Chicago - inexpensive restaurants

Old Mar 20th, 2009, 06:05 PM
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Chicago - inexpensive restaurants

Hello Everyone,

Can you help with some advice on the above topic please? We wil be in Chicago for 3 days (over the 4th July) staying at the Fairmont Hotel in Columbus Drive.

We will be using the subway to get around and would appreciate some hints on inexpensive restaurants (we like to have a glass of wine with our meals) or even some good delis or food markets where we can buy some goodies to eat in our room.

Any replies will be very much appreciated.
jofrommelbourne is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2009, 10:24 AM
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Although it's a little early to do this, the first thing that I always tell people to do is check Metromix (the Chicago Tribune's entertainment website), the Chicago Reader, the Chicago Tribune, Time Out Chicago and the Chicago Suntimes online. I know, I know...That seems like a whole lotta work but these are the websites which Chicagoans themselves use for finding specials, deals and what's going on. I prefer the first three myself (and if it's the Chicago Tribune, especially check out "The Stew" in the blog section, which provides a great deal of information, IMHO - as well as the "Theatre Loop" if you are interested in entertainment). I find different information on each, so I'd hate you to limit yourselves to only a couple.

However, if I might mention something to you to keep in mind: Chicago is one of the premier dining destinations in the world. It would be cheating yourselves if you come here and don't at least sample one of the city's better restaurant's offerings. You might think about lunch, instead of dinner, for example.

If you are going to the Lincoln Park Zoo or Lincoln Park Conservatory (free everyday), you might consider Perennial (not inexpensive) or North Pond (more expensive) for brunch.

I know that your time here is extremely limited, but you might consider going to Hot Doug's. This is really off-the-beaten path, and I don't usually recommend it to visitors with such as short time on their agenda. But if you are taking the Red Line up to at least see Wrigley Field, if you pick up a cab on Addison, it isn't too terribly far there and back. How good is Hot Doug's, the Sausage Superstore and Encased Meats Emporium? Google and see the reviews (both professional critics as well as us everyday people) or perhaps take a look at Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations Chicago episode. Oh, and Hot Doug's has a website (with their own theme song) for you to review - how many hotdog stands can say the same? You go for the specials of the week, not just a regular sausage, BTW. I especially recommend going on a Friday or Saturday when they serve the duck-fat fries. Lines are long all the time (even in the dead of winter), out the door, but they go fast - cash only at this establishment and Doug himself helps you with your choices, if you are undecided. BUT, you have to check their website right before you come because sometimes they close for vacations and holidays. You wouldn't want to be the only ones there, would you?

I'm sure you will be finding out information about the Taste of Chicago, since it occurs when you are here - although, please keep in mind that two busiest days (where 1,000,000+ souls come out) are the 3rd of July, when the city's fireworks occur, and the 4th of July. Probably will be especially busy since we are talking about a weekend this year. The Taste doesn't showcase the better or premier dining destinations in Chicago (it was not started for that reason) - but I usually find interesting options there each year and I go every year. Please keep in mind that there is the Gourmet Dining Pavilion which offers more upscale and some of the better restaurants' chefs do hold cooking demonstrations during the course of the days. If you check the city's website about a month before the event (at least by early June), you'll see the lists of all the food vendors and their offerings, as well as the huge list of the free entertainment which occurs each day.

Also, keep in mind these places: Corner Bakeries (all around town) for inexpensive meals. Fox & Obel's (gourmet market, which has a cafe). Intelligentsia for arguably the best coffee in Chicago (closest location to you is on Randolph between the Chicago Cultural Center and Macy's).

You might also be interested in one of the city's farmers markets, which offer more than produce, BTW. The best one is the Green City Market, which is located just to the south of the Lincoln Park Zoo, in case you are planning a picnic in the park. You might want to check out what is happening when you are here on their calendar.
exiledprincess is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2009, 02:32 PM
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Near Lincoln Park: Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder

Deep dish or stuffed pizza: The Art of Pizza

Italian (near theater district): Catarina's

Greek: Pegasus

Tapas: Cafe Iberico

German: Chicago Brauhaus
laurieb_nyny is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2009, 05:56 PM
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Thank you so much for all that wonderful information. I will look forward to digesting both the information and the wonderful food that I am sure will result from the study.

I hope that if you ever come to Melbourne, Australia someone goes to the trouble of laying out all that type of information for you.

Thanks again.
jofrommelbourne is offline  
Old Mar 23rd, 2009, 06:23 AM
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Thanks a lot from me too! I am planning on coming to Chicago in August and this helped me out a lot!
TiinaN is offline  
Old Mar 23rd, 2009, 06:50 AM
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Hot Doug's is absolutely phenomenal, 100 percent worth the extra effort to get there.

Nearby is Kuma's Corner, a terrific burger-focused bar/restaurant. Excellent beer selection and a rock-and-roll vibe. The burgers are really top notch.
TwoFatFeet is offline  
Old Mar 23rd, 2009, 06:51 AM
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If you want good local coffee, go to the Intelligentsia cafe on on Randolph/Wabash/Garland (around there) just a couple of blocks from your hotel.
TwoFatFeet is offline  
Old Mar 25th, 2009, 01:58 PM
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Just a few suggestions off the top of my head.

Deep dish/Pizza: The usual suspects -- Giordano's (my preference, doesn't matter which branch), Gino's East (go to the original by the Hancock Tower), Pizzeria Uno and Due (again, go to the originals on Rush), Lou Malnati's.

Delis: The Bagel on Broadway about three blocks south of Belmont (there's also a good diner across the street -- Stella's) in Lakeview/Lincoln Park or Manny's in West Loop. I haven't been there yet, but it's a Chicago institution.

Italian: Mia Francesa on Clark, just north of Belmont (near Wrigleyville and Lincoln Park); Maggiano's Little Italy.

Hamburgers: RJ Grunts. It's the flagship of the Lettuce Entertain You restaurants and supposedly was the first restaurant with a salad bar.

Greektown: Artopolis and Greek Islands.

Steaks/chicken: Wildfire grill is pretty reasonable and very good.

Bakery/cafe: Bittersweet on Belmont, two blocks west of red line (near Mia Francesa, a Giordano's, Wrigleyville, the Bagel). Great Parisian-style bakery with decent salads and sandwiches.
andrews98682 is offline  
Old Mar 29th, 2009, 10:10 PM
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Thank you Twofatfeet and Andrews - like your suggestions a lot - very practical according to location.
jofrommelbourne is offline  
Old Mar 30th, 2009, 02:39 AM
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Al's #1 Italian Beef on West Taylor Street is a must for lunch. It's a Chicago tradition.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Old Mar 30th, 2009, 10:56 AM
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Two other great resources for Chicago restaurants: and They are the websites of a newspaper and magazine, respectively, both more offbeat than Tribune or Sun Times with good restaurant sections as well as lots of information about events, films, theatre, music, etc. As a local, in the general area of your hotel I recommend the following reasonably priced restaurants for best combination of price, atmosphere, food and good time:

Volare (Italian)
201 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, (312) 410-9900

Sayat Nova (Middle Eastern)
157 E. Ohio St., Chicago, (312) 644-9159

Heaven on Seven (Cajun)
600 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, (312) 280-7774

Have a great trip to Chicago.
laurie_ann is offline  
Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 06:38 AM
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Just thought of Sultan's Market in Wicker Park/Bucktown, if you're going to that area. Very good and CHEAP Middle Eastern food.
TwoFatFeet is offline  
Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 07:51 AM
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I recommend going to the John Hancock Tower, The Signature Room, for their buffet on Saturday. (Sunday's buffet is expensive but Friday and Saturday's is $18.00 for adults and $11.00 for children or you can just order off the menu) Ask for a window seat and all of Chicago will be at your feet. Beautiful view! The entrance is at the side of the building and that entrance takes you directly to a set of elevators.
Also in that same area is the Cheesecake Factory, which I've never been to but hear it's reasonable in price and good food.
cd is offline  
Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 12:22 PM
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Cheesecake Factory that was at the bottom of the Hancock is gone. I think it's now a BestBuy.
andrews98682 is offline  
Old Apr 5th, 2009, 09:57 AM
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The Cheesecake Factory is still there: it's on the bottom level of the Hancock. It's the store that was at street level that is turning into Best Buy. I still wouldn't recommend CF, as it's not my personal taste, but it's still there.
supercat12 is offline  
Old Apr 5th, 2009, 10:51 AM
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The food court on the bottom level of Water Tower Place. Inexpensive with many options.
japw82 is offline  
Old Apr 5th, 2009, 08:51 PM
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My mistake. Nothing against the Cheesecake Factory, but if I was visiting a great food city like Chicago, I'd probably avoid a chain unless the original was there (like, say, Morton's, which is far from cheap).

"The Cheesecake Factory is still there: it's on the bottom level of the Hancock. It's the store that was at street level that is turning into Best Buy. I still wouldn't recommend CF, as it's not my personal taste, but it's still there."
andrews98682 is offline  
Old May 30th, 2009, 03:53 PM
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These recommendations are very good to know.
Any great bistros that you can recommend for dinner in the downtown area near the blues festival in June?
ladyelaine is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2009, 07:22 AM
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Some interesting bistro type restaurants near Grant Park for the Blues Festival are The Gage (24 South Michigan and Russian Tea Time (77 East Adams,
laurie_ann is offline  
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