Hi! Long-time reader, first-time poster.
I am taking a long-ish (3 or so months) temporary job assignment in the Naperville area of Illinois. I have visited Chicago once, but I don't really know anything about it or its suburbs. I'm a huge fan of regional foods, and I'm excited to try a little bit of everything that gets all the posters fired up (pizza, hot dogs, etc).
My husband will visit on occasion, and becuase of the work schedule, I'll really only be free late Saturdays and maybe Sundays. We'd like to work our way around the city during our free time. We will also celebrate a wedding anniversary over the summer, and it will be nice to experience a new city that day.
We don't eat much meat, but we make exceptions here and there for anything that we must try. Cost isn't a giant factor, but I don't want to be spending $150 each meal, either. In fact, for our anniversary, I would consider $150 - $200 for a wonderful meal in a beautiful city, but for our regular weekend stuff, I'd really like to focus on food and experience rather than my budget.
I'm rambling, but I think what I'm looking for are suggestions on 1) must-try Chicago regional delicacies, 2) really good food experiences at solid restaurants, 3) some local gems, 4) a few higher-end places within that budget that would make special dining experiences. We're not chain-haters, but I'd rather have new experiences each time we go out. We do have our own car. And we're not really Chowhounds. I totally appreciate beautiful, thougthfully-prepared food and I'm a giant fan of the craftmanship that goes behind some dishes, but my palate is not as expanded as it probably should be. (I am not in the market for sweetbreads, foams, etc.)
I'll be able to build our weekend iteneraries around the wonderful food choices y'all suggest. Your suggestions are definitely appreciated! (Oh, one more thing: I'm a big fan of a really great breakfast and a really great sandwich, so those suggestions are welcome, too!)