Restaurants & Bars

Chicago Area

Would appreciate critique and suggestions on itinerary (bit long)


Restaurants & Bars Chicago Area

Would appreciate critique and suggestions on itinerary (bit long)

Miss Needle | | Apr 12, 2009 10:14 AM

Hi all. I'll be visiting from NYC at the end of next month for a few days. There are quite a wealth of suggestions here, and it was quite a feat combing through the boards. We haven't booked our hotel yet, but are thinking of staying in the Loop area. We won't be renting a car, and will be walking, taking cabs and public transportation. We can walk a lot, and are comfortable walking up to an hour and a half to restaurants -- unless it's a fancy place and we're wearing more dressy shoes or the neighborhood is just not that safe -- and I'm not super familiar with Chicago neighborhoods but will say that we can basically walk anywhere in NYC with the exception of very-industrial neighborhoods were there's not a soul in sight with the exception of an occasional psycho-killer. : ) We are just looking for lunch and dinner suggestions as we'll probably be too full and be either skipping breakfast or just picking up a piece of fruit. We are open to all from cheap eats to high end dining. This is what we have so far:

Lunch -- Topolabampo
Dinner -- Avec

Lunch -- Hot Doug's
Cubs game at 1:10P
Dinner -- 6:30P -- L20

Day full with other plans

Lunch --Giordano's
5:30P -- Alinea

Lunch -- Blackbird
Going back to NYC

These two are musts: Alinea and L20 as DH really wants to go to L20 and we really don't have anything like Alinea in NYC (WD-50 may be similar, but I wasn't too crazy about the food and have heard that Alinea is a lot better). We already have reservations.

And we are looking for a Chicago pizza experience. I've already been to Uno's and Malnati's -- I preferred Uno's because I thought their crust was better. But I'd like to try stuffed pizza as I've never had that before.

I picked Hot Doug's on Friday because it's about a couple of miles from Wrigley Field (where we'll be going to an afternoon game) and duck fat fries are available. I've read reports that the duck fat fries aren't all that, but I'm still curious about them. I roast potatoes in duck fat at home and there's a very noticeable difference to me when I roast them in duck fat and when I roast them in olive oil. I prefer the duck fat and would love to try french fries in that form. And the price is right. And the specialty sausages sound interesting to me. Sorry, but with my fear and hatred of cucumber pickles (seriously, I just can't go anywhere near them), eating a Chicago dog would be like asking me to dip my head in a vat of hot oil.

And I know Chicago has a wealth of Mexican options beyond Frontera and Topo. But DH's not too crazy about Mexican and probably won't feel like going unless it's really convenient.

I'm also aware that Giordano's and Alinea in the same day may be overkill. But I don't have to eat a lot at Giordano's (I'm hoping we can find a hotel with a fridge and bring all the yummy leftovers back to NYC), and would like to squeeze in a stuffed pizza experience on this trip.

I know Blackbird and Avec are owned by the same people but the menus sound really different to me.

Also wanted to mention that I'm not so sure if I'd be so into the Chicago beef sandwich thing. Apologies if I'm way off base, but I'm not crazy about the Philly cheesesteak mainly because of the meat, and the Italian beef sounds kind of similar.

So with that said, I'd like to know how my itinerary sounds. Does it seem like the typical tourist itinerary where there's more hype than substance (believe me, I cringe when tourists visit NYC and go to Magnolia Bakery for cupcakes as they can do so much better)? Is both Avec and Blackbird overkill? Is Hot Doug's overrated and just not worth the trip and the wait? Are there better examples of stuffed pizza than Giordano's that's within decent range of the Loop? And any must-have items from the restaurants?

And I don't think I want to spend one of my meals eating at Greektown (where I've read that the food is good, but nothing spectacular). But is it worth trekking there to explore the neighborhood? Are there a lot of specialty Greek food shops where one can browse? And to keep this all food-related (so that the mods don't interfere ; )), are there other interesting neighborhoods with food stores to browse in? How is Chicago's Chinatown compared to Manhattan's Chinatown or Flushing? Is it worth the trip?

Sorry if I'm being so long-winded. But I'm trying to be as thorough as I can so you guys have better knowledge of my situation. Thanks so much!

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