Restaurant Guide

Future Ready?  Let’s Eat !

Welcome to Chicago, the City of Big Shoulders, the Windy City, the city San Diego Magazine recently called “the country’s hottest food city…afire with new restaurants.”

Chicago is home to 23 Michelin-starred restaurants, with renowned chefs and upcoming chefs (think Achatz, Bayless, Izard, Trotter), yet the city’s food roots are in the ethnic and working classes that created deep dish pizza, Italian beef au jus, and Chicago-style hot dogs (pickle relish, tomato, mustard, peppers, dill pickle, topped with celery salt – all on a poppy seed bun).

To honor the return of the SLA Annual Conference after 37 years, we are presenting 37 of our favorites, some haute, some not, with proximity to the conference hotels and convention center (sadly, none in walking distance of McCormick Place for a quick lunch) and good value for the dollar. In these choices we tried to offer a variety of cuisine, ambiance, and local color, but the wealth of Chicago’s eateries lie in the city’s 77 neighborhoods. The attached Google Spreadsheet (SLA 2012 Restaurant Guide) will guide you to our favorites which are further afield.

We’ve rounded this out with links to food trucks as well as local restaurant review sites so you can find your own favorites.  Don’t forget to check the Dinearounds page – maybe one is going to that restaurant you wanted to try. Also, one of our chapter members has created a Google Map that displays hotels, restaurants and the conference center. Check it out!

Things to note: This information (hours, reservations, etc.) is correct as of this writing, and we’ll do our best to make changes we become aware of, but you might want to call before heading out.

PriceReflects the average cost for a main dish, plus drink or appetizer or dessert, before taxes and tip. $: $15 or under; $$: $15-30; $$$: $30-$75; and $$$$: $75 and above.

Separate Checks – If separate checks are a must, please call the restaurant to be sure they can accommodate you.

Tipping – 15% for adequate service but 20% or more is standard for good to excellent service.

Parties of 6 or more – Call ahead to reserve an appropriately sized table.

Smoking – Chicago eateries are smoke free, and that applies to outdoor seating as well.


Our Top 37

Loop

Atwood Cafe                    American
(www.atwoodcafe.com)
1 W. Washington St.                     312-368-1900
Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-10:30am,11:30am-3pm; Sat-Sun: 8am-3pm; Sun-Thu 5-8:30pm, Fri.-Sat 5-10pm

Menu changes with the seasons; very elegant, classy. In the Hotel Burnham, on State Street that great street…. high ceilings can raise the decibels at times.

Price Level $$$
10% off
Reservations? Yes
Outdoor Seating? No
Near The Picasso/Civic Plaza, Miro’s Chicago, Tiffany celing at Macy’s (the former Marshall Field’s)


Loop

Berghoff Restaurant                    German
(www.theberghoff.com)
17 W. Adams                    312-427-3170
Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-9pm; Sat 11:30 am- 9pm; closed Sundays

Historic wood paneled setting with great German and American fare. Berghoff Cafe on Lower Level open for lunch only.

Price Level $$
free dessert with two entrees
Reservations? Yes
Outdoor Seating? No
Near Chagall mural / Chase Plaza


River North

Bin 36                    Wine Bar
(www.bin36.com)
339 N. Dearborn                     312-755-9463
Hours: Mon-Wed 6:30am-11pm; Thu: 6:30am-12 am; Fri 6:30am – 1am; Sat 7am – 1am

Amazing food/wine pairings; wine and cheese flights (a selection of 50 cheeses!); farm fresh salads.

Price Level $$
Reservations? Yes
Outdoor Seating? No
Near Mies van der Rohe’s IBM Bldg, House of Blues / Marina City


Gold Coast

Bistrot Zinc                    French
(bistrotzinc.com)
1131 N. State St.                    312-337-1131
Hours: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30am-5pm; Brunch: Sat & Sun 10am-5pm; Dinner: Mon-Thurs 5-10pm; Fri & Sat 5pm-11pm; Sun 5pm-9pm

Terrific traditional bistro fare in a authentic bistro setting with windows opening out onto the street. Service is prompt and attentive; ambiance sophisticated and special. Homemade thinly-latticed potato chips are addictive –so are the martinis.

Price Level $$ lunch, $$$ dinner
Reservations? Recommended
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near Oak Street beach, Newberry Library


Magnificent Mile/Gold Coast

Cafe Spiaggia                    Italian
(www.spiaggiarestaurant.com/cafe)
980 N. Michigan Ave., Second Floor                     312-280-2750
Hours: Daily: 11:30am- 2:30pm; Mon-Thu 5:30-9:30pm; Fri-Sat 5:30-10:30pm; Sun 5:30-9pm

Casual, but elegant sibling to acclaimed Spiaggia restaurant, featuring Italian regional classics. Food here is simply sensational!

Price Level $$$
Reservations? Yes
Outdoor Seating? No
Near John Hancock Tower, boutiques on Oak Street


West Loop/Fulton Market

Carnivale                    Latin Fusion
(www.carnivalechicago.com/)
702 West Fulton Market                    312-850-5005
Hours: Lunch: Mon-Fri: 11:30am-2:30pm; Dinner: Mon-Thu: 5-10pm; Fri-Sat 5-11pm

Popular and fun, colorful, electric ambiance; inventive drinks; can be noisy. Seasonal ingredients from local farms.

Price Level $$$
free small guacamole
Reservations? Yes
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near Warehouse District


Gold Coast

Chicago Q                    BBQ
(chicagoqrestaurant.com)
1160 N. Dearborn St.                     312-642-1160
Hours: Sun-Thu 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri-Sat 11 am-12 am

Upscale setting, great BBQ and brisket; fall of the bone ribs; exceptional service.

Price Level $-$$
Reservations? Yes
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Gluten Free or Allergy Free Fare? Yes
Near Newberry Library, the Pump Room


Printers Row

Custom House Tavern                    American
(www.customhouse.cc)
500 S. Dearborn in Hotel Blake                    312-523-0200
Hours: Breakfast: Mon-Fri 6:30-10am, Sun Brunch: 7am-2pm; Lunch: Mon-Fri: 11:30am-4pm, Sat 11:30am-2pm; Dinner: 5-10pm

True gem in the South Loop; locally-sourced, inventive, great windows for viewing the neighborhood bustle; great for Sunday brunch.

Price Level $$$
Reservations? Recommended
Outdoor Seating? No
Near Jazz Showcase, Harold Washington Library


River North

Cyrano’s Farm and Kitchen                    French bistro
(www.cyranosfarmkitchen.com)
546 N. Wells                     312-467-0546
Hours: Mon-Thu 5-10pm; Fri-Sat 5-11pm

Solid fare of seasonal ingredients served up lovingly, consistently, and expertly at a very fair price. Small, casual, romantic, charming. Daily prix-fixe.

Price Level $$$
Free dessert with dinner
Reservations? Recommended
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near Merchandise Mart, River North galleries & shopping


Little Italy

Davanti Enoteca                    Italian
(www.davantichicago.com)
1359 W. Taylor                     312-226-5550
Hours: Mon-Thu 11:30am-11pm; Fri-Sat 11:30-midnight; Sun 11am-10pm

Terrific menu, small plates, fabulous focaccia, reasonable wines, fun vibe.

Price Level $$
Reservations? No
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near Jane Addams Hull House, Holy Family Church


South Loop

Eleven City Diner                    Jewish Deli
(www.elevencitydiner.com)
1112 S. Wabash                     312-212-1112
Hours: Mon-Thu 8am-9pm; Fri:2am-10pm; Sat 8:30am-10pm; Sun 8:30am-9pm

A mixture of a diner and Jewish deli, housed in an old factory; exposed piping and brick interior adds to the festive ambiance. Portions are sizeable so share!

Price Level $
Reservations? No
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near Museum Campus, Agora Sculpture


Lakefront near Navy Pier

Friendship Restaurant                    Chinese
(www.friendshiprestaurant.com)
2830 N. Milwaukee Ave and 200 Lake Front Drive, DuSable Harbor                     773-227-0970 and 312-228-5080
Hours: Sun-Thu noon-10pm; Fri-Sat noon-10:30pm

Not your usual Chinese — “many-hued cooking styles” exemplify the . rich cuisine of China; awesome crab rangoon; great special on Tuesdays (after 5pm) where ALL entrees are $8.95. Lovely intimate décor. Casual lakeside sister to the Logan Square venue has outdoor tables.

Price Level $$
Reservations? No
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near Navy Pier, Chicago Shakespeare Theater


River North

Frontera Grill                    Mexican
(www.fronterakitchens.com/restaurants)
445 N. Clark                     312-661-1434
Hours: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm; Dinner: Tue 5:20-10pm; Wed-Thu 5-10pm; Fri-Sat 5-11pm; Brunch: Sat 10:30am-2pm; Closed Sun-Mon

Casual sister to the famous chef’s high-end Topolobampo next door; rave reviews are consistent; fabulous margaritas. Awarded 2012 Michelin Bib Gourmand.

Price Level $$$
Reservations? Takes a limited amount of reservations, mostly first come first serve
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near Rick Bayless


River North

Fulton’s on the River                    American
(www.fultonsontheriver.com/)
315 N. LaSalle                     312-822-0100
Hours: Mon-Thu 11am–9pm; Fri 11am–10pm; Sat 5-10pm

One of the the loveliest riverfront terraces; good, solid food (surf ‘n’ turf) and drink; a bit pricey but you pay for the real estate, which was once the venue for the city’s traffic court.

Price Level $$$
Reservations? Yes
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near Riverwalk, Merchandise Mart, site of Eastman ship disaster of 1915


River North

Gilt Bar                    American
(www.giltbarchicago.com)
230 W. Kinzie                     312-464-9544
Hours: Dinner: Tue-Fri 4:45pm – 2:00am, Sat 5:45pm – 2:00am

Fantastic hors d’oeuvres and cocktails; decadent desserts; ambiance dark and magical; pricey but worth it! Awarded 2012 Michelin Bib Gourmand.

Price Level $$
Reservations? Yes
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near Merchandise Mart


West Loop/Fulton Market

The Girl and the Goat                    American
(www.girlandthegoat.com)
809 W. Randolph St.                    312-492-6262
Hours: Sun-Thu 4:30-11:00pm; Fri-Sat 4:30pm-midnight

Food is really inventive and truly delicious, but “small plates” and not cheap. Stay away if you’re not an adventurous eater…and if you don’t like goat. Awarded 2012 Michelin Bib Gourmand.

Price Level $$$
Reservations? Yes
Outdoor Seating? No
Gluten Free or Allergy Free Fare? Yes
Near site of Haymarket riots in May 1886


Magnificent Mile

Heaven on Seven                    Cajun/Creole
(www.heavenonseven.com)
600 N. Michigan Ave, 2nd floor                     312-280-7774
Hours: Sun-Thur: 11am-10pm,Fri-Sat: 11am-11pm;

Fun place with a southern Louisiana feel; Bloody Marys and gumbo are favorites — expect spice!

Price Level $$
Reservations? Yes
Outdoor Seating? No
Near Mag Mile, Driehaus Museum


Greek Town

Karyn’s on Green                    Vegan & Raw
(www.karynsongreen.com)
130 South Green Street (multiple locations)                     312-226-6155
Hours: Tues – Thur 11:30 am–10 pm; Fri 11:30 am – 11 pm; Sat 11:30 am – 11 pm, Brunch 11:30 am – 3pm; Sun10 am – 9 pm, Brunch 10 am – 3 pm; closed Mon

Super delicious vegan & raw fine dining. Best crab cakes that are not crab cakes! Lots of variety on menu. Unusual non-alcoholic drinks.

Price Level $$
Reservations? Recommended
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Gluten Free or Allergy Free Fare? Yes
Near Hellenic Museum & Cultural Center


River North; South Loop

Lou Malnati’s Pizza                    Pizza
(www.loumalnatis.com)
439 N. Wells St; 805 S. State St.                    312-828-9800; 312-786-1000
Hours: Mon-Thu 11am-11pm; Fri-Sat 11am-midnight; Sun Noon-10pm

One of the city’s favorite deep-dish choices; buttery crust; pasta and salads too; good service.

Price Level $$
Reservations? No
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near South Loop: Museum Park, Harold Washington Library


South Loop

Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen                    Jewish Deli
(www.mannysdeli.com)
1141 S. Jefferson                     312-939-2855
Hours: Mon-Sat 6am-8pm; closed Sun

Old style diner established in 1942 in the old Maxwell Street market area. Chicago’s best corned beef & an Obama favorite.

Price Level $
free slice of cheesecake with meal
Reservations? No
Outdoor Seating? No
Near this IS the notable!


South Loop

Mercat a la Planxa                    Spanish Tapas
(www.mercatchicago.com)
638 S. Michigan                     312-765-0524
Hours: Breakfast: 7-11am; Lunch: 11am-3pm; Dinner: Sun-Thu 5-10pm; Fri-Sat 5-11pm

Great tapas and ambiance in the former historic Blackstone Hotel; high, high ceilings and windows overlooking Michigan Ave & Grant Park. Bodega n. 5 on ground level provides less expensive fare to go.

Price Level $$-$$$
Reservations? Yes
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near Buddy Guy’s Legends, Auditorium Theater


Bridgeport

Nana Organic                    American
(nanaorganic.com)
3267 S. Halsted                     312-929-2486
Hours: Breakfast & Lunch: Mon-Fri 9am-2:30pm; Sat-Sun 8am-2:30pm; Dinner: 5-9pm Daily

Menus change with the seasons, local/organic; small so waits are common. Perfect place to eat if you want a little bit of fusion. Awarded 2012 Michelin Bib Gourmand.

Price Level $$
Reservations? Yes, except between 8am-3pm on weekends
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Gluten Free or Allergy Free Fare? Yes
Near U.S. Cellular Field (formerly Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox)


Loop

Native Foods Cafe                    Vegan
(nativefoods.com)
218 S. Clark St.                     312-332-6332
Hours: Mon-Sun: 11am-10pm

Totally vegan and delicious; daily deals; hybrid service (order at the counter and a server delivers food and drinks). Friendly service, meatball raves!

Price Level $
Reservations? No
Outdoor Seating? No
Gluten Free or Allergy Free Fare? Yes
Near Board of Trade, The Rookery, site of 1919 Wingfoot Air Express crash at LaSalle & Jackson (worst dirigible disaster in US history)


Lincoln Park

North Pond Restaurant                    American
(www.northpondrestaurant.com)
2610 N. Cannon Drive                    773-477-5845
Hours: Tue-Sun: 5:30pm – close; Sun Brunch: 10:30am-1:30pm

Excellent all-American cuisine lovingly and inventively prepared; local ingredients turn into gastronomical adventures; wonderful ambiance (very Frank Lloyd Wrighty); quiet and refined. Outdoor terrace has views of the Chicago skyline and Lincoln Park.

Price Level $$$$
Reservations? Recommended
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near Lincoln Park Zoo & Conservatory, Notebaert Natiure Museum


River West

Piccolo Sogno                    Italian
(www.piccolosognorestaurant.com)
464 N. Halsted St.                     312-421-0077
Hours: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm; Dinner: Mon-Thu 5:30-10:30pm, Fri-Sat 5:30-11pm, Sun 5:30-10pm

Fresh local ingredients; upscale take on traditional fare; charming big ivory-cloistered patio ; lively scene, always bustling. Thumbs up!

Price Level $$$
Reservations? Recommended
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near Blommer Chocolate Company


Near North Side

Pops for Champagne                    Wine Bar
(popsforchampagne.com)
601 N. State St.                     312-266-7677
Hours: Sun-Fri 3pm–2am; Sat: 1pm–2am

Located in historical Tree Studios, great for drinks, light fare, and people-watching.

Price Level $$$
Reservations? Yes, for parties of eight or more
Outdoor Seating? No
Near Holy Name Cathedral, Driehaus Museum


Mag Mile

Purple Pig, The                    Mediterranean Small Plates
(thepurplepigchicago.com/index.html)
500 N. Michigan Ave.                     312-464-1744
Hours: Sun-Thu 11:30am-midnight; Fri-Sat 11:30am-2am

All things porcine and delicious; imaginative menu with fabulous selection of small plates; features housemade charcuterie. Atmosphere is loud, fun, and friendly; waits can be long. Awarded 2012 Michelin Bib Gourmand.

Price Level $$
Reservations? No
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near Mag Mile, Chicago River boat tour docks, exotic gold dome of InterContinental Hotel ( part of a decorative docking port for dirigibles – a notion conceived before the Hindenburg disaster in 1937}


Fulton Market

Sepia                    American
(www.sepiachicago.com)
123 N. Jefferson                     312-441-1920
Hours: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:00pm; Dinner: Sun 5-9pm, Mon-Thu 5:15-9:30pm

Resurrected from an 1890s print shop into a chic blend of rustic and contemporary decor; “small plate” dining experience, unusual flavors and combinations make for interesting fare; specialty cocktails.

Price Level $$$
Reservations? Yes
Outdoor Seating? No
Near Claes Oldenburg’s Batcolumn, French Market in Ogilvie Center


River North

Shaw’s Oyster Bar                    Seafood
(www.shawscrabhouse.com)
21 E. Hubbard                    312-527-2722
Hours: Mon-Thu 11:30am-10:00pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-11:00pm; Sun noon-10:00pm

Fun, casual sister to the Crab House next door. Excellent fresh fish prepared simply; extensive wine list in all price ranges, professional, knowledgeable service. Oyster specials from 4pm to 6pm.

Price Level $$
Reservations? No
Outdoor Seating? No
Near Jazz Record Mart, Andy’s Jazz Club


Loop

Sushi Sai                    Japanese
(www.sushisaionline.com)
123 N. Wacker, Ste. 125                     312-332-8822
Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-9:30pm; Sat-Sun 11:30am-9pm

Overall quality is amazing for such a low price; all-you-can-eat for $20on a select sushi menu. No special ambiance, just an Asian clientele enjoying food.

Price Level $-$$
Reservations? Yes
Outdoor Seating? No
Near Architectural notables –Sears/Willis Tower, Opera House, 333 W. Wacker


Loop

Sweetwater Tavern & Grille                    American
(sweetwatertavernandgrille.com)
225 N. Michigan Ave.                     312-698-7111
Hours: Mon-Sun 11am-late night

Upscale pub/sports bar with over 70 craft beers. Perfect for happy hour.

Price Level $$
Reservations? Yes
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Gluten Free or Allergy Free Fare? Yes
Near Millennium Park, Chicago River boat cruises


Millennium Park – north, in historic Prudential Tower

Tavern at the Park                    American
(www.tavernatthepark.com)
130 E. Randolph                     312-552-0070
Hours: Fri-Sat: 9am – 10pm

Comfort food with Italian fare; incredibly affordable for the area; great rotating drink menu, specialty cocktails & vegetarian options.

Price Level $$-$$$
Reservations? Yes
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near Gehry Band Shell, Cloud Gate


East Loop

Terzo Piano                    Italian
(www.terzopianochicago.com)
Modern Wing of Art Institute, 159 East Monroe                     312-443-8650
Hours: 11-3 daily; Thursday 11-9

Fresh, local, organic and sustainably produced ingredients; seasonal menus. Light and airy minimalist décor. No museum admission required.

Price Level $$$
Reservations? Recommended
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Gluten Free or Allergy Free Fare? Yes
Near Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, Plensa’s Crown Fountain


West Town/Noble Square

West Town Tavern                    American
(www.westtowntavern.com)
1329 W. Chicago Ave.                     312-666-6175
Hours: Mon-Sat: 5pm-10pm

Excellent contemporary comfort food; neighborhood gem; good wine selection. Beautiful interior space housed in a late 1800s building. Awarded 2012 Michelin Bib Gourmand.

Price Level $$$
Reservations? Yes
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near Ukrainian Village


West Loop

Wishbone                    Southern
(www.wishbonechicago.com)
1001 W. Washington                     312-850-2663
Hours: Mon 7am-3pm; Tue-Thu 7am-9pm; Fri 7am-10pm; Sat-Sun Brunch: 8am-3pm: Dinner: 5-10pm; Cafeteria: Tue-Fri: 11:30am-2:30pm

Delicious, wonderful brisket, grits, catfish & side dishes; great breakfasts. Fun artwork & ambience; casual, diverse group of diners.

Price Level $$
15% off
Reservations? Yes
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near Harpo Studios


Near North

xoco                    Mexican
(www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/xoco.html)
449 North Clark Street                     312-334-3688
Hours: Mon-Thu 8am–9pm; Fri-Sat 8am–10pm; closed Sun

Cousin to Bayless’ pricier venues — relatively cheap, relatively fast and amazing; hip atmosphere but can be noisy so don’t go for conversation; featured recently as one of the city’s best newcomers.

Price Level $
Reservations? No
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near Baton Show Lounge


Hyde Park

Zaleski & Horvath Market Cafe                    American
(www.zhmarketcafe.com)
1323 E. 57th St                     312-538-7372
Hours: Mon-Fri 7am – 7pm Sat-Sun 8am – 6pm

Friendly spot; small, bustling café with communal tables. Fabulous sandwiches and soups. Lots of great take-out items. Best selections from local and regional farmers and vendors along-side international specialties. BYOB.

Price Level $
Reservations? No
Outdoor Seating? Yes
Near Univ. of Chicago Mansueto Library, Robie House, Oriental Institute, Seminary Bookstore


A Few Last Options

Coming early for a CE or committee meeting? Sample a variety of Chicago’s food at Taste of Chicago running July 11-15.

Still seeking a large venue for your vendor or regional event? The spreadsheet will note private dining options and you can also check with Open Table, or contact Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants.

Bon Appétit!

3 thoughts on “Restaurant Guide

  1. Pingback: Illinois Chapter offers info for SLA 2012 attendees | SLA News Division

  2. Looking for a place for a few to meet for a drink. Saw a place called Kasey’s tavern. And thoughts or reviews on Kasey’s?

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