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Old 12-15-2013, 11:18 PM
gardentraveler gardentraveler is offline
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Chicago during the holidays

We're going to be having a small family reunion in the Chicago area Christmas week. We'll have a group that ranges in age from about 9 to 90 (I think there are going to be about 15 of us). My brother is familiar with the area, but I don't think he's ever been there with this crazy mix of a crowd. I imagine we'll split up part of the time, but would enjoy doing at least a few things as a group. My mom is the nearly-90 year old and is very mobile (although she doesn't move as quickly as she used to).

We'll be staying somewhere in the suburbs and will have a couple of cars. We arrive the 24th and will leave the 30th for Michigan.

Any restaurant recommendations for big groups? What shouldn't we miss?
  #2  
Old 12-15-2013, 11:37 PM
MikeG MikeG is offline
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What kind of food do you want? Christkindlmarkt in Daley Plaza downtown is fun.
  #3  
Old 12-15-2013, 11:48 PM
zoid zoid is offline
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Where in the suburbs? That's a huge area.
  #4  
Old 12-15-2013, 11:53 PM
Mr Downtown Mr Downtown is offline
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The 24th is the last day for the Christkindlmarkt.
  #5  
Old 12-17-2013, 07:40 AM
gardentraveler gardentraveler is offline
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We'll be near Naperville. Can't remember which town, but my brother was already planning for visits to a couple of places in Naperville.

As for food types, we like almost anything. I think we're going to try to keep things as economical as possible most of the time, but my cousins' anniversary is the 27th, so we're planning to go to a nice restaurant then.

We'll also be spending some time in Chicago itself visiting museums and Michigan Ave (the usual touristy thing as much as weather permits).

Just looked at Christkindlmarkt hours and we'll miss it because it closes at 4 on the 24th. Boo.

Thanks in advance for further suggestions.
  #6  
Old 12-17-2013, 11:29 AM
Tim R. Mortiss Tim R. Mortiss is offline
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If you want a nice, casual Italian restaurant, both Leona's and Buca de Beppo are great for large groups. They have city and suburban locations.

Go to Macy's (aka Marshall Field's) on State Street - you can split up and wander on your own, and meet up at the food court in the basement later, or outside under the clock, weather permitting. Then you can check out Daley Plaza, The Bean, and plenty of other free sights nearby. Michigan Avenue will be all dolled up with Christmas decorations.

At Christmas time, I love just wandering around that area. It is always beautiful and atmospheric.
  #7  
Old 12-17-2013, 05:04 PM
zoid zoid is offline
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Leona's has been in decline for some time now and is going through a rough patch. I'd avoid it for the time being. Bucca is a solid choice.
Naperville also has a Cheeseburger in Paradise which I've heard surprisingly good things about. There's also some good Chinese to be found at Katy's Dumpling House and Lao Sze Chuan

As far as the city goes I highly recommend either the Art Institute or the Field museum. Both are worth the time if you have it. The Bean is something you really have to see in person. Pictures just don't do it justice. Just walking down Michigan avenue is a real treat around Christmas. If you feel the need to go to the top of a tall building, skip the Sears (Willis) tower and head to the John Hancock - it's a much better view - then stop in at the bar on the 95th floor for a cocktail and the best panoramic view of our beautiful city. If you want to take pictures of the skyline go to the Adler Planetarium at night and this is what you'll see.


The food courts at Macy's and Water Tower Place both have options well beyond your average mall food. Harry Carry's is an old school Italian steak house - get the Vesuvio potatoes as a side regardless of what you order, they're outstanding.
We have a ton of great places to eat in the city. Shaw's is renown for it's seafood. if you're looking for anything particular just ask.
  #8  
Old 12-17-2013, 10:55 PM
MikeG MikeG is offline
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Katy's Dumpling House in Naperville is incredible Northern style Chinese cuisine. Any of their hand pulled noodle dishes will be a hit.
  #9  
Old 12-17-2013, 11:47 PM
gardentraveler gardentraveler is offline
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Thanks for the information! Both Katy's and Lao Sze Chuan sound like something we'd enjoy. I'd forgotten about the food courts at Macy's and Water Tower. I'm sure we'll cover Michigan Avenue pretty thoroughly, as long as the weather isn't too bad.

I've been to Chicago several times, but never around Christmas.

How about a pizza recommendation? My brother likes Giordano's, but I've had mixed experiences. I had dinner with friends at the Lou Malnati's in Naperville on a business trip a few years back and that was pretty good. Anything better out there?

Thanks!
  #10  
Old 12-18-2013, 12:11 AM
Mr Downtown Mr Downtown is offline
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Out in the burbs, Lou Malnati's and Giordano's are your best pizza options. They both have their champions. Malnati's has buttery crust; Giordano's has deeper cheese.

Downtown, though, I'm still partial to Pizzeria Due. (I deliberately avoid saying Pizzeria Uno because of how visitors immediately, but incorrectly, think it's the same as the Uno's Chicago Grill national chain.)
  #11  
Old 12-18-2013, 01:28 AM
Tim R. Mortiss Tim R. Mortiss is offline
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It's hard to find a bad pizza in Chicago, although they are all different. You can't go wrong with:

- Uno's (as Mr. Downtown noted, it is NOTHING like the national chain)
- Due's
- Gino's East (do they still exist?)
- Giordano's
- Bacino's
- Edwardo's
- Marcello's (aka Father and Son)
- Lou Malnati's
- Pizano's
- many others that I'm just not thinking of at the moment.
  #12  
Old 12-18-2013, 04:21 AM
zoid zoid is offline
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Uno, Due, or the original Gino's on Rush. Giordano's is an acceptable suburban outpost.
Other than that stick to Chicago tavern style thin crust at places like Marie's, Home Run Inn, or Vito & Nick's.
  #13  
Old 12-18-2013, 11:40 AM
bat312 bat312 is offline
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The new Connie’s Pizza location 1030 N. State Street takes reservations, most of the other pizza joints do not. Must see the Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo and it is free.
  #14  
Old 12-18-2013, 11:50 AM
TubaDiva TubaDiva is offline
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For those who are going to be in Chicago on the 21st -- yes, this coming Saturday -- go to TubaChristmas at the Palmer House!

If you play tuba or euphonium -- even if just once a year -- you can participate as a member of the ensemble yourself.

CHICAGO - SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21 - TIME: 1:00 pm
LOCATION: Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe St., Grand Ballroom
REGISTRATION: 10:00 am, Upper Exhibition Hall, between the 3rd & 4th floors
REHEARSAL: 11:00 am, same

NOTE: Please use gig bag and leave instrument case in car/bus. Bring folding music stand/lyre, chairs will be provided. Dress in bright festive colors and if desired decorate your instrument. Participant registration fee for 2013 is $10.00.

ATTENTION ALL PARTICIPANTS AND AUDIENCE: rooms must be vacated and cleared of personal belongings after the performance. NO EXCEPTIONS! Please be considerate and follow the guidance of the Palmer House security personnel.

PLEASE NOTE: Audience is requested to donate a non-perishable food item. But other than that, it's free. And a very cool thing to go see, and an even cooler thing to go do.
  #15  
Old 12-18-2013, 12:00 PM
Randy Seltzer Randy Seltzer is offline
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Wow, Tuba, that sounds cool. We'd totally go, but we're leaving to visit the in-laws on Saturday. Can they move it to Friday please? Thanks.

While I'm here, here's a previous thread about Chicago pizza:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Seltzer View Post
Here they are in order of my recommendation.

Giordano's - Probably the best if you're only going to do one. Their stuffed pizza is classic Chicago and incredibly delicious.

Lou Malnati's - My personal favorite, but not quite the iconic Chicago style. A little thinner than the others.

Gino's - Often recommended and often disappointing, IMO. Cheese tends to be rubbery. Sauce too much like Chef Boyardee. However, this is the most touristy spot, and has a pretty good atmosphere.

Uno's/Due - Pretty good, but doesn't hold a candle to Giordano's or LM's. Claims to have invented Chicago style pizza, but this is hotly disputed.

Noteworthy, but not really Chicago style:

Piece - Makes a good New Haven style. Great beer selection.

Peaquad's - Best standard style in the city. Not too expensive.
  #16  
Old 12-24-2013, 12:32 AM
gardentraveler gardentraveler is offline
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Thanks everyone!

TubaChristmas sounds like it would have been lots of fun. Wish it had been a couple of days later. Any other music events still going on after Christmas?

Zoo lights sounds like fun, too.

Leaving first thing tomorrow morning. I'm excited!
  #17  
Old 12-24-2013, 09:22 AM
Tim R. Mortiss Tim R. Mortiss is offline
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Have fun! And remember that it is customary to file a trip report after you get home.
  #18  
Old 12-24-2013, 05:46 PM
Missy2U Missy2U is offline
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Missed her by a few hours! Darnit! I'm posting it anyway just because someone else might be interested.

I was going to say if they are in the western suburbs, Cantigny is going to be open after Christmas and have the McCormick mansion decked out - that might be cool to see. And it supports some great (IMO) charities.
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