What a terrific city you Chicagoans have! We lucked out on weather last weekend so that helped. We were so blown away by how attractive the downtown and lakeshore area were and the municipal tulip budget alone must be astounding. Also we ate very well indeed.
Dusek’s. Fun, funky, very loud. Very good food (beef fat frites with harissa ketchup, smoked trout rillettes, flat iron steak with veal roulade, salsa verde, and trumpet mushrooms and choucroute with duck leg confit, duck sausage, seared duck breast, sauerkraut and potatoes) and just a comical series of service glitches that were handled admirably. I know from my long-ago days as a waitress that some parties are just doomed to suffer everything that could possibly go wrong and that was us that night but it could not have been handled any better so huge credit to staff and management for that. Would definitely go back, we thoroughly enjoyed the food.
The Publican. Huge thanks to @Mr_Happy and @biondanonima for steering us here. What a great place! Huge long communal tables, very loud, really fun, great service and fabulous food. Everything was served with serving spoons/forks so you could help yourself onto small plates and at our table strangers were sharing food right and left because you could and we were all having so much fun. We ordered avocado salad with snap peas and farro verde, asparagus salad with ricotta, zhoug, chilis and pepitas, and two of the spectacular aged hams (Colonel Bill Newsom’s and La Quercia Rossa) which come with bread and the most amazing goat cheese butter and also inherited almost a full order of porchetta with mixed chicories from the folks next to us who had over-ordered and were headed to a comedy club and then out dancing and didn’t want to cart leftovers along. They were so relieved it wouldn’t go to waste! Every last morsel we ate there was simply outstanding and it was an amazing experience overall. If I lived in the area it would be my top place to go.
Bohemian House. Beautiful restaurant and pleasantly not loud. I had chosen this place without realizing it was a short walk from our hotel. All the food was great but it was all also quite heavy and the menu really didn’t offer much in the way of lighter options although we did our best. We had duck liver paté (outstanding), pickled vegetables on toast with goat feta (very good), smoked trout with trout roe on amazing butter crackers, Hungarian langos (potato bread) with aged gouda, dill and garlic sour cream (delicious but do not recommend ordering with fewer than 4 people and preferably 6, we left tons), and Rohan duck with cabbage and beets. Now we could have ordered less, sure, but everything on the menu was so intriguing our terrific waitress had to talk us out of ordering more. Restraint is definitely the key in ordering here but the only thing I really could have skipped was the langos and not because I didn’t enjoy it but it was definitely over the top rich.
Xoco. Big thanks to @jadec for steering us here for breakfast. Excellent food (huevos rancheros, bacon mollete) and stellar Oaxacan coffee in French press. We were so sad they were closed on Sunday.
Beef and Brandy. Handily located for tourist activities and very cute – reminded us of old dining cars on trains back in the day. Truly excellent and well-priced salads. I had the chopped Cobb salad and both the chicken and the bacon on it were freshly cooked and still warm. When does that happen? Homemade salad dressings as well. All the other food we walked by looked great too.
Can hardly wait to go back to Chicago!