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Both Charlie Trotter's and Alinea are reputed to be 'top 50' in the world. True? Which should I opt for and why? There's a limit to how far over budget I can take this trip and am already there, so it can be only one:))
The most fun meal I've had in Chicago is at Russian Team Time. [russianteatime.com...]
I'm not usually big on the gimmick stuff, but this is just a fun place. And, it's real. I've been three times. (Note, last time was about three years ago, but I've sent several others and everyone came back with good reviews.)
July is a great time to be in Chicago. Take one of the tours on the river. I did this one and it was a riot. The guide hated every building in the city and could tell you why.
It helped that they had a bartender who made very strong gin and tonics.
However there is a fabulous restaurant called Carlos just outside chicago that I really would recommend you go to, I think it has a 29 in Zagat for food, have the tasting menu, it is amazing.
Ooo, I did! The Stalin Softened Siberian Shoe Leather with a Ukranian Scrub Grass side, drizzled in a light vodka sauce sounds quite tempting! ;)
But seriously, Russian Tea Time does sound like a nice place, and I'd certainly have to show up for tea time! Tea is, after all, the Elixir of Life. :)
Not falling into the fine dining category, I recall a deli restaurant on the top floor of the Water Tower (? - the building just south of the John Hancock Building). There was a menu of rib-sticking goodness! But that was almost twenty years ago - too early for Russian Tea Time, and too long to offer valuable restaurant reviews...
They have a special food that Chicago is famous for .... ummmm its called Steak!
Chicago is home to the origonal Mortons, if you want to spend some serious cash and enjoy one of the best steaks you will ever find. Plus there are a 100 other excellent steak or "Chop" houses.
The origonal Pizza Uno, with the deep dish pizza is there too.
Chicago is a great town, I am sure you will have a blast. The big art gallery near Grant Park is worth the effort too.
I would also recommend the comedy club Second City. I can't even begin to name all of the performers that got their start or performed for a season there but the list includes comedians like John and Jim Belushi, John Candy, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey.....
Have heard some really good things about Tru. Some of the reviews I've seen on Trotter's seem a bit mixed considering that we could eat for a week for the cost of one evening:))