Hello Chicago hounds!
My husband and I will be visiting from Baltimore for most of a week in late September. I've been overwhelmed researching all of the marvelous food Chicago has to offer, and am turning to you for some specific things that the CH archives haven't supplied me with. Thanks in advance for your patience reading my short novel.
Some background: I'm vegetarian, husband is most decidedly not, though he doesn’t care for seafood. Other than those limitations, we’re both very adventurous eaters and especially fond of Middle Eastern food. We prefer eating at restaurants with both meat and veg options (besides salad or a sad perfunctory pasta dish). Mostly trying to limit ourselves to cheaper options, both for budget and attire reasons, and as we’re in our mid-30s, aren’t looking for anywhere with an overly loud/college-esque atmosphere. We'll be renting an apartment in Old Town, a bit north of the Sedgwick Brown line stop. No car but comfortable with public transit and walking. So, here goes with the questions:
*Any suggestions for neighborhood bars or casual restaurants in Old Town? When we go to bars, we generally drink craft beer or bourbon, so bars will ideally have more than Bud/Miller/Coors on tap. Since we’ve got an apartment, takeout places are fine for food.
*Also in the neighborhood, anywhere to get good bread, as well as good grocery stores in general? We’ll definitely be hitting the Spice House and Green City Market.
*Is it worth a special trip to go to the French Market? We’ll certainly go if we happen to find ourselves nearby, but I can’t tell if it’s worth it as its own destination. My sister lives in Philly, so we get to go to Reading Terminal Market a few times a year, and I’m imagining that the French Market is similar but perhaps smaller. We’ve gotten a little spoiled by Reading.
*Going to the last Cubs home game of the season! (Unbelievably excited about this.) Any suggestions for places nearby to get sandwiches to bring in with us? Banh Mi and Nhu Lan are both sounding good.
*Is Hot Doug's worth the trip? My husband's a big fan of hot dogs and sausages, but we'll have just spent a few days in Milwaukee where he will attempt to consume his own weight in Usinger's.
*Planned to go to Maxwell Street Market on Sunday, and then possibly wander through Little Italy afterwards. Are a lot of those businesses closed Sundays?
*Looking for a breakfast/brunch spot for Monday morning, either a short cab ride or easy train/bus trip. Batter & Berries and Southport Grocery both sound amazing. I tend to prefer sweet breakfast items while husband goes for savory, and bonus points would be awarded for exceptional coffee or tea.
*Any good food trucks to watch for?
*Last but certainly not least, any restaurants that would be particularly good for our meat/veg needs? Karyn’s Cooked and Chicago Diner have been suggested as very good for vegetarians, and both look great, but I don’t want my husband to have to eat veg the whole trip. Location not terribly important, anywhere between South Loop and Andersonville is fair game.
Any advice you can share will be fantastic. Thanks!