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Another Chicago restaurant thread, need some recs for quiet/casual places

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Does anyone have recommendations for casual restaurants in the near north side/loop areas? Cost isn't an issue, but I'm mostly looking for date type places that are easy to have conversations in.

I've already looked through the other Chicago dining threads, but they were mostly for more formal restaurants.
post #2 of 19
My favorite is Osteria Via Stato (State and Ontario). Italian place, but excellent service, good food (that can be turned into small plates with their half-sized portions) and some are pretty excellent. Chef is an expat from Tru, and I can say the food is amazing. Sunday they're BYOB, which is another plus. It's also pretty quiet, and the back dining area is pretty nicely appointed. I also like Elate (american cuisine) in the Hotel Felix (I know, two hotel lobby outlets, but they're better than most restaurants I've been to in the city), which is another cool, leisurely place that isn't too expensive, but has good service and good food. It's on Clark and Erie. For something a little more expensive, David Burke's steakhouse in the James Hotel (Rush and Ontario) is nice. And the kicker - Flemings Steakhouse (Ohio and State) has their 5 for 6 till 7 thing which basically offers you 5 cocktails, 5 wines, and 6 food options from beef shashimi to a pretty good burger all for $6 each (stops at 7pm though). Service is great, food is great, and it's a total bargain. These are all in the River North area where I live, the loop doesn't have much in terms of decent eating options imo.
post #3 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by robin View Post
Does anyone have recommendations for casual restaurants in the near north side/loop areas? Cost isn't an issue, but I'm mostly looking for date type places that are easy to have conversations in.

I've already looked through the other Chicago dining threads, but they were mostly for more formal restaurants.

Have you tried Le Colonial? It is great for date type (romantic Indochine decor, dim light, soft music). Jacket required but not as formal as many other places in the near Northside.
post #4 of 19
The best restaurants are (IMO) outside of the downtown area. In terms of a good date spot that's at least near the loop, I think Blackbird probably fits the bill (no pun intended). The Publican is another good option, but it gets quite noisy. "Nightwood" (in Pilsen) has recently become my favorite restaurant in the city. While it's a few miles from downtown, it's completely worth it for the food. I can not recommend it enough: Nightwood
post #5 of 19
Epic (112 W Hubbard) is amazing, just opened about a month ago and the food is great with a fun atmosphere. I've been twice and make sure to get the Gnocci appetizer and lamb shank
post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by thomasec View Post

"Nightwood" (in Pilsen) has recently become my favorite restaurant in the city. While it's a few miles from downtown, it's completely worth it for the food. I can not recommend it enough:

Nightwood
Hmmm thanks, will probably check this out sometime.
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dhc905 View Post
My favorite is Osteria Via Stato (State and Ontario). Italian place, but excellent service, good food (that can be turned into small plates with their half-sized portions) and some are pretty excellent. Chef is an expat from Tru, and I can say the food is amazing. Sunday they're BYOB, which is another plus.

....

For something a little more expensive, David Burke's steakhouse in the James Hotel (Rush and Ontario) is nice.
Thanks! Osteria Via Stato looks great, and I'll be staying at the James so the steakhouse might not be a bad idea on one of the nights.

I'm aware of the better restaurants, Blackbird, etc. but I'm not interested in having to travel outside of the downtown area during this short trip.
post #8 of 19
The Publican is well worth the 10 minute cab ride, you should also check out Roof at Wit after dinner. Coco Pazzo is great if you want Italian, I'd skip Blackbird for Avec any day and all of these are a quick cab ride from your hotel. The Grocery Bistro is another new favorite of mine...
post #9 of 19
I had a bad experience with Grocery Bistro - probably some of the worst service (worst definitely goes to Verasway) I've had in a long time and food simply was not good enough to warrant the snobby attitude. BYOB was nice, but I think if you want to go to a nicer BYOB you're much better off at Bon Sioree. The rooftop on the Wit is cool, though on weekends is totally packed and there's a line (too cold for me to wait in line). Across the street in the Renaissance, ironically, there's a brand new bar that's pretty nice. Much more chill than the house-blaring hipster/old-creeper crowd of the Wit. Totally agree with Avec >>> Blackbird, though Avec isn't a great date spot unless your date is cool sitting on uberuncomfortable chairs with complete strangers breathing on her food. The food is phenomenal though, and I love it there (sent some people there who didn't like the crowd/seats/etc). To the OP, if you're at the James, David Burke is nice, you will for sure have a good meal, good service. There are better places out there (also, Joe's stone crab is on the same block, they have a great bone-in filet, and of course stone crab), but for a solid, consistent meal, I think David Burke is one of the top places.
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by dhc905 View Post
I had a bad experience with Grocery Bistro - probably some of the worst service (worst definitely goes to Verasway) I've had in a long time and food simply was not good enough to warrant the snobby attitude. BYOB was nice, but I think if you want to go to a nicer BYOB you're much better off at Bon Sioree.

The rooftop on the Wit is cool, though on weekends is totally packed and there's a line (too cold for me to wait in line). Across the street in the Renaissance, ironically, there's a brand new bar that's pretty nice. Much more chill than the house-blaring hipster/old-creeper crowd of the Wit.

Totally agree with Avec >>> Blackbird, though Avec isn't a great date spot unless your date is cool sitting on uberuncomfortable chairs with complete strangers breathing on her food. The food is phenomenal though, and I love it there (sent some people there who didn't like the crowd/seats/etc).

To the OP, if you're at the James, David Burke is nice, you will for sure have a good meal, good service. There are better places out there (also, Joe's stone crab is on the same block, they have a great bone-in filet, and of course stone crab), but for a solid, consistent meal, I think David Burke is one of the top places.

I never had any issues at Grocery, but I tend to go to most of the trendy spots during the week to avoid the fake foodie/scenester crowds. Good points though on Avec, I never have issues at Roof because of the list that doesn't really exist (thanks to a friend). You are totally right about David Burke's or Joe's Stone Crab, you will get an excellent meal at both and totally be within walking distance of your hotel.
post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tooch4321 View Post
The Publican is well worth the 10 minute cab ride, you should also check out Roof at Wit after dinner. Coco Pazzo is great if you want Italian, I'd skip Blackbird for Avec any day and all of these are a quick cab ride from your hotel. The Grocery Bistro is another new favorite of mine...

Agreed about Avec > Blackbird, but if he wants a more intimate spot, I'd go for Blackbird.

ALSO, just went to the new Whiskey Bar/Restaurant Longman and Eagle in Logan Square and it was phenomenal.
post #12 of 19
Robin, if you are looking for "date type places that are easy to have a conversation in" please please please for your own good do NOT go to a Paul Kahan restaurant (blackbird, Avec, Publican). As good as his food is, and as great a crowd as his restaurants get, you will be sorely disappointed. Unless, of course, you know how to read lips. In which case go for it.
post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by onix View Post
Have you tried Le Colonial? It is great for date type (romantic Indochine decor, dim light, soft music). Jacket required but not as formal as many other places in the near Northside.

+1
post #14 of 19
I like Bin 36
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by dhc905 View Post
(worst definitely goes to Verasway)

spill? i've only been there for lunch
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