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Dining Guide February 2012 - March 2012

By CHICAGO LIFE MAGAZINE
Alinea, 1723 N. Halsted, 312-867-0110. One of the restaurants that make Chicago a world-class restaurant town, the degustation menus are priced at $145 and $225. Enjoy award-winning cuisine, extensive wine list and elegant atmosphere are the course of the day.
  
Art Institute of Chicago-Terzo Piano, New Wing, 312-443-8650. Unusual, creative offerings, including a spaghetti squash appetizer, sesame-crusted Lake Superior whitefish with eggplant, and trout with fingerling potatoes.
  
Avec, 615 W. Randolph, 312-377-2002. Simply prepared contemporary tapas are fabulous, and fresh dishes can be accented with fine European cheeses.
  
Avenues, The Peninsula Chicago, 108 E. Superior, 312-573-6754. Just reading the menu is an exercise for the imagination. The melding of unusual ingredients makes this fine dining establishment a unique experience.
  
Bice Ristorante, 158 E. Ontario, 312-664-1474. The rushed, crowded atmosphere of this Gold Coast restaurant only adds to its charm. Pizza, pasta and salads are popular choices for dining in or taking out.
  
Bistro Campagne, 4518 N. Lincoln, 773-271-6100. An authentic French bistro, this charming spot with a private outdoor garden is perfect for an intimate dinner.  The primarily organic menu offers a small number of perfectly prepared fish dishes as well as traditional farm-raised chicken and steak frites.
 
Bistro Margot, 1437 N. Wells, 312-587-3660.  If you’re in the mood for authenic French bistro cuisine like patés and grilled salmon, Bistro Margot offers up French fare at reasonable prices.
 
Blackbird, 619 W. Randolph, 312-715-0708.  Classic simplicity at its best, both in food and décor.
 
Boka, 1729 N. Halsted, 312-337-6070. Nice ambiance with a sleek, high-tech look. Don’t overlook the cheese plate or the sticky pudding.
  
Cafe Spiaggia, 980 N. Michigan, 312-280-2750. The food comes from the same kitchen as Spiaggia, just in a more reasonably priced, toned down atmosphere.
  
Cape Cod Room, Drake Hotel, 140 E. Walton,
312-932-4615. The ultimate, classic seafood restaurant has been serving up fish dishes since 1933.
 
Carnivale, 702 W. Fulton Market, 312-850-5005. This trendy nightspot encompasses a huge space broken up into different dining areas. The menu is an offering of dishes from South America and the Caribbean.
  
Chicago Chop House, 60 W. Ontario, 312-787-7100. Lined with photos from Chicago’s meatier days, the restaurant chronicles gangsters, mayors and movie stars.
 
Chicago Diner, 3411 N. Halsted, 773-935-6696.  This fun place offers vegetarian fare from home-made soups to gigantic salads. Try the raw blueberry cheesecake.
  
Cibo Matto at The Wit Hotel, 201 N. State, 312-239-9500. Located in a boutique hotel right in the middle of State Street downtown, the Italian restaurant features a 2,000-bottle wine vault, a 30-foot-high ceiling fresco and a 10-foot-high cheese case.
  
Club Lucky, 1824 W. Wabansia, 773-227-2300. Faux old-fashioned Italian neighborhood spot gives Bucktown a place for casual, basic and ample fare.
  
Coco Pazzo, 300 W. Hubbard, 312-836-0900. The River North mainstay remains consistently popular, featuring reliable seasonal Tuscan cuisine, wood burning oven, house-cured meats and fish, vegetarian friendly, all-Italian wine list and the best risotto in Chicago.
  
Duke of Perth, 2913 N. Clark,  773-477-1741.  The authentic Scottish pub has fish and chips, Wednesday and Friday fish fry, and 75 kinds of single-malt whiskey. Try the Hebridian leek pie.
   
Erwin, 2925 N. Halsted. 773-528-7200. Excellent service is complemented by finely prepared entrees. Leave room for the sour cherry pie with vanilla ice cream.
  
Firefly, 3335 N. Halsted, 773-525-2505. The wildly popular Boystown French bistro is known for its late-night dining.
  
Flatwater, 321 N. Clark, 312-644-0283. Excellent global food choices are served at river level. The restaurant has a popular 54-foot indoor-outdoor bar.
  
Flemings Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar. 25 E. Ohio, 312-329-9463. This is a perfect place for steak lovers as well as business lunch meetings.
 
Fogo de Chao, 661 N. LaSalle, 312-932-9330.  All-you-can-eat meat sliced at your table Brazilian style is the menu at this River North restaurant. Other patrons go for the popular salad bar-only option.
  
Gene & Georgetti, 500 N. Franklin, 312-527-3718. Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope used to come here for steaks when in Chicago. The steakhouse opened in 1941 and still offers quality food.
   
Greek Islands, 200 S. Halsted, 312-782-9855. The biggest Greek restaurant in the neighborhood offers traditional Greek dishes.
  
Green Zebra, 1460 W. Chicago, 312-243-7100. Almost entirely vegetarian, this upscale spot features the best cuisine has to offer from many cultures.
  
Green Dolphin Street, 2200 N. Ashland, 773-395-0066. Jazz club, nightclub, private event venue. It has an extensive seafood selection on its eclectic menu.
  
Hunt Club, 1100 N. State, 312-988-7887. This popular sports bar and grill offers Monday night football fun and dancing until 5 a.m. on Saturdays.
 
Le Colonial, 937 N. Rush, 312-255-0088.  Authentic Vietnamese French cuisine coupled with elegant atmosphere. Try Chao Tom, a grilled shrimp delight.
  
Mista, 2929 N. Broadway, 773-698-6688.  Try the Margherita pizza with a very thin, crispy cracker crust with tomato sauce, basil and fresh tomatoes.
  
Lou Malnati’s, 439 N. Wells, 312-828-9800.If you are dying for fabulous deep dish pizza, you’ve found the perfect spot. Highly recommended: “The Lou” with cheese, spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes.
  
McCormick & Schmick's, 1 E. Wacker, 312-923-7226 and 41 E. Chestnut, 312-397-9500. Top-notch seafood heads the menu with steak offerings for meat-eaters. Try the outstanding pike.
  
Mercat a la Planxa, Blackstone Hotel, 638 S. Michigan, 312-765-0524. Spanish tapas, wines and cocktails served in wild décor make for a fun night.
  
Morton’s the Steakhouse, 1050 N. State, 312-266-4820. Steaks and wines are the draw here in the original Morton’s location. Save room for dessert.
  
Naha, 500 N. Clark, 312-321-6242. Seasonal Mediterranean taken to new levels of sophistication and artistry. The Wild Black Cod is recommended.
   
N9ne Steakhouse, 440 W. Randolph, 312-575-9900. Steak and seafood head the menu at this sister restaurant of N9ne Las Vegas. The upstairs Ghostbar has a cool, futuristic theme.
  
NoMi, Park Hyatt Chicago, 800 N. Michigan, 312-239-4030. Upscale and sophisticated, the international spot is known for its elegant presentation, distinctive cuisine and extensive wine list.
  
North Pond, 2610 N. Cannon Dr.,773-477-5845. The ducks in the lagoon provide a glimpse into nature.The menu is simple, with a good selection of fresh fish.
  
O’Brien’s, 1528 N. Wells, 312-787-3131. This Old Town restaurant features well-prepared fish, steaks and burgers. The outdoor garden is bustling.
  
Oceanique, 505 Main St., Evanston, 847-864-3435. From its charming French decor to the bouillabaisse, Oceanique is an intimate, tony restaurant for any occasion. It features an extensive fresh seafood menu, thoughtfully prepared, and desserts like the day and night cake with layers of chocolate mousse.
  
Parthenon, 314 S. Halsted. 312-726-2407. Ooompah! Enjoy this authentic spot from the delicious Greek specialties to the tasty galaktoboureko and phyllo pastry shell with light vanilla custard.
 
Pensiero Ristorante, 1566 Oak Ave, Evanston, 847-475-7779. The pasta and fresh fish specialties are excellent in this popular Italian restaurant.
  
Phil Stefani’s, 437 N. Rush, 312-222-0101. Quality beef and seafood with traditional Italian pastas is the menu of the day for bigger appetites.
  
Piccolo Sogno, 464 N. Halsted, 312-421-0077. The influence of many areas of Italy is represented in this reasonably priced restaurant that has a stunning view of the skyline from the patio.
  
Pizzeria Uno, 29 E. Ohio, 312-321-1000. The deep-dish pizza can’t be duplicated anywhere else except for Pizzeria Due across the street.
  
Province, 161 N. Jefferson, 312-669-9900. Enjoy farm-to-table dishes with Spanish and South American influence in a certified Gold LEED-EB building.
  
Pops for Champagne, 601 N. State, 312-266-7677. This new version of the popular venue has a raw bar, champagne bar, jazz lounge and outdoor spaces.
  
The Publican, 837 W. Fulton, 312-733-9555. The focus is on beers and heirloom pork in this Warehouse District venue backed by some of the biggest names in Chicago food circles.
  
Quince at the Homestead, 1625 Hinman Ave, Evanston, 847-570-8400. Enjoy contemporary American cuisine with the best ingredients of the season in a lively and comfortable setting.
  
Rhapsody, 65 E. Adams, 312-786-9911. If you are going to the symphony after dining, you need reservations. Enjoy this wonderful spot offering unusual preparations of fish and vegetables.
  
RL Restaurant, 115 E. Chicago, 312-475-1100. The Ralph Lauren restaurant features American food with country-clubby, old-money décor. The lobster club sandwich is the best in the city.
  
Rosebud, 1500 W. Taylor, 312-942-1117.
Where better to dine on sumptuous Italian fare than in the old Italian neighborhood? This original restaurant was so popular, multiple Rosebuds opened up throughout the city and suburbs.
  
Russian Tea Time, 77 E. Adams, 312-360-0000.   When you are taking in the cultural sites at the Art Institute or symphony, this bustling old world restaurant
is a must. Vegetarians can enjoy an array of unusual appetizers. There are excellent meat dishes, as well.
  
Rustic House, 1967 N. Halsted, 312-929-3227. The weathered barnyard and burlap wall coverings are as authentic as the excellent fresh farm-to-table ingredients of their dishes.
  
Salute, 46 E. Superior, 312-664-0100. This cafe and wine bar offers an extensive wine list and Italian small plates in a Victorian-era atmosphere lending an aura of romance.
  
Sapori Trattoria, 2701 N. Halsted, 773-832-9999. The linen tablecloths and exposed brick walls evoke an atmosphere of old Italy. On Tuesday nights—tapas night—you can enjoy live jazz and sample tasty, innovative combinations. Try the lasagne or salmon.
  
Seasons Restaurant, Four Seasons,120 E. Delaware, 312-649-2349. Enjoy an elegant Old World feel above Michigan Avenue. Try the salmon and smoked caviar. Tasting menus change often.
  
Sepia, 123 N. Jefferson, 312-441-1920. A great choice in a former print shop serves a seasonal
contemporary American menu and extensive wine list.
  
Shanghai Terrace, Peninsula Chicago, 108 E. Superior, 312-573-6744. Experience upscale Chinese food in an elegant hotel. Enjoy Sunday dim sum brunch.
 
Signature Room, 875 N. Michigan, 312-787-9596. Go for the views at this elegant spot on the 95th floor of the Hancock Building. The fare is excellent.
  
Smith & Wollensky, 318 N. State, 312-670-9900. Known for its excellent dry-aged beef and giant steaks, the restaurant also offers a few lighter options.
   
Tavern at the Park, 130 E. Randolph, 312-552-0070. The all-day eatery in Prudential Plaza has an upscale menu of sandwiches, salads and entrees. Enjoy
panoramic park views from this spot.
  
Texas de Brazil, 51 E. Ohio, 312-670-1006. This
Brazilian steakhouse offers meat-lovers a sizzling time.
   
That Little Mexican Cafe, 1010 Church St., Evanston 847-905-1550 and 1055 W. Bryn Mawr 773-769-1004. Both locations of this long-time favorite offer guacamole made tableside as well as excellent classic Mexican dishes such as duck enchiladas with mole sauce and fresh mango salad.
   
Trattoria D.O.C., 706 Main St., Evanston, 847-475-1111. This Evanston favorite is known for its creative pizza combinations prepared in their wood- burning oven. But the other offerings, such as marinated grilled squid or linguine with lobster meat, cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic and white wine, are just as delicious.
  
Trattoria Isabella, 217 N. Jefferson, 312-207-1900. Another excellent and creative Italian spot in the Warehouse District, Trattoria Isabella has floor-to-ceiling windows and a giant patio for nice weather.
   
Twin Anchors, 1655 N. Sedgwick, 312-266-1616. This Old Town rib joint remains the place to kick back and enjoy some baby back ribs.
  
Veerasway, 844 W. Randolph, 312-491-0844.
This is the place for Chicago modern Indian cuisine, from the vegetable samosas to the masala pan-roasted scallops and the organic papaya and mango salad.
  
Vermillion, 10 W. Hubbard, 312-527-4060. Latin-Indian? Somehow it works in an extensive tapas menu and entrees like you’ve never before tasted.
  
Vivere, 71 W. Monroe, 312-332-4040. With a wine cellar of over 2000 selections, Vivere pushes the limits of “new” Italian cuisine with unusual ingredients. The black truffle gnocchi is excellent. For dessert, try the chocolate and hazelnut tiramisu.
  
Vinci, 1732 N. Halsted, 312-266-1199. The warm, comforting atmosphere and consistently
excellent Italian selections has made it a neighborhood
favorite and pre-theater spot for years.
   
Yoshi's Cafe, 3257 N. Halsted, 773-248-6160. The casual atmosphere is deceptive. This is haute cuisine with an eclectic menu combining French, Japanese, Italian and American influences.

Published: February 12, 2012
Issue: February 2012 Issue