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Chicago Visitor's Guide

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 10:48 pm
by TB#1
We frequently get threads started by people coming in to Chicago who want recommendations on where to stay, what to see, what to do, where to eat, etc. I decided to make a master list of recommendations, along with contributions from the rest of the community. I'll keep adding to the list myself, and will incorporate some of the suggestions from the pages that follow to the big list. Be sure to browse the whole thread, though.


I’m Coming to Chicago Thread
Another I’m Coming to Chicago Thread

Priceline Airfare to Chicago Search
Chicago Map
Union Station
OgilveNorthwestern Station
Amtrak to Chicago
Greyhound to Chicago
Chicago Hotel Guide
Another Chicago Hotel Guide
Priceline Hotel Search
Chicago Transit Authority
Metra Train Service
Taxi services
Limo services
Priceline Car Rental Search

Neighborhood Guides
Lincoln Park
River North
Wicker Park and Ukranian Village
Logan square
Rogers Park
Oz Park
DePaul Area
South Loop
West Loop
Hyde Park

The United Center
Soldier Field
Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field
White Sox and US Cellular Field

Good places with shuttle service to and from United Center for Bulls and Hawks games

Carmichaels Steak House

Shopping, Parks and Tourist Attractions
Navy Pier
Gurnee Mills
Water Tower Place
The Magnificent Mile
State Street
Oakbrook Center
Woodfield Mall
Orland Square

Sears Tower Skydeck
John Hancock Center
Millennium Park
Buckingham Fountain

Art Institute of Chicago
Shedd Aquarium
Adler Planetarium
Museum of Science and Industry
Field Museum of Natural History

Brookfield Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo

McCormick Place

The Newberry Library
Harold Washington Library
Seminary Co-op Bookstore
Chicago Cultural Center
Museum of Broadcast Communication

Chicago Beaches
Oak Street Beach
North Avenue Beach
Promentory Point
Botanic Gardens

Garfield Park Conservatory
Lincoln Park Conservatory
Morton Arboretum
Jackson Park
Osaka Garden

Mall Directory

Tourist Discount Card

Chicago Go Card

Tours and cruises
Architectural Tour Guide
Mystic Blue

Theater, Comedy Clubs, etc.

Theater Guide
Second City
Blue Man Group
Cast on a Hot Tin Roof
The Annoyance Theater
Comedy Club Guide
Lyric Opera
Orchestra Hall
Arie Crown
Chicago Theater
Ford Theater
Goodman Theater
The Auditorium Theater
Cadillac Palace
Drury Lane

Bars and Clubs
Chicago Blues Clubs
Recommended blues clubs: Buddy Guy’s Legends, Kingston Mines, B.L.U.E.S., Rosa’s
Jazz Clubs
Recommended jazz clubs: Green Mill, Andy’s, Green Dolphin Street
Chicago Rock Clubs
Recommended rock clubs: Cubby Bear, Empty Bottle, Elbo Room, Exit, Fitzgerald’s, Martyr’s, Schuba’s, Heartland Café
Chicago Dance Clubs
I don’t have any recommendations -- maybe Smart Bar, below Metro.
Recommended Reggae Clubs
The Wild Hare
Exedus II
Both recommended for the music, but very, very loud.

General Bars

The Boss Bar
US Beer Company
The Map Room
Goose Island
Glunz Bavarian Haus
Monks Pub
Trader Vic’s Chicago
Bernies Tavern
John Barleycorn
Murphys Bleachers
The Cubby Bear

Irish Pubs
The Abbey Pub
Tommy Nevin’s
Gaelic Park
Kitty O’Shae’s
Irish Pub guide
North Side Irish Pubs

Rush and Division

Rush and Division Guide
This is a very popular area. The bars sometimes tend to be crowded with a mix of young people and tourists.

Chicago restaurants, general guide

Recommended Steak Houses
Gene & Georgetti
Chicago Chop House
Also, Ruth’s Chris, Lawry’s, etc, but those aren’t Chicago in origin…

Spots with sports legends’ names

Harry Carays
Walter Payton’s Roundhouse

Michael Jordan no longer has any restaurants in Chicago and no, Stan Makita doesn’t really have a donut shop in Aurora.

Recommended Deep Dish Pizza
Ginos East
Lou Malnatis

Everybody has their own opinion on which one is best. One warning: don't plan on doing anything more than slipping into a food coma after dinner.

Thin Pizza
Pat’s Pizza
Art of Pizza
Home run Inn
Pizza Metro
Pizza D.O.C.
Fox’s Pub

Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder(very different)

One of our many RealGM Best Pizza in Chicago debates

Recommended Italian
Italian Village
The Rosebud (I prefer the original on Taylor)
La Fontenella
Club Lucky
Coco Pazzo
Phil Stefanis 437 Rush

Recommended Fancy/Expensive
Charlie Trotter’s
May Street Market
Custom House
Trattoria #10
Capital Grille
Green Zebra (vegetarian)

Recommendation: If you want a hint of Chicago Fine Dining without the full meal price tag (or the full meal) go to The Signature Room at the 95th Floor of the John Hancock Building. Sit at the cocktail lounge on the 96th floor, have a drink and an appetizer or dessert. Awesome, awesome views.

French Restaurant Guide
Brasserie Jo
Le Bouchon
Kikis Bistro

Recommended Sandwich Shops
Ricobene’s Breaded Steaks
Manny’s Deli
Perry’s Deli

Chicago’s Best Burgers
Palmer Place
Country House
Hop Haus
Boston Blackies
Park Grill
RJ Grunts
Billy Goat Tavern (cheezeborga cheezeborga)
Another burger review
Kuma's Corner
And, of course…
White Castle

MacArthurs (recommended by James Johnson)

Recommended Italian Beef and Hot Dogs
Chicago Hot Dog Guide
Gold Coast Dogs
Hot Dougs
Johnnies Beef
Weiners Circle
Original Mr. Beef
Mr Beef
Al’s #1 Beef


Hubs (of SNL fame, near Lincoln and Bryn Mawr)
Greektown Gyros(Halsted, Greektown)
Bubs (not the same as Hubs, but nearly as good)
Charcoal Delights (Foster and Kedzie)

Recommended Wings
Yak-zies (also has good Buffalo Chicken Pizza)
Buffalo Joe’s
Poag Mahones

Recommended Mexican
Best Mexican Food guide
Frontera Grill
Adobo Grill
La Bamba
TacoBurrito Palace#2
La Pasadita
La Bamba
Mi Tierra
There are a lot of places around where the Sox play where you can get awesome burritos bigger than your forearm.

Recommended Middle Eastern
Cedars of Lebanon
Sultans Market
Kan Zaman
Old Jerusalem

Recommended Greek
Greek Islands

Recommended Chinese
Chinese Restaurant Guide
Lao Sze Chuan
Hong Min

Japanese Restaurant Guide
Coast Sushi
Bob San

Chicago Kalbi
San Soo Gap San

Star of Siam
Pennys Noodle Shop

Vietnamese Restaurant Guide

Be sure to also check out NoSkyy's extensive Asian Food recommendations on page 7 of this thread! DEFINITELY worthwhile!!!

10Best Reviews
CitySearch Winners
ABC News Two New Indian Restaurants

Calypso Cafe

Dixie Kitchen
Heaven on Seven
Bar Luie

Recommended Chicken
White Fence Farm
Chicken Hut
Chicken Run

Nicks Fishmarket
Hugos Frog Bar
Shaws Crab House

Twin Anchors

Village Tap
chili Macs 5 Way

Café Babareeba
Cafe Iberico

Ice Cream and Desserts
Rainbow Cone
The Plush Horse
Margies Candies
Petersons Ice Cream
Elis Cheesecake World
Ethel’s Chocolate Lounge
Coco Rouge
Hot Chocolate
Unique So Chique

Late Night

Link to Late Night Downtown Delivery Thread
Late Night Bars and Clubs
Late Night Dining Guide
Another Late Night Dining Guide
Strip Club Guide
See also Waveland Bowl, below

Bowling and Billiards
Southport Lanes
Waveland Bowl (24/7/365 – great uber-late night stop)
Chris’ Billiards
G Cue
Lucky Strike

Horse and Auto Racing
Route 66 Speedway
Chicago Motor Speedway
Illiana Speedway

Concert Venues
Soldier Field
United Center
Allstate Arena
UIC Pavillion
Alpine Valley
Tweeter Center
Sears Centre
The Vic
Arie Crown Theater
Park West
Metro Chicago
House of Blues
Double Door
Rosemont Theater

Taste of Chicago
Blues Fest
Jazz Fest
Naperville Ribfest
St Patricks Day Parade
South Side Irish St Patricks Day Parade
Air and Water Show
Chicago Auto Show
There are also a number of neighborhood street festivals which tend to be pretty awesome. Usually one can be found about any weekend in the summer and they are relatively affordable and often feature some decent live music. In the winter, there is skating in the park, and a Bavarian village set up in the plaza of the Daley Center. The shop windows on State Street and Michigan Avenue have great Christmas displays.

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 10:49 pm
by TB#1
Everyone else is free to add suggestions as you see fit. Within reason, of course.

Oh, and if you want to see music while you are hear, get a copy of the free newspaper The Reader.

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:05 pm
by Posey H8er
For Italian Beef and Hot Dogs- Portillos (The one on Clark)

Train schedule (more specifically Union Station, friendlier link)

River and Lake (Architecture) Tours

Some other recommended places are the ST/JHC observation decks.

McCormick Place
Allstate Arena

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:07 pm
by Magilla_Gorilla
Duck Fat Fries:

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:08 pm
by AAU Teammate
If yer in Chicago, yah totally check out the Potbelly's man. Authentique!


Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:12 pm
by dougthonus
I recommend you take Pizzeria Uno off the list of 'recommended pizza'.

1) Their pizza sucks. There are probably about 100 better pizza places in the Chicago land area.
2) Their pizza isn't real deep dish chicago style pizza.
3) It's a chain that has restaurants all over the country and not just in the Chicagoland area.
4) I'm insulted that anyone would recommend it.

Okay, I'm kidding about taking it off, but if you do come to Chicago, seriously, don't go to Pizzeria Uno's if you want good pizza unless you're trying out a wide variety of pizza places. You can do SO much better.

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:14 pm
by SportsWorld

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:27 pm
by dougthonus
For entertaining things to do:
Second City
Blue Man Group

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:34 pm
by TB#1
Personally, I love the original Uno's on Ontario and Clark, or Due's across the street.

I've never had close to a decent meal at any of their chain restaurants, but I do love the original.

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:41 pm
by dougthonus
BOO Pizzeria Uno, Hooray Lou Malnati's.

You know it's not a real pizza place when Pizza isn't even the primary thing people order when they go there.

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:50 pm
by AAU Teammate
If you're not intent on the Chicago style, go to Piece. More the New England style. Even though I was born and raised here, and love all things Chicago, that place is great.

Aim your snowballs (or shards of ice) this way -!

Some great bars to go to if you want a wide array of beer-bar beers..... The Hopleaf, The Map Room, Quenchers

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:53 pm
by Morten Jensen
The cheesecake store underneath the John Hancock center is also quite delicious.

Its The Cheesecake Factory, a big, nationwide chain.

Cheesecake Factory

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:57 pm
by Posey H8er
Some places for concerts/events-

The House of Blues

Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island

And of course, Lollapalooza
Football, anyone?

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:59 pm
by Future Coach
as a person who isn't a Chicago native I appreciate this thread. After I graduate from college soon I plan on traveling and Chicago certainly on the list after I return to the US.... so this thread should come in very handy, especially since I trust and respect the views and opinions of the folks making recommendations, makes all the difference when you know where the recommendation is coming from

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:10 am
by TB#1
AAU Teammate wrote:If yer in Chicago, yah totally check out the Potbelly's man. Authentique!


They make good lunch and they originated in Chicago.

In any event, I spend a couple of hours collecting these recommendations and links and your contribution to the thread is to single out one for sarcasm? Really?


Tell the folks at home where they should REALLY be going, Lord of the Hip!


Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:12 am
by suckfish
Someday I hope to visit Chicago and a few other states too, so this thread will indeed come in handy. With so many links under one roof, users should be able to drop by and find out many of the FAQ's.

Kudos TB#1 and fellow contributers.

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:14 am
by AAU Teammate
TB#1 wrote:-= original quote snipped =-

They make good lunch and they originated in Chicago.

In any event, I spend a couple of hours collecting these recommendations and links and your contribution to the thread is to single out one for sarcasm? Really?


Tell the folks at home where they should REALLY be going, Lord of the Hip!


It wasnt meant to be meanspirited, but my unprofessionalness aside.... i dont think a company like Potbellys is going to need any additional advertising

i think this thread is a great idea - lets use it to help out the lesser known places around here that could use some pub

there are soooo many that fit that bill. Potbelly's someone will hit up when they're in a hurry, etc.

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:16 am
by AAU Teammate
Also to lose this hipster tag i am now getting, i will shortly change my av from Thom Yorke to Jim Croce

Or maybe Pat Croce. Wait, gosh darn it he's like the one NBA hipster. i cant shake it, it's born in deep

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:25 am
by TB#1
AAU Teammate wrote:Also to lose this hipster tag i am now getting, i will shortly change my av from Thom Yorke to Jim Croce

Or maybe Pat Croce. Wait, gosh darn it he's like the one NBA hipster. i cant shake it, it's born in deep


Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:26 am
by Scott May
I could be wrong, especially because I can't quickly find confirmation via Google, but I am pretty sure that Morton's on State is indeed the very first Morton's and that the chain originates in Chicago.

I haven't eaten at enough Mortons' outposts nationwide to say whether a visit to any of them is equivalent to visiting the original, but I will say -- probably controversially -- that *on average* imo they have the best steak in Chicago. I have had better steaks at some of the other places on the list, but I've also had much, much worse, particularly at CCH.

Two musts for the fancy dining category, imo: Frontera Grill and (especially) Arun's, the latter almost indisputably the best Thai restaurant in the country.

Culture, especially social science/history buffs: The Newberry Library and Seminary Co-op Bookstore (disclaimer: I've been a shareholder for twenty years)

Cheap, gut-busting Loop lunch: Heaven on Seven, in the Garland Building on Wabash Avenue

Beef stand: Johnnie's Beef, a couple of blocks west of Harlem on North Ave in Elmwood Park. (admittedly, not probably a place most tourists will be going)

(links left out as all these places are easily Googleable, with the exception of Johnnie's.)