I'm getting sworn into the Illinois Bar and would like to go out to a fancy lunch afterwards with my mom and fiancé. We'll be in the Loop, but can drive anywhere.
For this occasion, price is not an issue. I would like to avoid Tompolobampo (I'm apparently the only person out there who didn't love it) and all chain restaurants, but otherwise am totally flexible.
I haven't lived in Chicago for some time and I'm drawing a blank. Any help would be much much appreciated!
I had dinner at one sixtyblue last night, and it was fantastic. The options for each course were actual dishes from their menu, at full size. I had the gnocchi appetizer, the pork tenderloin entree, and the coconut crunch dessert; all three were wonderful. Very seasonal and interesting. My friends thought the banana cannoli was the most delicious dessert they had ever had.
Additionally, the service was perfect without being pushy. We ordered cocktails at the bar, but didn't order wine (we're poor law students), and the server wasn't hostile or annoyed with us at all. Instead our waiter was charming and understanding. They didn't rush us or make us feel at all like we were inconveniencing them by being there during Restaurant Week.
I would definitely go back for special occasions - they did RW just right, in my opinion (and I've done lots of Restaurant Week meals, being from DC).
I loved the Magic Time Machine when I was a kid - I had a few birthday parties there and thought it was the coolest restaurant ever. BUT - I can't imagine going there as an adult (unless I was taking my future children)!
I searched the board to see if anyone has mentioned Juan's Hacienda on the southwest corner of Preston and Frankfurt, but no dice so I'm talking about it here.
I love this place. They do Tex-Mex standards, and by my estimation, do them better than anyone else. I've followed them from the other side of Frankfurt to their location in Plano to where they are now. Every time I try another Tex-Mex restaurant I leave disappointed.
First, excellent chips and salsa. I have to really watch myself to ensure I don't gorge and ruin dinner. The salsa is warm and blended (although it varies in heat level) and the chips really thin and crispy.
I almost always order the tacos, as they have the best tacos I've ever eaten. They're unbelievably silky and spiced perfectly.
My mom's favorite dish is the Del Rio platter: a sour cream chicken enchilada, beef enchilada, beef taco, and guacamole chalupa, along with rice and beans.
I've had their combination fajitas, and they were also tasty. The chicken used in their enchiladas is also incredibly good - super juicy and falling apart. Great refried beans, as well.
The one dish that we've tried that just really didn't work was a tilapia special. It had a weird sauce and was rather dry. I don't think I would bother with their specials.
I lived in DC for three years, and when I would visit home I would stop in and order a large container of taco meat and a large container of salsa. I then froze both into smaller packages and flew back with them - I couldn't satisfy my craving any other way.
I actually really like Thai Samba (although I am one of the "gringos" you mention above!). My mom and I visit about once a week for lunch and we've always left happy.
My favorite is the Kee Mow, but we've enjoyed several of the curries and most of the appetizers. I also love the sticky rice with mango and the black rice pudding.
The two things that we didn't like as much were the spring rolls (I like the corn patties better, and I try to limit my fried dishes) and the roasted duck with pineapple (a bit too sweet).
The food always seems really fresh and homemade (as opposed to some other places around here where everything resembles something formerly frozen) and it is a great value (can't beat the $6 lunch). I hope it stays open.