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Where are the best Chicago dinner *values* - the hidden gems?

nsxtasy, thanks for the great list! I come to Chicago once a month on business and this will greatly expand my "to-eat" list.

May 13, 2010
buff crone in Chicago Area

Two Nights in Chicago

Graham Elliot is great, very interesting food in the molecular gastronomy school. See my review. In the same neighborhood, we also like Osteria Via Stato, a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant that is reliably excellent Italian food, very nice for lunch. La Madia is also good for lunch, as Topolobampo.
For a completely different lunch experience, you might consider Wishbone.

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Wishbone Restaurant
1001 W Washington Blvd, Chicago, IL 60607

Topolobampo
445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

Osteria Via Stato
620 N State St, Chicago, IL 60610

Lettuce Entertain You
2171 Northbrook Ct, Northbrook, IL 60062

Graham Elliot
217 W. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60654

May 13, 2010
buff crone in Chicago Area

Best entree and dessert at The Modern at Moma

Just got back from NY and we ate at The Modern for the first time. My companions adored the steak and lamb. I had the duck breast and I didn't care for it at all. The chocolate dessert was to die for: tiny portions of dark chocolate tart, mousse and ice cream. And the foie gras was also excellent. The amuse bouche was a nettle panna cotta, which I didn't much like, but the intermezzo was a beet, raspberry and balsamic parfait that was absolutely divine.

Jul 13, 2009
buff crone in Manhattan

Caviar

Just got back from NY. I don't know what the regular restaurant is like but Petrossian cafe on 7th Avenue is a great disappointment. The dining area is a dingy platform above the cold cases for caviar sales. We arrived at 5:30 for some pre-theater caviar. Although the place was almost empty, the service was poor. The carpet was still dirty from lunch. The gold-plated caviar paddles arrived dirty, and the blini had been steaming for so long that they were soggy. Even the accompaniments were bad (and we were charged extra for them which has never happened to me anywhere else.) I'd never go back. But they do serve champagne (we had overpriced vodka.)

Jul 13, 2009
buff crone in Manhattan

Petrossian Bakery??

Haven't eaten at the restaurant but the cafe on 7th is a dive. Not very clean and the service is surly. I'm never going back.

Jul 13, 2009
buff crone in Manhattan

Petrossian vs Caviar Russe

Just got back from NY. I don't know what the regular restaurant is like but the cafe on 7th Avenue is a great disappointment. The dining area is a dingy platform above the cold cases for caviar sales. We arrived at 5:30 for some pre-theater caviar. Although the place was almost empty, the service was poor. The carpet was still dirty from lunch. The gold-plated caviar paddles arrived dirty, and the blini had been steaming for so long that they were soggy. Even the accompaniments were bad (and we were charged extra for them which has never happened to me anywhere else.) I'd never go back.

Jul 13, 2009
buff crone in Manhattan

suggestions for tucson

Bistro Zin, my favorite restaurant before it closed, is now ZinBurger. The burgers and the fish sandwich are great. But it's become such a singles hangout that it is too loud to eat there. Either sit outside or get take-out.
Agree with the comments about Wildflower, Acacia, Zona 78, and the variable quality of North (also noisy, btw.)
Best sushi is Sushi Cho on Broadway, and strangely, AJ's, which clearly has the freshest fish in town. No atmosphere and not cheap, but who goes to a sushi place for atmosphere? Both places have excellent, informed chefs.
My personal favorite secret place is Samurai, in the strip center on the SE corner of Roger and Oracle. Great, cheap, fresh Japanese fast food (no real sushi.)
Mexican is Rosa's, hands down. Genuine, old-home Tucson.
Beyond Bread for soup and sandwiches.
And there is a great new Greek place on Campbell next to Sauce called Opa! Good food, and very friendly service. Avoid the beef and stick to the chicken and souvlaki dishes.

Jul 13, 2008
buff crone in Southwest

Tucson Chinese

Having seen this recommendation I tried Dao's. Wasn't impressed. Fly-filled diner style restaurant with food that ranged from mediocre to bad. We tried the ginger chicken in a pot and it tasted like a Lean Cuisine entre: over-cooked and oversauced. The noodle dishes weren't as good as at Thai places near the U of A.
Still seeking really great Chinese in Tucson!

Jul 13, 2008
buff crone in Southwest

Best Sushi in Chicago?

I just returned from a trip to Chicago and read this topic with interest. We followed these recommendations. Japonais was exotic and expensive, but the food didn't knock my socks off. Mirai has good standard sushi but their special items went from ordinary to bad. The kobi beef roll was just awful, like a roast beef tv dinner drenched in unagi sauce! I cannot eat shellfish, and so there were almost no special rolls that we could order. The tempura veggie rolls were good. Everything else was just ok.
Having been to some astounding sushi places in San Francisco and LA--places where you feel like you've eaten the best meal of your life--I'd have to say that there is no really great sushi in Chicago. And for standard sushi, Kamehachi is more convenient and cheaper than either of these places.

Jul 13, 2008
buff crone in Chicago Area

Tucson Chinese

I agree that Cafe Pacific has the best Chinese in town (which is not saying a lot.)
But my family stopped going there because the service is so surly. Also it's not cheap, particularly given the atmosphere. We asked for extra white rice once and were charged $3 for a cup the size of a teacup. And on other visits, we were chastised for asking for asking for something special, like no red peppers in one dish. Another time the owner stood at our table and complained about the prices of things while we were trying to eat! My family refuses to go there anymore.
Since the food is almost as good at P.F. Chang's and the place is so much nicer (and the food is no more expensive) we just go there.
We heard after that several people have had bad experiences with the service. It's sad, because if they gave good, friendly service, I think they would do much better.

Jul 03, 2008
buff crone in Southwest

recommendations for best sushi in downtown LA?

STAY away from Takami Sushi. We went on a recommendation from a concierge. The food is mediocre to bad and the prices are insane, even for LA. If you want to enjoy the spectacular view, get a drink and eat elsewhere.

Jun 20, 2008
buff crone in Los Angeles Area

My SF Dining Itinerary. Any Suggestions?

I agree completely about Roy's. It's a chain. We were just on our umpteenth trip to SF and ate for the first time at Farillon. I don't know what locals think about it but we thought it the most astounding meal we had. It's expensive but the food, ambience and service are all worth the money. I'd go there again in a flash.

For other local favs not on your list: Sears Fine Foods for breakfast of Swedish pancakes (and great conversation while in line!); Bohemian Cigar store for local coffee, local flavor, then to Graffeo across the street to bring home some of the local blend for your home. And on the way down Columbus, stop at Stella Pastry for some Italian cookies to go with your coffee. My favorite way to spend an afternoon eating in SF.
Speaking of that neighborhood, we also ate at Da Flora. Much has already been written about their bad service and great food. We think of the service as dinner theater and really enjoy the food (but good luck getting water and DO NOT ask for olive oil or salt!)

Menu Recommendations: DC Coast, Corduroy, Tenh Penh, Dino

We had dinner last night at DC Coast and it was VERY uneven. The place is nice and the service good. I had the foie gras appetizer on Johnnie cake and it was outstanding. My companion had the chili relleno, which he thought was fantastic. The main courses were a different story. He had striped bass and while the fish was good, it was over-cooked and under-seasoned. The potatoes were good but the brussels sprouts were bitter and poorly prepared. I had the scallops. They were acceptable but everything else on the plate was inedible! The squash risotto was crunchy and tasted awful, and the stringy meat on top of the scallops was the same. I just pushed it all aside and ate the scallops. A poor showing indeed for one of DC's supposed best restaurants. We won't be back.

3 days in Lisbon

I'm just ending three days in Lisbon and have been very lucky with great recommendations from the concierge at the Sofitel. First, Doca Piexe is a fantastic fish place in Alcantara, right on the docks. The fish is fresh and offered in a choice of preparations: grilled or traditional Portuguese. The vegetables are fresh and perfectly prepared, and the service is excellent. Nice view and you can sit outside if the weather is nice.
Second is Sacramento, in Chiado. Make sure you get directions or you will never find it. It's got a nice, eclectic menu and a vaguely Chinese decor. Fresh ingredients and good beef dishes. One nice thing is that they are open on Sunday, which is rare in the area.
Third is Cantinho do Bem Estar which is mentioned below. No reservations but great food.
For coffee and pastries, try the Pastelaria Suica on the Placa Rossio. And for lunch, there is a no-frills cafe with nice salads in the Centro Cultural de Belem, which is the modern building right across the street from Jeronimos. You can eat outside on a patio with great views of the river and the Monument to Discoveries. Skip dessert and try the traditional custard pastries at Confeitaria de Belem.

Mar 30, 2008
buff crone in Spain/Portugal