Because I think people should report back when they query the board, I'll give a mid-length report back on my trip to Chicago. I don't think I'll say anything startingly new to Chicago hounds, but so be it. I really appreciate all the help I got.
I wound up getting more chow opportunities than I expected. My best meal was at Chilpancingo, even if the maitre d' did frown at me for showing up alone without a reservation on Saturday night (he just sat me at a lousy table, but I could see plenty of artwork and decorations, so who cares). The pork chop in mole was just outstanding, tender, spicy, all that. I'm a believer about Chicago Mexican.
I also liked the filet mignon at the Saloon Steakhouse, downstairs in my hotel (Seneca). I ordered more or less the smallest thing on the menu and struggled to finish that--I guess I'm just not a big hunk of steak guy (people here regularly decry the lack of steakhouses in the Oakland/Berkeley area, so I guess I'm not alone).
Spoon Thai didn't bowl me over, even though I ordered off the "Specials Recommended by the Chicago Tribune" menu (is there a third menu?). The duck curry was fine, but--to engage in invidious comparisons--I was pretty sure I could get something like it in California. Maybe it was just too late at night by the time I ate. But it was an awfully pretty place in an interesting neighborhood so I didn't begrudge the trip.
Otherwise I wound up eating a lot of breakfast--Ann Sadler (Belmont), Tempo, Lou Mitchell. Though they're called Swedish pancakes, I don't remember getting pancakes as light and airy as Ann Sadler's in Sweden--no matter. I loved the ligonberry spread. My only breakfast dud was Chalfin's deli in the hotel, whose idea of a scramble was to add tiny hunks of meat to scrambled eggs.
Thanks to Jeff B. and his post on his unusual chains, I trekked up to Julius Meinl. I don't know if a Cafe Melange is really a great improvement over a capuccino, but the flaky (pricy) apple strudel was terrific. Because the U.S. has been so prolific in spreading chains around the world, I always really enjoy going to foreign chains that have landed here.
I'd only note that I did all this on foot and on transit. Chicago has a great transit system--I had no problems going anywhere (and I went places not reported here as well)--and you should not let it be cut! Otherwise, I hope I can come back and chow some more sometime soon.