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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_WareRashKelly O'Mara
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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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    RashRash Member
    edited May 12
    @bbculp went to Next last night. It was great. I would imagine the food is on par with Alinea, but the atmosphere is a lot less pomp and circumstance. One of our servers actually referenced Canada as tea bagging us. For us it was perfect - we aren’t all that fancy so the more relaxed mood made the experience more enjoyable. I am sure not everyone will love the graffitti art and pop music. Only complaint would be that they were a little eager with the first half of the courses. We would just be finishing the last bite and the next one was hitting the table. They slowed down a bit towards the end but my wife was already very full and even I started to feel it a bit on the last few courses. Not a big deal, but a slower pace early on would have been a bit better.
    AaronWebsteyMartinM_Warebbculp
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    bbculpbbculp Member
    @Rash glad you got into Next. Wife and I are going for the first time in June. We were just down the street at Roister last night (Aschatz is the co-owner but not chef). Very laid back, comfort-food meets fine dining. Where are you guys eating tonight?
    M_WareAaronWebstey
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    RashRash Member
    @bbculp we went to Girl and the Goat. I don’t know who they thought we were, but the service was out of this world. We sat up at the counter overlooking the kitchen. Everything we ordered came with a complimentary additional dish or half dish to try. We ordered one desert and they brought us 3. They gave us champagne, wine, etc. The food was excellent but the service was over the top. Even taking away all the complimentary items, the level of service and attention was what set it apart.

    Like I said, no clue who they thought we were or what the concierge told them to get our table (perhaps it was just my wife’s bald head) but it’s an evening my wife and I will always remember.

    We ended up eating at Duck, Duck Goat earlier in the day as well because we happened to be at galleries over there at lunch. We didn’t eat much with a big dinner on the schedule but it was delicious.
    M_WareJennifer PostbbculpAaronWebstey
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    M_WareM_Ware Member, Level 2 Supporter
    @rash your wife exudes everything good a human being can be.
    bbculpAaronWebstey
    Queen of All Pins and A+ Enabler
    Send your Pinterest suggestions to me at:
    QOAP@triroost.com
    http://www.pinterest.com/triroost/
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    RashRash Member
    I agree @M_Ware - she deserves everything - I just feel like me being there would damage her image a bit!
    M_WareJennifer PostbbculpAaronWebstey
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    bbculpbbculp Member
    @Rash sounds like you guys made the most out of the West Loop food scene. Glad you had a good trip to world's greatest city (food city, at least). Sorry about the weather this weekend, and all the best to you and your better half!
    M_WareAaronWebstey
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    RashRash Member
    Just a quick rundown off all we got accomplished in our short trip to Chicago (in order)- thanks to all for the suggestions:

    Friday:
    1. Buckingham Fountain
    2. Breakfast at Yolk - were cramped for time to make our boat tour and the concierge was able to get us past the line at Yolk.
    3. Architectural Boat Tour
    4. Deep dish at Giordanos
    5. Walk part of Michigan Ave.
    6. Wife gets in a nap
    7. Dinner at Next
    8. Drinks at London House rooftop

    Saturday:
    1. Breakfast at the hotel
    2. Walk over to the River North galleries for some touring
    2. West Loop Gallery touring
    3. Duck, Duck Goat for Lunch
    4. Art Institute of Chicago
    5. Walk through Millenium Park and see the Bean
    6. Walk more of Michigan Ave
    7. Donuts at Stans (forgot to take a picture for the Roost approved donuts thread - but it was a blueberry old fashioned and blueberry fritter - both were good)
    8. Wife gets a nap
    9. Girl & the Goat for dinner

    Sunday
    1. Breakfast at the Hotel
    2. Redline to Wrigley and walk around taking in the scene (opted not to do the game even though the weather was perfect)
    3. Italian Beef at Al's
    4. Head to Pilsen to wander Renegade fair, area galleries, food trucks, etc. along Halsted
    (best Uber driver of all time. Moved to Chicago from Syria 27 years ago and turned our Uber ride across town to Pilsen into a tour of Chicago going out of his way to make sure he showed us the sights while telling us the history of the neighborhoods and Chicago. He was a proud Chicago resident and wanted to make sure we didn't miss anything).
    5. Deep dish at Pequod's
    6. Grab some caffeine at Dollop Coffee before grabbing our bags and heading to the airport

    We obviously didn't see everything, but we made a pretty nice dent in the list of things to see/do when in Chicago. Just reading that back made me feel uncomfortably full and hungry all at once.
    bbculpkjrunninM_WareJennifer PostMattAaronWebsteyCraig D
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    bbculpbbculp Member
    Well done @Rash.
    AaronWebsteyRash
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    M_WareM_Ware Member, Level 2 Supporter
    While we're on the subject of Chicago, I'm driving to Michigan in August from South Dakota. How scary is it getting through Chicago? Should I plan to pass through at 3:00 am or should I say screw it and take the northern route?
    Queen of All Pins and A+ Enabler
    Send your Pinterest suggestions to me at:
    QOAP@triroost.com
    http://www.pinterest.com/triroost/

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