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Restaurants & Bars 15

Toronto 'hound needs help narrowing down choices for 2 days in Chicago

torontofoodiegirl | Apr 17, 201201:18 PM

My husband and I will be visiting Chicago at the end of April. We arrive relatively late on Thursday night, and leave on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, we've left our food research and reservations until quite late in the game...

At the risk of sounding overly vague, we love most kinds of food, and aren't super-limited by budget (though don't want to spend all of our retirement savings either). We'll be staying in River North, though are willing to travel within reason (we won't have a car but are open to taking the subway or a cab). We'd like to have one or two "fancy"/high-end meals (preferably dinner) but would also like to check out some more laid-back/casual places.

I think that on our first night (if we even have time to make it out for dinner after our flight and checking into our hotel) we'll try to hit one of Chicago's deep dish pizza places (eg. Uno, Due) as we won't have a lot of time, and we'll be tired.

At some point, we'd like to visit one of Rick Bayless's restaurants, but aren't sure whether to go with Frontera Grill or Topolobampo, and whether to head there for dinner or lunch or brunch. Right now there's only one table availalable at Topolobampo (Sat. at 9:15). Am I correct to assume that if we go to Frontera, we'll be waiting ages unless we show up right when they open? Is lunch a better option than dinner?

We're thinking of having dinner one night at Tru. Will it be worth the hefty price tag? If we opt for the 3-course prix-fixe menu, how filling will it be (ie. will we be safe to have a substantial lunch on the same day prior to going to dinner...we have pretty healthy appetites)?

Another spot that appeals to us (and seems to get a lot of praise on this board) is the Publican. I wish they were open for lunch... The only available table showing on Open Table is at 5:30 on Friday, which is not our ideal dinnertime. Can anyone tell me if they set aside tables for walk-ins? If so, will it be a crazy-long wait? Will it be worth it?

We're also interested in going to the Purple Pig. Will it be a long wait for a table at lunchtime?

Am I off base with these restaurant ideas? Is there anywhere that we shouldn't miss that I haven't mentioned? I know that Alinea is supposed to be amazing, but I've left it off the list because, to be honest, the menu doesn't appeal to me that much (especially considering the price). It's a bit too precious for my liking (not sure I'm choosing the right word, but it's just not my cup of tea).

I've done some general Chicago restaurant research on CH, but given time constraints haven't been able to do an exhaustive search. My apologies if I've asked questions that have been covered well in other threads. Thanks in advance for any assistance you Chicago 'hounders can provide.

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