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Suggestions for a Chicago visit

We are doing a mini-moon in Chicago the week of 4/18 - decided to do a trip closer to home (will do a big trip for our 1st anniversary).  We just live up in Milwaukee and do make regular trips to Chicago but all are so planned and free time has been limited on them.  We are looking for suggestions for a couple of fabulous meals and ideas of places to check out.  FI really wanted to do dinner at the Pump Room, but since they have closed, we are looking for other options.  We will be taking the train down and staying somewhere downtown. 

TIA.
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Re: Suggestions for a Chicago visit

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    hz80408hz80408 member
    5 Love Its First Comment Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    Have you been up in Hancock?

    We've ate at Signature Room (on 96th flr) and it was good, but pricey (I think $230 before tip with app, entrees, dessert and bottle of wine).  Alot of reviews say the food isn't great, but we liked it.

    Other restaurants we like downtown:
    Gold Coast: Carmines (on Rush St), Tavern on Rush has a great brunch menu, Gibsons is a pricier steak-house which is really popular, Dublins has yummy bar food.

    I also really like Bice (Italian-on Onatario, off Michigan Ave) and Bella Luna Cafe (italian, cute little candle-light place, Dearborn and Superior).

    I'd rec using priceline.com for your hotel.  I've heard of great success with it.

    If you're willing to take public transition around and will be here a week, it could be worth while to get a 7-day pass.  I think they're about $30 and you can prebuy or get at CVS.

    Also, not sure if you're into museums but Museum of Contemporary Art has a free day on 4/19, Nature Museum fee on 4/21, History Museum free on 4/18

    If you have any specific questions, ask :O)
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    aimers1525aimers1525 member
    Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited December 2011
    @hz made some great suggestions! What kind of food do you guys like?
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    edited December 2011
    I'd sign up for the Chicago groupon and see if you can score any deals that way. A lot of great restaurants offer deals there.

    I went to the Signature Room with FI for my 21st birthday (it was on a Thursday so we went out bar hopping on Friday with my friends). It is very expensive but the room is beautiful. I wouldn't eat there because thats a lot of money to send.

    Deep dish pizza is always a must for me. There is a great, cheap Thai place just east of Michigan Avenue on Ohio. It is fantastic and two people can eat there for under $20 with an appetizer and entrees.

    Club Quarters has cheap rooms that are TINY. But the price is right. You can find a group that you are a member of by calling them and they will search (most Big 10 schools are members so you can use that if you are an alum).
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    gundy21gundy21 member
    First Anniversary First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Thanks for the suggestions!

    We are planning to splurge on 1-2 meals.  Looks like the W Lakeshore has some good rates when we are going to be there.  Not penny-pinching, but definitely value driven.

    FI went to Colombia College in the early 90's and fell in love with Carson's so we will be doing one meal there.  And I know we'll likely stop at a Giodarno's (sp?) for some deep dish, too.
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    edited December 2011
    If you'll still be in town on Saturday, the signature room does a great lunch buffet that is $20 per person. Might be a good way to get the view without paying an arm and a leg!

    My favorite resturant in the city is Geja's Cafe but I am a fondue fanatic and it was walking distance from our old condo.

    If you're into burgers and a cool bar atmosphere, PJ Clarkes is a good time. There's a couple around the city. It's really pretty affordable. They do have more homestyle dishes like pot roast and have steaks so there's really something for everyone. I've never had a bad meal at either location.
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    aimers1525aimers1525 member
    Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I love Geja's too!
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    edited December 2011
    I live in the suburbs and have only been in Illinois for a year so I don't know anything about restaurants, but I am signed up for Groupon and LIving Social and you should just to check stuff out. This is today's Living Social - You should do it!!!! It's a night stay at the Hard Rock and VIP admission to a bar called Angels & Kings. 


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    aimers1525aimers1525 member
    Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/local-wedding-boards_illinois-chicago_suggestions-chicago-visit?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Local%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:72Discussion:f398b8ed-12af-408e-8b63-71c27d8aac81Post:721aba60-d9c8-46ae-8701-650c62889036">Re: Suggestions for a Chicago visit</a>:
    [QUOTE]I live in the suburbs and have only been in Illinois for a year so I don't know anything about restaurants, but I am signed up for Groupon and LIving Social and you should just to check stuff out. This is today's Living Social - <strong>You should do it!!!! It's a night stay at the Hard Rock and VIP admission to a bar called Angels & Kings</strong>.  <a href="http://escapes.livingsocial.com/deals/28102-hard-rock-hotel-chicago?msdc_id=327&ref=CHIDeal030911_6_8399email" rel='nofollow'>http://escapes.livingsocial.com/deals/28102-hard-rock-hotel-chicago?msdc_id=327&ref=CHIDeal030911_6_8399email</a>
    Posted by klynn13[/QUOTE]
    The Hard Rock is an  awesome hotel! ANgels and Kings just opened up in the hotel too--my FI knows the owners :)
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    MrsPapsMrsPaps member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Carmine's is fabulous for italian--one of our favs for sure!
    A great tapas place is Quartino's (italian) or Cafe Ba Ba Reeba (spainish).
    Great steak places are Wildfire, McCormicks & Schmicks (where a scene from The Breakup was filmed--Appletini?)

    For low key food, I LOVE Mickey's in Lincoln Park and Frances in Lincoln Park. Also Goose Island Brewery (North and Clybourn) and Rockit Bar & Grill (one in Wrigleyville and one in Gold Coast/Mag Mile area).
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    edited December 2011
    Just a suggestion for the John Hancock, if you want the view and not to pay the price, just go the Signature Room's lounge area.  You can have a few drinks and appetizers and it shouldn't be too expensive.
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    edited December 2011
    Ok I'm stepping in with my foodie advice.  I'm addicted to eating...

    Signature Room is not worth it for dinner....there are a million better places to eat in Chicago. It's a total tourist trap.  Just go and have a drink, enjoy the view, and grab reservations somewhere else!

    If you are going to splurge go to Topolobampo (Mexican), Cite (French), Spiagga (Italian).

    If you want to kick it up a notch (or ten), try Tru or Alinea.....but note that these will run you more than a car payment!  Alinea is regularly awarded national recognition for best restaurant in the USA!

    I would recommend Geja's as well.  The service is phenomenal, and they atmosphere is incredibly romantic.  If you tell them you are on your honeymoon, they might give you a booth.  The space/privacy is worth asking! They only do reservations for 5pm on the weekends, and the rest is walk-in wait listed.  Dress up, but don't wear something you need to dry clean....you will leave smelling like the retaurant!

    Wildcard: Try Graham Elliott.  His food is delicious (not healthy), and interesting, and whimsical.  Wouldn't recommend the tasting menu, but only because I regret not trying the cesar salad!

    Ok I'm done!
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    MobKazMobKaz member
    First Anniversary First Comment First Answer 5 Love Its
    edited December 2011
    Although I agree with a lot of what Penelope has said, sadly, in restaurant world, some of her suggestions may not have open times at this "late date", unless you want to eat before 5 PM or after 10:30 PM. 

    Frontera Grill or Zapatista is another good choice for Mexican, and again, hard to get into, but Girl and the Goat is very good as well.  Prepare for about 400-500 for Alinea!

    If you love chocolate, consider a late night splurge in The Lobby at the Peninsula.  It's only available on Friday and Saturday evenings, but we greatly enjoyed that! 


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    gundy21gundy21 member
    First Anniversary First Comment
    edited December 2011

    Thanks, ladies!

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    aimers1525aimers1525 member
    Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited December 2011
    OH and if you are into wine--try Randolph Wine Cellar/Tasting Room or Bin 36.
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    hz80408hz80408 member
    5 Love Its First Comment Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    Mmm, I forgot about Quartino's and Cafe Ba Ba Reeba, the first is very good and reasonable.

    I have yet to try Geja's, but always have heard great things!

    OP- can you bring me some Water Buffalo? Lol, I went to school at Marquette and became obsessed with the ahi tuna at Water Buffalo...it's still some of the best I've ever had!
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    aimers1525aimers1525 member
    Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/local-wedding-boards_illinois-chicago_suggestions-chicago-visit?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Local%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:72Discussion:f398b8ed-12af-408e-8b63-71c27d8aac81Post:a80b07aa-e7b4-4604-b651-5b10b189b7de">Re: Suggestions for a Chicago visit</a>:
    [QUOTE]Mmm, I forgot about Quartino's and Cafe Ba Ba Reeba, the first is very good and reasonable. I have yet to try Geja's, but always have heard great things! OP- can you bring me some Water Buffalo? Lol, I went to school at Marquette and became obsessed with the ahi tuna at Water Buffalo...it's still some of the best I've ever had!
    Posted by hz80408[/QUOTE]
    What is this place? I never heard of it! Maybe after I graduated---2005?
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    hz80408hz80408 member
    5 Love Its First Comment Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/local-wedding-boards_illinois-chicago_suggestions-chicago-visit?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Local Wedding BoardsForum:72Discussion:f398b8ed-12af-408e-8b63-71c27d8aac81Post:5074ea3f-69f1-4209-9b21-3ed3fe4c9a3a">Re: Suggestions for a Chicago visit</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Suggestions for a Chicago visit : What is this place? I never heard of it! Maybe after I graduated---2005?
    Posted by aimers1525[/QUOTE]

    Oo, Water Buffalo in MKE?  So good, in 3rd Ward on the River...I think I started eating there in 2006? Are an MU grade?

    It used to be owned by the same guy as Swig, but I'm not sure anymore.

    <a href="http://waterbuffalomilwaukee.com/">http://waterbuffalomilwaukee.com/</a>
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    aimers1525aimers1525 member
    Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/local-wedding-boards_illinois-chicago_suggestions-chicago-visit?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Local%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:72Discussion:f398b8ed-12af-408e-8b63-71c27d8aac81Post:bb686c47-299f-4243-99b2-89cbf124e546">Re: Suggestions for a Chicago visit</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Suggestions for a Chicago visit : Oo, Water Buffalo in MKE?  So good, in 3rd Ward on the River...I think I started eating there in 2006? <strong>Are an MU grade?</strong> It used to be owned by the same guy as Swig, but I'm not sure anymore. <a href="http://waterbuffalomilwaukee.com/" rel='nofollow'>http://waterbuffalomilwaukee.com/</a>
    Posted by hz80408[/QUOTE]
    Yup, I graduated in 2005!
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    edited December 2011
    If you are staying at the W Lakeshore, then I recommend going to D4 one night for happy hour (the foods cheaper, not the drinks).  There is also a new Yolk that opened up in Streeterville that is great for brunch.
    Definitely go to the MCA on Tuesday (plus you'll be walking distance from the W).

    If you like museums, most do have a free day during the week.  I believe the Chicago History Museum is free on Mondays.

    I highly recommend you do one night of comedy - I really like Second City and Comedy Sportz.  Second City does a "best of" show on Monday nights that's really good - and cheaper than the other shows.  Plus, it's close to the Chicago History Museum, so you could do a afternoon/evening in Old Town.

    There really is no need to pay full price for a lot of things - watch groupon, living social, youswoop, etc.  I've also used restaurant.com (which usually is 70-80% off the cost) and that works out well.

    A lot of restaurants will do a weekday prix fixe menu during the week.  I really like Forno, right off the Damen blue line stop in Wicker Park.  They used to do $23 Tuesday nights for appetizer, main course, and dessert - BEST DEAL EVER.

    No matter what, you are going to have a great time!  Enjoy!
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    gundy21gundy21 member
    First Anniversary First Comment
    edited December 2011
    LOVE Water Buffalo - the lobster fritters are to die for.  We did some of 3-pics in front of there on the river.  And Swig and WB are still owned by the same people.
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