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Chicago Review by LA Chowhound (very long)

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Chicago Review by LA Chowhound (very long)

Ira | Jul 19, 2003 02:34 AM

First, mucho thanks to those who responded to my post a few months back. Your recs were a great source and were heavily relied upon. We were traveling with 2 kids, so our dining choices were somewhat limited.

Dinner #1-- Lou Malnati's (River North location)
Can't say enough about the corn meal crust. We had a large, half sausage-half pepperoni and every bite was delightful. The kids, ages 8 and 10 and pizza connisseurs in their own right, gave their enthusiastic approval. A real winner.

Dinner #2 -- Carson's
We had been there before and, while, the ribs are not much to write home about, we were eager to return for the sinful potatoes au gratin. Actually, the sauce was more to my liking this time. It was heavier on the vinegar and complemented the well smoked meat. Would've preferred getting take-out from Lem's but logistics got in the way.

Dinner #3 -- Joe's Seafood
By far the best meal and not solely because we dumped the kids at the hotel. We've mail ordered the stone crabs once before and couldn't wait to get our hands on them. I first checked to make sure they were being served. As of last week, they were despite what other have posted here. We got seated at 9:45, fifteen minutes prior to closing, and it was bustling (it was a Thursday nite). We shared the stone crab appetizer which was, as expected, orgasmic ecstasy. I ordered the Copper River salmon and my wife had the filet and stone crab combo. Both were exceptional. The sides, sauteed string beans with almonds and potatoes Lyonniase, were superb. I had the key lime pie which was the best I've ever had. Our waiter, Steven, was a consummate professional--not intrusive, but always around when needed. Yes, we dropped $175 (we ordered a Cuivason Pinot) but it was well worth it.

Dinner #4 -- Weber Grill (Lombard)
After 3 nites Downtown, we headed out to Lombard for a family reunion. The hotel conceriege recommended Weber Grill, which had caught our attention when we saw it Downtown. The restaurant, we discovered, is a paradox. It fancies itself as a "Classic American," however, the menu suggests otherwise. For instance, the salad dressings included balsamic vinegarette and some other vinegarette along with a 1000 Island and bleu cheese. Where was Green Goddess and Russian dressings. The burgers were served on pumpernickel buns which were wat too thick and which detracted from the quality beef. A real loser was the grilled string beans. They were inedible, very stringy and mushy. We sent them back and the manager came by and was very flippant about our complaint, as if we were the first patrons to ever send back food. Although the burgers we ordered were OK, the restaurant, as a whole, gets a thumbs down. They better think twice before they try to expand to additional locations.

Dinner #5- Ixcapuzalco
What a treat!! We were joined by some friends and all of our entrees were outstanding, very well seasoned and wonderfully presented. I had the grilled lamb chops served with a delicious red wine sauce over a bed of shredded potatoes. Two others ordered the shrimp al mojo featuring 8 plump, fresh shrimps. Another ordered the sea scallops in a wonderfully spicy green sauce. The margaritas, although rather small for the price ($8.50), were absolutely divine. The decor was very festive, complete with two live trees situated within the restaurant. Service was outstanding.

We also tried Italian beef sandwiches at Portillo's (Yorktown) and Al's (Ontario St.). Both were excellent with the latter winning out for its savory gravy. In addition, we had Chicago dogs at Portillo's and Teddy's Red Hots in Downer's Grove and Gold Coast (Midway airport). All were so tasty that it will be a long time before we order another hot dog anywhere. Finally, we had caramel corn from Garrett's (yummy!) and ice cream from Oberweis Dairy (the vanilla blew me away!!).

Sorry for the length of this post. Needless to say, we certainly enjoyed our stay not only for the food, but also for the very friendly natives and multitude of interesting museums and other attractions. We can't wait to return. We love Chicago!!!

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