I profited from a few threads, some of which emphasized my ambition to go finally up north to Devon Ave. with my out-of-town guests. (Chicago is a day-trip from south for me, so I also have never been there.)
As it happens, timing didn't work for Devon Ave. But I am happy to report on a few winners and so-sos.
On the so-so end of the spectrum was Cedars Mediterranean lunch in Hyde Park, accessory to our visit to the Robie House by Frank Lloyd Wright. Enjoyable lentil soup, very decent food overall but WAY too much. I get sick of being a traveller who cannot take home doggie bags. Very OKAY.
When getting to Devon in the evening seemed out of reach, we tried the River North/Downtown India House. That was pretty upscale and so forth, and even expecting bland fare disappointment, I found it very good food indeed. I've eaten lots of Indian. This place does satisfying, clean, inventive and tasty stuff. I liked it so much that I went to Walgreens after to get ice and a container so I could preserve the leftovers for the next day. Special there were the unusual and assertively individual chat-style appetizers and out-of-the-ordinary entrees. I got their 109 Bhelpuri and their 110 Padpi Chat--great flavors and textures mixed with crispiness, seasonings and chutneys (both vegetarian). I tried my companions' Lamb Palak (with spinach),some aloo gobi and a 222 Hyderabadi Style Chicken Curry, but in those case I had only small but joyful tastes. In every plate, however, there was great freshness and enjoyment. This is among the best Indian places I've been to in the USA.
Our next venture was breakfast at Meli's on Wells in River North. Very fine, because it was great breakfast all around and catered famously to our one vegan and gluten-intolerant companion.
After a trip up north a bit to visit a guitar shop, we finished off with a Wiener's Circle char dog and fries before heading home. Very happy overall. I am grateful to all the Chow-folks and other social media that let us out-of-towners suss out these places and make choices.