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Need great Chicago eats - downscale and delicious

AnneInMpls | Apr 2, 200812:23 PM

Help! I've been researching where to eat on my upcoming visit. Chicago's eating options have exploded since my last visit (circa 1992), and I'm completely overwhelmed. Unfortunately, my husband and I are only there for 4-1/2 days, and we can only eat so much...

So I've decided to focus on food that is unavailable or feeble in my home town. I don't want any expensive or fancy places, though one moderate splurge would be OK.

My eating priorities are:

1. Regional/authentic Mexican - How to choose from the wealth of offerings? Reports of Flamingo, Sol de Mexico, and Nuevo Leon are making me drool - Xni Pec sounds great, too. (Too bad I can't talk my husband into an all-goat lunch at Birria Estilo Jalisco - he hates goat.) I would love some huitlacoche, but it's probably not in season right now..

2. Polish - Does any place serve czarnina? (Oh, how I miss the Orbit!) If not, is Podhalanka my best bet?

3. Turkish - I'm craving some good manti. Grilled fish would be a plus, but top-quality manti is my main goal.

4. Spanish/Tapas - perhaps Mercat a la Planxa for our one splurge?

5. Fabulous Indian - If you could pick one place on Devon (or elsewhere), which would it be?

6. Thai (if there's time) - Spoon Thai, TAC, Sticky Rice, and Siam Noodle & Rice all sound fab. Or should I consider somewhere else?

My long-suffering husband (who's not as food-obsessed as I) has requested good bakeries, chocolate (truffles or hot chocolate or both), and breakfast oatmeal. And wants to know how the tortas are at the Bombon Cafe's downtown location, so he could get a pastry fix while I eat a torta.

Oh, and I need a classic Chicago Hot Dog, of course, but probably wouldn't make a big trek for one. What's best in downtown/Near North?

We're staying near the Red Line Division/Clark stop, but are quite willing to travel (by EL/bus) for good food.

Extra points for a place with a used bookstore nearby!

Many thanks,

P.S. How do you locals have time to do anything except eat? If I lived in Chicago, I would barely sleep, let alone work or spend time with my family. There's just so much to sample!

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