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Looking to spend an afternoon with lunch in one of Chicago's ethnic neighborhoods

Hi,
I appreciate all the suggestions and advice I got from my previous post. Thanks Chicago hounds!
We had thought to go to Chinatown for lunch and touring for an afternoon but I've realized that Chinatown may not be what we're looking for. So any suggestions?
We would like to eat lunch somewhere interesting and then spend some time in the neighborhood for browsing stores, markets, architecture or cultural exhibits.
We live on an island and our nearest US port of call is Miami. Last time in Chicago we found the Beghof to be fascinating- not because it was gourmet food (although it was tasty)- but because it is unlike any of the cuisine available to us and its being a Chicago "institution". We also loved the Banh Mi from Nhu Lan, also unavailable to us back home.
We will be in Chicago Thur-Sun.
Thanks!

Jun 23, 2013
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Returning to Chicago (and nearby) to eat more!

Any thoughts on The Phoenix? We don't have dim sum at all at home and I read they offer it all days a week? Just looking for something different and a way to check out an interesting neighborhood. The boat ride might be fun too :)
Thanks everyone!

Jun 11, 2013
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Returning to Chicago (and nearby) to eat more!

Wow! Thanks for all the wonderful recommendations.
It's not that we don't enjoy fine dining, we've been to some of the best in several cities and we tend to look for the more original or quirky type places. We also love the whole nose-to-tail and charcuterie meat eating thing going on in Chicago. We probably also won't be packing the right clothing.
Our interest in Chinatown lies in seeing some different architecture and eating Chinese food that is not readily available in our very homogenous Chinese restaurants back home. I ve eaten off the "secret" menus at your Thai restaurants before and that was quite worth it. Is there anything like that in Chinatown? Maybe we should just wait until we're in SF to do a Chinatown experience?
Since we'll have a few hours near the loop before heading to Gurnee, any recommendations of what to do or see there? Figured the French market would be of interest, plus we board the Metra right there.
Thank you for telling me about the restaurant near Gurnee, but we're kind of stuck with nieces and nephews and its out only time with them so I think we'll be lucky to just make it out of the park to eat :(
Looks like Sable or Purple Pig will be our choice for thur night, maybe Bonga fri am, not sure about Chinatown now- maybe find a new area of town to bum around in, antiprima fri dinner, sat southport for breakfast, green city market (maybe Nhu Lan) and Maude's Liquor Bar for dinner. Sun Meli's looks perfect.
Thanks to everyone's responses. Any advice still greatly appreciated!

Jun 11, 2013
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Returning to Chicago (and nearby) to eat more!

Hi,
We will be back in Chicago and the area and are of course looking to eat our way around again.
Our plans:
Please bear with me- our first days will be in Gurnee and Milwaukee, then downtown Chicago.
Days 1&2
We arrive @8:40am at mdw
Will take Orange Line to the loop, to do what, idk
Lunch at Berghof (we really didn't get enough last time!)
Check out the French Market
Hop on Metra for 2hr trip to go to 6 Flags with family. Yay. ;)
While in Gurnee, planning on eating at Culvers and getting delivery from Malnatis for deep dish fix. Two nights in Gurnee. Dining looks very bleak.

Day 3
Traveling to Milwaukee for one night. Staying at Schuster Mansion.
Plan to eat lunch at Old German Beer Hall, try to catch a brewery tour at Lakeview Brewery, dinner res at Hinterland before concert at Marcus Amphitheater. Whoosh.
Lunch the next day at Alem Ethiopian or Coquette. Can't decide.

Day 4 Chicago!
Arrive back in Chi, staying at Hotel Felix.
Wondering about dinner. Some ideas: purple pig, Ing, Maude's liquor bar, avec/publican/blackbird.
We'd really like to make it out to Violet Hour again. It has become our favorite, most memorable from last trip despite doing Chef's Table at Aviary and Office! Seems hard to fit it in on CTA and us staying downtown this time.

Day 5
Breakfast: southport? M Henrietta? This will be a weekday.
Next, trip to Chinatown. Maybe Lao Sze Chuan? Ba Le? What else should we look for?
Dinner: ?? We'll be back to hotel in between Chinatown and dinner and then we have a concert at the Metro on Clark. Anything nearby or off bus line 22?

Day 6:
Weekend breakfast. Help! Maybe just a quick or light bite.
Off to Green City Market and LP Zoo. May try Nhu Lan new location or eat at market.
Dinner: no clue

Day 7:
Looking for a brunch on a Sunday. Our flight leaves MDW at 1 so we need to leave downtown area around 1030, I'm guessing.
We loved Chicago so much we made it a point to come back this year again! (We never do that!) But we want to try new places, since there are so many good ones, so any suggestions are welcome! Thanks!

Jun 09, 2013
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Saturday brunch near MIA/fri dinner

Hi!
We will be staying in the airport Hilton overnight for intl flight departing in the afternoon on Saturday. We would love to know of a good restaurant for a Saturday brunch before we have to be at the airport around 2pm. Definitely want to stay close to airport bc we can't miss out flight Nd I know traffic can get crazy sometimes!
Also wouldn't mind rec for fri night dinner also, close to airport would be nice, but can be a little further away.
Thank you so much!

trip report chicago food tour

Day 1:
Violet Hour- 4 drinks:dark and stormy-so-so take on the original, vodka cobbler-girly/summer drink, light and fruity Pimm's Cup #7-i'd been scared to try a bitters drink and this was the lightest one, boy was it refreshing Boudin Blanc (PQM) absolutely delicious.Finely ground encased meat, cooked perfectly with whole grain mustard and pickled red onion and crunchy toasts; also ordered some goat cheese-Boucherondin- which was very nice.

Le Bouchon-Pate Maison: traditional accompaniments plus small diced pickled beets. Not sure about beets with the pate. roughly ground campagne style, a little livery but excellent. Salade Lyons: barely wilted frissee, large smoky lardons, poached egg a tad overcooked (medium well) in a red wine vinaigrette- delicious. Prix Fixe menu for my companion: Cuisses de Grenouilles fried froglegs in a light breading with brown buttersauce, Lapin: rabbit loins in tomato sauce (tasted like canned tomato chunks) Mousse au Chocolate: more like a slice of chocolat pate covered in espresso creme anglaise. delicious and rich,could've left off the espresso.

Danny's- definitely not how i remembered. has become a hipster hang out with dj's spinning house music.But I had an Olympia in a can to remind me of college...

Day 2:
wound up near Sam's redhots. Pretty terrible chicago dog. Hot dog itself was pretty good but dressed poorly: mustard,relish, sport pepper. No celery salt even :( Bun was totally smashed and almost soggy.

Berghof: This place is underrated. I will make it a point to return and eat more! I had Onion and Apple soup. This is like French Onion soup, only better. Who knew? Onions, red and green apples, veal/beef broth, probably deglazed with a calvados or brandy, rye toast, Muesnter cheese, absolutley perfect. Flight of 5x 5oz beers: all were good, Hefeweizen and Octoberfest were our favorites. Pierogies: homemade cheese and potato small sized, sauteed pierogies with butter and the salad with it was incredible- small diced sweet potatoes and roasted red peppers with cilantro and vinaigrette went so well with the peirogies!

Al's #1 Beef: had the smallest snack size, dipped and with sweet peppers. Pretty decent sandwich, will make it a point to try again but elsewhere. The beef was shredded (I'd assumed it would be sliced), well seasoned and tender. The sauce it was dipped in had a very strong pwdered thyme(?) taste I would leave off if I were to eat there again.

Publican:little gems salad: nice mix of fresh baby greens, buttermilk dressing like a homade ranch, crisp croutons, crunchy and chewy pig's ear strips very tasty. Charcuterie plate was awesome: smoked foie gras pate, almost like a slic eof sausage but so good; meat pie- terrible- heavy crust, chunky pork, might as well have been wild yak for all i could tell; genoa salami- just perfect; head cheese- delicate almost and well balanced between meat and fat; Morteau sausage- very good and loved the tomato jam with it. We had to ask for bread which I thought was odd with the charcuterie plate.

The Office and Aviary Kitchen Table: I'm listing food only. If anyone wants the whole rundown on the drinks, I can list in a separate response. Oysters-unbelievably fresh, perfectly shucked served on the half shell with no silverware. use the 9 infused tinctures to add flavor, no more than 3 drops total. Lemon, smoke, curry, fennel,green peppercorn etc Beef Tartare: best I've ever had.Yolk served on top, mix it in yourself. Perfect balace of acidity with fat, shallots,capers and parsley. outstanding and worth every penny. I will preface the Aviary food by saying none of it was outstanding, all of it was interesting, but the drinks were the true stars of the show. Also, by the end we may have been a little innebriated to be the best judges on anything :) Chips: I'd definitely reccommend this, there are two of each flavor, some were fishy, some were cheesy, about ten varieties, loved the pickled lotus root; Avocado:like a light, fluffy, lemony guacamole in a tiny little fried corn wrapper on too sweet (for me) corn powder, potato:too salty, like a pureed fish and potato rolled in potato chips and deep fried infused with malt vinegar, just too salty! (and probably no fish) Lollipops: loved them! Meringues,jellies, fruit flavored, chocolate flavored; Passion fruit jelly on a cracker:my favorite, interesting mix; Brioche filled with chocolate: really good, but not as tasty as the simple chocolate mousse from the night before, slightly warm, very liquefied chocolate in a tiny brioche shell

Day 3:
Glazed and Infused: they were out of everything but maple-bacon doughnuts. not our favorite, bacon was peppery and like so many bacon combos these days, really didnt go well with the doughnut. doughnut itself had quite nice texture so we decided to go back on another day. We had the old fashioned and the chocolate- both are winners! the cake is perfectly cooked and the icings are divine, the chocolate also has sprinkle and more chocolate inside somehow!

Franks N Dawgs: went here because we wanted an alternative to Hot Dougs. It was great! Porkgasm:bacon sauasage- exellent flavor, chcicarrons-nice touch, crispy, baconaise-i want this on everything! bacon jam- sweet touch added balance, braised pork belly- smoky, coulve eaten this alone with the jam, ham dust- really didnt notice this element. Chicago-esque: love skinless dogs, glad they didnt try a straight copy of a Chicago dog but a twist on each ingredient, whole grained mustard, pickled cherry tomatoes and their own cucumber pickles. It was really great. The buns are homemade and really interesting. I loved them with what we had but would not like a regular hot dog in one. The showstopper was the brussel sprout salad:a combo I would never even consider- blood orange oil, lemon zest, parmesan, pistachios insanely delisious!

Nhu Lan Bakery: Banh mi #1pate, ham, pork roll 2 pate, ham, pork roll,& 5 pate, belly, pork roll. #5 was our favorite. i was not a fan of the ham, loved the pork roll or head cheese, loved the smear of pate on each sandwich, pork belly was warm and tender. bread is incredible- crunchy on the outside and soft inside. Topped with the traditional pickles, mayo, jalapenos and cilantro.

the Bristol:I would return to Sam's redhots before I'd go here again. Our server was pretty snooty but the food was just blah.Monkey Bread- served warm, buttered top with salt sprinkle and dill butter to dip. Needed more salt/seasoning/flavor/anything! Smoked chicken hearts- very chewy, very smoky, preferred to eat the mushrooms in the dish, love the sauce-an above average demi. Steak tartare good, nowhere near that of the Office, odd to have the yolk of a hard boiled egg to mix into tartare, flavor was ok, maybe a little bland, meat was sometimes chewy. Heirloom tomato crostini-again, really needed something else, bland although tomatoes were nice the dish was a bore. Ricotta Gnocchi- didnt even finish it, heavy gnocchis, cooked fine just didnt go with the guanciale (overpowering), squash (bleh) and mint (couldnt detect it) Didn't bother to stay for dessert.

Day 4:
Lou Malnati's State St: Wow. House salad-perfectly dressed, fresh crisp greens, ripe juicy tomatoes, all ingredients cut to bite size, on;y thing we didn't care for was the bacon bits, er i mean salami as it said on the menu, tiny, crunchy and chewy- just got stuck in our teeth. Deepdish-heavenly. butter crust, layered with flavorful cheese, disk of sausage topped with tomato sauce and sprinkled with parmesan oh so good, i need a recipe to make this at home

Rootstock: another underrated place! Food here was great! Bacon fat fried almonds-I could eat these every day, several times a day! Brandade- nice salt cod, not too fishy or salty, excellent romesco sauce purreed smooth and a slight hint of sherry vinegar. Pork Rillette-I've had better, texture was a little grainy and flavor was a little washed out- maybe more garlic or more salt? served with cornichons. Finnochiana-our favorite, light fennel flavor, nice balalnce between fat and meat. Prosciutto-excellent proscuitto served with mango? Kunik-triple cream goat cheese with fruit, Rimrocker-cow/goat semi-hard with tomato jam, Pt Reyes Blue- with candied walnuts. Would love to go back here and try more!

Day 5:
Rubi's Maxwell St Market: Taco al Pastor- ok, pork was toughand chewy, flavor was nice, needed a lime squeeze Huitlacoche- had wanted to try it and now I have, runny black mushrooms paste with not mush taste, i'd definitely NOT compare this to a truffle Flor de calabasa quesadilla: excellent squash blossom taste not overpowered by the cheese. Darn good salsas on the table as well. Would go back and try other items.

Had two juices from stand next to them: limeade- delicious not too sweet/sour and jamaica- not sure what that was but sweet and a little bitter.

La Bruquena:I'd read that this was the best mofongo but was sorely dissapointed. we tried the mofongo with pork. It was dry and one dimensional. I've never had mofongo from anywhere but at home and was hoping for something so much more but it was bland and flavorless.

Thank you to all the hounds who helped with suggestions! We live on a small island in the middle of nowhere so it is nice to get to travel and eat! We will definitely return to Chicago!

Sep 21, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Looking for input for my eat around Chicago days coming up

Great minds think alike! We went there last time we were in town and loved it. Had a ribeye dog and the foie gras w Sauternes and loved it! Just figured we'd try Frank N Dawg this time as it's more convenient and hopefully a shorter wait!
Thank you!

Sep 02, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Looking for input for my eat around Chicago days coming up

oh and thinking of just switching Au Cheval to Sun night since i know they'll be open and planning on Maudes for a possible late night snack after Aviary!
So excited!!!!

Sep 01, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Looking for input for my eat around Chicago days coming up

Well, thank you all for the input! Here's what ive come up with all via public CTA:

Day 1:
Violet Hour
Le Bouchon
Danny's/ Big Star

Day 2:
Portillo's beef & dog to share for breakfast
Berghof snack octoberfest
Spice House
Oil & Vinegar place near above
Purple Pig light lunch
break
Publican snack
Office (pre KT rez, fingers crossed)
Aviary @10 pm on a weeknight soooo either
Au Cheval or
Glazed and Infused for late night/sober up snack :)

Day 3:
Antojitos small breakfast
Nhu Lan banh mi!!! snack
Frank n dawg lunch
Trader Joe's
break
Bristol dinner
Late show
San Soo Gab San (as needed)

Day 4:
Bari pick up a sandwich for later
Butcher and Larder same
Cemitas Puebla breakfast
work in Humbolt Park
Rootstock dinner at 10pm

Day 5:
Glazed & Infused in Wicker Park (in case we missed it)
Lou Malnoti's lunch- downtown or carryout in Wicker Park?
work in Humboldt Park
<< this is the hard part>>
Sun day night dinner after 10 or 11 pm go into Fulton Market for
Avec or
Au Cheval or
La Bruquena for mofongo or
Small Bar????????????

Day 6:
early departure
Alliance Bakery
then airport food rest of day....

Thank you to all of you Chicago Chowhounds!!!!
Trip report to follow :)

Sep 01, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Looking for input for my eat around Chicago days coming up

That sounds great and based in the late hours and second recommendation, I think thi wil be he spot. Of course, all hinging on that Aviary rez...
Thank you!

Aug 31, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Looking for input for my eat around Chicago days coming up

I just looked on there and it looks like one person got her rez confirmed that way, but she's also going after Alinea :-/
I will try that when I can get to a real computer (not phone) so I can figure out how to hide my post from my husband- trying to make it a surprise fir his bday. Definitely good advice!
Thank you!

Aug 31, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Looking for input for my eat around Chicago days coming up

That may have been it! But crowded doesn't do it for me and since we're staying relatively close to Big Star, we'll probably check it out. Plus a good bourbon selection- bonus!

Aug 31, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Looking for input for my eat around Chicago days coming up

If anyone has any advice on how to get a response from Aviary, please help. I put kitchen table in the subject line for my request and have sent four emails since last week. I don't want to seem a stalker but should I be sending in every morning?? I understand aboutthe lottery every day nu was under the impression that KT rez were given in advance?

Aug 30, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Looking for input for my eat around Chicago days coming up

So the menu for iNG in their website- is that the only way to go? Just a tasting menu or are there choices? Sounds good but I imagine if that's the case it changes every day??

Aug 30, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Looking for input for my eat around Chicago days coming up

Good to know. I was a fan of hers from Top Chef :)

Aug 30, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Looking for input for my eat around Chicago days coming up

Peasantry looks awesome! May have to stop in.
Gelato is a great idea too. I'll put on the list for when those areas.
Checking out iNG right now- we may be cocktailed out after Aviary, butthen again we don't have anything like this at home. We have not been out to eat for 6 months to save for this, so we don't feel bad about being pigs and splurging! :)
Thanks so much forthe advice.

Aug 30, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Looking for input for my eat around Chicago days coming up

Pie shop in!
D'amato's sounds like a must since we'll be next door.
Bayliss is a no, no matter how good. Mexican/central American are about our only ethnic choices back home- need different flavor profiles- and we're already going to be In Humbolt Park two days to find lunch..
Thank you!

Aug 30, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Looking for input for my eat around Chicago days coming up

We are already goingto Bouchon, I believe the sister to La Sardine? I don't think it will be late enough though after Aviary on a week night. But definitely along the vein we're looking in.
Thank you!

Aug 30, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Looking for input for my eat around Chicago days coming up

Wow! Good call on the late night donuts or maybe as a snack before one of our food treks- sounds wonderful and a definite on the list now. (where I live people get excited about a fresh delivery of krispy kreme to the local gas station)
I can't find the website for Maude's- maybe the server is down but I pulled the menu off menu pages. Same for Au Cheval. These sound great and keep the right hours in case we get the late seating.
Avec is definitely on my radar.
Any of these could also work for a late dinner Sunday too.
I'd heard GATG was very difficult to get into last minute especially?
Big star would be a last resort. Everyone on here raves about Chicago's Hispanic food an the nicer versions by Bayliss but I feel we'll get enough with our two mornings by Humboldt Park. Unfortunately Hispanic and chinese are the only ethnic food we have back home so looking for ANYTHING else :)
I appreciate all the suggestions!

Aug 30, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Looking for input for my eat around Chicago days coming up

Ha! I'm afraid the same will happen to us but usually when we get a buzz going we like to eat before going to sleep to sober up some ;) they sound great but we are shooting for a weeknight as we have weekend obligations so I will save the recommendation as a back up plan.
Thank you!

Aug 30, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Looking for input for my eat around Chicago days coming up

Good call on Alliance! They sound perfect.
I'll bet I can squeeze a pizza out from that Malnati's location, just not sure when. Will not work after KT at Aviary so I'm looking into that still
Thank you!

Aug 30, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Looking for input for my eat around Chicago days coming up

We are staying at Wicker House Inn.
My concern with a ten pm reservation for the Kitchen Table at Aviary is that we will NEED to eat after drinking and that there won't be much open nearby or on our way back to Damen O'Hare stop. Even with a 6pm I might be a little worried about what will be open when we leave.
I appreciate any advice!
Thanks!

Aug 30, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Looking for input for my eat around Chicago days coming up

And my flight leaves at ten am so figured I shoul try to be there by 8 am

Aug 30, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area

Looking for input for my eat around Chicago days coming up

Hi! I'm new to this board but have been looking over it and the lth forum to plan my vacation. We love to eat and try new things but we live in a small town where there is not much variety.
Our plans for Chicago are as follow:
Day 1 arrival in the pm
Anywhwere to get a snack on the way in from airport on blue line? Chicago dog or Italian beef maybe?
Violet Hour for a cocktail and snack
Le Bouchon dinner
( is there a whole in the wall bar nearby where the bartender plays vinyl records of alternative bands from the 80's??? It's killing me but I remember something like this from many years ago..)
Day 2
Al' s Beef at 1030?
Trip to spice house? Oil and vinegar place?
Berghof light lunch and check out oktoberfest
Publican around 4pm
aviary ( hopefully kitchen table & hopefully at 6)
Something to eat after? Any late night deep dish pizza nearby? Idk if I'll get a rez, but it could be as late as ten
Day 3
Antojitos breakfast
Nhu Lan snacks
Photo exhibit
Franks n Dawgs lunch
Bristol dinner
Going to a late show near wicker park, where we also stay but thinking of San Soo Gap San for late night?
Day 4
Cemitas Puebla whenever they open- this will be a late am for us
Going to be around Humboldt Park area and looking for late dinner
Rootstock?? Around ten
Day 5
Breakfast near wicker park?
Jibaritos near Humbolt Park again for most of day, looking for late dinner 10ish somewhere close to HP and WP/ Bucktown. This is a Sunday night...was considering:
La Bruquena
Silver Cloud
Small Bar
Tozi (in case we skipped San Soo earlier)
Or even going in to Avec
Day 6
Need an early breakfast before taking blue line to o'hare

List is not complete in any way except that we have obligations near HP for afternoons and evenings days 4 & 5.
Places or food that are must do's:
Deep dish pizza- love manlattis
Hot dog- chi style
Franks nDawgs- we want to try bc we loved hot dougs so much last time
Banh mi- have not had since last time in LA and read Nhu Lan is best??
We are fine with "eatouring" and just splitting one thing or ordering small items so we can sample from more places. In fact would love to take up most of days 2 & 3 doing so.
Some places I've read about and would love to fit in:
Bari's
Bleeding heart bakery
Pleasant house bakery
Revolution
Maxwell St market
Sultans Market
Butcher and Larder
Pastoral
Fox & Obel
Green grocer
Grocer and goddess
Cellar rat wine
Jerrys sandwiches
Any suggestions on logistics or additions that are must do are greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Aug 30, 2012
Kchaus in Chicago Area