Old favorite places were Hot Chocolate, Scylla, Salpicon, Pizza DOC, Bongo Room, Orange and Hearty Boys for brunch, NoMI, Cocco Pazzo Cafe, Lula Cafe. I'd happily return to all those places but I only have 3 days in Chicago and based on my itinerary I'll probably only get to plan one real meal out - on the later side on a Saturday after a Sox game. I've been spending a lot of time on these message boards and come up with the four frontrunners, all of whom seem to get consistently great reviews from you all and all of whose menus look fantastic!
If you had one real Chicago meal after 3 years of the comparatively blah DC restaurant scene (no offense to my adopted town, Chicago just sets the bar exceptionally high), which of those four would you pick? We're a couple in our 20s, without a TON of discretionary spending money (meaning Alinia stays sadly out of reach), but we're saving a bundle staying with family, and will mostly be doing free or nearly free activities, so we can afford one nice (if not break-the-bank) meal.