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Anything Else Forum

Offtopicland. This still isn't the place to discuss politics, religion, or hot-button social issues, however.

Calling All Chicagoans

BucksfanXC's picture
May 15, 2014 at 1:50pm
43 Comments

I'm taking my wife to Chicago for our honeymoon next month for a weekend. I want to do a nice dinner on Saturday night. I'm thinking I want to do a traditional steakhouse. I'd be open to just a nice restaurant however. Does anyone have any thoughts in general and specifically about steakhouses vs. just a fancy place? Recommendations for places. I'm staying right downtown on the river near the Mile. I have a nice hotel room and plan on hitting up the concierge for advice too, but I know I respect the opinions of the commenters here and I know some of you currently reside in Chicago. Let me hear ya!

Furious George 27's picture

Not a Chicagoan but when my wife and I went to Chicago, I think we ate in the restaurant in the top Sears Tower which had good food and awesome views.... a bit pricey and maybe the a tourist thing to do, but cool none the less.

 

Correction: Its the Signature Room at the Hancock Tower

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

+2 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

A buddy of mine proposed to his wife in that restaurant. I had actually forgotten about it to be honest. Something to consider. Thanks!

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

OSUStu's picture

I see your edit FG27.  I've eaten at the Signature Room as well and agree it was nice.  But I personally enjoy the other option which is their cocktail lounge, you get a very similar experience and you really only need to buy one $10 cocktail.  It is just upstairs and on the other side of the Hancock.  So, it faces toward the rest of the city instead of Lake Michigan.

Also, a tip for your wife if you go to the Signature Lounge, supposedly there is a really great view from the ladies' restroom window.

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

+1 HS
toad1204's picture

I dont live in Chicago but had a pretty good business dinner at Joes Seafood.  Seemed like a good spot for a celebration with a significant other. 

http://www.joes.net/menu/?loc=chicago

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

+1 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

I've heard of the original Joe's in Miami. It's been on lots of those FoodNetwork/Travel Channel type shows. Didn't know they opened a Chicago one. My wife's not big on seafood, so I doubt I'd garner many points taking her there though. I'll keep it on my personal list to try sometime though because I'm certainly interested. Thanks!

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

InTressITrust's picture

Not a steakhouse but Twin Anchors has the best ribs I have ever had.  

For steakhouses, I have never been to Shula's but my dad has been there numerous times and has raved about it.

"I'm not going to lie. We're anxious to be a part of a matchup like that. It's two states that love the game of football." -Jim Tressel

+2 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

Twin Anchors looks like it has great ribs. Can't be bad if Sinatra loved them so much. I think this would be an option for a lunch or Friday night's dinner actually.

Shula's looks good, but kind of chain restaurant-ish, so I want something more Chicago only or Chicago specific I think.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

+1 HS
OSUStu's picture

I don't live in Chicago any longer but, Gene and Georgetti is pretty much your classic, old-school Chicago steakhouse. It is probably the most famous in the city. Places like David Burke's and Bavette's are supposed to be even better but I can't personally vouch for that.

Also, I've been to Wildfire and it's a little bit more reasonable and still pretty damn good.

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

+1 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

I keep reading stuff about the old school vs new school steakhouse. I keep reading from people in food magazines, who's opinions I have to understand may not be in line with mine, keep saying that old school places like GandG's or Gibsons or Mortons are dinosaurs that haven't kept up with the times, etc. I also hear that they are the classics by which all steakhouses should be judged and you should experience Chicago steakhouse in it's traditional glory before you venture to the modern spin on the steakhouse like David Burke's and Bavette's. So I'm torn. I know there are a lot of similar age and demographic people on here and myself and my wife and I value those opinions more than someone who reviews and writes about restaurants because they have a different agenda, if that makes sense.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

FloridaBuck's picture

My fiancé was born and raised in Chicago. I showed her this thread, and she just said "Morton's".  

+1 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

I suppose I should say that you don't have to be a Chicagoian to answer. I just need people who have some Chicago recommendations. I got a nice fancy downtown hotel room, plan on doing the in room massages they offer; thought about doing the river boat tour; considered a White Sox game as I've been to Wrigley but never been to US Cellular (I kinda have a baseball stadium tour going in my lifetime); thought about Shedd Aquarium or the Art Museum. So I have activity ideas covered. Just need the fancy meal. We've done a few trips to Chicago for Lollapalooza when we were younger and ate all the different deep dish pizza places and Portillos and Al's and the hot dogs and all those touristy things, but now we want the more grown up but still pretty touristy Chicago trip.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

OSUStu's picture

I highly recommend one of the riverboat architecture tours. Even when I was living there, it was an incredibly interesting thing to do.

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

+3 HS
Earle's picture

Not a Chicago native, but had a very nice meal at Phil Stefani's 437 Rush.

Italics are for emphasis.

+1 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

This place looks good. I can't say I've ever had a cheese course and all those other things it offers, which is the kind of thing I want to try out. Something new and outside my comfortzone maybe. My wife is a much picky eater though, so we'll have to see.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

My take on steakhouses (my wife and I have been in the restaurant business since we were in college; she is an owner now) is that regular, fancy restaurants probably buy the better beef consistently, but that steakhouses take the time to age theirs (dry-age usually). For this reason, most steakhouses go with more straightforward preparations for their meat, while other restaurants invest in the prep. And, of course, steakhouses are expensive as hell in my opinion.

Worth it? I would rather go to a restaurant that offered a more diverse menu, better wine, drink, and beer list, and better atmosphere. Chicago has no shortage of these places. Some of my personal favorites are Avec, Blackbird, Naha, G&T Fish and Oyster Bar, and many, many others. What's more, many of these places are in cool neighborhoods. You'll probably spend enough time on Michigan Avenue and around there, so maybe plan a night to get around the 'hoods. I'm not a huge Chicago Magazine fan, but they're pretty faithful in reviewing the new places (and there are always new, hip places) and old standbys. Here's a link:

http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/January-2014/

+1 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

This is the kind of stuff I wanted to hear. I heard it in reviews from professionals but sometimes I question if it was because who pays them, etc. I'm not a steak aficionado by any stretch, so I doubt I'll get much out of the whole 28 day vs 14 day, wet age vs dry kinda stuff. I think I'd rather have a well prepped steak than a well aged one I guess. This is what lead me to question the whole steakhouse thing in the first place. I'm not going to have access to my car as I'm gonna park it in a long-term garage for the weekend when we drive in, but places I can take the train or a taxi to wouldn't be out of the question.

I've been reading several Chicago Magazine reviews of various places so far and it really overwhelmed me. There are too many choices almost.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

Jason Priestas's picture

Avec and Blackbird are really good, though Avec doesn't take reservations. I've never been to Naha, but a few of my other favorites include: Mercat a la Planxa (probably my favorite place to eat in Chicago and near the Art Institute of Chicago on Michigan Ave), Girl and the Goat, and Publican. Alinea is amazing, but is a bit overpriced.

BucksfanXC's picture

Ok, looking at Mercat a la Planxa and finding out it was Chef Jose Garcas makes me want to go there, and also look to see if any of my other favorite chef's have a place in Chicago. So thanks for the great recommedations and for spurring a whole new avenue of searching.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

312Buckeye's picture

Glad you liked Alinea.  11W must be paying some good wages!!!  Just kidding!!

+2 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

No kidding though, I saw the price and said, "yeah, no" I mean really I was probably planning on this meal costing me $200+, just not per person.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

Jason Priestas's picture

Ha. Alinea is ridiculously expensive, no question, but it's a truly unique experience. I've only been twice in eight years, so it's definitely something you have to save up for.

Overnumerousness's picture

I'm with Priestas here; Girl and the Goat is fantastic and gets my vote, though getting a reservation can be really tough. Au Cheval, down the street from G+G, is also a popular (and great) choice.

For steakhouses, Lawry's is incredible. They've been wearing those brown uniforms since the 1930s, IIRC. My personal favorite is Fulton's on the River; good menu and a purveyor of my wife's favorite wine, Velvet Devil. Mon Ami Gabi might also be a fun choice for you, good French restaurant right next to Lincoln Park (which is beautiful in the summer). 

Honestly, hard to go wrong here in Chicago. I've lived here 5 years and still feel like a newbie to the dining scene. I personally don't think there's a wrong way to do restaurant-ing when you visit here, the "Chicago" thing is to try something new and have a great time.

 

+1 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

Yeah, I'm not stressing it too much. I'm actually really enjoying the search. I'll probably just sit down with my wife and present her all the menus and see which one has the dish she wants and we'll go there, lol.
 

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

blocko330's picture

Was just in Chicago last week me and my buddies ate at Brazzaz - It's a Brazilian Steakhouse - best of all it's all you can eat.  It's a very nice restaurant inside, but not sure if it's quite up to par for a honeymoon dinner.  Highly recommend nonetheless.

+1 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

I love Brazilian Steakhouses, but I'm thinking that's more of group dining thing than a romantic honeymoon dinner thing too. I've heard great things about Fogo de Chao and I want to try it, just probably not on this trip.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

buckguyfan1's picture

Save room for a stop at Wiener's Circle about 2:00 am.   Congrats. 

+2 HS
312Buckeye's picture

If you're looking for a steakhouse, I'd recommend going the area around Rush/State St.  It's referred to as the "Viagra Triangle."  Gibson's is very popular and has good food.  Across the street is Tavern on Rush, that has great steaks but a much more varied menu.  At Tavern, ask for Bennie(dining room manager), and he'll make your evening special.  Morton's is also across the street. You can eat inside or outside at any of these places. It's a great area, just a block off the Mag Mile.  It's a great place to walk around before or after dinner.  A lot of places to shop, or bars and clubs if you're interested after dinner.

Another highly rated steak restaurant is Çhicago Cut Steakhouse.  It's located on the Chicago river at LaSalle.  If the weather is nice, great place to also eat outside.  Another great steakhouse is Mastro's.

You can't go wrong at any of these places.  Let us know which one you picked and what you thought.

+1 HS
312Buckeye's picture

P.S.  I live in Chicago.  These are all places where the locals also eat.  

I'd stay clear of the hotel chain steakhouses like Shula's(in the Sheraton), or Michael Jordan's Steakhouse(in the InterContinental Hotel).

Forgot to mention Benny's Chop House(near Nordstrom's).  Also very good.

+2 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

Thanks! I will absolutely update this, you have to wait until next month though. I'm glad you commented twice so I could give you two upvotes

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

sbentz4's picture

I have been to many of the steakhouses mentioned and have to say Benny's was my favorite. I think the service and atmosphere is the most romantic. I would love to give MJs a try soon, have only heard good things. A cheaper option would be Bavette's but its not as good as Benny's IMO.

+1 HS
Jangs78's picture

Gibsons is always good but my favorite cuts have always been from Ruths Chris on Dearborn

+1 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

I've heard good things about Ruth Chris.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

312Buckeye's picture

Nothing wrong with Ruth's Chris, but he can go to the one in Columbus.  Better he tries something more unique to Chicago!  

+2 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

Actually I'm not in C-bus, but I do want something pretty unique to Chicago.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

CALPOPPY's picture

Yeah, I'm a big fan of Ruth's Chris (on the few occasions I have been there) but they are everywhere. So I would suggest going someplace else. I would suggest something but I am north of the city and never have gone anyplace nice downtown. So this thread is just as helpful to me even though I am fairly close.

Now, if you want a few recommendations for decent places in the North Shore area, maybe I can help. But I guess they have Wendy's in Ohio, too.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

+1 HS
RKC's picture

The good thing about Chicago is that you can get a good steak and most nice places and you don't necessarily have to hit a steakhouse.  If you want the steakhouse experience with the white table cloth the creamy sides and big red wines then chose from one of the lists mentioned above. There really won't be a big difference among them.  Capitol Grill, Mortons, Lawry's , are all good and all about the same.  Pick one that is closest to you.  You just missed Nextrestaurant's Chicago Steakhouse menu that was a neat experience. 

Chicago is also well known for it's other restaurants.  Check out the Eater Chicago page for it's monthly list of restaurants that are places to hit.  It's a list that evolves and never really fails.  Depending on where you are, check out the Bristol, Trencherman, GT/Fish Oyster, Carriage House, Nightwood, Duseck, Nico Osteria, or even a nice wine bar that serves up good food like the Telegraph.  I'd plan a place to eat and place for a cocktail before or after but withing walking distance.  All the places I mention are walking distance to something else that will serve you well.  (I love Mercat as well, as someone mentioned above). 

Of course most places on Randolph are popular attractions, a bit over priced but yummy.  Eataly is also popular and overpriced but impressive. 

Btw, congratulations!

+2 HS
EvanstonBuckeye's picture

^ These are all great choices.

+1 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

Thanks for the thorough and thoughtful response. I'll look into those and start searching for cocktail spots for before/after.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

johnblairgobucks's picture

My wife and I went to Chicago last summer, and we found Buddy Guy's Legends, on Wabash, a fun place to get a few drinks, eat some good food and listen to decent music...... That is, if you will be in Chicago a few days and are looking for a place to eat other than your Steakhouse Night.  The Willis Tower observation deck and an architecture boat tour were fun.  

I would recommend skipping Kitty O'Shea's, if you are out bar hopping.  Kitty had horrible bartenders who couldn't make a proper Black and Tan and laid down a horrible Long Island Tea for my wife.  Being connected to the Chicago Hilton, we thought the service would have been better, but it will always be referred to as Shitty Oshea's

+1 HS
edr4225's picture

My sister lives in Chicago and she says Chicago Cut 

Top 10 steakhouses in Chicago 

http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20131026/ISSUE03/310269990/top-10...

Chicago Cut Steakhouse

300 N. LaSalle St., River North | 312-329-1800 | ChicagoCutSteakhouse.com
Grade: Prime
Aging: Dry-aged 35 to 40 days; filets wet-aged 21 to 28 days
Seasoning: Sea salt and pepper, finished with rendered veal fat
Heat: Infrared broiler

This high-powered dining room opened big three years ago, quickly cutting to the head of the steakhouse lineup locally and nationally. From the VIP welcome to the dazzling city views, the prime, dry-aged beef and much-vaunted iPad wine list, the dining room shows off the city at its finest. Out-of-towners will love it, but expect to see a mix of locals. No wonder reservations are virtually mandatory any night of the week; breakfast and lunch are popular, too.

Tables are tightly packed and the hubbub is full-on, but people fork over big bucks for the energy, pampering and beautifully charred bone-in rib-eye ($54). The steak has dry-aged depth and prime marbling; it's perfectly seasoned and cooked, offered with add-ons such as foie gras. But there is much more, including seafood and a double-cut pork chop with bourbon maple glaze ($29) that had us wondering how meat that thick could be so moist. The 17 sides are mostly familiar fare, including a mammoth mound of crisp, buttery hash browns ($12) and terrific key lime pie ($9).

lets go bucks!!

+1 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

I was looking to go to The Palm back when I was set on "steakhouse." I'm currently leaning towards Benny's Chop House as it seems to be a best of all worlds and close to where I'm staying. The more I look the more difficult it gets so I may just have to stop looking.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

Whoa Nellie's picture

I'm a Keefer's fan.
 

“Don’t fear criticism. The stands are full of critics. They play no ball. They fight no fights. They make no mistakes because they attempt nothing. Down on the field are the doers, they make mistakes because they attempt many things.”

+1 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

You may want to avoid this place ---------- but if you go anyway, I hear you have to try their Blackened Cajun dishes.

 

+1 HS