A few days in Chicago

Yup… this has been done a bizzillion times before so I’ll try to be a bit more specific.

My wife and I will be spending a few days in Chicago next week. We’ve been to Chicago many times since we are only a few hours away and one of my sons goes to school at Loyola. We’ve seen most of the places that always get recommended and have eaten at most of the pizza and Italian beef places that are usually mentioned (I’ll probably still have to track down a good Italian beef though). Also Lou Malnati’s is close to where we will be staying and will probably make a stop there.

We will be staying at the Blake at 500 South Dearborn. We want to take my son and his girlfriend out for dinner. We are wondering if any locals could point us to something nearby that is somewhere between pizza and a “get a second mortgage” type of steakhouse that is still special and/or unique.

If we do a steakhouse it will likely be Gibson’s. Has anyone been there? My wife has a foodie coworker who said it is great.

Also, my wife thinks Second City would be fun. I know back in the day it was the feeder system for SNL. Is it still as good?

Finally… I haven’t been to the Field Museum in ages and have never been to Shed’s. If you had to pick one which would it be? We also plan to do the canal architecture cruise.

Thanks in advance.

It’s a bit of a high-jack, so apologies, but…

Oh my god, yes!!! We went last year and my wife booked this*. I was not at all looking forward to it and was so, so, so wrong! It’s completely awesome. A completely different side of Chicago, the guides are a hoot, they have a bar on the boat, and you learn a TON.

When people say they’re going to Chicago I ask two things: Are you seeing the Cubs and have you heard about the architectural boat tour? So far, 3 different couples have done both and ALL raved about the tour.**

  • Because she’s a really special lady!
    ** Two loved both the game and the tour, one just loved the tour - they’re Cards fans and the Cubs won over the Red Birds. :slight_smile:

We have no set schedule/plan but the tour is the one thing I think my wife would kill me if we don’t do. I’ve been told that I should be prepared to bundle up though for this week on the river.

I’ll hold off for the Cubs game for a bit since my son is moving next month into a new place in Wrigleyville. It is literally (and I mean that literally) a block or two from Wrigley field. He also can get very good seats for free from his work. I’m not a baseball fan in general but I may learn to love it.

Not a local, but been there many times. I’m a big fan of Frontera Grill by Rick Bayless.
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We went to see Hamilton a few years ago, and I got a bunch of recommendations from friends who live in Chicago. They directed us to The Gage for dinner, which is a couple blocks away from the Blake. It was excellent, and not crazy expensive.

That actually looks like what I was hoping for. Not sure if I can convince the others but thank you very much.

Welcome to Printers Row! (I live at the other end of the block from the Blake).

The Blake’s concierge desk will be happy to give you a downtown map and a refrigerator magnet. Both are my work.

I’ll send you a PM, I also happen to live a couple blocks away from Wrigley so if your son wants someone to say hello to, let me know.

The Field Museum is world class and I’d pick that every day over the Shedd. The Shedd is fine, but it’s overwhelmed with kids and you’ll never get Baby Shark out of your head. I’d focus on the Egyptian collection at the Field, myself. I don’t know if they’re charging separate for it or not, it’s maddening how Chicago museums handle their pricing schedule.

The architecture cruises are certainly worth it, I’m actually in the UK right now so I can’t give you a first hand weather report. I do know May in Chicago can be very changeable, so prepare for anything. I’ve had Memorial Days in shorts but also in a hoodie and jeans. Make sure your phone is fully charged, I have a feeling you’ll be taking a lot of pictures and videos on the architectural cruise. The Chicago architecture center does the gold standard for the cruise, it can be a bit wonky so if you don’t want all the architectural details you might consider Shoreline, which is less expensive.

Small world. You wouldn’t happen to be S.P. would you? If so, I’m the one who emailed you from NSM.

Rereading this you are likely the designer of the magnets and map. I’ve seen the magnets but not the map… nice work. The S.P. I referred to is a director at the Blake who I work with (not directly but we have had contact).

Yeah, I’m just the designer. SP is sometimes copied on the emails from the marketing folks, but I don’t think I’ve ever met him.

I probably know the marketing folks as well. JP is a nice guy although I’ve never met him face to face but plan to on Thursday. I hear it is Illinois Craft Beer week… any recommendation on a place nearby to grab a pint or three?

Half Sour at Clark and Polk has breathed new life into a tired neighborhood tavern. I sometimes play Tuesday night trivia there. Thursdays they have live comedy in their back room; Friday they have live music. I don’t know anything about their craft beer selection, though. Kasey’s at 641 S. Dearborn is the other neighborhood institution, a bar that, when I moved to Printers Row in 1983, still closed at 6 pm because its clientele was the guys working in the nearby print shops.

Are any of the gangster tours worthwhile?

So far, the only firm plans are Tuesday dinner at Maple and Ash. I said I didn’t want to go to a break the bank place but I was out voted. Two Michelin stars. It should be fun and hopefully I can get a good price on the Mega Bus to get back home.

I dined at Maple and Ash back in December and cannot speak highly enough of it. I was scrolling through to see if it was mentioned…you are in for an absolute treat!

I’m tempted to go for their “I don’t give a F*@k” where they just make you whatever they feel like.

I considered that as well, but I really couldn’t pass up the ribeye. We went with some friends that know staff there and did some informal private wine tastings in their wine “cellar” (including a sabered bottle of champagne) before dinner. Great experience. I need to get back to Chicago :slight_smile:

I’m also planning a Chicago trip this summer (and have already seen some good suggestions in this thread!) and was wondering about some of the steakhouses in the area. I prefer a wet aged ribeye, but a lot of the menus I looked up (for restaurants like Maple and Ash and Chicago Cut House) I only noticed dry aged. Do these restaurants also have wet aged, or should I just look elsewhere?

In my opinion, no. Most of the Capone era places aren’t there anymore. I don’t care that Al Capone used to eat at a place that’s now a Subway.

The tours are almost always available on Groupon for a discount, even at 50%, I thought it was a waste of time.