat, but your pizza (if you show up and there's empty tables, but you didn't reserve your pizza(s) chances are you are going to leave pizzaless).  NOTE: Burt, who is 76, was hospitalized around the end of September (2013), so Burt's Place will be out of commission for a while (I heard six weeks).  Let's hope he makes it back and can keep it operating.  

 

Uno's is tricky to deal with because the original Chicago locations, Uno on State St. and Due on Wabash Ave. are still good, BUT any other Uno is to be avoided because the Boston restaurant corporation that bought it from the original owner's widow has ruined it.  However, they promised to keep the original Uno and Due deep dish as it was and not mess with how the pizza is made, so that's why it's still OK.

That's true, and I have never been to Uno's (since Due's is much bigger). However, even my most recent trip to Due's, which admittedly was about a year or two ago, was very disappointing. The sauce was was too sweet, and the pizza not quite cooked enough.



#332 wisehands

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 03:45 AM

wisehands, on 20 Oct 2013 - 1:27 PM, said:snapback.png

.... Uno's is tricky to deal with because the original Chicago locations, Uno on State St. and Due on Wabash Ave. are still good, BUT any other Uno is to be avoided because the Boston restaurant corporation that bought it from the original owner's widow has ruined it.  However, they promised to keep the original Uno and Due deep dish as it was and not mess with how the pizza is made, so that's why it's still OK.

That's true, and I have never been to Uno's (since Due's is much bigger). However, even my most recent trip to Due's, which admittedly was about a year or two ago, was very disappointing. The sauce was was too sweet, and the pizza not quite cooked enough.

I believe they've kept their promise to keep the deep dish recipe at the original Uno and Due unchanged; however the actual execution of it might be another matter!  Sadly, not all pizza pilgrimages are rewarded at the end of the trail. 

 

IMHO, corporate management is hell on pizza legacies ... Uno, Giordano's, Edwardo's are evidence.



#333 aaronsinger

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 02:02 AM

 

wisehands, on 20 Oct 2013 - 1:27 PM, said:snapback.png

I believe they've kept their promise to keep the deep dish recipe at the original Uno and Due unchanged; however the actual execution of it might be another matter!  Sadly, not all pizza pilgrimages are rewarded at the end of the trail. 

 

IMHO, corporate management is hell on pizza legacies ... Uno, Giordano's, Edwardo's are evidence.

 

Oh, I don't doubt that they have kept that promise. I wouldn't know the difference as I've never been to the corporate Uno's.

As I live near Chicago, it thankfully wasn't that big of a deal.

I do have to get to Burt's one of these days. He just re-opened after being closed for a few months due to health issues. I've never been to Pequod.

Gulliver's is probably the closest commercial establishment to me, and yet I haven't been since I was little. No idea if it's any good.

 

Giordano's is pretty mediocre, Malnati's is marginally better than that.

It's funny, despite the stereotype, Chicago doesn't have all that many deep dish places. Chicago-style thin crust is much easier to find, let alone the recently trendy neapolitan style.



#334 Rovers2000

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 05:01 PM

Had never been to Chicago before so took the opportunity to celebrate our first anniversary with a stop over in the city on our way to a wedding in Lake Geneva, WI, some highlights:

 

The Aviary - Really cool place, although it did feel a bit too cool for school (or it could just be my squareness shining through).  We sat in the back of the lounge and enjoyed a cocktail each and split part of a "porthole" - mezcal based which was on the smokey side for me.  I can't remember the name of the cocktail, but it was a belgian beer flavored with peach and a coffee iced cube.  Sounds strange and it was, but it was also incredibly delicious.  Our server joked about how they have the best iced coffee ever b/c of those ice cubes.  We were offered a reservation when I bought tickets for Alinea, we showed up on the early side and were surprised at how many folks were there on a Wednesday.

 

Alinea - The most expensive meal of my life to date and I don't regret spending a single cent.  Top to bottom the best dining "experience" of my life (and my wife's).  My favorite part was the service staff - for a place that costs this much I'd expected the service to be top notch, but what surprised me (in a good way) was how casual it was..."It's time for the balloon course" and a few other witty one liners were dropped by our very affable server and I really thought it enhanced the whole experience.  For the folks who talk about tasting menu's being overdone - I guess they're a bit more spoiled than I, b/c it's going to take quite a bit to knock this meal off the top spot on my "where I have dined" list.  Below is the menu:

 

-Trout Roe - matsutake, apple, mustard (Champagne Jean Lallerment Verzenay - Grand Cru' Brut)

-Scallop - citrus aroma, fourteen textures (Felton Road "Rannockburn" Riesling, Central Otago 2010)

-Dungeness Crab - squash blossom, cardamom, saffron (I Custodi "Ante" Etna Bianco 2011)

-Binchotan - Tokyo inspiration - pork belly, wagyu, tuna (Hitachino Nest White Ale, Takatenjin junmal Daiginjo-shu "Soul of the Sensei)

-Veal Cheeks - lapsang, souchong, pine, blackberry (Faugeres Domaine Leon Barral 2010)

-Potato - cold potato, black truffle, butter

-Duck - ....????....!!!!! (Chateau Musar, Bekaa Valley 2005)

-Black Truffle - Explosion, romaine, parmesean

-Ginger - Five other flavors (The Rare Wine Co - Bonston Bual - Special Reserve Madiera)

-Balloon - helium, green apple

-Corn - white chocolate, honey, mango (Roberto Anselmi "I Capitelli" Passito Bianco Veneto 2008

-Milk Chocolate - pate sucree, violet, hazelnut (Bodegas Alvear 1927 Solera Pedro Ximenez)

 

Portillos - Didn't have the time to get out to Hot Dougs so Portillos was a solid substitute (and about 4 blocks from the hotel) - I really liked the Chicago style dogs, good contrast of pickle / pepper / snappy hot dog.  A bit of a carnivale atmosphere (good lord do they have a lot going on) but it was nice sitting outside on their patio during the last nice days of fall in Chicago.

 

Bull & Bear - Caught the Giants / Caps games here, again, walking distance from our hotel - perfectly fine sports bar with a solid beer selection and decent food.  

 

I really enjoyed the town, and would whole heartedly endorse the Architecture Boat Tour of the city if you are in the city and have 2 hours to kill.  I can't wait to go back.


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#335 Genevieve

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 05:45 PM

Going to Chicago later this month and have 4 days/nights in the city. 

Would love some recommendations that work for a small group (3 to 5 people).  I've got the name of a lot of good places, but a lot don't take reservations, which won't work well for us (three generations, standing in line a long time isn't going to go over well).

 

We like lots of kinds of food, but aren't looking to go as expensive as Alinea.  I am definitely interested in Topolobambo if we can get in, but will be fine with Frontera, XOCO, etc.  One or two upscale meals would be great, though we're primarily interested in really good food, whether low or high-end.  We don't want places with fixed menus or tasting menus - better if we can choose from the menu. One member of the family is kosher-style, so I'm checking menus to make sure there's alternatives without pork (The Purple Pig seems to have it in almost everything, though I found a menu item or two that would work - but they don't take reservations). We don't have anyone in the group who puts high value on cocktails or top-notch beer, but we do all like good food.

 

Atmosphere:
The group is not likely to be happy somewhere with loud metal music playing (as I noticed upthread in discussions of Schwa playing Slayer in the dining room).  We don't need quiet places, but definitely our group includes people who are not at all fans of heavy metal.  Notably uncomfortable seating is a negative.  Otherwise, we're open to tiny local places, big bustling places (as long as we can make a reservation), fairly noisy or fairly peaceful places.

 

We will certainly be having Chicago hot dogs at some point, and pizza from Lou Malnati's, so I don't need recommendations for those (though if there's a place right near where we'll be, that would be great to know).

 

I was very interested in The Goat and the Girl, but didn't realize they book months in advance.  The Little Goat Diner doesn't take reservations - are there crazy waits for tables? could we go at an off-hour and be seated quickly?
Other places I'm interested in, if they're convenient to anywhere we're going to be, and if they either take reservations or don't have long waits (lunch is fine if lunch is better to avoid a wait):  Blackbird, Publican, Wow Bao, Sun Wah, Big Star.  Happy to get names on any other places, and thoughts about whether these places are good for the kind of places I'm looking for.  No Japanese or Afghan food (I love 'em but one of us doesn't), but otherwise various cuisines are good.

 

We're staying at the River North area of the Magnificent Mile (because they had a suite so we don't need 2 rooms), though I will look to see if anywhere else has a reasonble price for similar housing.  We are probably going to Soldier Field, the Art Institute, the Science Museum, and Sears (fine, Willis) Tower, as well as Second City.  So restaurant recommendations near any of those would be great and very much appreciated.

 

Thank you!



#336 Dmnkly

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 07:01 PM

Don't do The Little Goat.  It's fine, but this is not destination food (though it's priced like destination food).  There are a bunch of more worthwhile places even within a four block radius of there (a few of which you named already).

 

DO go to Nightwood.  Universally beloved by everybody whose opinion I trust on Chicago food, and one of the best meals I've had in years when I was there a few months ago.  Absolutely stellar, and fits the bill perfectly.

 

Re: Mexican, I don't for a second mean to knock Bayless... he's a true ambassador, and every experience I've had at his places have been good to great.  But if your crowd is at all the type, consider grabbing a Zipcar or something and doing a tour of hole-in-the-wall Mexican joints.  Birria tatemada at Birrieria Zaragoza, carne en su jugo at Los Gallos #2 (not #1), tacos of any kind at La Chaparrita, carnitas at Carnitas Uruapan, cemitas and tacos arabes at Cemitas Puebla, moles at Sol de Mexico -- it's always a tough sell because people who come to Chicago want to eat at a Bayless restaurant.  But I'm of the opinion that it's more meaningful (not to mention harder to find elsewhere) to do a crawl eating the kinds of foods that Bayless is drawing from.  Seriously, there may not be another city in the entire world outside of Mexico as good as Chicago for downscale Mex.  And I say that with all seriousness.

 

Sun Wah is awesome... don't mean for a moment to suggest otherwise.  But if I recall, DC isn't exactly hurting for Cantonese.  Consider Lao Hunan in Chinatown instead.  It's one of Tony Hu's places, and it's actual Hunan -- the real deal.  A much rarer bird than Cantonese BBQ.


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#337 DonRocks

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 07:14 PM

Don't do The Little Goat.  It's fine, but this is not destination food (though it's priced like destination food).  There are a bunch of more worthwhile places even within a four block radius of there (a few of which you named already).

 

DO go to Nightwood.  Universally beloved by everybody whose opinion I trust on Chicago food, and one of the best meals I've had in years when I was there a few months ago.  Absolutely stellar, and fits the bill perfectly.

 

Re: Mexican, I don't for a second mean to knock Bayless... he's a true ambassador, and every experience I've had at his places have been good to great.  But if your crowd is at all the type, consider grabbing a Zipcar or something and doing a tour of hole-in-the-wall Mexican joints.  Birria tatemada at Birrieria Zaragoza, carne en su jugo at Los Gallos #2 (not #1), tacos of any kind at La Chaparrita, carnitas at Carnitas Uruapan, cemitas and tacos arabes at Cemitas Puebla, moles at Sol de Mexico -- it's always a tough sell because people who come to Chicago want to eat at a Bayless restaurant.  But I'm of the opinion that it's more meaningful (not to mention harder to find elsewhere) to do a crawl eating the kinds of foods that Bayless is drawing from.  Seriously, there may not be another city in the entire world outside of Mexico as good as Chicago for downscale Mex.  And I say that with all seriousness.

 

Sun Wah is awesome... don't mean for a moment to suggest otherwise.  But if I recall, DC isn't exactly hurting for Cantonese.  Consider Lao Hunan in Chinatown instead.  It's one of Tony Hu's places, and it's actual Hunan -- the real deal.  A much rarer bird than Cantonese BBQ.

 

Dominic!

 

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#338 Robert Rymarz

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 07:45 PM

Can't agree more on Nightwood, one of my best meals this year. I sat at the kitchen counter and let J.V. cook what he wished. Must have had 90% of the menu.

 

Photos.

 

http://www.flickr.co...s/84954050@N00/


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#339 Genevieve

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 10:09 PM

Thank you, Dom! (I started reading Skillet Doux for your Top Chef recaps but kept reading your Phoenix reviews even though I'm not going there, because I love your writing.)  I'll look at Nightwood and at the Mexican places you listed.

Thanks for the Nightwood pix, Robert!



#340 aaronsinger

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 03:39 AM

I love Sun Wah and it's a great and very affordable place, but I don't know if it's any better than Peking Gourmet in Falls Church. Wow Bao is nothing special, just a quick service lunch place both downtown and River North (I often will get stuff from Chinatown bakeries to take a mile or so south to Sox games, and those are as good; same goes for bakeries on Argyle to take stuff downtown to Millenium Park or something from my home in Evanston).

As for the other recs, Dominic's sound good, though I also have yet to get to many of those places.

 

Hot Doug's, where I assume you'll be going for hot dogs, is definitely worth it. Lou Malnati's... not so much. But as I said earlier in the thread, I don't know what deep dish places are still good (maybe Due's),

I would recommend Longman and Eagle, and I was just there two weeks ago. But, they just got a Michelin star and don't take reservations, so I would think you have to get there early to get seated. I met a friend there at 8 pm the saturday before last, the host just laughed at me when I asked how long for a table for 4. We ordered cocktails, though (which were excellent, they have a very lengthy whiskey list, as well), and ended up seating at the bar (I can't comment too much on the food; I had eaten beforehand and only ate a sandwich, which was a very yummy wild boar sloppy joe).

Big Star is another super-popular place that doesn't reservations, and it can get loud (especially so in the summer, though). I don't know if the food is worth a trip with so many other places in Chicago (especially Kahan's other locales), but it's a fun place to hang out.
 

As far as eateries go near the places you mentioned, not much around Soldier Field (there's a couple good breakfast spots I've been to before Bears games). Hyde Park also has a dearth of good restaurants, the only ones that come to mind are the cafeteria and neighborhood hangout Valois, and where I often end up eating with my uncle, Medici (which I like, but it's certainly not a destination). If you have a car, Calumet Fisheries is a truly unique and great place, but it's only accessible by car, well south of MSI (which is my favorite museum in Chicago next to the Art Institute, and my favorite science museum anywhere).

Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of lunch places around the Sears Tower, but for dinner spots you have to head a little further on to Greektown or any of the numerous spots on Randolph St. (where I'm guessing you'll eat multiple times).



#341 Genevieve

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 11:37 AM

Thanks! Sadly, it sounds like most of the places I've heard of don't take reservations and will have long waits.  I should take a look at LTH and their map of great neighborhood restaurants to see what's near where we'll be, and then look into reservations.

 

I'm thinking Sun Wah b/c Peking Gourmet here has gone way downhill -- there's a whole thread about it -- and my son loves Peking Duck.  Plus they serve it with bao (no one here does - except Ping, in a single serving, but that's not great duck) and do the duck soup after. 
Wow Bao caught my eye for a lunch one day b/c my son loves bao (as do I) and would be excited to have it with different fillings, plus I am a sucker for coconut custard.  It won't be a huge priority, but if we can get a quick lunch there, that'd be great.

 

We will have a car, but I may not be able to motivate people to drive around for meals after we've been driving around touring - they're more likely to want to eat where we are.  I'll take a look at places further out, but also need places near where we'll be.

 

Anywhere in the Mag Mile / River North area you'd recommend?  What lunch places near the Sears Tower are good?



#342 wisehands

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Posted 19 November 2013 - 04:48 AM

.....If you have a car, Calumet Fisheries is a truly unique and great place, but it's only accessible by car, well south of MSI (which is my favorite museum in Chicago next to the Art Institute, and my favorite science museum anywhere).

 

Calumet Fisheries is one of a handful of unique Chicago eating experiences you can find these days.  It's one of the last originals of what were called "shrimp shacks" in Chicago (there's another one called the Fish Keg at the other end of the city on Howard Ave. on the Chicago side of the Chicago-Evanston line).  They have a smokehouse on the premises and offer more than a dozen kinds of smoked seafood and proclaim smoked shrimp as their specialty.  They also really know how to fry fish.

 

This place is truly off the beaten path.  Not far from the Indiana line in an industrial area on the Far South Side, it's at 3259 E. 95th St., a.k.a. 95th & The Bridge because it's next to a drawbridge (made sort of famous by a scene in the Blues Brothers film).  A few helpfuls:  there's no place to eat inside, they have some old picnic tables or you can eat on the bridge (but remember it's a DRAWbridge!) over the Calumet River, but be prepared to have lunch/dinner in your car if it's freezing or raining, or better option -- drive a little farther and go sit and eat on a bench by the lake, also it's cash only. 

 

A nice video about the place is at http://checkplease.w...lumet-fisheries.



#343 darkstar965

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 02:00 AM

Travel hadn't taken me to Chicago in awhile and, while I've been to the city more times than I can count, I can't claim to know the restaurant scene very well.

 

I was able to hit a few coffee shops and restaurants around meetings so will share some reactions on those below in two posts. This first post highlights three coffee shops, an ice cream place and three restaurants covering downtown, north chicago and Evanston.  The second post goes deeper on the one restaurant that most stood out for me, with thanks to this board.

 

---------------------------------------

 

Antique Taco (Wicker Park).   If all "taco joints" were like this one, the world would be a better place. I don't think we have a place like this in DC but surely one would do very well if it existed.  They make the soft warm corn tortillas in house and stuff them with pork or seasoned sliced ribeye or generous chunks of fish tempura.  Also tried the guac, which was rich, smooth and very fresh. Sort of an elevated, farm-to-table taco joint if you can believe that.  Really good.  A dish has two tacos, enough for a normal appetite for lunch with some guac.  About $7 per plate. Can't beat it.

 

Tapas Barcelona (Evanston).  Not worth seeking out but a solid (and very popular) tapas place in Evanston.  The tortilla is a respectable and ample version. The octopus was surprisingly good, tender and seasoned nicely. Patatas Bravas had nice zing and were cooked to be crisp.  A pizza did it's job for a 7-year-old.  Can't remember everything we had but, again, a decent spot if in the area.

 

Nightwood (Pilsner/SW Chicago).  Simply outstanding in concept and execution but I'll go deeper on this in a second post just after this one since it deserves that treatment.  

 

Hartigan's Ice Cream (Evanston).   Hartigan's is well known to anyone at all familiar with Evanston from Northwestern or otherwise.  Just more than 30 years old, it's still run by the founder's wife and reeks with nostalgia of how town ice cream shops used to be years ago.  And, the ice cream is pretty good too!

 

Intelligentsia (Multiple Locations Around Chicago).  There really isn't an analog to Intelligentsia in the DC area.  It's one of the country's larger quality roasters with distribution from coast to coast and they operate around 10 shops, mostly around Chicago but also a few in LA and at least one in NY.  I visited the 2nd shop, called Monadnock (downtown) and was impressed with the emphasis on quality. All coffee is  hand poured; no need to request it.  Espressos expertly made. This is a serious coffee operation not losing its soul too badly as it grows.  Ceremony in Annapolis is probably the closest we have to this but they have only a couple of shops in Annapolis and not nearly the footprint nationally that Intelligentsia has. Intelligentsia is available at many spots around DC. Maybe the second most ubiquitous out-of-town roaster in DC after Counter Culture.

 

Wormhole Coffee (Wicker Park).  This is one of the hipper coffee shops in the nation.  In fact, it has appeared on top 'whatever number' lists for the US.  They emphasize their own roast, called "Half Twit" but also rotate in other high-quality roasters (Toby's Estate of Brooklyn when I visited).  Choice of brew methods.  Plenty of seating.  Very popular.  Definite edge and even some grittiness.  Very good quality brewed coffee and espresso drinks.  If you were shooting a coffee shop for a hipster movie, this would be a good venue.

 

Filter Cafe (Wicker Park).  No website but does have a Facebook page.   This place shares a name with the excellent Filter shops in Dupont and Foggy Bottom but is very different.  They roast on site but serve coffee prebrewed/heated from large pots.  Ordinary looking food.  Tons of seating and WiFi.  If you're after great coffee, wouldn't make sense to visit here with Wormhole so close.  But the people are nice and it probably doesn't get quite as crowded as Wormhole with more seating.



#344 darkstar965

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 02:07 AM

I first checked here before my trip as others do more regularly than me.  And, I noticed that a few recent posters seemed to hold one restaurant in higher regard than even some of the deep dish places and famous spots (Alinea, Girl and the Goat, etc). I didn't recognize a few of the posters recommending it so some risk relative to others more familiar to me.  So, with big thanks to both robert40 and Dominic Amato (Dmnkly), neither of whom I'd ever before noticed on DR.com….

 

LOVED Nightwood. This is a now four-year-old restaurant that reminded me of some of my favorite spots in the DC area (Woodberry Kitchen, Red Hen) and elsewhere (Le Pigeon in Portland, OR).  Nightwood isn't as large and grand as Woodberry and not as sophisticated as Beard-winning Gabriel Rucker's fare at Pigeon.  Red Hen may be the closest approximation of the three. Comparisons aside, Nightwood is excellent.

 

The food is all based on very high quality and locally sourced ingredients, obvious when plates begin arriving.  Dishes are interesting without being overly complex. Flavors meld. Execution is exemplary.  Service casual, friendly, collaborative (!) and near flawless.  Love the option to sit at the counter in the back that overlooks the kitchen.  More restaurants should design a feature like that imho.  They had six cooks/chefs working the night we went and all staff appear to be 20s or 30s and highly competent.

 

A few of the dishes we had and thought pretty outstanding included:

 

- Corzetti, guanciale sugo, parmesan ($16):  Six or so of the housemaid corzetti, bulging half dollar-sized disks, these come with a perfectly generous amount of the intense and delicious sugo and wisps of what I assumed was Reggiano.

 

- Crispy pig ears, house-cultured butter, maple, habanero, cilantro ($6).  Creative. Served in big matchstick sized pieces. Great.

 

-  The Bread (free!):  Nightwood serves a small house-baked (they use wood stoked ovens) focaccia made with rosemary and served with a roasted onion/butter/herb/paprika oil dip.  While it would be easy enough to replicate this at home, the point is that it's a great idea that's addictive and works perfectly to get a meal started off on a high note.

 

- The Nightwood cheeseburger - two patties, eight-year cheddar, onion ring, pickles, mustard, special sauce, fries ($15).  This is the cheeseburger that would result from a merging of the versions at Palena and at Ray's.  The care and and attention to every ingredient, from bun to pickle, reminds me of Palena. The fantastic messiness, flavor and size is reminiscent of Ray's.  Were this in DC, it'd be a sure candidate for best in the city.

 

- Lake Superior walleye, king oyster mushrooms, tomato soffrito, bitter greens, Dungeness crabs sauce ($28). I ordered it because I really enjoy Walleye, a fish common in the upper midwest and not as often seen on east and west coast menus.  This preparation, like so much at Nightwood, was inspired and absolutely delicious.  The fish's skin was amazingly well crisped without any burnt areas.  And the king oysters are the clear co-star to the fish.  

 

- Coffee and espresso are from hometown Intelligentsia.  Desserts were the equal of the food.

 

I've read some online who think this Chicago's best restaurant.  Depending on one's metrics and priorities, that doesn't seem unreasonable to me.



#345 Dmnkly

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 02:26 AM

So glad (and so unsurprised) that you dug Nightwood, darkstar!

 

I used to post a bit when we lived in Baltimore, 2007-2009.  But I've kept the notification for this thread active, and can't help but jump in every now and again  :-)


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#346 Robert Rymarz

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 02:51 PM

So glad you enjoyed Nightwood, darkstar965!

 

Chef Vincent is finely beginning to get the reconition he deserves. Such a humble, down to earth guy. I can't help but cheer him on.



#347 darkstar965

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 12:50 AM

So glad you enjoyed Nightwood, darkstar965!

 

Chef Vincent is finely beginning to get the reconition he deserves. Such a humble, down to earth guy. I can't help but cheer him on.

 

Absolutely robert.  I'm pretty confident about half a dozen friends and business contacts of mine in Chicago who'd never before heard of Nightwood will be going in the next month or two.  This is word that should spread. Thanks again for posting about it here.







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