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zacky Apr 9th, 2007 06:35 PM

fun or funky restaurants in Chicago?
Hi! headed to chicago for a weekend away w/hubby in late april. we are in our 30s, looking for GREAT food and atmosphere for places for breakfast, lunch and dinner. love Ann Sather's and won't miss that...anything else. Love ethnic, sushi, not steakhouse people, but also love pizza, Italian, Thai, trendy, funky, fun places. Doesn't need to be over-the-top, expensive or fancy, but will do so if suggested. Want to avoid touristy places and any chains, prefer local recommendations much more. Staying at marriott mag. mile b/c of free stay w/points, but willing to travel to Lin. Pk, Bucktown, Boystown, by cab anywhere, etc. Haven't been to Chicago since we were in our 20s :) Thanks for all the help in advance!

marilynl Apr 9th, 2007 07:01 PM

Some of my favorite restaurants, from a lifelong Chicagoan: M Henry, open only for breakfast and lunch, on Clark Street in Andersonville, with an interesting contemporary menu and a cozy vibe; Andie's, fresh-tasting Mediterranean food, also in Andersonville, a cozy neighborhood favorite; Deleece, on Southport a few blocks north of Wrigley Field, casual contemporary; Mon Ami Gabi, a French bistro in the Belden Stratford opposite the Lincoln Park Zoo; Coco Pazzo Cafe, on Erie between Saint Clair and Ontario; Adobo Grill, locations in Old Town and Wicker Park, don't miss the guacamole prepared tableside; Erwin's, American food on North Halsted.

zacky Apr 9th, 2007 07:08 PM

thanks, marilyn. is mon ami gabi same as one in vegas? food is awful there.

any thoughts on:

trattoria #10
Bin 36
cafe iberico
mertiage cafe
lou malnati's pizza - or any favorite pizza in mag mile area?

boston blackie's for burger for lunch?

we try to avoid too trendy, as most of the time they are OVERRATED and overpriced

is ann sather's still good?

any special places for brunch? jazz brunch?

hate to ask hotel concierge's for rec'd b/c the local restaurants pay them to make recommendations.

the handmade guac sounds amazing!
hubby and i are getting away before baby comes so we want to go to some really cool places. :)

Vittrad Apr 9th, 2007 07:30 PM

Bin 36 - Nice place, good food and on sunday nights, inexpensive wine flights. I would recommend it.
cafe iberico - a lot of fun with friends, very popular on the weekends and they don't take reservations.
mertiage cafe - I've only had dessert ad wine there, but I would recommend this place as well.
lou malnati's pizza - Good deep dish if that is what you are looking for
Adobo Grill -- probably my favorite margarita at at an upscale restaurant, the food is pretty good too.

I would also recommend

Red Light
Green Zebra
Bob San Sushi or Mira Sushi (Mira is more expensive)

For Brunch I would recommend
Bongo Room (the wait on the weekend is obscene but the pancakes are good)

marilynl Apr 9th, 2007 07:50 PM

Probably, as Mon Ami Gabi is a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant. I like the food--typical bistro fare--and the building and neighborhood are nice.

I have heard good things about all the places you mention, have only personally been to Trattoria #10 and Bin 36--would say both are OK, but do not have a neighborhood feel, if that is what you are after.

Cannot do MK since being very sick after an ahi tuna salad there--probably could happen anywhere, but still...Ann Sather's (which location?) is OK, especially the cinnamon rolls, but not a particular favorite of mine.

Blackie's hamburgers are great. Alas, I don't really like pizza, and prefer the thin chewy crust at a neighborhhod place like Spacca Napoli to deep dish if I WERE having it.

Brunch served at almost all these places.

exiledprincess Apr 10th, 2007 07:38 AM

Zacky, I myself only go to Ann Sathers for the cinnamon rolls. There are several locations around the north side now.

The places I'd recommend for breakfast/brunch are these:

Flo (on W. Chicago)

Yolk (on S. Michigan) - especially convenient if you are going to the Museum Campus

Agree with Deleece - and did you know that they have a dinner special during the weekdays? Look at their website.

Orange on Harrison. The original location is on Belmont - 1/2 block from Ann Sathers.

Further away: Tre Kronor (on W. Foster) and Chief O'Neill's has a pretty good Sunday brunch as well, nice outside when the weather is good.

Lunch (and/or dinner):

Since there are so many places available, I guess it really depends on what you'll be doing before or after...

If you are at the Art Institute, lunch at the garden cafe is very nice (if it's open when you are here)

By Millennium Park, Aria (international fusion comfort food) - has a sushi bar as well. Either lunch or dinner, although it's fairly close to the Loop Theatre District, if you are taking in a show there.

For a lunch away from it all but definitely worth the trip: Take a cab for great food - and you'll meet a lot of people there from all walks of life -to Hot Doug's on N. California!!! On Fridays and Saturdays, the duck-fat fries are available. Long lines (and getting longer all the time) but they go fairly fast and Doug will help you with your choice. Hint: Go for the specialty or game sausages of the week specials. Take a look at his website to get an idea of the offerings - has his own theme song as well now.

Andy's Jazz Club (Hubbard near State) has the "Jazz at Noon" luncheon - on Fridays only now. Free cover for the entertainment.

Dinner at A La Turka on N. Lincoln - with bellydancers and hookahs

For leisurely European-style dining - dinner at Rick's Cafe (on N. Sheridan - Red Line station is 1/2 block away) - BYOB.

For Italian: A Tavola (in the Ukranian Village) or LaTavernetta (in Lakeview on N. Broadway, just south of Briar)

If you are going to the Green Mill, Marigold Indian Restaurant. Hot place now, make sure you have reservations.

For coffee: Intelligentsia. The original coffeehouse is on N. Broadway, just south of Belmont but there are now outposts on Randolph between the Chicago Cultural Center and Macy's and in the Monadnock Building on W. Jackson. If you go to the one on Broadway, the Coffee and Tea Exchange is only a couple of blocks north of it and has a very good selection as well.

Great atmosphere, great food: North Pond in Lincoln Park - has brunch (on Sundays) and dinner at this time of year. Just wonderful (but pricier).

If the sky's the limit for the food, you might consider Alinea (doubtful if you could get a reservation at this late date) - or if you wanted really experimental cuisine, Moto. Mention about the last: some love it, some hate it.

zacky Apr 10th, 2007 06:26 PM

wow! thank you! so much to chose from. i only wish we had more time!

cmeyer54 Apr 10th, 2007 06:36 PM

I love Trattoria 10 personally. For something different - take a cab to Chicago Oven Grinder and Pizza. Its a special place - pizza is made in a crock like bowl with all the ingredients in the bowl which is then covered by the dough. after baking, its inverted and incredible! its sold by the pound so you know its filling! Riva on Navy Pier is also great for seafood and a view. For more authentic Italian, take a cab to Little Italy on Taylor Street - Rosebud, Tuscany, Etc. Chez Joel is also great french bistro in the same neighborhood.

zacky Apr 10th, 2007 06:45 PM

trattoria 10 for dinner or lunch? trying to narrow donw our meal plans. thanks!

otto Apr 11th, 2007 06:24 AM

chicago is such a great city.
we had brunch at north pond, (make sure you have a table in the room w/the fireplace). i couldn't hardly wait to get there for the weeks before the trip, and it didn't dissapoint. had a really outrageous, awesome meal at "topolabampo", it's rick bayliss' resterant, who does "frontera salsa" you may have seen in the supermarket. frontera grill, (the more casual mexican place) is attached to it. he owns both, and was head chef (actually there the night we were) at topolabampo.
and i'm a major fan of pizza all around, and lou malinado's was great fun. not to be missed.

JJ5 Apr 11th, 2007 08:25 AM

I've done Trattoria #10 for lunch and loved it. It's quiet and I love that away from the pack feel. I don't tend to like the trendy at all. Much ado about nothing to me 3/4ths of the time.

There are so many excellent Chicago restaurants that you will get many opposing views. may help.

TTess Apr 11th, 2007 08:33 AM

We discussed this about four months ago. I brought up my favorite restaurant - in the world. Alinea is definitely over the top but also a lifetime experience. You'll taste food that is prepared, presented and served perfectly. It is an experience, literally. We were there for five hours. The time went by quickly with never a lag. If you truly want to experience a world class restaurant, don't hesitate in making a reservation at Alinea.

strass Apr 11th, 2007 10:21 AM

Don't forget to visit for restaurant reviews! For breakfast, I definitely second M. Henry, Orange, and Bongo Room. Keep in mind that the Ann Sather's in Andersonville is currently closed, in case you were planning to visit that one.

LeeMickus Apr 11th, 2007 02:15 PM

I highly recommend Moto as it is less expensibe than Alinea and easier to get into, although not cheap. Other fun trendy restaurants in the west Loop (hot dining area) are Blackbird and Avec, both on west Randolph. For a great view go either for drinks or brunch in the Hancock building. Where else can you eat and drink on the 95th floor. Make sure you pick a day with nice weather. Chinatown also has great restaurants as does Greek town, both not too far from your hotel, and easy cab ride or via public transportation. Bice on west Ontario has great Northern Italian food. For traditional deep dish Chicago style pizza you can't go wrong with either Pizzeria Uno or Due., a site run by the Chicago Tribune has great restaurant lisitngs that you can search by location, price range, cuisine type and also has reviews and suggestions for dining specials. Many restaurants have dinner specials during the week that are listed on the site. Also don't miss Frontera Grill or Topolobompo for oustanding Mexian food, and at cheaper prices look for the food court in Macy's on the 7th floor at State and Randolph Street.

NeoPatrick Apr 11th, 2007 02:21 PM

What about Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba? When I first went there no one knew what tapas was -- is the place as good and as popular as it used to be?

We had a lunch at Blackbird that was sensational.

blueslipper Apr 11th, 2007 02:44 PM

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reba....LOVE the bacon wrapped dates!

pngmartino Apr 11th, 2007 03:04 PM

Someone suggested Italian restaurants on Taylor Street. If you are going to that area, I would suggest Tufano's or another name for it is Vernon Park Tap. It is on Vernon Park a couple blocks north of Taylor Street. It is the old Italian restaurant with the menu chalk on a board. I love their salad so much that I can go there and just have salad and wonderful hot bread. The family style salad has meats, cheeses, artichokes, besides the vegetables.

Traveler28 Apr 12th, 2007 06:48 AM

So many great suggestions. I'd like to offer one more...Carnival. Fun Latin atmosphere with great food. It's located on Fulton Market, just west of the River North area.

strass Apr 12th, 2007 06:51 AM

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba is still very popular (especially because it's in Lincoln Park), but I think Cafe Iberico has the most authentic tapas... and it's just as popular (if not more so, since they don't take reservations). I actually feel like I'm in Spain when I go there; there are always lots of Spanish-speaking patrons.

Travelpat Apr 12th, 2007 12:27 PM

I couldn't agree more about Mon Ami Gabi being awful. The one in Vegas was terrible and just ate at Oak Brook one. It's easy to cross it off our short list. Original Boston Blackies on Grand is not to be missed.

Jen Apr 12th, 2007 01:30 PM

I'll agree with those who say Alinea for a truly over-the-top experience. Expensive, but worth it. I also second Avec, and I'll add Schwa on Ashland in Wicker Park-- although I don't know if you can get reservations at this late date. Mirai in Wicker Park has fantastic sushi, and for pizza, try Piece on North Ave also in WP-- it's New Haven style, and so good.

Kristi Apr 12th, 2007 05:52 PM

I've taken a lot of people to Cafe Iberico and everyone has loved it. Cafe Ba Ba Reeba I've found to be hit and miss, sometimes I really enjoy it, sometimes I don't. I'd recommend it for lunch though, weekends nights are packed but you can usually get right in for lunch.

For breakfast/brunch I love Bongo Room (Wabash or Milwaukee) but once again if it's a weekend, expect a crowd. I've heard good things about Yolk on S. Michigan and Orange on Harrison is good.

Fun places-A la Turka and Carnivale, both of which were mentioned above, make sure you go for the belly dancing show at A la Turka.

Lou Malnati's is great for pizza and far enough off Michigan Avenue where you don't get the ridiculous waits for Pizzeria Uno/Due.

A couple of Italian spots in River North that are interesting are Quartino which is small plates and Osteria Via Stato which is a prix fixe deal, the restaurant picks out everything but the entree and the portions get smaller as the meal progresses.

If you want ethnic, hop on public transport and go to Chinatown for dim sum or Greektown or Devon Avenue (Indian food).

LLindaC Apr 13th, 2007 11:27 AM

Last time we wer at Trattoria #10, we were a little disappointed, and I usually love it. However, I have made reservations for next month at Aria in the Fairmount Hotel, as I think it was the best meal I've ever had. Honestly.

KristyW Apr 14th, 2007 10:19 AM

You've gotten lots of great recommendations! For lunch I'd recommend RL (Ralph Lauren) or Bistro 110 if you are going to be on Michigan Avenue. I would also recommend Merlo on Maple for italian. It's in a really cute rowhouse and very good. For high end NOMI (ask for a window table) and Spiaggia are our faves. Also, Avenues in the Peninsula was outstanding when I ate there. Sunday brunch, believe it or not, we like Butch McGuires...a Rush Street staple. But it's fun. If you're expecting, maybe not so much fun! We did have a great brunch at North Pond.

travelgirl2 Apr 15th, 2007 02:16 AM

Loved Frontera Grill!

mikieguns Apr 21st, 2007 06:16 PM

Cafe Iberico is the BEST Tapas in the city, dare I say the country!! I love it! Atmosphere is awesome too. Frontera Grill is fantastic for some authentic mexican upscale and Margaritas to die for. Italina? No doubt go check out Scoozi.

strass Apr 23rd, 2007 07:17 AM

We just tried Carnivale this weekend... incredible atmosphere, terrific Nuevo Latino food, sort of a "beautiful people" clientele and gets pretty busy, but there's a great bar area including an outdoor deck/patio. It's in the Fulton Market area. I'd definitely go back... great energy. Reservations would be a plus.

logandog Apr 23rd, 2007 09:33 AM

What about Ed Debevic's? I thoght it was pretty crazy.

strass Apr 24th, 2007 05:59 AM

The OP did mention wanting to avoid touristy places, and I think Ed Debevic's falls into that category...

pjsparlor Apr 24th, 2007 06:57 AM

I like cafe atwood in the historis hotel burnham
Marche is funky on randolph

blackbird is excellent on randolph

frontera grill

menji for sushi on randolph

Vittrad Apr 24th, 2007 07:04 AM

Also, the 'food' at Ed Debevic's is practically inedible. I've had a better hamburger at Wendy's.

JJ5 Apr 24th, 2007 08:09 AM

Agree with Vittrad, and don't know how that place has stayed open.

Avoid eating at Navy Pier, except for possibably Riva, all the rest can be topped by nearly any dive anywhere else downtown.

exiledprincess Apr 24th, 2007 01:46 PM


POlson Apr 24th, 2007 05:05 PM

its been awhile for me but is Heaven on Seven (in the Garland building) still worth recommending?

zacky Apr 30th, 2007 11:17 AM

hi all - thanks for all your help. just back from the fabulous chicago weekend we had. a few thoughts on meals. lunch at blackies, good, casual, fun atmosphere, great service and yummy burgers. just a fun old school chicago joint.

mid afternoon snack of wine and cheese flight at BIN 36. great service, great food, great wine. neat atmosphere. good place before/after theater.

japonais - OVERRATED! i would not go back. food was VERY average. sushi was just OK. service was constant. thhey never left you alone for a minute - literally a MINUTE. constantly filling your water, asking if you were done with your plate. they need some lessons from disney corp. for sure. i would not got back here. i just wanted a nice alone dinner with my husband. we had someone hounding us at our table asking if everything was ok, etc. every minute. we just wanted good service and food. totally in your face constantly. very trendy, hip, chic, young crowd. good for a bar, not for food.

trattoria no. 10 was hands down one of the best meals, atmosphere and service we have ever had. seriously, this place was almost as good as umbria or the tuscan countryside. we ordered all small plates and no entrees. wanted to try as much as possible. FABULOUS! can't wait to go back! excellent meal. truly superb.

saw wicked. very good. didn't love it, but liked it very much. good story. well done.

gospel brunch at house of blues is a must do once in your life. fantastic food and setting. great music./ the vocals were great. a very fun, unique experience.

cocktails at the peninsula on the patio - day or night. so lovely. the skyline at night was so pretty and it was romantic, too. we will stay there next time.

hot fudge sundae mid day at ghiradelli was very good as a shopping break. :)


thanks to all for your help!

djkbooks Apr 30th, 2007 11:57 AM

Many thanks to everyone responding!

We'll be in Chicago next month and picked up some terrific ideas.

Any thoughts on the Gospel Brunch at House of Blues versus the Jazz Brunch at Bistro 110?

LLindaC Apr 30th, 2007 01:34 PM

I loved the Bistro French onion soup ever...bust just remember that you can't have alcohol (great Bloody Mary) until after 12. You can also book at

valise May 2nd, 2007 04:16 PM

Do you like great ribs? Twin Anchors is a neighborhood kind of place. Great food, not fancy.Located on Sedgwick <> The restaurants in Greektown are very good, not expensive. We like Russian Tea Time on Adams not far from the Art Institute. Have a grand time or am I too late with this post?

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