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Best choices near the Magnificent Mile?

Best choices near the Magnificent Mile?
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  • Best choices near the Magnificent Mile?

    Post #1 - November 19th, 2004, 6:34 pm
    Post #1 - November 19th, 2004, 6:34 pm Post #1 - November 19th, 2004, 6:34 pm
    Hi everyone - nice looking board y'all have here.

    I'll be visiting from New York very soon, and I'm seeking a few recommendations. I have my "destination dining" dinners planned, but I'm also looking for a few places that are very close (ideally walking distance) to my hotel, which is, predictably enough, on Michigan and Delaware. Not necessarily the best neighbohood for chowish spots, I'm sure, but I'm hopeful.

    Here's what I need: great food of any genre, in a reasonably pleasant environment (casual bistro-level is fine, although I'm hoping to avoid both greasy spoons and anyplace so fancy that I'd have to worry about not wearing a jacket). The goal is to grab a reasonably efficient lunch or dinner, without having to call more than a few hours in advance for a reservation, or stand in line waiting for a table to open up. Higher pricing is no problem, but expediency is important.

    Any thoughts?
  • Post #2 - November 19th, 2004, 6:44 pm
    Post #2 - November 19th, 2004, 6:44 pm Post #2 - November 19th, 2004, 6:44 pm
    If you would like some very good Thai food and/or sushi, check out Silver Spoon. Silver Spoon is a new restaurant opened by the owners of one of the board's favorite Thai restaurants Spoon Thai. It's near your hotel. A short cab ride or a brisk walk away. Check out this thread.

    Silver Spoon
    710 N Rush Street
    Chicago, IL
    11am to 10pm
    7 Days a Week
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #3 - November 19th, 2004, 7:43 pm
    Post #3 - November 19th, 2004, 7:43 pm Post #3 - November 19th, 2004, 7:43 pm
    Although I haven't been there recently, I've always liked Bistro 110. The most memorable dish is the bread, served with a head of roasted garlic. That's not faint praise for the rest of the menu, it's just that good.

    Bistro 110
    110 E. Pearson St.
  • Post #4 - November 19th, 2004, 10:45 pm
    Post #4 - November 19th, 2004, 10:45 pm Post #4 - November 19th, 2004, 10:45 pm
    Just around the corner of Delaware, a block West of Michigan, is Zoom Kitchen.

    Highly recommended for a fast, cheap and tasty lunch. Great salads, interesting soups and real carvery sandwiches.

    And as a New Yorker, you might not even be irritated by the surly staff -- who, for me, are the one negative aspect of the place!

    Zoom Kitchen
    923 N Rush St
    (312) 440-3500
  • Post #5 - November 20th, 2004, 1:58 am
    Post #5 - November 20th, 2004, 1:58 am Post #5 - November 20th, 2004, 1:58 am
    I'm partial to Sayat Nova, an Armenian place on Ohio, just east of Michigan (more precisely, just east of the giant Gap store). It's fairly standard Middle Eastern fare, but I think their baba ghannouj is phenomenal (smoky and rich, with a good chunky texture). I'd also highly recommend the red cabbage salad, and their lentil soup - very good. My personal favorite would have to be the lamajoun (lamachun?), something usually described as a lamb pizza. Be sure to squeeze the lemon on it.
    I think one of the big reasons I like this restaurant so much is that it's surrounded by chains (Big Bowl, ESPN Zone, et al.) and the fact that it even exists in its location is something of a surprise. The ambience is also surprising - it's a nice, lovely little cozy restaurant. Booths are circular, and set into the walls, so it can make for a very intimate dining experience. It's not expensive, but the food is good, and it's very convenient to the main shopping areas.

    (oops, forgot to add: Sayat Nova, 157 E. Ohio St.
    312-644-9159, 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 3-10 p.m. Sunday)
  • Post #6 - November 20th, 2004, 1:15 pm
    Post #6 - November 20th, 2004, 1:15 pm Post #6 - November 20th, 2004, 1:15 pm
    I'd suggest a couple of dining options in Water Tower Place, which is a vertical mall on Michigan Avenue close to you (pretty hard to miss, being by the Water Tower.) Close to the Michigan Avenue entrance there is Wow Bao, where you can get very tasty steamed buns of various sorts along with soups and etc. It's a take-out place, and you have to take you order up the escalator to where the seating is, but it's very fast, needless to say, tasty, and you can watch the shoppers go by while you dine. Also in Water Tower Place is FoodLife, which is Chicago's premier restauranteur Rich Melman's version of a food court. That doesn't put a very good spin on the place, but don't be put off -- you get a card when you go in and can choose from a dozen or so stations offering all sorts of foods -- Asian stir frys over here, southern BBQ over there, fish tacos around the corner, etc. They run your card through a computer at each station and you pay when you exit (great scheme, as you can run up quite the invisible tab, especially if you go with kids.) It's all reasonably good (some of it is quite good, actually), it's very fast (unless you arrive at a crowded weekend lunchtime) and it's also is a fun place to people-watch. If you're going out for indulgent dinners, either of these places would be good to get light lunches without too much bother.
  • Post #7 - November 20th, 2004, 1:47 pm
    Post #7 - November 20th, 2004, 1:47 pm Post #7 - November 20th, 2004, 1:47 pm
    Is the Zoom Kitchen on Rush still open? I know the location on Belmont closed some time ago, and I had thought that the Rush location was also closed. For what it's worth, the phone number you mentioned has apparently been disconnected.

    That said, I second the recommendation for Sayat Nova.

  • Post #8 - November 20th, 2004, 1:53 pm
    Post #8 - November 20th, 2004, 1:53 pm Post #8 - November 20th, 2004, 1:53 pm
    There are two high-end restaurants very close to your location - probably both too formal, but both are worth a mention.

    NoMI (Park Hyatt Hotel, 800 N. Michigan, 312-239-4030)- An absolutely first-rate Nouvelle French restaurant. I ate there last night and had a superb Lobster in Cognac Sauce with a Star Anise reduction. As good a dish as I can recall for quite a while. The lobster was perfectly cooked and not overwhelmed by the sauce. The appetizer - Oxtail Ravioli had a powerful flavour, although the texture of the sauce wasn't quite right - too sticky, so it didn't quite succeed in "mouth feel." The dessert - a creme brulee over banana was excellent as well. The dishes may be a bit "fussy" (although the chef Sandro Gamba emphasizes his love of simplicity), but the food, the wines by the glass, and the view make this an excellent choice, although perhaps not for this visit, given your constraints.

    The other restaurant is Spiaggia (980 N. Michigan, 312-280-2750), probably the finest high end Italian restaurant in Chicago. There is also a Spiaggia Cafe, which could be a better choice for your visit. I have long been a fan of Tony Mantuano's cooking, although I haven't been to Spiaggia in at least a year. Still, Spiaggia or its Cafe would be a fine choice.

    Silver Spoon is a fine choice as well. Too many choices, too little time.
  • Post #9 - November 21st, 2004, 9:46 am
    Post #9 - November 21st, 2004, 9:46 am Post #9 - November 21st, 2004, 9:46 am
    Zoom is closed, unfortunately.

    The area you're staying in has some great choices. For quick but yummy try Oaktree on the 6th floor of Bloomie's, a way delish lunch spot but they have weird evening hours (if they have any at all). Also in the Bloomie's building you'll find Basai Thai that has sushi and thai food and Tucci's, an Italian restaurant that's pretty good. Papa Milano's on State & Oak is a great little hole-in-the-wall Italian. Also in that area you'll find a little irish pub, Dublin's, on State that has some tasty bar food and it's neighbor, Blue Agave, has good Mexican food and a mean margarita. If you're craving sushi, the closest place with great sushi to you would be Tsunami. Cross Michigan Avenue and you'll find Mrs. Park's Tavern, a popular place for business lunches and really great food in a homey atmosphere.
  • Post #10 - November 21st, 2004, 1:08 pm
    Post #10 - November 21st, 2004, 1:08 pm Post #10 - November 21st, 2004, 1:08 pm
    I live in the area and know the restaurants around there pretty well. I don't recommend Bistro 110. I think the food and service are geared to tourists and pretty mediocre. Cafe Spiaggia is a good less formal option to Spiaggia. The Bar at The Grill on the Alley in the Westin serves great sandwiches and is comfortable. For a classic Chicago steakhouse experience, The Saloon in the Seneca is really good although you often need a reservation.
  • Post #11 - November 21st, 2004, 8:34 pm
    Post #11 - November 21st, 2004, 8:34 pm Post #11 - November 21st, 2004, 8:34 pm
    I concur with Cafe Spiaggia and Silver Spoon. Two excellent choices in the vicinity.

    I'll add a third, a slight shlep from Michigan/Delaware, but not beyond walking distance:

    Carson's Ribs.

    At there tonight, and boy do I love this place. It is one of the most archtypical of Chicago meals. You start with gratis chopped liver or cheese spread, prefereably with an old fashioned cocktail (and I mean as in whiskey, bitters and ice not a "classic" cocktail). Some people swear by Carson's steaks or even their pork chop. I have never been happy unless I stick with their namesake, the ribs.

    These are not ribs of the stainless-steel acquarium "pit" found around Chicago's south and west sides, but neither are they meat jello derrided by many. There's some kind of hickory in the cook process that lends just a whiff of sweet smoke. More important, the ribs are big and fresh and tender yet firm. The finish gives them just the right amount of burnt in spots.

    If I would never order anything but ribs at Carson's, I do vary often in the salad and potato catagories. Salad, they make some great dressings, especially the putrid house of sour cream and anchovy. It literally wilted the lettuce. The ceasar, a bit more conventional, is actually better, but the cole slaw and blue cheese dressing are almost as good too. Potato, that may be the toughest choice of all. I got lucky tonight as our table included three great examples: skins, au gratin and double-stuffed.

    When it comes to dessert, you are again, left with no choice. Get the gold brick sundae. Gold brick is some kinda chocolate goo that hardens on contact with the ice cream. For a while, you spend more time picking at it than eating it, but combined with the rich ice cream it makes for some very Chicago eating.

    The Sterns once proclaimed Carson's the best ribs in the USA. On one hand, it showed how little of the USA they had really checked out at that point, but on the other hand, they had been to enough places to make the selection more than hyperbole. Carson's has been in operation for many years. It has had some fallow periods. Based on my visit today, it seemed very much in its prime.

    612 North Wells Street
    Chicago, IL 60610
    (312) 280-9200
  • Post #12 - November 23rd, 2004, 12:49 am
    Post #12 - November 23rd, 2004, 12:49 am Post #12 - November 23rd, 2004, 12:49 am
    Some suggestions:

    A fairly new place i dined at recently - Viand. 155 E. Ontario. Eclectic and very good tapas (as well as larger entrees) - every dish we had, and we were a large group of almost 10 people by the end of the evening, was very good - and a few were phenomenonal. Of special note, the coffee flavored grilled steak - almost mole like in flavor was quite amazingly good. The whole roasted Chicken entree was huge and also quite a hit at the table - even the cheese grits were popular.

    For quick food on the go, say while shopping, Wao Bao in the lobby of Water Tower is one of my current favorites - and a place that I hope will take off as a new chain spinoff of Lettuce Entertain You. Very reasonably priced "Baos" (Chinese steamed buns) filled with a variety of fillings - tasty and manageable prices, fast service, and overall a great new fast food concept (with a lot more flavor than most).

    Le Colonial - on Rush Street. Sure it is a semi-chain (others in other cities). but it is also a place where I have never been disappointed and always enjoyed the food. Upscale Vietnamese. In better weather I always suggest asking for the balcony.

    Dublins. On State, just south of where it runs into Rush St. Open until 4am, 365 nights a week, this is one of the hidden secrets of good dining in the area. Their food is quite good - I almost always get one of their salads (like the steak salad a lot). Good food, serving late into the evening.

    3rd Coast Cafe - on Dearborn and Goethe (just north of Division, so a bit of a walk, but very manageable from Michigan Ave). This is one of my long time favorite spots in Chicago (full disclosure, as a regular for over 10 years I know many of the staff and all of the owners). A great cafe/wine bar, open until 2am most nights, later on the weekend. Their daily specials are always good, anything with their bacon is a safe bet as well (the bacon costs them about $0.50/slice - super premium and very very good). Their crab cakes are good and they will hand-toss a pizza for you as well. Plus they have a great wine list of smaller wineries (buy a bottle and they give you a free appetizer), good coffee, and a full bar. Definitely one of my favorite spots in the area.

    On Michigan Ave itself, closer to the Loop I am a fan of Bandera. Again, this is a chain, but I consider it quite a good one - tasty food and a good location.

    Heaven on Seven at 600 N. Michigan (around back, same entrance as the movie theater) is another great option right off of Michigan ave. Good, cajun food - a large menu with not every dish being great but lots are quite good.

    I'm also a fan, in limited doses, of Cheesecake factory (and I suspect their other restaurant Une Grand Cafe). Yes, it is a chain, and yes it is a tourist trap, large, and always crowded - but the food is, in face, quite good. With careful ordering it can be managed without extreme over eating (basically almost literally order half as much as you would at any other restaurant - i.e. one small salad for 2-4 people etc.) I generally get their small salad, perhaps an appetizer, and a slice of cheesecake - usually with leftovers if dining alone, or even if that is split with one other person. It can often be the case that if you don't want to wait you can go right into their bar and sit down immediately - always worth checking. But I would generally only suggest it for larger groups with some people who are not too adventurous.

  • Post #13 - November 23rd, 2004, 3:25 am
    Post #13 - November 23rd, 2004, 3:25 am Post #13 - November 23rd, 2004, 3:25 am
    i'm thinking uno's or due's on wabash. kill two birds w/one stone. a chicago instituition and the definitive "chicago style" deep dish pizza. lunch is never busy.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata