Ask MenuPages: A Full Day Of Food And Love

Do you know what we love? We love when you write in to us and ask questions. We also love, for that matter, love. So a question asked of us on the best way to spend an anniversary day in Chicago? This has us over the moon:

Dear MenuPages,
My husband and I are going to be in Chicago in early August and we are staying at the Trump Towers. I just checked out the menu at Sixteen and I am less than thrilled. As a professional chef myself, I find it hard to stomach the prices on the menu — especially considering the reviews that I have read! We live in San Francisco so we thought that we have been paying top dollar to go out — I guess not.

My question to you is this, where can we go within walking distance (or cab) to get a nice meal? We will be in town for our fifth anniversary so we do need someplace nice but, also would like a nice diner kind of place for breakfast and some Chicago-y kind of place for lunch. We LOVE secret insider kind of spots! Next time you come to San Francisco I’d be happy to sare some of my favorite places too!

Thanks a bunch!

Dear Amy,

First of all, let us say that we are thrilled — seriously, thrilled, that you have proven yourself to be ensouled by sharing with us our nose-wrinkling at Sixteen. Seriously, we are not a fan. But secondly, on to your query. You’re looking for a full day of food, here: breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all within easy reach of your smack-in-the-middle-of-downtown hotel. We can do this! Full breakdown after the jump.

For breakfast, our first thought is generally Yolk. It’s an invigorating 1.5-mile walk down Michigan Avenue, all the way to the bottom of Grant Park (we’ll never call it Millennium) down by the Museum Campus. Walk along the lake and then cut back in to Michigan for a beautiful start to your anniversary celebration. And while Yolk’s Irish Benedict might ruin your breath for smooching (corned beef hash = not quite the most romantic meal) it is our absolute all-time favorite early-morning calorie bomb. Of course, if you want to stay a little closer to home — and be a little less yuppie, more diner-y — West Egg Cafe is just a couple blocks away. If it’s a weekday, you should be fine at any hour. But if it’s a weekend, we highly recommend setting your alarm to beat the rush.

As for lunch, you want something Chicago-y? Pop a Lipitor, friends, and resign yourself to meat, likely encased in bread. Choice one: Al’s No 1 Italian Beef, where one of you will order a Combo and one of you will order a Big Al. Choice two: CND Gyros & Lounge, where you will both be ordering gyros melts. Choice three: Heaven on Seven on Wabash (though if we’re being honest, the food at the one on Ohio is just as good, and closer to your hotel, but the atmosphere at the original cannot be beat), where you’ll get truly the best cajun/creole outside of the delta. One of you is ordering a fried oyster po’ boy, the other one is getting hoppin’ john with andouille, and you’re both getting gumbo and splitting a side of cheese grits.

Finally, if you can stomach it, dinner: A fifth anniversary? Congratulations! For traditional romance, it’s hard to top the one-two punch of the swoony atmosphere and top-notch food at Les Nomades, in a lovely brownstone off of Michigan ave. The seasonal specials are straight from the greenmarket. Speaking of the greenmarket, though, our personal choice for an anniversary dinner (are you reading this, Our Boyfriend?) is Mado, where the food is inventive, intensely flavorful, and exquisitely presented. Plus it’s light enough that you won’t feel weighted down for any… let’s say, post-dinner activity. Reservations highly recommended for both of these places.

Until next time, we remain

Yours faithfully,
MenuPages Chicago

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Yolk [MenuPages]
Yolk [Official Site]
West Egg Cafe [MenuPages]
Al’s No 1 Italian Beef [MenuPages]
Al’s No 1 Italian Beef [Official Site]
CND Gyros & Lounge [MenuPages]
Heaven on Seven [MenuPages]
Les Nomades [MenuPages]
Les Nomades [Official Site]
Mado [MenuPages]
Mado [Official Site]

[Photo: I Love Chicago, via emergingartist’s Flickr]

Ask MenuPages: A Full Day Of Food And Love