Food/drink recommendations for Monday afternoon in Chicago?
October 14, 2010 12:28 PM   Subscribe

Seeking recommendations for food-themed things to do on a Monday afternoon in Chicago.

I'm from Milwaukee and will be taking a train to Chicago this coming Monday morning. I have business in Chicago that will likely wrap up by about noon, and I should have the afternoon free to do as I please. I'll then take a train from Union Station back to Milwaukee in the evening.

I'm something of a foodie, and I'm looking for recommendations for the following: (1) a great place to have lunch that (a) does not require a reservation and (b) is open on Mondays (unlike Frontera); (2) some interesting gourmet/ethnic grocers to browse; and (3) a place to enjoy a well-crafted cocktail before getting back on the train. For (3), I need something within a moderately short cab ride or CTA trip of Union Station. The Violet Hour seems like it would be cool, but it doesn't open until 6pm, and that's too late for my purposes.

I've seen this post.

posted by crLLC to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Province, Naha and Prairie Fire are chef-driven, downtown (or near), and open Mondays. They're where I would go.

You may want to check out the French Market. It seems to me like it's still figuring itself out, but it's a good food-centric destination in that area.

Chinatown is a pretty short Red Line trip from downtown. If you have a couple of hours, you could pop down there.
posted by veggieboy at 12:34 PM on October 14, 2010

How far are you willing to go for (1) and (2)?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:34 PM on October 14, 2010

Response by poster: For (1) and (2), anywhere that I can get within a reasonable time on public transportation. Probably any distance short of going to the suburbs is fair game.
posted by crLLC at 12:39 PM on October 14, 2010

1) Hot Doug's?

3) Sable, where Mike Ryan is now (ex-Violet Hour) appears to start serving the bar menu at 3pm. But I'd call to confirm. It's in a hotel so you should be able to grab a cab easily. Looks like it's about a 10 minute taxi ride to Union Station.
posted by kathryn at 12:41 PM on October 14, 2010

1) Big Star is across the street from Violet Hour and has some very good food (and drinks selected by Michael Ruben of Violet Hour, if you're interested in drinking with your lunch). No reservations needed, but be warned that it's cash only.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:45 PM on October 14, 2010

Oh, and regarding (2), depending on whether you'll have time what with (1) and (3), there's the Patel Brothers Indian market at 2610 W Devon Ave.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:50 PM on October 14, 2010

Seconding Hot Doug's for #1. Encased meats, foodie style. You can get a nice lunch in any city, but there's only one Hot Doug's. The only caveat is that it is a bit of a schlep from downtown (might require a bus). And you'd probably have to wait in line, but it's totally worth it. (And you'd miss the duck fat fries, which are only available on Fridays and Saturdays.)
posted by pluckemin at 12:50 PM on October 14, 2010

Fox & Obel is always a great grocer to check out. That's the second place I'm going after I win the lottery. It's a little walk (over by Navy Pier), but a cab could have you there in a jiffy.
posted by moitz at 12:51 PM on October 14, 2010

there's always the trick of getting the cab driver to take you to his favorite spot!

isn't penzeys (or some other fancy-pants spice store) in Chicago?
posted by ChefJoAnna at 2:21 PM on October 14, 2010

I don't know about Penzey's, but there's The Spice House. There's one on Wells somewhere in town, and one in Evanston, a short walk from the Metra line on Central Street. And seconding Fox & Obel...
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 2:48 PM on October 14, 2010

Hey, where'd my link go? Sorry: The Spice House.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 2:49 PM on October 14, 2010

Seconding Fox & Obel for #2. I would go there around lunchtime sometimes when I worked downtown. From Trib Tower it's not a bad walk at all.
posted by SisterHavana at 4:43 PM on October 14, 2010

For #1 a and b, as I never tire of saying, you might check out the (relatively) new Purple Pig on boul mich.

I had no idea that Naha is open for lunch. You cannot go wrong there. It's my favorite restaurant, for dinner anyhow.

I'm on shakier ground for #3, because I'm a wine drinker, but the last time I was at the Park Grill in Millennium Park, I was impressed by the bartender's expertise and helpfulness regarding my companion's interest in different tequilas. He poured us comp shots of a delightful "grassy" tequila (the name of which never entered my head). And, of course, you can visit The Bean beforehand and be close to the train station when you're done.

Have fun!
posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:51 PM on October 14, 2010

Seconding Big Star (especially the fish tostada!) and nthing Spice House.
posted by dizziest at 4:05 PM on October 15, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the great suggestions. I was unable to use the lunch recommendations because one of my associates wanted to have lunch with me and didn't have much time. But I went to Fox & Obel for (2) and Sable for (3), both of which were exactly what I was looking for.
posted by crLLC at 12:00 PM on October 19, 2010

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