Visitors to Chicago, Welcome!
Often visitors to Chicago will find their way to the LTHForum, and ask how they can chose outstanding culinary experiences. And we enjoy helping. However, it is easier to help when our guests have thought about the kind of help that they require.
If you come to this website with plans to visit Chicagoland, a few suggestions. It is helpful to do a little homework first. Examine the list of restaurants that have received the designation of "Great Neighborhood Restaurant" or GNR. These are a very diverse set of restaurants found throughout Chicago and its suburbs that members of this board admire (and which, through a process of evaluation, are selected by a committee of interested and able members of the board). Most of these restaurants will have a thread (or several) devoted to them. Remember that sometimes restaurants close and sometimes they change. The link for the current list (found on the LTHForum Great Neighborhood Restaurant Awards board is Complete List of Great Neighborhood Restaurants
. A pocket guide, suitable for wallets or purses is available at Download the GNR Pocket Guide
. The board can be searched through our search function or through Google (type "site:lthforum.com X", where X is what you'd like to search for). Google also has a map overlay available for the GNRs and locations are available on Smartphone Apps.
While we, as a community are proud of this guide, it does not cover everything equally well. The restaurants included tend to be local, neighborhood, specialty, ethnic, inexpensive, or considered authentic. Many of our most highly regarded fine dining restaurants (such as Alinea or Charlie Trotter) are not included (although a few are, because they have some significant local connection). Steakhouses are not represented, although we have many fine ones. Hotel restaurants are not included. And chain restaurants are absent. So, the GNR list is a starting point for those interested in smaller, local, neighborhood restaurants. On the Resources Board of LTHForum, you will find other helpful information, including translated menus at some Thai and Chinese restaurants and maps of these restaurants.
Michelin now has a guide to Chicago, and visitors might wish to consult that list (Alinea and L20 are our three star restaurants - although L20 now has a new chef since the 2011 edition). Chicago also has a Zagat's guide, which has the advantages of rating numerous restaurants, evaluated by numerous diners. The reviews of our long-time two newspaper critics, Phil Vettel (Chicago Tribune) and Pat Bruno (Chicago Sun-Times) might also be consulted. And then there are other websites including "Chowhound" and "Yelp." Obviously members of this site are partial to our judgments (as we are a community and a group of friends), but there are other options.
So, you have done your due diligence, and you still need help. You can post on the "Eating Out in Chicagoland" board. But when you do so, it is helpful to be more specific than to say "Where should I eat?" Answers to the follow questions such as the following are useful:
What are your food preferences (and dislikes), especially in terms of cuisine and restaurant ambiance?
What is your budget in general terms (but remember "moderately" priced means different things to different people)?
Where will you be staying and what transportation do you have?
What is the size of your party? (are you alone, do you need a restaurant for thirty?)
What decor or vibe do you prefer? (Loud, quiet, romantic, child-friendly)
Are you coming for any special occasion? (Bachelorette weekend, College visit)
Do you have particular time constraints? (Breakfast, Brunch, Drinks, All-nighters)
What type of people are you as it affects your dining choices? Are you searching for something in particular? Would you feel uncomfortable in any neighborhood or type of restaurant? This may be particularly important in terms of selecting cocktail lounges, bars, or taverns.
If a stranger was visiting your town and wanted information, what would you wish to know to help him/her choose. When you have provided the information, wait for responses to flow in and be prepared to pick through differing opinions.
Sometimes visitors would like to have others join them for a meal. Remember that LTHForum is not a dating site, and people might be cautious. As long as requests for fellow diners are included with respect, there is nothing wrong with it. However, the best option might be to join us at one of the dinners or lunches or other events listed on the Events Calendar. However, you might also start a thread on the Events Calendar. If you do so, first look at Tips and Guidelines for Event Planners and Attendees
. Do not be offended if you do not receive any responses. We are a community, and often responses are made to events sponsored by a known member.
As a community, we hope that you will enjoy your visit to Chicago and we hope we can help.