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New Buffalo, Michigan Restaurant

Stop 50 Pizza is the one place in the area that I go out of my way to vist very time I'm in the area. My favorite wood fired pizza in Chicago area. Perfect crispy yet chewy crust, wonderful fresh toppings, nice grilled veggie appetizers. House made Gelato.

http://stop50woodfiredpizzeria.com/in...

Stop 50 Pizza
500 S El Portal
Michigan City, IN

Dec 02, 2011
wak in Great Lakes

HELP ! Need restaurant suggestion soon....

Henri? A nice place for a celebration if you can still get a reservation. You should be OK with budget as long as you don't go crazy with the wine. There is not much else in that area that I would consider cozy.

Nov 29, 2011
wak in Chicago Area

New Chicago Restaurants

I've had a few good meals at The Bristol (2152 N. Damen).

Other good meals in the Wicker Park/Bucktown/U-Village area are Ruxbin, Leopold, and Taxim.

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Taxim
1558 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Nov 06, 2011
wak in Chicago Area

First time in Chicago; brunch, italian lunch, and other suggestions needed

Right about the Michelin - but Lokal does have a great brunch. One of the beset I've had in the city. You should all check it out.

Oct 29, 2011
wak in Chicago Area

Good eats near Wabash and Madison/east loop

Thanks! Didn't know that. I need to beef up on my Giordanos history. Wiki here I come.

Oct 29, 2011
wak in Chicago Area

Best Chicago Wine Store?

There's a Binny's in South loop near Roosevelt. But for the L. Park location, take Elston to Cortland and turn south on Marcey street and you'll miss all that North Avenue mess.

You might also try House of Glunz on N. Avenue. They don't have the selection of Binny's but a very interesting selection and those guys REALLY know wine. They could hook you up with something really unique. A family business for more that 100 years. If you can find a parking space...

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House of Glunz
1206 N Wells St, Chicago, IL

Oct 29, 2011
wak in Chicago Area

First time in Chicago; brunch, italian lunch, and other suggestions needed

Sat: I used to be a regular at Coco Pazzo when I lived in the area and you won't go wrong there, but in a close race I'd give the blue ribbon to Cafe Spiaggia, which is close to you. And I find Spiaggia a little too overdone for my tastes, so I wouldn't miss that one. CP Cafe not bad, but definitely a step down in execution (and price) from the other two.

On place not on your list you might consider is L2O. Its $$$$, but I've been there with and without Laurent Gras (founding chef who left) and it was outstanding both times.

Sun. Most places on your list serve the standard eggs and pancakes type bruch, which is fine but nothing special. Only exception is M.Henry which is great if you're in the area, but a long wait in the cold unless you get there real early, and really not convenient by public transport or cab. I always scratch my head looking at the 20 deep line of brainwashed hungries hanging around Bongo Room on a Sunday morning. But for something really outstanding - one of the great under-rated chicago spots, try Local on North Ave. Michelin Bib Gormand. Fried Nutella Fritters. Delicious sausage and breakfast sandwiches. Interesting Salad options. Excellent Coffee. Shockingly, nevrer a line. My only gripe is that the menu doesn't change too often, but if you only go there once that's not an issue.

For cheap eats, don't forget Xoco - Rick Bayless's place around the corner from Topo. If you like Japanese, Ginza Fish House on Ohio looks like a dump on the outside but has some of the best Japanese food in the city.

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Bongo Room
1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

Cafe Spiaggia
980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Coco Pazzo Cafe
636 N St Clair, Chicago, IL 60611

Ginza Restaurant
19 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611

L2O
2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

Spiaggia
980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

XOCO
449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

Oct 29, 2011
wak in Chicago Area

Good eats near Wabash and Madison/east loop

I kind of struggle with that area. Lots of chains for the tourists and lunch joints for the suits. But I've never gone wrong at The Gage on Michigan. Its a little pricey. In fact the price of the burger was set such that the average tourist would take one look and walk away, but its worth the price. For app, they have a delicious Scotch egg. You'll need a reservation on a weekend night or get their early enough to grab a seat in the bar.

If you really want good food though, it would pay to travel north of the river.

A lot of good steak houses north of the Chicago River, but at typical steak house prices. I think the best not-break-the-bank place is probably Wildfire on Erie.

If you want Chicago-style pie I'd do Giordanos on Rush. Its the original one and much better than the franchises, but packed with suburbanites.

All the good Thai are a trek from the loop if you don't have a car.

For Italian (real Italian, not Ital-American I'd try Spiaggia Cafe ($$$), Coco Pazzo ($$$), Coco Pazzo Cafe ($$) or Quarantino ($).

Oct 28, 2011
wak in Chicago Area

Help!!! Need a Restaurant Recommendation near the Congress Theater (Milwaukee and Armitage)

Belly Shack is good and very convenient, but for my money I'd choose Urban Belly over just about any restaurant in the city. Even with its strong reputation I think it under-rated. The dishes combine to make such a fully formed concept between the rice dishes and noodle bowls and kimchi sides all combining traditional korean flavors with a unique contemporary twist for a perfect combination. (dumplings not bad either). The noodles are served in such delicious savory broths that I never miss a drop. But as mentioned above, no liquor license and not particularly convenient to public transportation. But if you want the real Bill Kim experience, I'd go there. Maybe UB for lunch and BS before the show?

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Urbanbelly
3053 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

Belly Shack
1912 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Oct 28, 2011
wak in Chicago Area

Help!!! Need a Restaurant Recommendation near the Congress Theater (Milwaukee and Armitage)

Hi Scweinhaxen. Nice name. I was in Munich a few weeks ago and had some Scheinhaxen myself. So between the name and your interest in Smoque, I'd guess you're a meat lover? The Congress is to the Northwest of Bucktown with tons of great restaurants, so if you give a better idea of what you like I oculd give a better recommendation, but if you're looking for BBQ, LillieQs is great. A bit of a walk to the theater, but you could always grab a cab. They have a wonderful pulled pork snadwich on Brioche and come to the table with 5 kins of sauce you can pour on top. Nice collard greens too. Gets real busy on weekends.

Maybe the closest good option is Belly Shack which is run by a real talented Kroean American cook that runs the even better Urban Belly noodle shop in a different neighborhood. Its pretty casual, a big open industrial type room under the El tracks with counter service, but an interesting mix of sandwiches, rice dishes, and a number of sides that mix together mexican and korean influences. And of course some great kimchi.

Anyway, there are probably 50 good restaurants in the Bucktown/Wicker park area, so you're in a good place for a good meal.

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Smoque
3800 N Pulaski Rd Ste 2, Chicago, IL 60641

Urbanbelly
3053 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

Belly Shack
1912 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Oct 27, 2011
wak in Chicago Area

North Pond, Naha, or Michael?

I've not been to Naha or Michael, but Naha is outstanding. Easily equal to Blackbird in my book, although not quite as tightly packed which I like. I'd be hard pressed to say which I more enjoyed from a food standpoint. The Pork Belly appetizer was perhaps the best thing I've eaten this year. Really at the top of their game these days.

Some good Naha photos here: http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic....

Nov 14, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

Best Chicago Restaurants of 2008- need rec

Two newer additions to Chicago not mentioned below:

Mercat al la Planxa - Wonderful food. Wonderful location. Catalonian Spanish style tapas. For a group of six, with advance notice, they will also prepare a whole spit roasted suckling pig for the table.

Graham Elliots - one of Chicago's top chef's recently branched out on his own.

Both a bit more casual in the places you have been to, but of a similar quality. Both have excellent web sites and plenty of other links if you are interested.

I've been to Crofton on Wells a couple times and feel it is in the same class as the others you mentioned above. Never had any service issues.

I'll also throw out Schwa although I haven't been there for a while and it's not for everyone. One of the most inspired chefs in the city has a little 10 table BYO non descript store front restaurant that can be near impossible to get resrvations at, but is always a treat. FYI, there is no service to speak of. Its the chefs themselves that answer the door and bring the food to the tables. Also why it's so tough to get reservations (they answer the phone as well...) They don't even have wine glasses (you'll drink win out of tumblers unless you bring yoru own). From a service standpoint, it can be a little disorganzied, but as a point of reference, when Charlie Trotter had a 20th anniversayr celebration last year with some of the top chefs in the world (Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, Heston Blumenthal, etc), he took them to Schwa for dinner. You can get a better feel for the range of experiences here:

http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic....

Nov 14, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

River North/East - running out of ideas?

A couple of ideas not mentioned above:

Mercat a la Planxa on michigan Aveneue is my favorite newcomer of the last year. Spanish Tapas, but much more inspired than what you might expect. Not quite at the level of Avec when it comes to small plates dining, but quite good, and a great location and setting. Certainly heads and shoulders over Iberico.

Of the places on your list, I've had luck over the years at Coco Pazzo (not to be confused with Coco Pazzo Cafe) and Salpicon, so maybe worth a second try.

You might also try Graham Elliots, maybe a bit on the pricey side, but an interesting alternative by one of Chiago's top new chefs.

I really enjoy Lula's, but its a hike from downtown if you are taking a cab.

There is some great Thai food accesible by the El. Spoon Thai and TAC Quick. I'd start with Spoon, and make sure you order off the "Thai language menu" at either one(comes with translation.) Food is much more iteresting than the standard menus.

For a different and cheap pizza experience, you could try Coal Fire Pizza.

Lots of outstanding Mexican in Chicago, but sometimes inconvenient from downtown. If you can get to Sol de Mexico or Mixteco they are well worth the visit.

Nice thing about the Thai places and Mixteco (and maybe Sol de Mexico??) is that they are BYO which makes them a cheap dinner. FYI, very good wine store Sams in South loop.

And for a great burger (best in city??) and pint at a local bar, Paramont Room.

Nov 14, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

Visting Chicago from Canada, where to eat and what to do!

Mexican food is one of our specialties. The inspiration comes from a combination of a very large Mexican population as well as a local reseraunteur - Rick Bayless - who opened a very good restaurant, Frontera Grill, serviing authentic Mexican dishes in the heart of the near north tourist shopping mecca.

Local have mixed feelings about Frontera since it is kind of overpriced, although not out of line for the neighborhood. I'm a fan, but regardless, there are maybe a dozen other very good Mexican restaurants around town opened by Frontera Alumni, so it has had a very positive impact on the city.

The most convenient alternative to Frontera is Salpicon, although it's not cheap. But it has some very tasty dishes and an almost ridiculously large wine list.

Adobo Grill on Wells St. is not among my top selections, but it's really not bad and if you have no other experience with traditional mexican food would be a fun experience. Right next to the 2nd City mentioned above for an overall fun night.

My real favorites when it comes to Mexican are the local neighborhood spots, but many are a bit inconvenient from where you will be (Mixteco, Sol de Mexico, Fonda de la Mar, Xni Pec, etc). The closest of these is probably Nuevo Leon mentioned elsewhere in this thread, although when you take into consideration the round trip cab ride, you'll probably end up spending as much as if you walked to Frontera.

One comment about Frontera: they have a goofy reservation policy. No reservations for parties of less than 5, so the wait can be long if you get there at prime eating hours. You can however call around 9am on the day you want to eat and see if you can snag one of a small amount of reservations for smaller parties.

Aug 22, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

New to Chicago

I am guessing that for the next few nights you'd rather go out near E Cedar St. than in NW Lincoln Park?

E Cedar is in the middle of the Gold Coast which is a mix of high end residential and dining along with lots of shopping and touristy areas full of chain restaurants. To avoid that latter, I'd recommend:

Merlo on Maple (Italian)
Bistro Zinc (Nice for brunch)
Le Colonial (French/Vietnamese)
Cafe Spiaggia (Italian)

For a casual lunch, I like Big Bowl on Cedar.

To the North and West is another neighborhood called Old Town that separates the Gold Coast from Lincoln Park. The strip of Wells St. between Division and North Avenue is especially nice with several excellent restaurants:

Salpicon
Old Town Brasserie
Topo Gigio
Bistro Margot

Among others. Also, House of Glunz is a wonderful independent wine store, and the Spice House is the best spice store in the city. You also have the 2nd City Comedy Club at North and Wells.

And definitely take a stroll through the goldcoast north of Divsion between LSD and Clark. Lots of old money up there. Astor St. is always good for a gawk. You can continue on through Lincoln Park (the park, not the neighborhood) where there is also a free zoo that might be fun with the kids.

Welcome to Chicago.

Aug 21, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

London calling Chicago

Was just at Maxwell St. with a group. See photos here:

http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic....

And for a more interactive overview, here:

http://www.motionbox.com/playlist/sho...

I will say though that you will likely not need a whole day for the market - a couple hours around lunch time would be plenty IMO.

Two more recommendations near Millenium Park/South Loop:

http://www.mercatchicago.com/
http://www.thegagechicago.com/

Most of the recommendations so far have been in the loop/south loop area, but you'll be a quick cab ride to many other neighborhoods as well, so no need to limit yourself to that area if there is something else you'd prefer.

Aug 21, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

Visting Chicago from Canada, where to eat and what to do!

Welcome to Chicago.

So first off, you mention China town. There are some decent places there, but honestly the Chinese food in Toronto is far far better than anything in Chicago, so in that regard you might be better off trying something else here. Specialties in Chicago are Pizza, Steak Houses, Italian, Mexican, Thai, and upscale/seasonal contemporary American, although there are a lot of other options as well.

A few things close by include an excellent Italian restaurant called Coco Pazzo right behind the Mart. Maybe a 5 minute walk. It's one of the best Italian restaurants in town and while not cheap, won't break the bank. Gene and Georgetti's is a clubby, old school steak house nearby as well, although if it were up to me I might go somewhere else for steak.

On Wells street, just north of the Mart, is a little strip of restaurants including, among others, a casual Labanese restaurant (Kan Zaman), a bar with excellent burgers and other good pub food (Pepper Cannister), an excellent more upscale contemporary American restaurant (Crofton on Wells), and a big South American/Japanese fusion restaurant (Sushi Samba Rio) which is a great place for cocktails, although I'm no huge fan of the food. Also, Lou Malnati's which is one of the better traditional deep dish pizza restaurants around.

Personally, I don't think Bluprint is really worth a visit.

Within a quick cab ride there are many more options. Blackbird on Randolph is one of the best restaurants in town. There are a couple excellent French bistros, including La Sardine (across the street from Harpo studio) and Brasserie Jo which is to the East of the Mart a couple blocks.

It might also be fun to get out of the city center to some nearby neighborhoods (Bucktown, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lakeview). There is a nice strip of Wells street between Division and North Avenue that includes Salpicon (high end Mexican), Bistro Margot, Kamehachi (sushi), Topo Gigio (Italian) among many others, as well as some nice stores including the best spice store in town and the Second City Comedy club.

As far as the city goes, the boat tour is always fun. I'd also recommend getting at least a little out of the city center to seem some other parts of the city. Personally, I don't think the Jordan statue or Harpo are really worth a visit, but that's me. If I were going to do a sports related activity, I'd go to a Cubs game at Wrigley field. (for the record, I have no Cubs/Sox loyalty. I just think a game at Wrigley is a fun thing to do). I would recommend a visit to Millenium Park. It's not far from the spot on the river where the boat tours begin.

Aug 16, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

Good Indian Downtown Chicago

For Indian Fusion, you could try Vermillion, although I have never been there so can't vouch for the quality.

For more traditional, India House is good, but I wouldn't call it fine dining.

Although I quite like Indian food, if I were looking for fine dining in downtown Chicago, I might try something else.

Aug 11, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

N.Yer comin to CHi town

What about some great Mexican. Everyone has heard of Frontera Grill, but a lot of former Frontera chefs have spread throughout the city making outstanding, authentic regional Mexican food. Mixteco Grill and Sol de Mexico are two that come to mind. I'm not sure if there is an easy way to get there without a car. Mixteco is BYO, SdM maybe also.

Another specialty is Thai food. Several places known for having special Thai-language menus that are favored by Thai patrons - all are now available with English translations and offer a wide vairety of unusual dishes. My two favorites: Spoon Thai and TAC Quick. Both easily accessible on the El. Both BYO.

None of these are really late night holes in the wall thought, more like neighborhood family restaurants.

There is a huge list of other options here: http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic....

Aug 08, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

Please help me with my dining choices in Chicago

Avoid Vivere. The advertise in evey airline magazine that exists, but it's really not very good. If you want Italian, go to Coco Pazzo. I end up there every few weeks and rarely have a miss.

A good French Bistro option within 5 min walk of Trump is Brasserie Jo.

Mercat I love. Blackbird wonderful. Aigre Doux I tried twice and see no reason to go back. Duck was overcooked and chewy. Service questionable. Sommelier took a good half an hour to get to our table. Pasta dish just OK.

As far as Alinea goes, I would go all out and to the Tour, not the tasting. Yeah, it takes 4 hours, but you're not likely to do it again and I find it jsut fascinating what they come up with. As much an art exhibit as a meal. (http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic....) And do the wine pairngs. The whole experience will cost you a grand, but you only live once. Or twice, if you're James Bond.

Aug 06, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

Need recs for 3 group dinners

20s is kind of tough in that part of town if you want to avoid chains.

Frontera Grill - Most entrees in the low 20s.

The Gage (on Michigan)

Quartinos (on State)

Aug 06, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

NY Hound in town next week, needs recommendations

Chicago Dog: Portillos on Grand

Lunch: Park Cafe? Gage Inn? Fox and Obel? They might be a bit far. Maybe there is a Potbelly's in the area (Toasted Subs)

Dinner: Mercat a la Planxa, but it will end up near $100 a head with wine and tip. Gage Inn also not bad and less $$ (Order the Scotch egg appetizer). If you get out early, Frontera Grill - or make a reservation if you have 5 or more. If on a budget, Quartino's is fun. De La Costa fun for a group.

Also, make sure to check out Intelligentsia for Coffee. 55 E Randolph.

Aug 06, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

Naha Report

Aug 06, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

New restaurant for Chicago visit

There is a new restaurant soon to open on West Fulton by the same guys who run Blackbird and Avec - a "gastro pub" which could be of interest. I imagine it will be quite good, although it's taking forever for them to open the place up. Maybe by the time you show up it will be here.

I'd also recommend Mercat a la Planxa on Michigan avenue which is the best new restaurant I've been to over the past year or so.

If you like Blackbird, you might also try Naha.

If you really want to go all out, Alinea is always an option. In a similar category is L2O which is primarily seafood. Or Schwa if you can ever get a reservation (and I've heard some kind of mixed reviews coming out of there lately).

Aug 05, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

First Visit to Chicago

This is a good place to start: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/404251

There are thousands of restaurants in Chicago, so if you have any more specific questions, ask away.

I hesitate to dive into the great Pizza debate, which is dealt with in more detail in other threads, but personally, I like Lou Malnati's

Jul 30, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

Visiting from Boston....

The LTH list is a great place to find ethnic, off-beat, and local neighborhood favorites, with a few nicer places thrown in (Schwa, Sweet and Savories, etc). In fact you'd do well to search through that site for a while.

I'd recommend you try one of the Thai places (Spoon, TAC Quick) since that's something I've never found in Boston. If you do go, make sure to order off of the Thai language menus (translations are provided).

As far as higher end restaurants, Alinea would be at the top of anyones' list. It represents what many of the new experimental chefs in Chicago aspire to.

Some other options that might not show up on the LTH GNR list:

Mercat a la Planxa
Salpicon
Blackbird
Naha
North Pond
May Street Market
Coco Pazzo (although, there's good Italian in Boston too).
L2O

That list is all over the board, and includes one that I have not been to yet (L2O) but with a little research you could probably find something that suits your tastes. The two that really stick out for me recently are Blackbird and Mercat.

Jul 27, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

Anniversary Dinner on a Monday night??

Vie in Western Springs may be the best restaurnt in the western suburbs - and they are open on Mondays if you can get a reservation.

http://www.vierestaurant.com/

Jul 27, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

21st Birthday

So this is not quite what you asked for, but Quartino's is a fun Italian restaurant right in the middle of Streeterville. They have lots of mid-sized portions that you can share and lots of wines by the glass (now that you're legal and all).

Not any activities there aside from eating, but its right in the middle of the Near North entertainment district, so you can always wander around and find something to do.

As far as parking goes, you won't find any deals in that area, so just be prepared to pay up in that regard, but it's not really that bad. Maybe $20 a car?

So no tiki or karaoke, but a good place for dinner and a good launching pad for the rest of the night.

http://www.quartinochicago.com/

Jul 27, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

Takashi or Blackbird?

Blackbird is an outstanding restaurant, run by one of Chicago's top chefs, and has continued to churn out excellent and innovative food for a decade. It's really hard to beat that combo. The only downside for me is that they really cram a lot of people into a small space, but that seems to be an intentional effort since Avec, also run by Paul Kahan, is even more extreme in that regard, and his soon to be opened new gastropub seems to be headed down that same path. But the food at Blackbird is worth rubbing elbows with the neighbors.

Jul 25, 2008
wak in Chicago Area

Takashi or Blackbird?

If that is your choice, Blackbird.

Jul 23, 2008
wak in Chicago Area