I'm a long time lurker but rare poster here on CHOW, but I'm heading to Chicago for my first time next week and want to make sure I make the most of my time there. I'll be in town from Sat 2/23 - Tues 2/26 and staying in the Loop area. I'll be with the fiancee, and we're both in our mid 20s.
I'm looking for some must experience restaurants (and any other attractions you may suggest) for my time there. I live in Manhattan, so I'm frequently eating out at great restaurants. I don't want any traditional high end options, such as a steakhouse or generic seafood restaurant, nor do I want something standard I can find here. I'm looking for something that is only in Chicago.
A few of the basics I already plan to fit in - A chicago hot dog, pizza at Lou Malnati's and maybe and italian beef sandwich. Other places I'm currently considering are Sable, Publican and Girl and the Goat.
I'd love to come up with options for the following meals:
Lunch: Sat and Sun
Dinner: Sun and Mon
Obviously there may be some overlap with brunch, and I'm thinking Lou's will be lunch one day.
I'm a big fan of small plates just for the ability to sample a range of options. I'm also a fan of trying any sort of more creative item a chef may throw on a menu. The only cuisines I'm not interested in for this trip are chinese or sushi. Otherwise I'd say anything is fair game. I guess in short my question would be if you were to pick your favorite spots to fit into a long weekend, what would they be?
As a side note, I'll be visiting Hyde Park (Chicago Booth - UChicago) on Monday in the middle of the day. I'd love to spend a bit of time in the afternoon and/or early evening exploring that area as well. Any suggestions for a dinner down there, or maybe just a bar or two worth stopping into before heading back north?