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Visiting Chicago

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I'm going to visit Chicago for a few days in two weeks, and I don't see any existing Chicago threads.

Food: I made a reservation at Moto and also plan to hit up Hot Doug's and Lou Malnati's. Any other places of note to try? Girl and the Goat is booked up until mid September. Maybe I'll have some luck checking opentable regularly to see if anyone cancelled.

Shopping: Coming from Toronto, I'm considering picking up a Burberry trench to save on taxes. Is the outlet at Lighthouse Place worth it? I would have to rent a car for the day, I believe. Any stores that stock APC/McNairy/W+H type stuff that I can check out while I'm there?

cheers.gif
post #2 of 27
Alinea!!! One of the best meals I have had in my life.

Lou Malnati's is not a bad pick if you absolutely must have Chicago-style pizza. Their crust is at least slightly different from the others: Giordano's, Uno, etc. But honestly, there is nothing special about Chicago-style pizza in Chicago versus anywhere else. If you have an Uno chain in Toronto, it is just as authentic and just as good as anything in the Chicago area itself. It's not like the ingredients are local to the area or there is any special magic in how the pizza is made. It's just big, loaded, and overwhelming.

If you are on the Magnificent Mile, there is an Italian bakery below the Hancock Tower that we used to drop by for snacks and refreshments while shopping. There is also Wow Bao, which is a really good local chain for Chinese meat buns.
post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately, the days I'm in town will be the exact week when Alinea takes their mid-august break. That was my first choice over Moto too...

I watch too much Food Network, so deep dish pizza is a must-try for me. There's nothing close to authentic deep dish in Toronto. Plus, it's a cheap eat to even out the Moto meal.

The bakery sounds good for a quick breakfast too.
post #4 of 27
Oh, and get some Eli's cheesecake. Plain is best.

Maybe the best cheesecake I've ever had. Better than anything I've had in New York.
post #5 of 27
post #6 of 27
I spent the last 4 years in chicago (Uchicago class of 12), and if i could be in chicago right now, I would be at Harold's fried chicken shack.

Also, Avec is a nice place, you should check it out.
post #7 of 27
Taxim is possibly the best Greek food I've ever had (though I've never been to Greece).

The one time I ate at Girl and the Goat we walked in and sat at the bar, which works well if there are no more than two to your party. And, if you can't get in you can always walk across the street to Grange Hall, which is among the best burgers I've ever had (GH is closed Sundays and Mondays, though).

Another awesome one, but equally hard as G&TG to get into is Topo (Rick Bayless' upscale Mexican restaurant). However the margaritas are great if you don't mind waiting a while.

There are a few off the beaten path places I also like; Chez Joel is a great French bistro with a bit of North African flare to it. Salpicon is probably my second favorite upscale Mexican (after Topo) but it's much more low key and if you like sipping tequilas they have some great ones.

Finally, if you're into Top Chef contestant restaurants then check out Spiagia at the end of Magnificent Mile (lake end). I've only eaten in the cafe but both that and the full restaurant have excellent reputations and reservations aren't that difficult.

Oh, and if you're into coffee and don't mind a bit of a hike then check out Buzz Killer Espresso. They get very good beans and really know how to make coffee drinks. The almond-filled croissants are also worth the 1000 calories they likely contain.
post #8 of 27
When I was there, we didn't have a reservation at the girl and the goat, but a half an hour or 45 minutes in the waiting lounge we got a table. The reserve tables for walk ins. You can also eat and drink their entire menu in the lounge if you were so inclined. We just had a couple different breads and beers.
post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by CanuckBassist View Post

I'm going to visit Chicago for a few days in two weeks, and I don't see any existing Chicago threads.

There has actually been a bunch of threads on this, try using the search function.
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mafoofan View Post

Alinea!!! One of the best meals I have had in my life.
Lou Malnati's is not a bad pick if you absolutely must have Chicago-style pizza. Their crust is at least slightly different from the others: Giordano's, Uno, etc. But honestly, there is nothing special about Chicago-style pizza in Chicago versus anywhere else. If you have an Uno chain in Toronto, it is just as authentic and just as good as anything in the Chicago area itself. It's not like the ingredients are local to the area or there is any special magic in how the pizza is made. It's just big, loaded, and overwhelming.
If you are on the Magnificent Mile, there is an Italian bakery below the Hancock Tower that we used to drop by for snacks and refreshments while shopping. There is also Wow Bao, which is a really good local chain for Chinese meat buns.

facepalm.gif The real Uno/Due are not at all like the gross chain.

There are also huge differences between something like Lou's and Giordano's. Lou's is a little closer to Uno...a deep pan crust with sort of a toppings-soup in top. Giordano's is a stuffed pizza--they lay out a crust, top it with a ton of cheese and shit, lay another layer of crust on top of that, and then put some more sauce and stuff on top. You end up with a soggy uncooked crust layer in the middle of the pizza (some people miss it and just think its part of the cheese)...they have their place but I don't think they are as good as a real chicago deep dish.

I would do either a sausage from Lou's or a Numero Uno from Uno/Due (Due is across the street and is the exact same restaurant with a shorter line). The Uno will be a bit soupy since the veggies give off more water but its a classic...I would probably eat Lou's sausage more often though.
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by otc View Post

I would probably eat Lou's sausage more often though.

Is that how you know you can always get a table there?
post #12 of 27
hope you have fun here. some of my faves:

Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House: swordfish, crab cakes, and the carrot cake

XOCO for churros & hot chocolate
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Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. for the pizza pot pies
c1432891.jpg

For shopping, the Barney's here have a good selection. Marc Jacobs if you're into that and there's a new Brunello if you're into that too
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For things to see, Navy Pier, Millenium Park, The Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago
Oak Street Beach
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enjoy : )
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by otc View Post

facepalm.gif The real Uno/Due are not at all like the gross chain.
There are also huge differences between something like Lou's and Giordano's.

Sorry, but I think this is a huge fiction that doesn't stand any scrutiny beyond Illinois and the states immediately adjacent to it. I lived in Chicago for more than three years and ate way too much of all that garbage to stand the regional notion that any of it is any good. I've had pizza at both the original Uno and Uno Due, as well as at numerous chain locations all over the rest of the country. It's all the same. Going to the original Uno is no different from going to the original TGIF. This is largely to do with the TGIF-level ingredients used in all Chicago pizza. They all use the same disgusting, processed, shredded "mozzarella" that you find next to the bagged, pre-made salads at the supermarket. Who cares if one version is soupier than the next? It's all gross.

However, if one is forced to eat Chicago pizza, here is how I would sum it up: Giordano's is the soupiest and my least favorite, Lou Malnati has the most unique crust, which tastes almost as if it's got corn meal in it (not in a bad way), and Uno is exactly like the Uno you get at your neighborhood shopping mall. The differences are marginal at best.

Chicago-style pizza is about eating heaping, absurd amounts of mediocrity covered by (or on top of) melted, rubbery B-grade cheese. The only part ever worth eating is the crust. It reflects the absolute, worst stereotypes of the Midwest. But I guess if you want to eat like the locals . . .
Quote:
Originally Posted by colabear View Post

Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. for the pizza pot pies
c1432891.jpg

It's hard for me to even look at this.
Edited by mafoofan - 8/13/12 at 6:03am
post #14 of 27
I know, it kinda resembles a prolapsed hemorrohoid, but I promise you it taste really good.
This place is a much smaller business compare to the Lou Malnatis or the Pizzeria Uno, therefore they have better quality control over their product. Most of the time when you go to these bigger establishments, it's a matter of ordering during off hours when the cooks are not rushing to get a better prepared pizza.
post #15 of 27
Well if you want the cornmeal in the crust, why not go with Ginos?

Agree that Giordano's is probably my least favorite...that extra layer of crust comes out gross. If you want to do the stuffed route, Edwardos is better than that (especially the spinach pizza).

There is still a difference between the originals and the chain unos though. I can't remember the last time I bothered to go to a chain version, but I eat at Due every once and a while. The menu is completely different....purely a pizza place and not a wide ranging generic bar and grill like the chain (you can't even get thin crust at the real Uno/Due). The places are not what they used to be, but they are still good.
The ingredients may not be super fancy but its a fricking deep dish pizza. I just want a bunch of melted cheese on those occasions when I want chicago pizza. Most other times I have pizza, its either a great Sicilian style pizza from one place my my appartment or more of a pan-style deep dish (where the bottom crust is thicker but the ingredients on top are more normal rather than a soup) from another place.
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