Dinner Recs in Chicago

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by MrG, Nov 23, 2009.

  1. kaxixi

    kaxixi Senior member

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    The recs in this list are consistently good. You can't go wrong.
     
  2. kwilkinson

    kwilkinson Having a Ball

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    GT and KW make some solid observations. Here's my perspective as someone who dines out frequently in Chicago:

    • Schwa - never been there, but foodies (and chefs) love this place, which is literally around the corner from where I live. A few caveats - it's very difficult to get reservations because it's both very popular and very small (it's basically a three-man operation) and the whole process is somewhat quirky from what I've read. Also, it's situated on a rather desolate strip of Ashland Avenue - the heart of Wicker Park/Bucktown is about 1/2 mile away.

    • Get your ass to Schwa immediately. Just drop by during service and try to make a reservation in person. It'll work better than getting sent to their voicemail 500 days in a row.
      Hell Yes. TAC Quick Thai is amazing. I lived just a block north of there, at 4119 Kenmore, and had to walk right by TAC every day since it's right under the Sheridan Red Line stop. I can't tell you how many times I would get home from class late and just grab dinner at TAB on my way home. If you go, make sure you ask for their special Thai menu.

      I was wondering kwilkinson (or anyone), why no mention of Avenues at the Peninsula? I had some good dinners there, but then I am not an expert. Overrated? The whole, restaurant part of a hotel, thing off-putting? I enjoy bad food too much? Just curious.
      I have never been. One of my chef-instructors worked there and said it was quite nice. I heard only great things about it when Chef GEB was there, but have heard it may be waning since he left to open his own eponymous restaurant. Which brings me to the fact that I did totally forget Graham Elliot as a recommendation. Whomever mentioned is absolutely right, it does belong on this list. In the categories that I mentioned before, it belongs between the super high end and the moderately priced. It belongs with the super high end because Graham Elliot is (and has been for a while) doing some of the best food in Chicago, but it belongs with the moderate restaurants because the prices are incredible there. I've been several times, and I think my check average is around $70 for a three course meal. For the quality food GEB is putting out, that's a steal.
     
  3. ChicagoRon

    ChicagoRon Senior member

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    I was in Chicago in April this year. The best sushi I have ever had was at Japonais, which is in the River North section.
    Mirai is owned by the same folks as Japonais but is older and is the pure sushi restaurant. All of the sushi available at Japonais can be had at Mirai, plus a little more, and has always tasted even better to me there.
     
  4. deaddog

    deaddog Senior member

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    For cheap near Millenium Park, can't beat lunch at the original Heaven on Seven (7th floor of old office building on Wabash = 111?). Incredible cajun specialities and excellent diner/burger food. for a few more bucks, and open for door, I like the Gage. Always full of tourists but the food (gastro-pubish) is consistently very good
     
  5. modern_leifeng

    modern_leifeng Senior member

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    mmm... berns <3
    For cheap near millenium park... take the red-line to C-town and eat at Lao Sze Chuan. Also, Takashi has a noodle place inside the Marshall Field's (Macy's) on State. It's not the best noodles in Chicago, but it's good.


    Tons of great recommendations on this thread already, but throwing in Lao Szechuan was a great move, for my money its Chicago's best Chinese food (though I've yet to try Tony Hu's newer "Lao's"). Also, I wouldn't limit the Macy's suggestion to Takashi's noodles, the burger at Marc Burger is quite possibly the best sub $10 burger I've ever eaten, plus Bayless' offerings are also great. Which reminds me, has nobody thrown out Frontera Grill as a decent "cheap" option in the area (okay, would need to cab it, but it isn't that far), well worth checking out.

    I have never been. One of my chef-instructors worked there and said it was quite nice. I heard only great things about it when Chef GEB was there, but have heard it may be waning since he left to open his own eponymous restaurant.
    It definitely ain't what it used to be when GEB was running the kitchen, but I think its always hard for a restaurant when transitioning between chefs, especially when the former one did so much to turn around the restaurant.
     
  6. Gotham Historian

    Gotham Historian Member

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    Alinea is definitely a place to be experienced. I made reservations about 1 month in advance for a Sunday night. Its dress code is jackets for men. The long "tour" menu is about 3-4 hours in duration, but it's a lot of fun and very memorable.

    Moto is similar to Alinea and is located in the Fulton Market district. The menus is equally long and takes a similar 3-4 hrs according to reviews I've read on yelp.com. Moto's sister restaurant Otom is right next door, cost about 1/3 the price and is a very good restaurant in its own right.

    For me, Chicago food is not steak, hot dogs or pizza, it will always be American contemporary interpreted by Alinea, Moto, Otom, Blackbird, L2O, Tru, etc. If you come to town and you're a foodie, then you should check out one of these places for a Chicago twist on American cuisine.
     
  7. SField

    SField Senior member

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    Cape Cod for seafood (in the Drake hotel) and Keefer's has the best steak in...America?


    Cape Cod is one of the worst restaurants in the entire world. It is horrific and no one who has ever eaten real seafood should even remotely consider it to be a viable option. I'd rather go to Red Lobster.
     
  8. JayJay

    JayJay Senior member

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    For me, Chicago food is not steak, hot dogs or pizza, it will always be American contemporary interpreted by Alinea, Moto, Otom, Blackbird, L2O, Tru, etc. If you come to town and you're a foodie, then you should check out one of these places for a Chicago twist on American cuisine.
    Same here. Although I enjoy a good pizza and hot dogs every now and then usually for lunch, Chicago has so much more great dining to enjoy.
     
  9. MrG

    MrG Senior member

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    Here's what we've decided:

    Friday - Dinner at Blackbird. We tried to get into Schwa, but it just wasn't happening. Even Blackbird was tough on such short notice, but AmEx came through for me. Looking at the menus Blackbird had the strongest appeal of the non-Schwa set.

    Saturday - Dinner at Riccardo Trattoria. I LOVE Italian food, so any place Kwilk calls the "best Italian in the city" has to be on my list.

    I've also taken note of the other recs for places where we can sort of drop in - we'll definitely be getting some pizza (probably at Pequod's, given this seems to be the way to go), and we wont forget to grab a hot dog at some point. I'm probably just going to jot down all the recs here and stop at whatever place is closest when we get hungry.

    Thanks again to everyone; the advice has been awesome!
     
  10. Biggskip

    Biggskip Senior member

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    MrG, don't let me distract you from your current plan (it looks excellent), but I have to contribute my own $.02 to this thread.

    During my time in Chi-town I never had quite the expense account that some of our other fine member must enjoy. I was always in search of the good cheap eats. I'm a big fan of BBQ and fried chix. Don't get me wrong you will have a much better experience at the places you've already picked out. If you want to spend 90% less on the check, however, then these would be my recommendations.

    - For the later you cannot go wrong with Harold's Chicken Shack. They're scattered all throughout the South Side. Each location is its own miserable piss hole experience (seriously you order through bulletproof glass), but the food is really really good. Get an order of "Half-White w/Hot Sauce and Extra Bread". You and your wife could split it...in car...after you leave.

    - As to the former, there are two places that I'm quite fond of. The first is Lem's. It's on the South Side and is takeout only. The "Tips Meal" is your best value. You may also want to get the sauce on the side. If you can make it out to the burbs you could try Uncle Bub's BBQ. The website animation alone is worth a click on the link. In addition to the great BBQ, they have very good sides (including fried Mac 'N Cheese) and Green River in the soda fountain.

    - If the idea of a taking a piece of steak, pounding it flat, breading it, frying it, and then putting it on a bun with Marinara sauce and hot Giardiniera sounds good, then you need to check out Ricobene's. Combine one of the king sized sandwiches with some fresh cut fries and a chocolate shake and they'll pay for the ambulance to take you to the hospital of your choice for a coronary procedure.

    - For an unreal Corned Beef sandwich go to Manny's. I'll take them over any of the NYC institutions any day of the week.

    Finally, has anybody every been to Arun's or Moto? I've heard incredible things about both.

    I hope you have a great time! You'll have to let us know how it turns out.
     
  11. ChicagoRon

    ChicagoRon Senior member

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    Cape Cod is one of the worst restaurants in the entire world. It is horrific and no one who has ever eaten real seafood should even remotely consider it to be a viable option. I'd rather go to Red Lobster.
    Yeah... for a traditional seafood, Bob Chinn's in wheeling is my first and only choice, although I hear Catch 35 is good, and Shaw's or Joe's would be acceptable in a pinch.
     
  12. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    MrG, don't let me distract you from your current plan (it looks excellent), but I have to contribute my own $.02 to this thread.

    During my time in Chi-town I never had quite the expense account that some of our other fine member must enjoy. I was always in search of the good cheap eats. I'm a big fan of BBQ and fried chix. Don't get me wrong you will have a much better experience at the places you've already picked out. If you want to spend 90% less on the check, however, then these would be my recommendations.

    - For the later you cannot go wrong with Harold's Chicken Shack. They're scattered all throughout the South Side. Each location is its own miserable piss hole experience (seriously you order through bulletproof glass), but the food is really really good. Get an order of "Half-White w/Hot Sauce and Extra Bread". You and your wife could split it...in car...after you leave.

    - As to the former, there are two places that I'm quite fond of. The first is Lem's. It's on the South Side and is takeout only. The "Tips Meal" is your best value. You may also want to get the sauce on the side. If you can make it out to the burbs you could try Uncle Bub's BBQ. The website animation alone is worth a click on the link. In addition to the great BBQ, they have very good sides (including fried Mac 'N Cheese) and Green River in the soda fountain.

    - If the idea of a taking a piece of steak, pounding it flat, breading it, frying it, and then putting it on a bun with Marinara sauce and hot Giardiniera sounds good, then you need to check out Ricobene's. Combine one of the king sized sandwiches with some fresh cut fries and a chocolate shake and they'll pay for the ambulance to take you to the hospital of your choice for a coronary procedure.

    - For an unreal Corned Beef sandwich go to Manny's. I'll take them over any of the NYC institutions any day of the week.

    Finally, has anybody every been to Arun's or Moto? I've heard incredible things about both.

    I hope you have a great time! You'll have to let us know how it turns out.



    I would have recomended chicken and bar-b-que, but the OP comes from Atlanta.
     
  13. JayJay

    JayJay Senior member

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    Here's what we've decided:

    Friday - Dinner at Blackbird. We tried to get into Schwa, but it just wasn't happening. Even Blackbird was tough on such short notice, but AmEx came through for me. Looking at the menus Blackbird had the strongest appeal of the non-Schwa set.

    Saturday - Dinner at Riccardo Trattoria. I LOVE Italian food, so any place Kwilk calls the "best Italian in the city" has to be on my list.

    I've also taken note of the other recs for places where we can sort of drop in - we'll definitely be getting some pizza (probably at Pequod's, given this seems to be the way to go), and we wont forget to grab a hot dog at some point. I'm probably just going to jot down all the recs here and stop at whatever place is closest when we get hungry.

    Thanks again to everyone; the advice has been awesome!

    Good choices. Enjoy your visit.
     
  14. JayJay

    JayJay Senior member

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    - For the later you cannot go wrong with Harold's Chicken Shack. They're scattered all throughout the South Side. Each location is its own miserable piss hole experience (seriously you order through bulletproof glass), but the food is really really good. Get an order of "Half-White w/Hot Sauce and Extra Bread". You and your wife could split it...in car...after you leave.

    I've never been to Harold's but I've heard lots about it. Didn't Harold die recently?
     
  15. countdemoney

    countdemoney Senior member

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    Blackbird is boisterous and very crowded. You should definitely try to be in more of an up or party mood when you visit.
     

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