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Dining Guide

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Adobo Grill, 1610 N. Wells, 312-266-7999.  A casual, sophisticated atmosphere with upscale Mexican cuisine. Adobo is known for its margaritas and fresh, made-at-your-table guacamole.
  
Alinea, 1723 N. Halsted, 312-867-0110. One of the restaurants that make Chicago a world-class restaurant town, the degustation menus are priced at $145 and $225. Award-winning cuisine, extensive wine list and elegant atmosphere are the course of the day.
  
Art Institute of Chicago-Terzo Piano, New Wing, 312-443-8650.This simple gourmet restaurant is the spot for dining after viewing the Modern Wing. Unusual, creative offerings, including spaghetti squash appetizer, sesame-crusted Lake Superior whitefish with eggplant, and trout with fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts.
  
Avec, 615 W. Randolph, 312-377-2002. Seasonal fare is featured as a group experience in a boisterous atmosphere. Simply prepared contemporary tapas are fabulous, and fresh dishes can be accented with fine European cheeses.
  
Avenues, The Peninsula Chicago, 108 E. Superior, 312-573-6754. Just reading the menu is an exercise for the imagination. The melding of unusual ingredients makes this fine dining establishment a unique experience.
  
Ben Pao, 52 W. Illinois, 312-222-1888. The bustling River North nightspot features four different Chinese cuisines prepared with flair. The black pepper scallops are outstanding.
  
Bice Ristorante, 158 E. Ontario, 312-664-1474. The rushed, crowded atmosphere of this Gold Coast restaurant only adds to its charm. Pizza, pasta and salads are popular choices for dining in or taking out.
  
Bistro Campagne, 4518 N. Lincoln, 773-271-6100. An authentic French bistro, this charming spot with a private outdoor garden is perfect for an intimate dinner.  The primarily organic menu offers a small number of perfectly prepared fish dishes as well as traditional farm-raised chicken and steak frites. Delicious seasonal presentations support the low-impact agricultural movement.
 
Bistro Margot, 1437 N. Wells, 312-587-3660.  If you’re in the mood for authenic French bistro cuisine like patés and grilled salmon, Bistro Margot offers up French fare at reasonable prices.
  
Bistro 110, 110 E. Pearson, 312-266-3110.  Hungry shoppers and tourists, as well as neighborhood foodies appreciate the hearty portions and great prices of this comfortable bistro.
  
Blackbird, 619 W. Randolph, 312-715-0708.  Classic simplicity at its best, both in food and décor.
  
Brasserie Jo, 59 W. Hubbard, 312-595-0800. A Entertain You version of French dishes, this time with an Alsatian flair and excellent seafood.
  
Boka, 1729 N. Halsted, 312-337-6070. Nice ambiance with a sleek, high-tech look. Don’t overlook the cheese plate or the sticky pudding.
  
Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!, 2024 N. Halsted, 773-935-5000.  An extensive menu of tapas and plenty of beer make this a popular spot for a group night out.
   
Cafe Des Architectes, 20 E. Chestnut, 312-324-4063. Sofitel’s restaurant sheds the mediocrity of many hotel restaurants. Fawning service and upscale cuisine are above par. The dessert menu offers mini, two-bite offerings at $1.50 each.
  
Cafe Spiaggia, 980 N. Michigan, 312-280-2750. The food comes from the same kitchen as Spiaggia, just in a more reasonably priced, toned down atmosphere.
  
Cape Cod Room, Drake Hotel, 140 E. Walton, 312-932-4615. The ultimate, classic seafood restaurant has been serving up fish dishes since 1933.
  
Carnivale, 702 W. Fulton Market, 312-850-5005. This trendy nightspot encompasses a huge space broken up into different dining areas. The menu is an offering of dishes from South America and the Caribbean.
  
Charlie Trotters, 816 W. Armitage, 773-248-6228.  The internationally renowned showcase for chef Charlie Trotter is known for its degustation menu and pricey, rare ingredients—perfect for a celebration.
  
Chicago Chop House, 60 W. Ontario, 312-787-7100. Lined with photos from Chicago’s meatier days, the restaurant chronicles gangsters, mayors and stars.
  
Chicago French Market, 131 N. Clinton. Enjoy this amazing indoor market’s food, to eat in or take home.
  
Cibo Matto at The Wit Hotel, 201 N. State, 312-239-9500. Located in a boutique hotel right in the middle of State Street downtown, the Italian restaurant features a 2,000-bottle wine vault, a 30-foot-high ceiling fresco and a 10-foot-high cheese case.
  
Club Lucky, 1824 W. Wabansia, 773-227-2300. Faux old-fashioned Italian neighborhood spot gives Bucktown a place for casual, basic and ample fare.
  
Coco Pazzo, 300 W. Hubbard, 312-836-0900. The River North mainstay remains consistently popular, featuring reliable seasonal Tuscan cuisine, wood burning oven, house-cured meats and fish, vegetarian friendly, all-Italian wine list and the best risotto in Chicago
  
Chicago Diner, 3411 N. Halsted, 773-935-6696. This bustling and fun place offers staunch vegetarian fare from homemade soups and gigantic salads to tofu re-creations of more standard omnivore dishes. Try the raw blueberry cheesecake.  Dinotto Ristorante, 215 W. North, 312-202-0302. This delightful, authentic and romantic Italian restaurant never fails to engage the senses—from the calamari appetizer to the pumpkin ravioli to the tiramisu.
  
Duke of Perth,  2913 N. Clark,  773-477-1741.  The authentic
Scottish pub has fish and chips, Wednesday and Friday fish fry, and 75 kinds of single-malt whiskey. Try the Hebridian leek pie.
  
Erwin, 2925 N. Halsted. 773-528-7200. Simple design and excellent service is complemented by finely prepared entrees and vegetable dishes with unusual combinations of tastes and textures.  Leave room for the sour cherry pie with vanilla ice cream.
  
Everest, 440 S. LaSalle, 40th Floor, 312-663-8920. Offering French cuisine with breathtaking views, from the top floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange.
  
Firefly, 3335 N. Halsted, 773-525-2505. The wildly popular Boystown French bistro is known for its late-night dining.
  
Flatwater, 321 N. Clark, 312-644-0283.  Global food choices are served at river level. The restaurant has a 54-foot indoor-outdoor bar.
  
Fogo de Chao, 661 N. LaSalle, 312-932-9330.  All-you-can-eat meat sliced at your table Brazilian style is the menu at this River North restaurant. Other patrons go for the popular salad bar-only option.
  
Frontera Grill, 445 N. Clark, 312-661-1434.  Famous chef Rick Bayless’ less expensive version of Topolobampo right next door. Devotees gratefully stand in line for hours for chili relenos, margaritas, guacamole and other Mexican fare.
  
Gene & Georgetti, 500 N. Franklin, 312-527-3718. Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope used to come here for steaks when in Chicago. The steakhouse opened in 1941 and still offers quality food in the River North neighborhood that grew up around it.
  
Greek Islands, 200 S. Halsted, 312-782-9855. The biggest Greek restaurant in the neighborhood offers traditional Greek dishes.
  
Green Zebra, 1460 W. Chicago, 312-243-7100. Almost entirely vegetarian, this upscale spot features the best cuisine has to offer from cultures around the world.
  
Green Dolphin Street, 2200 N. Ashland, 773-395-0066. Jazz club, nightclub, private event venue. It has an extensive seafood selection on its eclectic menu.
  
Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse, 1028 N. Rush, 312-266-8999. For the martini and steak crowd, the restaurant has testosterone to spare.
 
Gioco, 1312 S. Wabash, 312-939-3870.  This former speakeasy is a very festive and hip place to enjoy excellent Italian food. The homemade pasta dishes and salmon and whitefish are uniquely prepared.
  
Harry Caray’s, 33 W. Kinzie, 312-222-9200. Relocating March 1st to Navy Pier, baseball is enshrined along with the former sports announcer. American eats.
  
Japonais, 600 W. Chicago, 312-822-9600. This trendy hot spot features contemporary Asian French dishes like the rainbow carpaccio with yuzu dressing.
 
Joe’s Seafood, 60 E. Grand, 312-379-5637. This is a bustling lunch and dinner spot for consistently well-prepared fish and awesome desserts, including a vast array of excellent pies.
  
Kamehachi, 1400 N. Wells, 312-664-3663. This Old Town mainstay used to be one of the only places for sushi back in the ‘70s. Quality fish and presentation have  kept this a popular destination for decades.
  
Karyn’s Cooked, 738 N. Wells, 312-587-1050.
In the heart of the River North area is a simple, vegan, gourmet restaurant that never fails to deliver. The lasagna with smoked spinach is flavorful, and desserts feature airy 5-inch-high cakes. Try the German chocolate and the banana coconut when available.
  
Keefer's, 20 W. Kinzie, 312-467-9525. This venue is known as one of the finest steak and seafood restaurants in the area. The twist is that it also offers a selection of French bistro dishes.
  
Kiki's Bistro, 900 N. Franklin, 312-335-5454.  Urban French cuisine is very popular with the lunch crowd. Try the smoked salmon pastrami sandwich.
  
L2O, 2300 N. Lincoln Park West, 773-868-0002. Seafood at its best. There are unbelievable taste surprises, like quirky desserts with fish ingredients and amazing souffles.
  
Las Pinatas, 1552 N. Wells, 312-664-8277. Old-fashioned authentic Mexican restaurant has great nachos and enchiladas. Try the Snapper Veracruzana with green olives, garlic and red sauce.
  
Le Colonial, 937 N. Rush, 312-255-0088.
Authentic Vietnamese French cuisine coupled with elegant atmosphere. Try Chao Tom, a grilled shrimp delight.
  
Maggiano's Little Italy, 516 N. Clark, 312-644-7700. The homemade pasta is the draw here, with generous, family-style servings leaving plenty of leftovers to take home. Try the four cheese ravioli.
  
McCormick & Schmick's, 1 E. Wacker, 312-923-7226 and 41 E. Chestnut, 312-397-9500. This  seafood chain-restaurant doesn’t seem like a chain. Top-notch seafood heads the menu with steak offerings for meat-eaters. Try the outstanding pike.
  
Mercat a la Planxa, Blackstone Hotel, 638 S. Michigan, 312-765-0524. Spanish tapas, wines and cocktails served in wild décor make for a fun night. There is a selection of 15 excellent tapas, from seafood to steak.
  
Meze Tapas Lounge, 2205 N. Peoria, 312-666-6625. The restaurant offers a continental array of tapas along with pitchers of sangria and a wine list with choices from around the world.
  
Mista, 2931 N. Broadway, 773-698-6688.  Try the Margherita pizza with a very thin, crispy cracker crust with tomato sauce, basil and fresh tomatoes or the organic roasted vegetable lasagna .
  
Maiz, 1041 N. California, 773-276-3149. If you’d like a busy place to enjoy concoctions made of corn—from tamales to corn patties—this is the place for you.
 
MK, 868 N. Franklin, 312-482-9179. Award-winning restaurant that uses the freshest ingredients available for its eclectic French, American and Italian cuisine. Favorites include a splendid rack of lamb and grilled salmon with a mustard soy glaze.
  
Mon Ami Gabi, 2300 N. Lincoln Park West, 773-348-8886. Casual bistro with big desserts. Offerings are typical bistro fare with four different ways of preparing steak frites. The onion soup is always a great starter, as are the sea scallops gratinée.
  
Morton’s the Steakhouse, 1050 N. State, 312-266-4820. Steaks and wines are the draw here in the original Morton’s location. Save room for dessert.
  
Nacional 27, 325 W. Huron, 312-664-2727. This Nuevo Latino supper club features dishes encompassing the cuisines of Latin America including family style dinner with wine pairings. On weekends the dance floor is filled with some of the sexiest dancers around.
   
Naha, 500 N. Clark, 312-321-6242. Seasonal Mediterranean taken to new levels of sophistication and artistry. The Wild Black Cod is recommended.
   
N9ne Steakhouse, 440 W. Randolph, 312-575-9900. Steak and seafood head the menu at this sister restaurant of N9ne Las Vegas. The upstairs Ghostbar has a cool, futuristic theme.
  
NoMi, Park Hyatt Chicago, 800 N. Michigan, 312-239-4030. Upscale and sophisticated, the international spot is known for its elegant presentation, distinctive cuisine and extensive wine list.
  
North Pond, 2610 N. Cannon Dr.,773-477-5845. You’ll need reservations at this popular spot set in Lincoln Park. In the summer, the ducks in the lagoon provide a glimpse into nature, and in the winter, the fireplace creates an ambiance to complement the food. The menu is simple, with a good selection of fresh fish.
  
O’Brien’s, 1528 N. Wells, 312-787-3131. This Old Town restaurant features well-prepared fish, steaks and burgers. The outdoor garden is a draw in nice weather.
  
Oceanique, 505 Main St., Evanston, 847-864-3435. From its charming French decor to the bouillabaisse, Oceanique is an intimate, tony restaurant for any occasion. It features an extensive fresh seafood menu, thoughtfully prepared, and desserts like the day and night cake with layers of chocolate mousse.
  
Osteria Via Stato, 620 N. State, 312-642-8450. Seasonal Italian, Lettuce Entertain You-style. The bar has its own pizzeria and small plates and salads.
  
Parthenon, 314 S. Halsted. 312-726-2407. Ooompah!  From the delicious Greek specialties to the tasty galaktoboureko and phyllo pastry shell with light vanilla custard, this authentic spot is not to be missed.
  
Phil Stefani’s, 437 N. Rush, 312-222-0101. Quality beef and seafood with traditional Italian pastas is the menu of the day for bigger appetites.
  
Piccolo Sogno, 464 N. Halsted, 312-421-0077. The influence of many areas of Italy is represented in this reasonably priced restaurant that has a stunning view of the skyline from the patio.
  
Pizzeria Uno, 29 E. Ohio, 312-321-1000. The deep-dish pizza can’t be duplicated anywhere else except for Pizzeria Due across the street.
  
Province, 161 N. Jefferson, 312-669-9900. Enjoy farm-to-table dishes with Spanish and South American influence in a certified Gold LEED-EB building. Sit on recycled leather chairs atop a sustainably harvested cork floor.
  
Pops for Champagne, 601 N. State, 312-266-7677. This new version of the popular venue has a raw bar, champagne bar, jazz lounge, outdoor spaces and more.
  
The Publican, 837 W. Fulton, 312-733-9555. The focus is on beers and heirloom pork in this Warehouse District venue backed by some of the biggest names in Chicago food circles.
  
Rhapsody, 65 E. Adams, 312-786-9911. If you are going to the symphony after dining, you need reservations. Rhapsody is overflowing with art-loving crowds who enjoy this wonderful spot offering unusual preparations of fish and vegetables. You will want to leave room for the desserts.
  
RL Restaurant, 115 E. Chicago, 312-475-1100. The Ralph Lauren restaurant features American food with country-clubby, old-money décor. The lobster club sandwich is the best in the city.
  
Rosebud, 1500 W. Taylor, 312-942-1117. Where better to dine on sumptuous Italian fare than in the old Italian neighborhood? This original restaurant was so popular, multiple Rosebuds opened up throughout the city and suburbs.
  
RJ Grunts, 2056 N. Lincoln Park West, 773-929-5363. It’s amazing that Rich Melman’s first Lettuce Entertain You eatery still thrives, but the comfortable spot offers one of the biggest salad bars around.
  
Russian Tea Time, 77 E. Adams, 312-360-0000. When you are taking in the cultural sites at the Art Institute or symphony, this bustling old world restaurant is a must. Vegetarians can enjoy an array of unusual appetizers. There are excellent meat dishes, as well.
  
Salpicon, 1252 N. Wells, 312-988-7811. If you don’t know what real Mexican food really tastes like, take a trip to Salpicon for authentic regional dishes.
  
Salute, 46 E. Superior, 312-664-0100. This cafe and wine bar offers an extensive wine list and Italian small plates in a Victorian-era atmosphere lending an aura of romance.
  
Sapori Trattoria, 2701 N. Halsted, 773-832-9999. The linen tablecloths and exposed brick walls evoke an atmosphere of old Italy. On Tuesday nights—tapas night—you can enjoy live jazz and sample tasty, innovative combinations. Try the lasagne or fresh salmon, and finish with a tasty tiramisu.
  
Seasons Restaurant, Four Seasons,120 E. Delaware, 312-649-2349. Enjoy an elegant Old World feel above Michigan Avenue. Try the salmon and smoked caviar. Tasting menus change often.
  
Scoozi!, 410 W. Huron, 312-943-5900. Italian entrees, pizza and salads are served in a fun atmosphere. The gnocchi trio is recommended.
 
Sepia, 123 N. Jefferson, 312-441-1920. A great choice in a former print shop serves a seasonal
contemporary American menu and extensive wine list.
  
Shanghai Terrace, Peninsula Chicago, 108 E. Superior, 312-573-6744. Experience upscale Chinese food in an elegant hotel. Enjoy Sunday dim sum brunch.
  
Shaw’s Crab House, 21 E. Hubbard, 312-527-2722. Known for its fresh seafood flown in daily, the popular restaurant has blues and jazz several nights a week. Save room for the key lime pie.
  
Signature Room, 875 N. Michigan, 312-787-9596. Go for the views at this elegant spot on the 95th floor of the Hancock Building. The fare is excellent.
  
Smith & Wollensky, 318 N. State, 312-670-9900. Known for its excellent dry-aged beef and giant steaks, the restaurant also offers a few lighter options.
  
Tamarind, 614 S. Wabash, 312-379-0970. Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and Japanese are represented in this Pan Asian minimalist restaurant. You can also create your own stir-fry.
  
Tavern at the Park, 130 E. Randolph, 312-552-0070. The all-day eatery in Prudential Plaza has an upscale menu of sandwiches, salads and entrees. Enjoy panoramic park views from this spot.
  
Texas de Brazil, 51 E. Ohio, 312-670-1006. This
Brazilian steakhouse offers meat-lovers a sizzling time .*
   
Trattoria D.O.C., 706 Main St., Evanston, 847-475-1111. This Evanston favorite is known for its creative pizza combinations prepared in their wood- burning oven. But the other offerings, such as marinated grilled squid or linguine with lobster meat, cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic and white wine, are just as delicious.
  
Trattoria Isabella, 217 N. Jefferson, 312-207-1900. Another excellent and creative Italian spot in the Warehouse District, Trattoria Isabella has floor-to-ceiling windows and a giant patio for nice weather.
  
Tru, 676 N. St. Clair, 312-202-0001. French-influenced dining at the height of sophistication and elegance. This is a place for special occasions.
  
Tucci Benucch, 900 N. Michigan, 312-266-2500. Reasonably priced, yet excellent Italian at the top floor of the shopping center. Opens at 11:30 for lunch until 8:30. Try the five cheese ravioli.
  
Twin Anchors, 1655 N. Sedgwick, 312-266-1616. An Old Town neighborhood mainstay going back for decades, the rib joint remains the place to kick back and enjoy some baby back ribs.
  
Urban Belly, 3053 N. California, 773-583-0500.  Enjoy a communal dining experience and innovative, reasonably priced noodle dishes at this off-the-beaten-track popular spot.
  
Vermillion, 10 W. Hubbard, 312-527-4060. Latin-Indian? Somehow it works in an extensive tapas menu and entrees like you’ve never before tasted.
  
Vivere, 71 W. Monroe, 312-332-4040. With a wine cellar of over 2000 selections, Vivere pushes the limits of “new” Italian cuisine with unusual ingredients. The black truffle gnocchi is excellent. For dessert, try the chocolate and hazelnut tiramisu.
  
Vinci, 1732 N. Halsted, 312-266-1199. The warm, comforting atmosphere and consistently excellent Italian selections has made it a neighborhood favorite and pre-theater spot for years.
  
Wildfire, 159 W. Erie, 312-787-9000. Enjoy fine dishes, many cooked over a wood fire in an atmosphere reminiscent of the ‘40s nightclub scene.
  
Yoshi's Cafe, 3257 N. Halsted, 773-248-6160. The casual atmosphere is deceptive. This is haute cuisine with an eclectic menu combining French, Japanese, Italian and American influences.

Published: April 09, 2010
Issue: 2010 Spring Green Issue