Downtown Chicago dinner recommendations?

I’m in downtown Chicago the next few days for training at our office here, on E Wacker next to the Swissotel. I suspect I’ll be pretty much on my own for dinner tonight through Wednesday night, and am looking for recommendations for reasonably priced places to eat close by. While I’m on business, our company guidelines are pretty strict on maximums, especially when it’s not billable back to a client: $25 or so for dinner. I’m open to pretty much any ethnicity – I happily eat anything from Vietnamese to Thai to Ethiopian to soul food. I’m mainly looking for someplace within walking distance where I can take a book and not feel like a putz eating by myself, and still get something decent to eat – preferably not something I can get in any of the dozens of other cities I’ve been to in the last year. So, ideas?


There are many options. The first thing that jumped to my mind was taking a right onto Michigan Ave and walking north. There are a few hundred restaurants up and down the street. That would be about 4-6 blocks of walking, but you won’t notice it, as there’s stuff to see. Let me rephrase…you’re already pretty much on the south end of the “Mag Mile”, so walk north!

My suggestions (in no particular order) for around $25…Redfish (cajun stuff), Heaven on 7 (on Wabash…a cabbie can get you there, or your concierge can give you walking directions).

For pizza, if you like Chi-style, Geno’s East is fairly close-by.

Ask you concierge for recommendations of a style of cooking you like, and they’ll give you 100 places. If you’re willing to foot a cab ride, there are unlimited options.

No trip to Downtown Chicago is complete without a visit to The Berghoff–assuming you like German food. It’s death by Schnitzel–but what a way to go!


World’s. Best. Ribs. Ever.

Seriously, I have them shipped frozen to me here in Minneapolis if I’ve been away from Chicago for more than 6 months. A full rack with sides is just under 20.

100 W. Ontario

EVERYTHING at Portillos is good. Very Chicago too.

You could also try Uno’s or Due’s pizza, the original Chicago deep dish.

Dublin’s has great food too, go in off-hours though it gets crowed. On State just before it intersects with Rush. That’s a cool area too. Lot’s a nightlife.

I jumped in to recommend the Berghoff. I love that place. Their homemade rootbeer kicks major butt. Lou Malnati’s is the best pizza, and it’s right downtown. Don’t forget to have an Italian beef (or 12) at Mr. Beef or Al’s or Portillo’s. It is the finest sandwich ever created by man.

I’d recommend my favorite place, Miller’s Pub. It’s on Wabash, just a bit south of the Palmer House. It’s a great Chicago tradition, steeped in atmosphere. It’s Greek-owned, but they serve mostly non-Greek, good old-fashioned comfort food. I alway get the Spanakopita - it’s the best I’ve ever had. And the rice pudding. The prices are almost unbelievably reasonable. Spanakopita appetizer, corned beef and cabbage entree, rice pudding for dessert, all washed down by a tall, cold Paulaner Hefe-Weizen…

Okay, now I’m really hungry.

Yeah, that’s my problem – too many options, and without the benefit of local knowledge I didn’t know what to do and what to skip. I was at the Marriott for a week or so on either side of 9/11 the last time I was here, and the last couple of days were pretty much open (I was here for a trade show, but most business-related activity came to a halt after Tuesday), so I did a lot of wandering around, but it’s tough to tell from the outside what’s worthwhile. And there’s always more out-of-the-way places that you wouldn’t necessarily find or give a second look to that the locals know and like.

It’s not good food, but the original, underground Billy Goat’s is not that far from where you are, and certainly meets your “inexpensive” criterion. Plenty of atmosphere, of a kind. (For those unfamiliar with the Goat, it’s the place the Belushi “cheeborger” sketch is based on.)

For much better food and a different kind of atmosphere, you could eat at the bar at the Atwood Cafe (State and Washington). It’s in a renovated early architecturally significant skyscraper building. Don’t miss the photos showing the place at its worst (pre-renovation). They’re just inside the State entrance.

I second the original Wabash Heaven on Seven (I can see the Garland building, where it’s located, from where I’m sitting now), but I’m not sure it’s open for dinner. The newer spinoffs are open for dinner. I also second the pizza recommendations.

For lunch, or maybe an early dinner, try Sertano’s at Lake and LaSalle. Great lasagna, and very inexpensive.

I’ve got to subscribe to this thread - I’ll be in Chicago for six days in June for a conference, and while I figure I can find people to eat with, I might want to take some time to explore while I’m there.

Try Italian Village at 71 W. Monroe. Excellent food and a very cool looking place. I also recommend the Berghoff and their root beer is one of the best. If you want an old style steak house Miller’s Pub on Wabash should be just what you need. If you don’t mind going a little farther afield, hop the el down to Chinatown and try 3 Happiness or Emperor’s Choice.

Or Greektown! Don’t forget Greektown. A short cab ride or a bit of a walk west of the Loop - personally, I like Santorini, but have never had a bad meal in Greektown. Or if you want to go a bit north to Chicago & LaSalle, Cafe Iberico is one of my favorites. Loud, but all the homesick SPaniards go there for tapas.

BTW, you can find more restaurant info than you can shake a stick at at