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Last Minute Trip to Chicago This Weekend - Are There Any Must Try Dishes I'm Missing?


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Last Minute Trip to Chicago This Weekend - Are There Any Must Try Dishes I'm Missing?

yakigyoza | | Apr 24, 2013 07:41 PM

[ Background ]

I am a Los Angeles born as raised ChowHounder who is surprising my good friend and client who recently moved to Chicago for his birthday this upcoming weekend (04/26/13 - 04/29/13). This was a very last minute decision so availability issues were expected. My friend and I (plus our two girlfriends) love all types of food. From hole in the walls to Michelin and San Pellegrino rated establishments, we really don't discriminate. We just want our food to be memorable.

For this trip I'm looking more for amazing dishes than tasting menus. I understand tasting menus are a great way to capture the essence of what a chef can offer but I've wined and dined clients for the past 11 years and in my mid 20's, I remember spending an average of $45K per year on food and alcohol and it all began to taste the same. If 50% of the dishes on a tasting menu is memorable, that's a huge success in my book. Sadly though, this percentage is usually much lower and with the amount of money spent on tasting menus, that doesn't make sense to me. So now, I prefer outstanding dish(es) at restaurants versus tasting menus but I welcome all suggestions and comments.

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[ Gratitude ]

I want to give a shout out and thanks to all the local Chicago ChowHounders who have commented on this board. I spent a good time reading various threads and the expressed opinions were extremely helpful. In particular, a big thank you to the contributions of nsxtasy, camusman, Gonzo70, and HoosierFoodie.

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[ Trip Details and Eatinerary ]

I am staying at Hotel Felix (111 W Huron Street) and will have transportation for half of the trip.

Friday Lunch:
Frontera Grill @ 11:30 am (I have reservations for Frontera but I'm going a little before opening to see if there is a wait for the bar. Ideally, I'd like to order from both Frontera and Topolobampo menus.)
- Ceviche Trio
- Mole Trio
- Guacamole
- Blue Agave Margarita
- Oaxacan-Style Carne Asada (possibly)

Friday Mid Day Snack:
Lou Minalti's @ 2:30 pm
- Minalti Chicago Classic.

Friday Dinner:
El Ideas @ 7:30 pm
-Tasting Menu

Saturday Breakfast:
Bongo Room @ 8:30 am
- Chocolate & Caramel Pretzel Pancakes

Saturday Lunch:
Hot Doug's @11:30 am
- Foie Dog
- Paul Kelly Dog
- Duck Fat Fries

Saturday Post Lunch Activity [If not in induced food coma]
Pastoral Event (Chicago French Market) @ 1:00 pm

Saturday Mid Day Snack:
Au Cheval @ 4:00 pm
- Bacon Cheeseburger
- Foie Gras & Scrambed Eggs
- Fried House-Made Bologna Sandwich
- Foie Terrine
- Pork Porter House & Foie

Saturday Dinner: [Not Decided Yet]
1) ING Restaurant (Waiting on Response)
2) MK Restaurant

Sunday Brunch:
North Pond @ 12:30 pm
- 3 course pre-fixe

Sunday Mid Day Snack:
Girodano's Pizza @ 4:00 pm
- Double Crust Stuffed Pie

Sunday Dinner:
Sable @ 8:30 pm (love the half size portion options)
- Cherry Wood Short Rib
- Chicken & Waffles
- Shrimp & Grits
- Sweet Corn Creme Brulee
- New England Lobster Roll
- Mike Ryan's cocktails.

Monday Lunch:
Black Bird @ 12:00 pm
- Prefixe Lunch Special (although knowing me, I'll want to get other dishes too.)

Monday Pre-Flight:
Tortas Frontera (Terminal 3, K4) @ 3:00pm
- Cubano
- Shrimp Torta

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[ Other Considerations ]

I'll try to go to Portillo's for the Beef Sandwich and their dogs if time and appetite permits. I'm also going to pick up some Garretts as well.

I really wanted to try Aviary's Cocktail tasting menu but my friend doesn't drink (maybe that's why he's at 4.5% body fat while I'm at 9%) and the two girls are lightweight when it comes to libations.

Here are the list of restaurants that were eliminated due to unavailability, a no-reservation policy, or uninteresting menus:

GT Fish & Oyster
Longman & Eagle
Purple Pig

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[ Question ]

So, am I missing anything crucial "must-try" dish?