I'm off to Chicago for two days next week and would love to know whether there are any great places I should check out. I'm not looking for anything too formal, and I'll be flying solo part of the time.
Where in the city will you be and what kind of food do you like/prefer?
Couple of ideas. Randolph Street just west of the loop has some good places -- De Cero has good tacos and is pretty relaxed. Not far from there are Sepia and Province. A little more upscale but Sepia has a communal table. Avec is also good and has sort of a communal table as well. Chicago Q has good food and the chef is a champion BBQ'er. Farmhouse uses local ingredients (including for some great cocktails) and the food is great. Also close to downtown. Gene & Georgetti's is a classic Italian steakhouse. I've only been once but it was fun. There are also great places in the neighborhoods -- lots of choices depending on what kind of food you like. The Hopleaf in Andersonville has awesome mussels and other great food and a amazing beer list. There are also some fun and yummy Italian places on Taylor Street. Enjoy your trip! It's a great city.
The Girl and the Goat rocks also NOMI on Michigan Ave is very good
Gotta second NoMi - we had our [very small] wedding there, and try to go back whenever we are in Chicago. It is a fabulous place.
Oooh. Girl and the Goat is a good one. Great food, great service in my experience. Also Purple Pig and Publican if you eat pork.
Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill I have had incredible good food there.
...and I have had great food there, but also, sadly TERRIBLE food.
I will second Frontera Grill which I think is on Clarke. But also Purple Pig (mentioned above) at 500 N. Michigan Avenue almost opposite the Tribune building. They sell pig. And it's good. Damn I love Chicago.
MTMitchell, thanks for asking and for the suggestions! Hotel is on E Pearson Street (Mag Mile). And I am looking to stay in the vicinity. Sounds like consensus on Girl and the Goat--brings back top chef memories. I am a vegetarian (eat fish, dairy and eggs). Probably should have added that too.
Chicago is my favorite place to eat, having lived there for 9 years, and I have been pining for the restaurants ever since.
I adore Frontera Grill, and if you can't get a res, just go to the bar Topolobambo, and stand if you have to for amazing ceviche and jicama sticks, the best tortilla soup!, and a good stiff Topolo marg.
In the Lincoln Park area, there are 2 locations for Penny's Noodle Shop, best fusion Thai food around at a great price. Great lunch spot. Love the Chinese Greens. Both have great selection of vegetarian foods.
Avec is unique and high quality, small and intimate.
Publican is a blast, but sort of a carnivore's paradise.
And I must admit that I always go to Pizzeria UNO downtown (by Northwestern) for deep dish spinach pizza, and to write on the walls. (Bring your own Sharpie.)
Dinkels' Donuts is amazing if you want a real donut ( near north). Ann Sather still has classic Swedish breakfast and famous cinnamon rolls.
If you pass by a Vosges Chocolate Bar/cafe, stop in for a drinkable chocolate or a Mo's Bacon Bar.
Oh, how I wish I was going to Chicago soon! Have fun!
Thanks Jacksonholefoodie! With 3 for Frontera Grill, I'm thinking I may actually do a Bayless resto instead of girl and goat. Besides, I don't normally have the opportunity to eat authentic Mexican. But I have read conflicting things about Ann Sather's. Any truth to the "highly overrated" reviews? I do love a good cinnamon bun!
Still open to additional breakfast and casual lunch suggestions. Thanks!
Ann Sathers has a great cinnamon roll of the doughy yeasty genre, and it has not changed in 20 years, except for getting downsized a bit ( a good thing!). I don't get the hot food there, just cinnamon bun, fresh OJ, coffee. But my kids like the thin Swedish crepes with fruit.
If Old Jerusalem is still open (in Old Town) I would go there for lunch for the best falafel.
2 AMAZING vegetarian places that are off the beaten path
high end: Green Zebra on chicago ave...probably a $10-12 cab ride from hotel (make a reservation).
casual: Mana Food Bar on division st...$12-15 cab ride, no reservations. its tiny but in a cool neighborhood so if you have to wait for a table you can take a stroll or grab a drink down the block.
both WELL WORTH the fare. they are both in my hood and i eat there often!
and im not a veg anymore, so that says a lot.
Here's a list of all the restaurants that have won the Bib Gourmand (given out by the Michelin peeps for excellent restaurants that don't charge you an arm and a leg): http://www.michelintravel.com/what-is-bib-gourmand/chicago-2012-bib-gourmand-restaurants/
I've been to Girl and the Goat, which is amazing but also still really hard to get into. If you're into Thai food, Opart was great and incredibly cheap. I haven't gotten to try out any of Rick Bayless' places yet, but have heard nothing but great things about them.
Thanks so much, all. The suggestions continue to be so helpful.
Rick Bayless' restaurants are really good -- worth the wait, etc. The trick with Girl and the Goat is to get an early reservation (which is so very gauche to some people I know....). We've had a lot of luck with 5:45 or so reservations -- haven't had a problem getting our table and in both instances we were welcome to stay as long as we wanted to (we kept ordering food and wine -- we weren't just sitting there). Chicago Diner on Halsted is also good vegetarian/vegan (and I'm a big meat eater) but it's probably a $15 or so cab ride each way. Let us know what you decide!
Good luck on getting a rezzie at Girl and the Goat! I'm a big fan of Bin 36, near Marina City. And west on Foster Avenue is a fabulous place that flies under the radar - Tre Kronor. Their trout, their quiches, and their homemade danish at brunch are the stuff dreams are made of! Down on Michigan I'd recommend Spiaggia (or Cafe Spiaggia, if your wallet insists). The best authentic Mexican food is in the Pilsen neighborhood.
Definitely not vegetarian but I'm a huge fan of Hot Doug's on the northside, not far from Wrigley. They describe themselves as an "emporium of encased meats". Chicago has the best hot dogs in the country but this place also does real charcuterie.
Vermillion. Wonderful small plates so you can try several things.
At the Pennisula spa...wonderful treatments and a beautiful sun deck off the pool. You can order from the restaurant and eat after your swim or workout.