LTH Home

Gastronomically Gluttonous Gourmet Getaway

Gastronomically Gluttonous Gourmet Getaway
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
     Page 1 of 2
  • Gastronomically Gluttonous Gourmet Getaway

    Post #1 - March 25th, 2005, 2:24 pm
    Post #1 - March 25th, 2005, 2:24 pm Post #1 - March 25th, 2005, 2:24 pm
    My wife and I are taking a 4 day trip to Chicago in June with the principal focus of our time being on food. We are flying in late Friday and departing Wednesday in the late afternoon. This means we have room for 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 4 dinners and 1 late night snack (on Friday night). I'm hoping to get some ideas of MUST EAT places to hit while we're in town.

    So far we have reservations for:
    Alinea - Sat Night (Dinner)
    Tru - Tue Night (Dinner)

    We are pondering adding some of the following places to our list:
    Charlie Trotters (and/or CT ToGo)
    Avenues
    Blackbird
    Trio (new and ?improved?)
    Spring
    Green Zebra

    Some other's things we want to try while we're there is:
    Dim Sum (pref in China Town, but open)
    Awesome Italian (pref in Little Italy, but open)
    Any cool local flare places

    Some things I've heard were good:
    Shaw's Crab House
    Hackney's
    Frontera
    Camicena Y Fruteria Julisco (Farmer's Market?)
    Lou Malnati's
    Bobak's
    Sugar - A Dessert bar
    Mr. Beef???

    We're staying downtown on Michigan Avenue, adjacent to Grant Park, but will be out and about throughout the day doing the tourist thing, so anything even remotely downtown is fair game. ANY help in deciding where to go by giving opinions of the above places or suggusting things we might have missed would be GREATLY appreciated.

    Thanks,
    -snekse
  • Post #2 - March 25th, 2005, 2:52 pm
    Post #2 - March 25th, 2005, 2:52 pm Post #2 - March 25th, 2005, 2:52 pm
    You will surely get numerous responses, but one thing that is noticeably absent from your list is Thai food. Among the favorites on this list are Spoon, TAC Quick, Thai Avenue, Thai Aree, or Sticky Rice. There is a more upscale branch of Spoon downtown on Rush St. called Silver Spoon. One Thai restaurant that many Chicagoans think is the best in the city (nation) is Arun's (it is rated very highly by Zagat's and in local restaurant guides). I like it very much and would add it as a must if cost is not a great concern. Yet, I must note in fairness that many on the list who are knowledgeable about Thai food are not fans of Arun's, feeling that its $85 pre fixe is too expensive, the food not particularly authentic, or, in some cases, just not very good. For the criticism search the list. De gustibus non disputandum.

    There is a long series of posts on Moto on this list which along with Alinea (not yet open) and Avenues is redefining dining - for good or ill (I'm a fan of Homeru Cantu's experiments at Moto - both for when they succeed and when they do not).

    Tru's would not be my selection. I rank Charlie Trotter's above it (as well as several other fine restaurants), but again there will be some disagreements.

    I trust you will get more advice than you can handle, but if you want to dine with people on this list, select a place (preferably ethnic - Chinese, Mexican, Thai - and less expensive), and there might be a good turnout.

    Enjoy Chicago dining.
  • Post #3 - March 25th, 2005, 3:44 pm
    Post #3 - March 25th, 2005, 3:44 pm Post #3 - March 25th, 2005, 3:44 pm
    Just a couple of random comments ...
    You mentioned Dim Sum ... you could try Chinatown, but I think the best dim sum is at Furama (4936 N. Broadway) - nowhere near Chinatown, but in an area of the city that Asian friends of mine call Little Vietnam, centered around Argyle Street (which is a stop on t he Red line, making it easy to get to via El).

    Also, in early June, the same El line a little further north (if you're willing to switch from the Red line to the Purple line at Howard St.) is the Evanston Farmers' Market - arguably one of the best in the area, just a couple of blocks north and west of the Davis St. El station.

    You've clearly done your research based on what you listed in your original post ... I'd particularly recommend the original Hackney's on Harms, although I know there are others on this board who aren't as enamored with Hackney's as I am (Mmmmm ... onion loaf ... mmmmm).

    (edited to cover up my spelling difficulties)
    Last edited by nr706 on March 25th, 2005, 3:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #4 - March 25th, 2005, 3:48 pm
    Post #4 - March 25th, 2005, 3:48 pm Post #4 - March 25th, 2005, 3:48 pm
    I highly recommend Green Zebra, particularly as you seem to enjoy innovative food. Green Zebra has a mostly vegetarian menu, with three categories of stuff, getting progressively richer. Food wise, it was our best meal last year. I would also agree on including a Thai meal. If you do some research on this board, you'll quickly find long threads about two or three places that will knock you're socks off. We loved TAC Quick and you couldn't go wrong there.
  • Post #5 - March 25th, 2005, 4:07 pm
    Post #5 - March 25th, 2005, 4:07 pm Post #5 - March 25th, 2005, 4:07 pm
    Your request is awfully broad (which I love). I hope you report back after eating.

    Here's some general thoughts:

    Seriously consider Maxwell Street, the once a week, Sunday flea market and Mexican food extravaganza. Some of the best eating in Chicago can be found here (it's actually on Canal Street, off of Roosevelt).

    And related to Maxwell Street, Jim's Grill used to be on the corner of Halsted and Maxwell, you can see it in the Aretha Franklin scene in Blues Brothers. No tables, but 24 hours of grease, fried onions and your choice of meats: hamburger, hot dog, polish (the classic) or pork chop. Do the ReneG cycle and get one of each.

    Third Maxwell Street relic: Manny's Cafeteria. A real Chicago institution. My favorite sammy is the sliced to order, rare roast beef. Share a piece of kishke.

    At some point, stop in the Berghoff for a drink or two.

    I'm not so enamored with Mr. Beef for Italian beef (it's not bad, not bad at all, but not in the top tier). If you really are dedicated, you can drive all the way out to Elmwood Park for Johnnies. Closer to downtown is the equally good but idosycratic Al's (only go the original on Taylor).

    Not a lot of other foodies on this board would join me in line to Carson's Ribs, but this old school, comfy rib spot remains one of my favorite restaurants. There are surely better ribs in Chicago, done in true pit style, but no better rib meal.

    My favorite Taylor Street Italian is Tufano's. Cash only. Order the chicken.

    Margies is one of the few remaining "real" ice cream parlors. Order the turtle sundae.

    If you want a taste of high roller Chicago, just great food, no foam, but not cheap either, think about Rush Street's Hugo's Frog Bar.

    The Yunnan specialities at Spring World in Chinatown are hard to find in other Chineses places around the USA. Who knew pigs feet can taste this good.

    I've recently fallen in love with Zascianek, for simple but decadent Polish food (much recommended over Bobak's).

    Probably the biggest concentration of food related stuff is on Devon Ave on the far north side of Chicago. Mostly Indian and Pakistani but also Russian, Jewish, Turkish, Assyrian, Afghan.

    What else?

    Rob
    Last edited by Vital Information on March 26th, 2005, 8:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #6 - March 25th, 2005, 4:07 pm
    Post #6 - March 25th, 2005, 4:07 pm Post #6 - March 25th, 2005, 4:07 pm
    snekse wrote: Charlie Trotters (and/or CT ToGo)
    Avenues
    Blackbird
    Trio (new and ?improved?)
    Spring
    Green Zebra

    Some other's things we want to try while we're there is:
    Dim Sum (pref in China Town, but open)
    Awesome Italian (pref in Little Italy, but open)
    Any cool local flare places

    Some things I've heard were good:
    Shaw's Crab House
    Hackney's
    Frontera
    Camicena Y Fruteria Julisco (Farmer's Market?)
    Lou Malnati's
    Bobak's
    Sugar - A Dessert bar
    Mr. Beef???


    I've heard very few good things about Sugar. You might want to do topolobampo or chilpancingo instead of frontera. You should hit maxwell street market (sunday morning/early afternoon) as part of your tour and have lunch there. Most here would recommend Al's over Mr Beef, at least among places in the city.

    Skip CT ToGo. It doesn't wow me, and for a lot of the stuff you need a kitchen to reheat the food.

    Green Zebra is fantastic, I'd recommend it heartily. Look for Mike+Gary+wives writeup of Avenues from earlier this month or late last month... it made me want to eat there more than I could have imagined. In the alinea/trotters/tru/avenues vein is also Moto, which you might like, or might hate. Search for that as well.

    My recommendation for sunday, if you're willing to eat (a lot), would be to take the free bus that roams around chicago's south side. You can pick it up at the roosevelt red line station, ride it to maxwell street, ride it from there to pilsen, and then on to chinatown. Get great mexican, more great mexican, and then dim sum and get a taste for some of the great neighborhoods in chicago. After chinatown it'll plop you back where you started.

    Have a great time, and please report back!
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #7 - March 25th, 2005, 8:51 pm
    Post #7 - March 25th, 2005, 8:51 pm Post #7 - March 25th, 2005, 8:51 pm
    Funny story about Sugar -

    My older brother, who came to town from New York for a visit last October (an indulgent weekend for me - it was my birthday, and my older brother, an altruist and good time Charlie if there ever was one, spoiled my friends and me with Topolobampo, two nights of drinking top shelf liquor, and dim sum on Sunday before he flew back) wanted to go to Sugar after reading about it on line. We show up, and were immediately struck by the attitude and wanna-be South Beach/West Hollywood vibe of this place (which just ain't gonna fly with me, and especially my brother, who suffers neither fools nor fake chi-chi attitudes gladly). We're informed that there is a 12 dollar cover, and that we can't even get in without reservations. Huh? Reservations for a lounge/dessert bar?? So my brother, being the wise-ass that he is, takes out his phone in front of the smug doorman, calls Sugar and makes reservations for 4. As the doorman is stuttering and fumbling, realizing he's been had, my brother informs the door-dork that we now have reservations, but, thanks to him, we're going to go elsewhere and give this 50 dollar tip to someone who deserves it. Casually dressed and happy-go-lucky my big brother may be, but he loves revenge and sticking it to jerks even more than I do.

    Anyway, I'd avoid Sugar if I were you.

    For dim sum, I'd second Furama on Broadway, but even better might be Ed's Potsticker House. Not dim sum in the traditional sense with carts and/or slips to order, but an array of appetizers and small dishes which rivals most of the larger dim sum palaces, if not in number then certainly in quality. In any case, Ed's is not to be missed. Beijing style wonton soup, Lamb with Cumin, Glass noodles with spicy beef and egg, etc, etc...
    Shui Wah in the Chinatown "mall" is also really good for dim sum.

    For sheer fun, I can't see going wrong at the Chicago Brauhaus in Lincoln Square. Pure German-American-Chicago kitsch with one of the most varied crowds in the city (as far as age, anyway). Decent food and beer, too. Good place to get schnockered after a schnitzel or rouladen or wurst or two, as you sing and dance the night away to Casio-oompah versions of your parents' record collection.

    Just two picks among a sea of great, neighborhood restaurants and bars. Enjoy.

    Rebbe der Grosse
  • Post #8 - March 25th, 2005, 10:14 pm
    Post #8 - March 25th, 2005, 10:14 pm Post #8 - March 25th, 2005, 10:14 pm
    That's a great story, Rabbi.
  • Post #9 - March 25th, 2005, 10:17 pm
    Post #9 - March 25th, 2005, 10:17 pm Post #9 - March 25th, 2005, 10:17 pm
    You want funny about Sugar?

    This is funny.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #10 - March 25th, 2005, 10:22 pm
    Post #10 - March 25th, 2005, 10:22 pm Post #10 - March 25th, 2005, 10:22 pm
    Just stepping into the place would ruin my appetite for dessert.

    Perhaps a better dessert option would be Mindy Seagal's new place Hot Chocolate. It seems much less enamored of itself than does Sugar.
  • Post #11 - March 25th, 2005, 11:18 pm
    Post #11 - March 25th, 2005, 11:18 pm Post #11 - March 25th, 2005, 11:18 pm
    I want to add a little bit to Vital Information's post.

    First, I heartily endorse and second his recommendation of Manny's, just as a great overall Chicago experience. I have trouble ordering anything but the pastrami. Do check the web site because the hours can be a challenge. For example, you can't combine a visit to the Maxwell Street Market with a visit to Manny's because Manny's is closed on Sunday.

    You can, however, combine either with a visit to Original Jim's and its neighbor, Maxwell Street Express, because they're open 24/7, on Union just south of Roosevelt. (Union is the street immediately to the west of the Dan Ryan Expressway at Roosevelt.) They're two attached cinderblock buildings and they're always busy. You can't miss them. I recommend the polish sausage with sauteed onions or the bone-in pork chop sandwich.

    I would add to Vital Information's comments on Carson's that the pork chops (boneless) there are excellent.

    Now a couple of my own. Something not mentioned in this thread and rarely mentioned on this board that I like to do with out-of-town visitors is Ethopian. I liked Addis Abeba but it's recently closed. Mama Desta's Red Sea is still around, and it is the grandmother of them all.

    Two neighborhood places I recommend are Tango Sur and Genesee Depot. Tango Sur is an Argentinian steak house. I love it, as do some others here, but there are others who hate it. Obviously, you have to be a devoted carnivore. Genesee Depot is simply a quirky, comfortable place with surprisingly good food. Both are BYOB.

    Another great Chicago experience is the Indian and Pakistani neighborhood on Devon, in both directions from Western. I like Tiffin and Viceroy of India.


    Manny's Coffee Shop and Deli
    1141 S. Jefferson (just north of Roosevelt)
    Chicago
    312-939-2855

    Jim's Original
    Maxwell Street Express
    Union at Roosevelt
    Chicago

    Carsons
    (Many locations, check the phone book or web)

    Mama Desta's Red Sea
    3216 N. Clark
    Chicago
    773-935-7561

    Tango Sur
    3763 N. Southport
    Chicago
    773-477-5466

    Genesee Depot
    3736 N. Broadway
    Chicago
    773-528-6990

    Tiffin
    2536 W. Devon
    Chicago
    773-338-2143

    Viceroy of India
    2518 W. Devon
    Chicago
    773-743-4100
  • Post #12 - March 26th, 2005, 10:30 am
    Post #12 - March 26th, 2005, 10:30 am Post #12 - March 26th, 2005, 10:30 am
    Snekse,

    One thing that you didn't mention is where you are coming FROM. That could make a difference in your choices. Visiting from New York might suggest different choices than if you were visiting from one of those "red states."

    Manny's is a case in point. Manny's is quite good by all criteria (it is clearly our best deli), but if you are coming from NY or LA, it will be less impressive than if you are visiting from outside of the Deli Belt.

    The same might be said of Ethiopian restaurants.

    Since you are staying across from Grant Park make sure that you visit Millenium Park. The Park Grill (in Millenium Park) is a very pleasant space in which to eat but with food that is not among the best in the city.
  • Post #13 - March 26th, 2005, 10:35 am
    Post #13 - March 26th, 2005, 10:35 am Post #13 - March 26th, 2005, 10:35 am
    That's a really good point. Only the upscale Mexican (and/or Maxwell Street for Mexican) and the top-drawer Thai is an all-purpose recommendation, in my book; otherwise it's very much a matter of what do you not have at home.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #14 - March 26th, 2005, 5:25 pm
    Post #14 - March 26th, 2005, 5:25 pm Post #14 - March 26th, 2005, 5:25 pm
    First off, I want to thank everyone for their responses. I truly can't thank you enough. I promise I will write about everywhere we went with pics. BTW, we're coming from Omaha, but we spent several food frenzied years in San Francisco.

    GAF wrote:You will surely get numerous responses, but one thing that is noticeably absent from your list is Thai food.


    Unfortunately my wife doesn't handle spicy foods very well - so no Indian or Mexican either :cry:

    Moto sounded interesting, but we opted to avoid it out of fear of "when they do not" as expressed in this review.
    http://www.vinography.com/archives/000423.html

    TRU wasn't exactly high on my list either, but my wife is a dessert freak and Gale Gand is kind of a hero of hers, so I thought it would be cool.

    As for Charlie Trotters, we were just trying to decide if we should go full-on CT or just get CT ToGo, but after reading gleam's post, I think we'll go to the main restaurant.

    It sounds like deciding which place to have Dim Sum might be hard, but in a good way. We might just have to try several places. Speaking of Asian food, a good place for pho? Little Vietnam perhaps?

    Interesting that GAF mentioned Ethiopian because there was an Ethiopian restaurant in Berkley that we wanted to try, but never got the chance. Is it spicy?

    And I promise everyone that we will not step foot into Sugar! :shock: Any recommendations for other sweet tooth places? Like some killer gelato! Mmmmmm gelato. Can't get it in Omaha really.

    Thanks again everyone.
    -snekse
  • Post #15 - March 26th, 2005, 5:51 pm
    Post #15 - March 26th, 2005, 5:51 pm Post #15 - March 26th, 2005, 5:51 pm
    Ethiopian is spice-spicy but not hot-spicy. Neither, for that matter, is a lot of Indian or even so-called "upscale" Mexican, where for example a good mole sauce will be the feature and it won't have any heat at all. So if it's heat she can't handle, then don't hesitate to try Ethiopian, but if it's pungent flavor derived from leaves and seeds that is the problem, then leave the Ethiopian alone too. Really, Thai is the same deal. There are plenty of delicious dishes on any Thai menu that contain little or no heat. Virtually any restaurant will help you make selections that avoid heat. I prefer that to simply having them leave it out, because when a dish that is supposed to be hot suddenly isn't, well, it's just not the same dish, is it?

    Yes, "Little Vietnam," also sometimes called "North Side Chinatown" is the place for pho. You can just go to Broadway and Argyle, and go into the first place that has "pho" on the window, or maybe someone will have a more specific suggestion. A note, none of the restaurants in this neighborhood are fancy. They are utilitarian, but the food can be quite good. Personally, my favorite is Sun Wah, but I don't think they do pho.

    As for Vietnamese food, but not pho, you definitely should consider Pasteur. It's the high end of Vietnamese cuisine, though it started many years ago as a storefront place it has evolved way beyond that. Elegant, romantic, exotic, but also in a way-out-of-downtown neighborhood where you can park on the street. It started in Little Vietnam but has moved north literally as well as metaphorically.

    Pasteur Restaurant
    5525 N Broadway St
    Chicago
    773-878-1061
    Last edited by cowdery on March 26th, 2005, 8:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #16 - March 26th, 2005, 6:34 pm
    Post #16 - March 26th, 2005, 6:34 pm Post #16 - March 26th, 2005, 6:34 pm
    I've always simply viewed Sugar as a nightclub that also happens to have indulgent desserts, and haven't had any issue with it. (But we've never shown up until sometime near midnight, and we've had the good fortune of being guestlisted every time.)

    The drinks are expensive and the music generally sucks, except for Thursdays - but I like the space and the decor.
    -Pete
  • Post #17 - March 27th, 2005, 1:01 pm
    Post #17 - March 27th, 2005, 1:01 pm Post #17 - March 27th, 2005, 1:01 pm
    An aversion to "spicey" foods should not dissuade you from attempting Chicago's truly unique high end Mexican restaurants. Just inform the waitstaff at Frontera Grill/Topolobampo (445 N. Clark St.) and/or Chilpancingo (358 W. Ontario St.) of your preferences and they should steer you accordingly.

    By the way, Hackney's is one of my frequent "go to" places when I'm in the neighborhood and want a fresh, reliable, inexpensive meal (with a good draft beer). But it's really not "worth a detour," particularly for someone from Omaha where a good hamburger, I'm sure, is not hard to find.

    Also, you might want to take a shot at some of our good French bistros. A search for Le Bouchon, Le Sardine, Tournesol, Kiki's Bistro, Brasserie Jo here and on CH should give you some good leads.
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
  • Post #18 - March 28th, 2005, 9:04 am
    Post #18 - March 28th, 2005, 9:04 am Post #18 - March 28th, 2005, 9:04 am
    YourPalWill wrote:Just stepping into the place would ruin my appetite for dessert.

    Perhaps a better dessert option would be Mindy Seagal's new place Hot Chocolate. It seems much less enamored of itself than does Sugar.


    I would second this - me and the missus went to Hot Chocolate for dessert and a glass of port this weekend and had a really good time (the caramel and stout milkshake was very good). I've never been to Sugar before but the missus has and says that Hot Chocolate is superior in every way (and more affordable to boot).
  • Post #19 - March 28th, 2005, 9:07 am
    Post #19 - March 28th, 2005, 9:07 am Post #19 - March 28th, 2005, 9:07 am
    jbw wrote:An aversion to "spicey" foods should not dissuade you from attempting Chicago's truly unique high end Mexican restaurants. Just inform the waitstaff at Frontera Grill/Topolobampo (445 N. Clark St.) and/or Chilpancingo (358 W. Ontario St.) of your preferences and they should steer you accordingly.


    So I think I might have talked my wife into hitting up Frontera Grill or Topolobampo for lunch at least (thanks to Iron Chef America). My question is, are these 2 restuarants really in the same location? What are they like, how do they compare? Which is the better place for lunch?

    P.S. - Still looking for a tasty gelato place :D
  • Post #20 - March 28th, 2005, 9:18 am
    Post #20 - March 28th, 2005, 9:18 am Post #20 - March 28th, 2005, 9:18 am
    They are in the exact same location - share a front door. Frontera is a casual place that can get a little loud and doesn't accept reservations (unless party is 5 or more). Topo is a quieter room that does take reservations and has a different menu (I really hate to use the word "upscale" here but I'm at a loss for a better term). My personal preference is Topo but understand I'm a person that hates waiting for tables and prefers quiet. With that bias stated I'd also say that you won't find many restaurants that serve a menu like Topo's; it's one of my favorite restaurants.

    You can access the respective lunch (and dinner) menus here:
    http://www.fronterakitchens.com/restaurants/menus/

    Both restaurants are closed Sundays/Mondays.
    Objects in mirror appear to be losing.
  • Post #21 - March 28th, 2005, 9:24 am
    Post #21 - March 28th, 2005, 9:24 am Post #21 - March 28th, 2005, 9:24 am
    snekse wrote:
    jbw wrote:An aversion to "spicey" foods should not dissuade you from attempting Chicago's truly unique high end Mexican restaurants. Just inform the waitstaff at Frontera Grill/Topolobampo (445 N. Clark St.) and/or Chilpancingo (358 W. Ontario St.) of your preferences and they should steer you accordingly.


    So I think I might have talked my wife into hitting up Frontera Grill or Topolobampo for lunch at least (thanks to Iron Chef America). My question is, are these 2 restuarants really in the same location? What are they like, how do they compare? Which is the better place for lunch?


    Snekse,

    They are indeed at the same location and stand side-by-side. Frontera Grill is the slightly more casual companion to the slightly more 'upscale' Topolobampo. Perhaps the most basic (and important?) difference is that Frontera does NOT accept reservations and Topolobampo does. Frontera is therefore somewhat hard to get into at certain times. Note too that the famous chiles rellenos of Frontera apparently run out early on a fairly consistent basis. Though I've been to both places, I'm afraid to say much about differences in menu and approach to food and hope someone with a fresher memory and greater experience will chime in. That said, I've loved both on every visit and this despite my general preference for the hole-in-the-wall sort of place in the barrio.

    Amata and I had a walk-in, no-wait lunch at Frontera on a Friday, arriving ca. 1:30 or so. It was a delicious meal and we got to have our lunch just a few feet away from Mr. Bayless himself, who was having a light lunch at the little bar.

    I strongly encourage you to go to one or the other during your visit.

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #22 - March 28th, 2005, 9:39 am
    Post #22 - March 28th, 2005, 9:39 am Post #22 - March 28th, 2005, 9:39 am
    LionRock wrote: me and the missus went to Hot Chocolate for dessert and a glass of port this weekend and had a really good time (the caramel and stout milkshake was very good).


    Holy crap that sounds good [They need a drool icon] I definitely think we'll be stopping there. Keeping on the dessert theme, has anyone been to Caffe Gelato?

    Antonius wrote:That said, I've loved both on every visit and this despite my general preference for the hole-in-the-wall sort of place in the barrio.


    Speaking of hole-in-the-wall places, my wife actually loves taquerias and taco carts. The kind where they make burrittos the size of your head and they steam the tortillas until they're wet like plaster. When you say the barrio, are you talking about Maxwell Street?
  • Post #23 - March 28th, 2005, 9:53 am
    Post #23 - March 28th, 2005, 9:53 am Post #23 - March 28th, 2005, 9:53 am
    I've given this a little more thought and have decided I should probably be more emphatic in my response. Go to Topo. For your stated mission - "Gastronomically Gluttonous Gourmet Getaway" - I would think you would want to hit a true "destination" restaurant and that is what I consider Topo to be (not to be confused with some marketing hype that might trumpet certain places to be destinations). If it were my family visiting this would be on the short list of must-visit places I would want to take them to.

    My usual lunch is a starter of either the Sopa Azteca or whatever seasonal item I haven't tried before that has just shown up on the menu (esp. when it has huitlacoche!). On the menu currently listed (assuming that's accurate) I'd opt for the Sopa de Calabaza. Note: Those sensitive to heat might find the guajillo strips in the Azteca broth a bit too spicy. The Topo margarita is "dangerously smooth", made with all fresh ingredients (no mixers) and shaken tableside. Pork, duck, and day-boat caught fish are staple items of the entree menu; I tend to choose my entrees based upon the preparation and the accompanying non-meat items
    Objects in mirror appear to be losing.
  • Post #24 - March 28th, 2005, 10:46 am
    Post #24 - March 28th, 2005, 10:46 am Post #24 - March 28th, 2005, 10:46 am
    I used to be a big advocate of Frontera, as a comparatively dirt-cheap way to eat the food of one of our most influential and important chefs, but enough people have been underwhelmed by this or that dish that I think someone coming from out of town and having paid that much to get that close might as well spend a little more at Topolobampo and have more assurance of getting Bayless' best. That's a different way of looking at it than if you worked in downtown Chicago and were asking if you should eat at Frontera some lunchtime, in which case the answer would be an unreserved yes.

    Especially since many of the Maxwell Street places have full restaurants down in Pilsen or wherever, you could certainly roam that neighborhood or barrio and find lots of good food. Still, can't beat the food-court convenience of them being in one place plus the carnival-like atmosphere. If you can make it, you should, it's a one-of-a-kind.

    Caffe Gelato is good but a little plastic in some weird way. But I don't have a noticeably better suggestion other than our old fave, but some find it inconsistent, The Penguin.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #25 - March 28th, 2005, 12:55 pm
    Post #25 - March 28th, 2005, 12:55 pm Post #25 - March 28th, 2005, 12:55 pm
    Mike G wrote:Caffe Gelato is good but a little plastic in some weird way.


    :? Plastic in taste or atmosphere?
  • Post #26 - March 28th, 2005, 12:57 pm
    Post #26 - March 28th, 2005, 12:57 pm Post #26 - March 28th, 2005, 12:57 pm
    Coming from Omaha, I wouldn't go out of your way for pizza. Unless of course, you're interested in Chicago deep dish or stuffed. :wink: :twisted:

    Here's a description of my lunch at Topolobambo last summer.

    A side note, not so much help to sneske, but following from Mike's Penguin restaurant: They will soon be serving The Penguin's gelato at The Grind, a Lincoln Square coffee shop.

    For an out-of-town visitor, I would recommend Caffe Gelato over the Penguin--a more accessible, still interesting part of town; a physical space probably more appealing to one feeling gelato-deprived; and I think it's too easy to be disappointed by Penguin, especially to justify the trip.

    Oh, and sneske, have you been to Back to Guangzhou in Omaha (LaVista, actually) for dim sum? I was there in February with another Omaha foodie friend, and he said it was pretty exceptional for Omaha Chinese (both in terms of being unique and being good). I don't have any experience to comment on the relative quality of the food, but it's a beautiful restaurant staffed by tremendously friendly people, and I enjoyed my meal.

    Cheers,

    Aaron

    [ed. for spelling]
    Last edited by Aaron Deacon on March 28th, 2005, 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #27 - March 28th, 2005, 1:57 pm
    Post #27 - March 28th, 2005, 1:57 pm Post #27 - March 28th, 2005, 1:57 pm
    snekse wrote:Speaking of hole-in-the-wall places, my wife actually loves taquerias and taco carts. The kind where they make burrittos the size of your head and they steam the tortillas until they're wet like plaster. When you say the barrio, are you talking about Maxwell Street?


    Maxwell Street is fun and definitely worth going to. Did you see this post by David Hammond on a huarache stand there?

    (By the way, you won’t find many burritos at the places we’re talking about here. Rather, lots of corn masa-based snacks and other treats.)

    As for actual restaurants, non-upscale variety, there are a number of places where Antonius and I enjoy going. I’ll mention a few here which have writeups on LTH and CH. I hope you guys will have a car!

    Taqueria Puebla: sandwich/taco place specializing in cemitas (a sandwich from Puebla) and tacos arabes. It was first written up by RST on Chowhound, here. Here is an LTH thread with pictures.

    Kappy’s: great tlacoyos, quesadillas, enchiladas potosinas. Here is a write-up with pictures.

    Carnitas Uruapan: there are several places in the Pilsen neighborhood specializing in carnitas. C. Uruapan was recently judged the best by several LTHers who tried three places in one morning. Here is a write up and pictures.

    See the linked posts for addresses. And by the way, the masa snacks at Kappy's and the carnitas are not picante.
  • Post #28 - March 28th, 2005, 2:14 pm
    Post #28 - March 28th, 2005, 2:14 pm Post #28 - March 28th, 2005, 2:14 pm
    I would second the recommendation of the Park Grill, for good upscale American style food right across the street from the Art Institute on Michigan Avenue, because if you're coming to Chicago you're going to want to see Millenium Park -- whether it was worth the bazillion dollar price tag I have yet to decide, but there's no question that it is a breath-taking cultural attraction and a great place to view the passing parade, especially in summer. We've had some very nice meals there (I'm especially fond of the mussels); the food is much better than it need be, as the setting would fill the place regardless, and it's less costly than you might expect as well (and we all know why now, what with the free water and etc. the restaurant managed to get.) Reservations are critical, for lunch or dinner. If you want a downtown dining experience I would go for this one.
    ToniG
  • Post #29 - March 28th, 2005, 3:29 pm
    Post #29 - March 28th, 2005, 3:29 pm Post #29 - March 28th, 2005, 3:29 pm
    Aaron Deacon wrote:Coming from Omaha, I wouldn't go out of your way for pizza. Unless of course, you're interested in Chicago deep dish or stuffed. :wink: :twisted:

    ...

    Oh, and sneske, have you been to Back to Guangzhou in Omaha (LaVista, actually) for dim sum?


    Actually we've been meaning to try Back to Guangzhou but always forget about it when it comes time. Thanks for reminding me about it. There's another place, Grand Fortune, at 175th-ish & Center that has pretty good food as well, but you have to ask the waiter for the Cantonese menu if you have round eyes and want authentic. :wink: They also have Dim Sum on the weekends.

    I like both Don Carmelo's and Zio's, but I'm not floored by either. I found another good place to try - Bene Pizza & Pasta. I got a garlic and sausage pizza that was pretty tasty, but maybe it was just the fact that it was the first time I had fresh garlic on a pizza in over a year :)

    Bene Pizza & Pasta
    (402) 498-0700
    12301 W Maple Rd
    Omaha, NE 68164

    So in what part of Omaha does your foodie friend live? I'm thinking about starting a foodie support group here :D
  • Post #30 - March 28th, 2005, 4:05 pm
    Post #30 - March 28th, 2005, 4:05 pm Post #30 - March 28th, 2005, 4:05 pm
    Yikes! I can't recommend sugar! I haven't been there in ages and it felt like "walking the gauntlet". I have found it to be a club full of creepy, carniverous, greasy guys who want a girl they can call "sugar". I was happy to make it out of there in one piece!

    Pluton
    873 N. Orleans St.
    312-266-144
    Pluton is one of my new favorites. The food is truly wonderful and they couldn't be nicer. I usually get the 5 course degustation. Hmmm, I really need to go back again. The atmosphere is formal yet, very comfortable.
    http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/sear ... 2218.venue

    Les Nomades
    222 E. Ontario St.
    312-649-9010
    The food is phenomonal. The atmosphere is very formal.
    http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/sear ... 8095.venue
    The quality seems to be still high even though the chef changed.


    Arun's
    4156 N. Kedzie Ave.
    773-539-1909
    Yes, this is thai but not crazy spicy - they would accomodate to your taste as well. This is one of the top restaurants of Chicago, unlike any other Thai restaurant. http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/sear ... 7408.venue

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more