An old friend and I will be meeting up in Chicago for three nights. We planned two other dinners, one at Alinea and the other at Frontera. After Alinea, we don't want another big ticket dinner, and would also prefer somewhere that is casual so that we can just relax and catch up.
We'd like to find something interesting and somewhat true to Chicago and its cultural makeup. To give an idea, my dinners at Cochon (NOLA), Ippudo Ramen (NYC), Au Pied de Cochon (Montreal) made me feel like I made great decisions. So I'd like to make another good decision, without breaking the bank too much. Budget is flexible and we would be comfortable with paying 50/head. More, we'll see depending on our mood. Less is always good :)
Both of us are non-Americans that lived in the midwest for a while, so we miss traditional American cooking.
I am a budding cork dork, and I have little access to California wines so a wine bar (with contemporary American food) would be good too.
We don't have any dietary restrictions, but we have some other constraints:
It is going to be a Friday night, so we prefer somewhere with reservations or have a short waiting time. Since this is a reunion dinner, ideally we also would not like to be kicked out after 90 minutes, but we can always continue our chat at a bar.
We don't wish to eat French (both of us have access to excellent French food), Greek (ditto), and we are not fans of deep dish pizza.
Bonus points for old school American (diners, taverns, soul food), Japanese (homestyle cooking not designer rolls, sashimi is ok) and upscale versions of the said. We don't get any of these.
We will be staying at Maginificent mile (Marriott), but willing to travel a little.
Thanks in advance.