Just left Chicago, Chowhounders were such a great help in deciding where and what to eat, so I thought I'd add my little eating report to the many existing ones.
Arrived on Sunday night from Europe, checked into the hotel and wandered out looking for a little bite to eat and a drink, when I noticed Sable just one block from our hotel. Had a lovely cocktail there and some small bites, especially loved the mushroom burgers. Of course we were quite tired so we went back to the hotel pretty early.
The next day we went for coffee at Intelligentsia (we wound up going back 3 times, great coffee and they also serve lovely tea for my husband who does not drink coffee). For dinner that night we headed out to Kuma's Corner, which was everything I hoped it would be: fantastic burgers, some wonderful beers, and a great vibe. It was very nice to be in a place that had such a neighborhood feel and where people obviously care very much about what they do. We arrived around5:30, there was no line, we were seated immediately at the bar which is always our favorite place anyway, and as we sat looking at the beer list people started lining up behind us.. we got lucky.
The next day I spent the morning at Alcala's picking out a new pair of boots, the weather was really horrible and before I went to the store I desperately needed some caffeine and a place ti sit warm and dry for a bit, luckily I stumbled upon a coffee place on W Chicago Ave called Bobo's - very friendly staff, nice pastries, and a warm and cozy haven from the cold and grey outside.
Dinner that night was at the Publican. We loved it - yes the room is terribly loud, and if you want a romantic dinner this is probably not the place, but we enjoyed sitting at the bar and watching tons of oysters being shucked. Wonderful ham, good oysters, very nice spelt pasta with duck hearts, and a fantastic sweetbread dish with ramps and romesco sauce. Left very happy.
The next night we had dinner at Topolobampo. It was good, but I have to say I was the tiniest bit disappointed. Maybe I was looking forward to it too much, or had read too many glowing reports. Room and atmosphere were more formal than I had expected (I guess we would have been happier at Frontera). Also, Isn't this place booked months in advance? The whole time we were there (almost 2,5 hours) there were numerous empty tables around is, which did not help the atmosphere. I'm not saying it wasn't good. My gorditas with black bean sauce and pork belly were lovely, my bass with goats cheese tamales and horchata sauce delicious and delicate. Ok, they were a bit too delicate maybe.. I guess I had expected a bit more wow, a bit more power.
The next day we took the bus to have hot dogs at Hot Doug's! Quite an adventure but very much worth it. We arrived around 11:30 and there was only one person ahead of us. My husband had the Teuben and I had the Mountain Man and we spent a very enjoyable half hour eating our hot dogs and watching everything that was going on. It git busier and busier while we were there and by the time we left the line was way out the door.
That night we had dinner at Mercat a al Planxa, which we both loved. There was a fantastic special of grilled asparagus with morels and truffel/manchego sauce, another highlight was the rice with chicken and lobster. The only thing I did not really enjoy was the flatbread with shrimp and chorizo, too cheesy - could not really taste anything but the cheese. Had a nice white wine with dinner and finished with 2 huge pours of bourbon (ones we'd never tried before). Walked home happy and slightly tipsy!
Oh and I forget: that afternoon I suddenly found myself in front of Malnati's, I was on my own and thought what the heck I have to try this at least once right? Sat at the bar and had a beer and a small sausage pizza. Very unlike any pizza I've ever eaten, but very good in its own right, and I can see how if I'd lived in Chicago, this would be something I'd crave on occasion!
Next day we went to Xoco pretty early, again no line but by the time we left the line was very long.. my husband wasn't very hungry and had a salad, I had the Torta Ahogada, which was possibly the best thing I ate in Chicago all week. Am still dreaming about it, and I'm so glad we went.
In the evening we had excellent beers and an unremarkable, but not too bad burger & fries at the Goose Island Brewery.
Before leaving the next morning we stopped at Garretts for some popcorn - again, no line, I had warned my husband about all the lines we would have to stand in during this week in Chicago but I guess we just planned pretty well!
Biggest regret is that we did not make it to The Violet Hour. I hope to get back to Chicago some day, it sure is a great city for eating!
pictures are here on my Dutch blog which is dedicated to our 7 week trip around the world.
3324 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610
2900 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
1247 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654