I'm getting ready for the big 3-0 this fall, and am going to be visiting Chicago in celebration. To clarify exactly the situation, we're going to be attending for about 7 days in the middle of November (I know, cold right?) We're looking for a few things:
1. One or two "mind-blowing" meals. I'm not necessarily asking for the most expensive, but the meals that are going to be truly special. As a chef in Los Angeles, food is one of the main reasons I'm excited to visit Chicago.
2. Several ideas for mid-level restaurants to fill out the week. Still loving tasty food, but I'd love to see what some of the local chefs are doing at places that we can do on a relative budget ($100-150 for two people including perhaps a glass or wine or cocktail)
3. Inexpensive places to eat. This is especially good for lunches, but I'm open to going somewhere more "expensive" for lunch and using a "cheap eats" place for dinner.
4. Bars. I love a good bar, especially the ones with great cocktails, both classic and modern. My preference is dark spirits (bourbon and whiskey primarily) but I'm not opposed to the lighter spirits!
5. Locations. We're still looking for a place to stay, and while specific places are welcome (our budget is tight, preferably below $200/night) I'm mostly looking for locations or neighborhoods that would be good for us.
To give you some more general background, I am chef at an upscale restaurant in Los Angeles and we are both very interested in visiting a city with a great restaurant scene. In addition, we are also very enthusiastic about the classic cocktail scene. We're very into classic (and twists on classic) cocktails, especially cocktails using dark spirits. Trying to put some perspective, we've got 8 different bourbons, 4 sweet vermouths and 6 rye whiskey options in my home bar, and many other specialty liquors. We don't tend to prefer loud spaces, though we're not necessarily opposed.
Looking forward to hearing anything you all have to say about your great city. And before you go crazy, I've checked through past posts, and will continue to comb through them. Just hoping to get some directed, current advice from those in the know!