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Chicago Recommendations

RashRash Member
edited March 30 in Main
My wife's new treatment protocol has her on a month, off a month so we are going to take advantage and escape for a weekend (without kids) to Chicago in May. Any recommendations for places to eat, things to do and places to stay (or to avoid) are appreciated.

I think right now our plan is to stay in the "Near North Side" area - whatever that is. I can get a good rate at Loews - I know it's nice in Santa Monica so would assume it is in Chicago as well.

Anyway, recommendations appreciated.
M_Warebbculp

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    EmilyCocksEmilyCocks Member, Pro Triathlete
    Urban Belly, Spacca Napoli, Avec, Stella Barra, Alinea (major $$ but food/presentation is amazing).

    The Armitage area is great to walk around, nice shops (or used to be when I was there).

    Check out Bucktown as well (more hipster).

    Do NOT miss Urban Belly. I miss it even after not living in Chicago for 8 years.
    M_WareRash
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    Loews is great. You’ll be in a good spot to check out the lake and parks. What are you into? The art institute is close, as is the museum of contemporary art, and the architecture tours on the river are cool, but so is just walking along there if you don’t want a guide. A lot of the outdoor stuff won’t yet be set up (bars on the beach, bike rentals, etc) but the weather should be good.
    Food is aplenty. Just hit up yelp and read the reviews. Chicago staples are Italian beef, polish sausage and deep dish.
    If you want to get out and hang with the hipsters who now believe the 90’s are back, hop the blue line or cab it to wicker park. And if you’re into baseball, a cubs game is always good for the history of wrigley, but the fans are terrible. Sox tends to be less douche-y.
    M_WareRashbbculp
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    RashRash Member
    I like to eat and always feel like a great way to get a feel for a city is to find great local joints. Food tours, whether formal with a guide or made up on my own, are always something I enjoy. Doesn't have to be fancy, just authentic - hell, I have walked a few miles for the alleged best hot dog cart in Manhattan and stood in line for an hour to get a sandwich in San Fran at the original Ike's (years back when it wasn't a chain).

    My wife is an amazing artist (if I do say so myself) so galleries/museums are likely on her list. The weekend we are looking at is Cubs/White Sox afternoon games at Wrigley so I might sneak over for at least a few innings while she checks out some of the museums and galleries.
    M_Ware
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    RashRash Member
    Someone recommended Girl & the Goat for dinner. I know it's super popular, but wonder if it's worth the hype.
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    Not sure, I'm vegetarian. Reviews are good.

    If you want a place that is worth the hype, Kuma's is awesome for burgers and death metal. They have a spot in the west loop not too far from your hotel, but the original is in irving park.
    Rash
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    AaronWebsteyAaronWebstey Administrator, TRS/Baucco Team Member
    Avoid @bbculp . Ew.
    M_Ware
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    I'd recommend Second City if you're into comedy or "improv". The tour of Wrigley field is also awesome (given I've been a cubs fan my whole life). So yes, @KHilgendorf I take offense, but it's okay we finally got our rings. All sorts of good food, gotta get some deep dish.
    Rash
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    RashRash Member
    On the deep dish note, I know everyone in Chicago likely has an opinion, but where is the ultimate Chicago deep dish experience? Pequod's? Lou Malnati's? I know Pequod's is a bit of a variation with cheese on the top and the charred crust - not sure if that technically takes it out of the "Chicago" style category.

    For fine dining, I put our name on the wait list for Alinea both nights. I doubt it will come through (or that I will be able to stomach the price), but figured it couldn't hurt.
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    bbculpbbculp Member
    I live across the street from the Loews. Best area in town. My recs for a weekend would be...
    1. Architecture tour on the river. The Chicago Architecture Foundation does the best job of any of the river boats. It starts one block from where you're staying.
    2. Wrigley (if the Cubs are at home that weekend). @KHilgendorf obviously doesn't know any real Cubs fans.
    3. Go to the West Loop (Randolph St.) and eat. A lot. In a 4-block stretch, there are 10 of the best restaurants in the country. Lena Brava, Blackbird, Publican, Oriole (very expensive), Au Cheval (crazy long wait on weekends), Grace (also very expensive). It's hard to go wrong in that neighborhood. I prefer Duck Duck Goat over Urban Belly, but both are great for Asian fusion. Girl and the Goat is good but maybe a little overhyped.
    4. Art Institute. One of the best museums in the world. It closes at 5, so don't get there too late. Give yourself at least 2-3 hours.
    5. London House rooftop. You've never been to a bar with a view as good. Just across the river from Loews.
    6. Swim. You're close to Ohio Street beach and the water usually reaches swimable temps by mid-May.
    7. Rent a Divvy bike (Loews might also have bikes for guests) and ride south to the aquarium. The view where the trail bends around the aquarium is the best in the city. Then ride north to Olive Park (close to your hotel) for the second best view.
    8. See Hamilton.

    Things not to do...
    1. Navy Pier. Just don't.
    2. Deep dish. Regardless of what some people think, it's not a Chicago thing.
    3. Wicker Park. Not my cup of tea. Few good restaurants but the really good ones are all in the West Loop.

    If the water is too cold for open water and you want to swim at one of the oldest and most beautiful pools in the world, hit me up for a guest pass to the InterContinental.
    RashAaronWebsteyM_WareJennifer Post
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    EmilyCocksEmilyCocks Member, Pro Triathlete
    I agree with @bbculp, deep dish sucks.

    And Navy Pier, ick.
    bbculpM_Ware
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    RashRash Member
    Thanks @bbculp . I will check out your recommendations, although I thought for some reason I remember hearing that Grace shut down.

    Believe the Cubs are playing the White Sox at Wrigley that weekend. Where should I look for a seat - I will likely not get to stay for the entire game so getting the best seat in the house is not necessarily a priority. I just don't want to sit behind a pole or get stabbed - perhaps that is just a concern for me being a Dodger fan and experiencing multiple times the $6 outfield seats at Chavez Ravine (Dodger Stadium for those unaware).
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    bbculpbbculp Member
    Italian beef is worth having while you're here though. There's a new Buona Beef just two blocks from the Loews. Get it dipped or baptized and don't put any cheese or red sauce on it cuz that's wrong.

    Streeterville (where you're staying) is not a great food neighborhood, but Rick Bayless' first three restaurants are just down Illinois St. You won't be able to get into Topolobompo, but Frontera is excellent and XOCO is great for lunch.
    Rash
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    bbculpbbculp Member
    @Rash Tix are going to be expensive everywhere for a weekend series against the Sox. Bleachers will be a cheaper option but I don't really like sitting out there. I always sit in section 420, 421 or 422, which is right below the press box. Try to get a seat in row 1 of any of those sections. It gives you a great bird's eye view of the entire park.
    Rash
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    bbculpbbculp Member
    And if you absolutely have to try deep dish, definitely do Pequod's.
    jrielley1406Rash
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    KHilgendorfKHilgendorf Member
    edited March 30
    @bbculp every mid 30’s-40’s former frat guy bro-ing it out in the stands beg to differ. Seriously, that’s been the entire crowd for every cubs game I’ve attended, though it may just be baseball fans in general.



    You know, people who start tweets with “stoked”
    wchevronM_WareCraig Dsimonsen77Johns622Rash
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    bbculpbbculp Member
    @KHilgendorf come sit up in my section some time (420). Lots of season ticket holders and other people who know baseball sit up there because it's the best view of the game and the frat bros don't know about it. You'll be stoked, I promise.
    M_Warekjrunnin
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    jrielley1406jrielley1406 Member, Pro Triathlete
    Pequods for sure if you’re getting “deep dish” pizza. But be aware it doesn’t reheat well and you’ll be full after two slices. I can eat a lot and I’m miserable if I eat 3. Ok maybe 4...
    Rash
    First year “pro” triathlete and first time dad! So basically freaking out on a day to day basis...
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    bbculpbbculp Member
    @Rash You're right, Grace did shut down. Missed that, but it sounds like it was a pretty messy ordeal. If you don't get lucky and get a table at Alinea, Grant Achatz also opened up Next (https://www.nextrestaurant.com/). I haven't been yet but a lot of people say it's even better than Alinea from a purely food perspective. You just don't get the whole Alinea "experience."
    Rash
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    Johns622Johns622 Member
    I guess I’ll even second @bbculp renting a divvy and riding down to the aquarium is a great idea! Cmon though you don’t like playing stack the cup in the bleachers with the drunkards?
    bbculp
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    bbculpbbculp Member
    @Johns622 It's impossible to watch the game from out there.

    @Rash one more thing - if you want to hear some blues while you're here, hit up Kingston Mines on Halsted. It's an experience, especially if you go late night.
    RashJohns622
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    RashRash Member
    Thanks everyone for all the great input. The hotel actually got us a reservation for Sat at the Girl and the Goat (and said they "moved us up" the wait list at Alinea for Friday night) so I'll go see if it's all hype or not. Otherwise there is obviously more to do than we will ever get done in a quick 3 day trip, but we'll do our best. I will for sure weigh more coming back!
    M_WarebbculpAaronWebstey

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