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Out-of-towners visiting in November...recs/advice?

sockii | Oct 30, 201310:19 AM

Philly/South Jersey-area couple, planning on spending a 3-day weekend in Chicago before Thanksgiving in order to see the Artemisia Gentileschi exhibit at the Art Institute (we're a pair of art "groupies" who frequently travel for such things.) I'd love to use the trip as an excuse to also visit a couple great Chicago restaurants, since I've never been to the city before.

Naturally I would love to do Alinea but there are unsurprisingly no tables for 2 available when we'll be in town (unless something frees up at the last minute). graham elliot was on my short list as I am a bit of a MasterChef junkie, and that does have openings when we'll be in town but I was wondering if it was really worth it. I looked at Girl and the Goat, no openings until late December. Fronterra Grill was also one I'd love to try, but I don't think my sweetie would be willing to do the long wait in line (he's not as patient as I am about going out of his way for great food, nor is he likely going to want to be tied down to reservation times for more than at most Saturday night.)

With that in mind, are there some other places I should look into? Basically I'd like to plan a really nice Saturday night dinner, maybe something not-so fancy or high end Friday night when we get in, and a nice place to lunch on Saturday and Sunday - preferably close to the Art Institute. As a few caveats, I'll add:

- It doesn't have to be the latest/trendy places; I'm actually more happy with some long-time favorites or perhaps hidden places that aren't all the rage but still very good.

- Prefer something other than Italian (which is too much of a staple at home), Greek or Middle Eastern (I usually can't do either because of some dietary issues and intolerances).

- Decent yet reasonable wine list or cocktail selection a plus; not much of a beer drinker.

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