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Reed
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I'm coming to Chicago for a meeting on Saturday and leaving on Tuesday. I'll be staying at the Hilton Palmer House on E. Monroe Street. The meeting is at the Convention Center.

I won't have much free time, but is there anywhere around there I should try to eat or drink? Unfortunately, Fire are not at home on Saturday, or I'd try to go to that.

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goldstone97
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Without knowing what you like to eat and drink and how much you want to spend, it's kind of hard to answer. If you like pizza, there's good deep dish not too far away. The bars around there are not great.

I usually drink in other neighbourhoods and don't eat that often downtown, either. Not the best part of Chicago, apart from the proximity to various attractions and shopping.

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Antonio Gramsci
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I don't know a whole lot about Chicago, but I've been to the Mambo Grill (cuban/latin american) on North Clark a couple of times - the food is not bad and they make a mean Mojito. I think it's about a 15 minute walk from where you are.
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Wyatt Earp
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The only good deep dish is a dead deep dish.

Reed, I think you and I see eye to eye on beer but less so on food, so I'll start with my booze-led recommendations.

1. The best microbrewery in Chicago by far is Goose Island, on the North Side. The beers are all very good, and you can eat burger-type things and watch sports at the bar. In particular, the one downtown called Rock Bottom is far inferior, and shouldn't be sought out. If you pass by it with a dry throat, fine, it's worth popping in, but Goose Island, by contrast, is worth a lengthy detour.

2. The best choice of beers, domestic and imported, is at the Clark Street Ale House in River North. Nice bar too, albeit (like everywhere in River North) kind of touristy.

3. There's a German diner downtown, called (I'm afraid) the Berghoff, that does old-fashioned Wisconsin beers made to pre-Prohibition recipes and hard to distinguish from the original German article. Great bratwurst to go with it, too--not to mention the very un-German, but completely delicious, Berghoff halibut sandwich. To go all tour-guide on yo ass, "it's a real slice of Old Chicago". Get there if you can. The German restaurant downstairs does fine Sauerbraten etc, but there are lines round the block.

If you fancy your food slightly poncier than at Goose Island or the Berghoff (and knowing you as I do, I know you may not), Avec, in the West Loop, is bloody brilliant. It's the cheaper sister restaurant of the snootier Blackbird next door, and specialises in no-reservations casual dining at a price that's "affordable" in the sense that a UK university wouldn't query the expense claim. That's a fairly exacting definition of "affordable", actually--much more so than if it were a US university, I daresay--but whether it's exacting enough I dunno. You can view the menu online, I think.

Other than that, I like the Frontera Grill in River North for posh-ish Mexican (duck moles and the like) and Cafe Iberico on the North Side for tapas.

But the most fun way to eat in Chicago, especially on a budget, is to wander round a neighbourhood and find somewhere cheap, local and "ethnic", preferably a cuisine you haven't tried before. Last trip, I found a great BYO Colombian steakhouse that way: in West Lincoln Park, I think it was. Two doors down was a liquor store that did Pilsner Urquell, making the whole BYO thing a positive pleasure.

[ 26.03.2008, 10:42: Message edited by: Wyatt Earp ]

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Soccer Scrimmage
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I know sadly little about Chicago's eating or drinking, and unfortunately it seems that as you fly in today, I will be flying to DC, but:

1.) The Berghoff is, for all intents and purposes, closed. I think the main restaurant is now being used for receptions, and there's a cafe or something, but nothing like its former glory.

2.) With all respect to Wyatt, The Map Room has Chicago's--and one of America's--biggest beer selection (or at least the biggest I am aware of). Beer Advocate rates it one of America's best bars. It's on the North Side, which is a negative because it'll require a cab ride, but is a positive because it'll be a far more enjoyable atmosphere than the areas around your hotel. Downtown and the neighborhoods surrounding it are grade-A lame, and best avoided at night if possible.

Regardless of where you end up drinking, there are three brands of beers you should seek out, that I don't think you can get outside of the Midwest: Founders, Three Floyds, and Surly.

If you can give us more info on what kind of stuff you might like to eat, I might be able to give you better recs.

[ 26.03.2008, 10:57: Message edited by: Soccer Scrimmage ]

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Wyatt Earp
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quote:
The Berghoff is, for all intents and purposes, closed.
Ah, man. That's really sad.

Thanks for the steer on the Map Room, though; it'll have at least one extra customer this October.

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Wyatt Earp
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What SS said about downtown, by the way. You need to think in terms of cab rides. Downtown is where the action isn't in Chicago. I made that mistake the first time I went, and came away thinking the town was shit, which it isn't at all.
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ursus arctos
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It's rather like Boston in that way, which Reed will be able to identify with.

I wish I had a professional excuse to go to Chicago (especially while the Cubbies are at home), but they are very few and far between in my practice.

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Ginger Yellow
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There's a good steakhouse, Morton's, near my aunt's house in Glenview, but I doubt you'll be anywhere near there. They may have a more central location as well.
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Soccer Scrimmage
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Sure thing, Wyatt.

Reed, if you want to do something touristy and relatively near your hotel, you could do worse than grabbing a drink at the bar on the Hancock Center's 95th floor. It'll be horribly overpriced--think $12 glasses of cheap-ish wine--but the views more than make up for it.

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