Restaurant recommendations and more
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If you’re a Chicago local, share your expertise by suggesting nearby restaurants, bars, or things to see or do. Provide as much information as you can: Distance from the convention venues, price range, URL, and what you like about a place are particularly useful.
Here’s the Chowhound Chicago board: http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/7
Some threads that caught my eye during a brief scan:
Looking forward to hearing about other finds!
I really want to add helpful things, but I’m struggling to come up with great options in the center of our tourist neighborhood. (If you’re cruising Yelp, the convention’s in Streeterville. There’s fun history about that name if you’re interested.) It’s one of the few neighborhoods where it can be hard to find a good craft beer, though there is now some good coffee (Dollop: http://www.yelp.com/biz/dollop-coffee-and-tea-chicago-2). This old Serious Eats article isn’t a bad start, but I’ll try to offer some of the better options for partaking in local staples while you’re in Chicago. If nothing else, feel free to ask questions or drop me a tweet at @erik_a_hanson.
Let’s start with pizza? There are two main Chicago styles of pizza: deep dish and thin crust.
You’ve all probably heard of deep dish, for which I recommend Lou Malnati’s (local chain, the one whose president was on The Daily Show recently). Closest ones to the convention are at State & Rush and at Hubbard & Wells. Note: We deep dish is expensive for your wallet, your heart, and your schedule, so we tend to lay off it except for special occasions. There’s a *lot* of cheese. (If you prefer even more cheese, find a Giordano’s location instead.) If Malnati’s isn’t an option, go for Gino’s East. Uno and Due are closer to the convention, but tend to be pretty jammed full of tourists. These are all local chains, if that matters to you. http://www.loumalnatis.com/Locations/#City%20of%20Chicago
We also do thin-crust pizza in Chicago. It’s cheaper, faster, and closer to most people’s expectations for pizza. Traditionally, the crust is crispy and we cut it in squares rather than wedges. We do this
to annoy youbecause “party cut” is for partying. It’s a social thing that you can treat like finger food rather than like a steak made of cheese. My favorite place for thin-crust is a hole in the wall on the south edge of the Loop. They deliver to the convention area, though. http://www.patssouthloop.com/
Also to try, if you eat meat: Chicago-style hot dog, South Side / Maxwell Polish sausage, and Italian beef sandwiches. You can honestly get pretty good variations on these from the Portillo’s (local chain). 100 W. Ontario is the closest location. (http://www.yelp.com/biz/portillos-hot-dogs-chicago) Chicago is also historically a huge tamale town. If you get out into the neighborhoods, there are lots of amazing independent Mexican places, and a couple people who go from bar to bar selling tamales from a cooler.
If you aren’t paying for your meal, I recommend encouraging the payor to bring you to The Gage (http://www.thegagechicago.com/) down Michigan at Madison, across the street from the ice rink. Gage is currently closed for renovation, but should be reopening on the 9th. Food is upscale burgers and French.
If you’re committed to a cab anyway, I encourage you to hit the West Loop, which is where Au Cheval and Girl & Goat are. If you show up and there’s too long a wait, hit Haymarket (http://haymarketbrewing.com/)on the SE corner of Randolph and Halsted. Have a good craft beer and raise a fist in solidarity for workers’ rights.
Emporium – http://emporiumchicago.com/
Headquarters (fewer draft options, more pinball) – http://hqbeercade.com/
Guthrie’s up by Wrigley Field stocks board games and good beer, but no vidyagames – http://www.yelp.com/biz/guthries-tavern-chicago
I’d definitely second (or third or whatever) The Girl & the Goat – if you can’t get in there, they do have a related and more casual restaurant across the street called Little Goat that’s also worth going to. In the same neighborhood, I’ve gotten strong recommendations from friends for Avec, Blackbird, and Maude’s Liquor Bar.
In other neighborhoods, the Bongo Room is great for breakfast/brunch/lunch – they close at 2 pm, I think, but worth trying for during the day. There’s a location in the Loop.
Non-food recommendation: Quimby’s Bookstore in Wicker Park is really great, especially if you’re interested in zines and graphic novels. Lots of unusual and local stuff there. You can get to the neighborhood via the el (blue line, I think).
Erik’s right. I’ve had great thin crust pizza in CHI, but only out here in the burbs (Naperville), so follow his lead.
The Art Institute’s chic Terza Piano is lovely, but spare. You will have pretty and pretty good food, but it’s SO chic that you can’t expect to fill up. Still, pacing and wine will help. also: ART.
I want to add a recommendation for a BAR that is more like a science lab/restaurant: The Aviary. I have never been, but I keep reading and seeing shows about it and just WANT. It’s in West Town — a cab ride, but not bad.
Enjoy, and don’t worry. You can’t really go all that wrong in Chicago.
Yeah, Christy’s right. I’ve heard RAVES about Girl & the Goat, and I am dining there for the first time with a colleague this week. So while I don’t yet have first hand knowledge, I have only heard about the love. Same for Little Goat; when we passed by on our way to Au Cheval, it seemed like a super hip and chilled out scene. Must go! Finally, if you’re in West Town, you could also check out Mexique, another hip and highly rated spot I have yet to experience but will do so some day, to be sure.
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