Southern Boy in ChiTown

Saturday, April 15, 2006


I'm finding that on the few occasions that I'm not either working or trying to sleep, I end up going out and just walking. I did that twice last night - first walking down Dearborn and then Wabash to Wacker and back up Michigan before cutting over to the lakefront at Chicago Plaza. It was there near Navy Pier that I took the horrifying shot above - I can think of few things more frightening that a LeRoy Neiman show at a gallery. /* shudder */ The gallery complex itself though is definitely on my list of places to come back to.

After getting back to the apartment, I dropped off the camera, changed clothes, and decided I needed some magazines that I could take with me for when I decided to eat out alone (I'm still working my way through Neil Stephenson's Quicksilver in trade, so it's huge and not fun to carry around). So I took a somewhat circuitous route to the Borders, taking me north on State as far as Delaware before wandering back through the Friday night crowds on Michigan Ave. to my neighborhood Italian place for a nice spaghetti putanesca and a chat with the bartender. Walked past a number of restaurants and bars that look worth investigating later, but last night being the first really warm night (and a holiday weekend to boot) everything was packed. Hey, looks like I'll be here for awhile and my sweetie will be back in a week, so there's plenty of time to check places out.


  • I love that photo of Bella Luna! It does an excellent job of capturing the PoMo "convenience store" character of the facade.

    By Blogger LadyJ, at 10:30 AM  

  • Hey there, Southern Boy.

    I worked in Chicago on an out of town assignment for a year. I was in a corporate apartment - first at State and Erie and then at Huron and Dearborn. I used to go to the Bella Luna Cafe all the time.

    I hope you don't mind, but I am going to offer you some foodie suggestions.

    Tempo is just down the street north from you at Chicago and Chestnut. They are known for 24 hour breakfast. They have outdoor seating, thick greek toast and an impressive list of omlettes, pancakes and waffles. My favourite is the Morning Glory, a belgian waffle with strawberries, banana and blueberries. There is always a wait, but a Starbucks across the street while you're waiting and they never seem to mind if you bring it in!

    Whole Foods at State and Huron has a great fresh, hot food bar at any time of the day. They also have a large salad bar. You pay by weight but it's always good, fresh and - of course - organic.

    If you would like some good Thai food, I would suggest either VTK or Singha, both south of you at the river.

    Banderas is great - especially if you like music while you dine - but be sure to make a reservation if you go.

    Not sure if you are into the towers (Sears, Hancock) or if you have already done that buuut.. you have to pay to get to the observation deck of the Sears tower. Or, you can go to the top of the Hancock Tower - with a much better view in my honest opinion - for free. They herd you into a bar area and I would assume that 85 out of every 100 people has a drink up there, which are all way overpriced. However, compared to the Sears tower, it's cheaper AND you get a drink! Ha.

    Edwardo's has DELICIOUS deepdish Chicago pizza. If you are ever going to order in pizza and have a chill night at home, please please try Edwardo's! They use all fresh ingredients and it shows.

    Oh, I also really loved Shaw's Crab House. It's a little expensive, but it's worth it. They fly in their seafood fresh every day from the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts. If you're looking for great, fresh seafood in Chicago, this is really the best place. Joe's Seafood is also good.

    If you're looking for small plates or tapas, 1492 Tapas Bar on Superior is great. They have live Flemenco (sp?) dancing every Friday!

    If you want to drop a little cash on a fine, fine dinner, I have three great suggestions. (Man, do I ever miss Chicago!) Bistro 110 on Michigan close to the Hancock, Bin 36 on Dearborn up by the river and Brazzaz on Dearborn very close to your place. Dinner at these places will cost you about $40-$50 per person (appetizer, main and dessert) before drinks, tax and tip but TRUST ME when I say it's worth it. Bin 36 has amazing wine flights without being pretentious. You get a paper and pencil to write down what you like about the wines. They will always let you walk away with the name, year, region and other interesting facts about the wine. They encourage you to buy some in house, of course, but it's obviously a lot cheaper to head outside of the restaurant to a wine store or even the aisle in the grocery store. Bistro 110 is my absolute most favourite restaurant in the entire downtown area. Their menu changes often and I've never had something there that I didn't like. As for Brazzaz, it's a Brazilian Steakhouse for carnivores at heart ;-) If you would like to gorge yourself on delicious meats, an OUTSTANDING salad bar and great desserts, please visit Brazzaz. GO HUNGRY. It's a fixed price dinner ($40) with the salad bar and all you can eat meats. The salad bar is an adventure all on it's own, with oysters, hearts of palm, marinated artichokes and loads more. At all three of these places, it's usually important to make a reservation, especially if you want to go from Thursday to Sunday.

    I saw you mention the Chop House. Not sure if you have gone there yet or not, but that is one great place!

    If you're looking for something fun, Howl at the Moon is definitely a good time. It's a dueling piano bar. It's a chain, so you might have been to one before, but it's definitely worth checking out if not. They serve pub style food and if you go around 6 or 7 (I think, I'm sure the website could tell you better than I can) you can get a table without paying cover and then just stay for the music! :)

    ANY Corner Bakery or Au Bon Pain is great for lunch if you would like soups, salads and sandwiches. Corner bakery is a lot like Panera (if you have ever heard of Panera..) and even has the option to pick two menu items and half them for a great soup-sandwich or sandwich-salad combo.

    Lalo's at 500 N LaSalle is great for Mexican eats and post-work drinks. They have great margaritas and sangria. Not sure if you're into Mexican food or not, but it's worth a try. They're pretty flexible here and will try to make something more mild or more spicy on your request. I really like Lalo's and it's large so it's usually not hard to get a table or a bar stool.

    Also very close to you are all of the chains you can always count on: P.F Chang's, Maggiano's, Cheesecake Factory, Rainforest Cafe, etc. These are the busiest places in the city that I never recommend to people because Chicago is such a diverse foodie town. However, if you really desire something familiar and reliable, you know you can count on these guys.

    You can't come to Chitown without eating at Portillo's and Potbelly's at least once. End of story. They're all over the place, so you have no excuse :)

    I've had a lot of people recommend Roy's Chicago on 720 N State to me. I don't know much about it, since I never ended up having the chance to go. However, it did come with props from a lot of people, so it might be worth checking out.

    These are just a few of many, many great places - all in and around your neighbourhood within walking distance of your building! I am not sure if you are willing to venture out of the Gold Coast-River North-Michigan Ave area yet, so that's all I suggested. However, if you ever want to hop on the el and go somewhere else, I would be happy to give you some suggestions for other neighbourhoods (Wrigleyville, Roscoe Village, Streeterville, Old Town, etc.). To plan your trip, there is a great trip planner on the CTA website at Of course, you could always drop me a line or hit up is THE one-stop info source for all things Chicago. You can get restaurant addresses, phone numbers and reviews along with events, festivals and anything (AND EVERYTHING) that is happening in the city. Bookmark it and use it often - metromix easily becomes people's best friend. is also a good resource, but metromix is seriously a lot better. You can search for events happening this weekend or over the span of a week, what plays and shows are happening, musical acts coming to town or which clubs and bars have happy hour special. It encompasses so much.

    Okay, I think I have taken up enough room on our blog comment section. If you are looking for any tips, suggestions, or anything of the sort, please PLEASE drop me a line!

    sunshower at gmail dot com

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:17 AM  

  • Wow, LeeAnne, thanks for taking the time to make such great suggestions! Whole Foods and Roy's are in the same building as the apt, so trips to WF are frequent and Lady J and I made it to Roy's a couple of weeks ago - it was quite good! Many of your other suggestions sound wonderful so I'll work on checking them out!

    By Blogger Southern Boy, at 11:49 PM  

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