Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Your Dining Recommendations

We're hearing from readers with relatives who are coming to visit for the holidays. For example: "How do I ask readers to recommend a restaurant walkable from the the Racine/Lawrence area? My daughter is new to Uptown and we are coming to visit for Christmas."

Let's help 'em out with some recommendations -- your favorite local visitor-friendly places, not too much of a hike from public transportation in the winter weather.


  1. Depends on what you're in the mood for.

    For Thai, i would highly recommend Siam Noodle and Rice. They have been on Check Please, among other places. The best Thai Ice Coffee & Tea in Chicago!

    For Chinese, Hing Wang has the best Beef Fried Rice anywhere, as well as many other selections. They have a newer restaurant that looks fabulous.

    I love the rib eye steak at Best Steak house at Broadway & Wilson. It gives you a good view of Uptown's diversity of people.

    For Fried Chicken, both Irish Pirate and i recommend Jake's pup in the ruf. It's across from Jewel at Monstrose & Sheridan...maybe a bit of a walk , but very affordable meal!

    For Pizza...it's Uptown Pizza & BBQ at Kenmore.

    Pancakes/breakfast/diner food? Golden Pancake house (i think that 's the name), next to the Rivera theater, right by you.

    Not quite like the old Uptown Snack Shop, but definitely also a diverse crowd that dines there.

  2. The hamburgers at Fat Kat or the sushi at Dib or Blue Ocean (a stretch in sub-freezing temps from pub trans) for dinner. Brunch at Tweet.

  3. Cafe Too is my favorite! It's a bit of a hike, but some place closer and equally fantastic is Fontana Grill!

    Check out the reviews on Yelp.com

  4. Agami has some of the best sushi in the city. It's on Broadway, just south of Lawrence, next to Borders.

    For a nice dinner, head to Magnolia Cafe on Wilson and Magnolia.

  5. I went to Fat Kat a couple of times and the service wasn't very good.

    Was I just there at the wrong time?

    Anyone else get bad service there?

  6. Fontana Grill (Wilson/Beacon)is an excellent choice for dinner any night of the week. The calamari, lamb, and pizzas are all outstanding.

    Also, for fried chicken, I love getting Annette's Broasters To Go at Montrose and Clark delivered. I am not sure if they are still technically Uptown, but I still want to give them a shout out.

  7. Crew (Broadway, north of Lawrence) is a great place to catch some good food and a game, if your family is into sports at all.

    I like Gigio's (Broadway, south of Leland) for pizza, but I got take out and didn't let my parents see the place - trust me - it's better that way and they loved the pizza!

    I agree on Siam Noodle (Thai), Dib (Thai/Sushi-BYOB) and Golden Pancake (breakfast).

    Going to try La Ciudad (Sheridan, just south of Wilson) on Sunday, will let you know how it is. For now, I totally recommend Carmela's for very tasty and cheap burritos, tacos, etc.

    I hear Furama (Broadway/Argyle) is great for dim sum, but haven't tried it yet. Across the street - Tank Noodle is the best for soup and noodles on a really cold night.

  8. Agami, Marigold, Blue Ocean, Magnolia Cafe, & Dib.

  9. @A-I too have experienced horrible service at Fat Kat on multiple occasions (over 4). I kept going back b/c I want it to be good since it's so close and I want to support Uptown businesses. Also, the food isn't good. I ordered the chili nachos once and it was literally tortilla chips with shredded cheese on top and a half can of Hormel chili with beans on top then nuked in the microwave. Yuck. I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich thinking that you can't mess that up and it came out like a hockey puck. I sent it back (which I've done less than 3 times in my life) and spoke with the manager. She offered us free shots then took 15mins to bring them over. Nuff said. It's better to hit up Agami, DIB, Carmela's, Marigold, and Tweet for brunch

  10. I prefer Dib over Agami for sushi. Agami has more ambiance, but you pay extra for that.

    Chinese Connection on Broadway has great chicken fried rice.

    I think your mileage my vary with Siam Noodle, but everyone else seems to love it.

    Jake's is great for fried chicken and other stuff. I haven't been in a while, perhaps I can meet Irish Pirate out front with a bottle of whisky and we can get lunch sometime ;-)

    Pizza - I think it all depends on what you are in the mood for. I like Gigio's, but if I order in, I usually preheat the oven so I can toast each slice before eating. I think its better that way and it better replicates their in-store pizza. Sometimes I think they get used to undercooking their crust a bit so they can cook it up to order, but I am not sure. I have never had Uptown Pizza and BBQ, perhaps I should try it. I do not recommend Godfather's on Wilson.

    If you are in the mood for delivery pizza, Giordano's delivers and they represent (imo) a classic style of stuffed pizza. Great stuff.

    If you want Chicago style deep dish, go to lunch to Pizzeria Due. The lines aren't bad at lunch, especially if you go early. They have a good soup there as well.

    Golden Pancake is good, so is IHOP at the north end of Halstead.

    The little diner next to Green Mill is good for something quick, not much space though.

    I like the burgers at Fat Cat, but service can be dicey.

    Crew has amazing pub grub. Mac and Cheese is great. They have a weird fascination with whole wheat wraps and buns. Anything "mini" (burgers, chicken sandwiches, bbq sliders, etc) is served on a dry, dark wheat bun. With their regular size stuff you can get a regular bun. Overall a great place though, they have great food.

    If you drive to the city, check out Leona's in Roger's Park. They have a parking lot and it is a good sit down place.

    Cafe Too is good for lunch and brunch, but I am not a fan of their dinner menu.

    Finally, I will recommend RJ Grunts in Lincoln Park. Take the 151 all the way there and back, its easy.

  11. I have lived in the area for 12 years. New to the neighborhood, Blue Ocean has awesome sushi. They were byob but recently got their liquor license. Agami is also great for sushi...and tasty cocktails.
    I am always shocked when I hear someone say something horrible about FatKat. My friends and I have always received excellent and friendly service there. The only time I've seen them snub someone was when the person deserved it...customer is not 'always right' when he's a drunk fool. Yummy wings and tasty cocktails. They also have all the fun holiday beers there right now.

    Nothing fancy about Silver Seafood, but really good Chinese food. Keep in mind, you generally don't go to chinese restaurants for service or decor. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their chinese style fried rice. If you want good food...this is your place. For Dim Sum, head down the street to Furama.

    24 hour cheap, yummy tacos and byob...head over to El gallo Bravo on Montrose and Clark...stop at the 7-11 for some beer.

    Decent Italian food at Anna Marias or Fontana Grill.

    Another cozy bar with limited but decent bar food but excellent liquor/beer selection go to Bar on Buena.

    For delicious more upscale mexican, head to byob Mixteco just a little west...in the better alderman's area.

    Hmmm, now I'm hungry.

  12. Andy G - I agree with most of your recommendations - except Leona's.
    Leona's is owned by Helen's boyfriend Sam Toia. That's enough reason for me to pass on going there, although the food it good.

    Too bad Leona's can send fliers to Uptown residents, but won't open a location here. Maybe he should look into a Wilson Yard location?

  13. IMO, if you're eating out, Marigold, Magnolia, Fontana Grill and Agami are the area's best bets. All are very nice places to eat.

    For takeout/delivery, I love Dib and Siam Noodle. They never disappoint.

  14. Mike is right, all are great, but my favorite is a toss up between Fontana and Magnolia. I would not recommend FatCat, been there 4 times none of which were any good, food or service, but the beer selection is pretty good.

  15. "A" - It is possible that you were there at a "bad" time. There has also been some staffing changes there, and I encourage all who may have had problems with service in the past to give Fat Cat another try. There's a reason it's packed more than the Mill, Crew, Wild Pug, and Uptown Lounge, particularly on concert nights. It's a GREAT neighborhood bar.

    Tuesday nights are .25 Wing night and Thursday nights are $5 martini nights.

    No, I'm not an employee, nor owner...just a HUGE fan for a couple years now.

  16. I went to Fat Cat once. The music was so loud, I couldn't have a conversation with my dinner companions, and the waitress couldn't hear to take our orders--and had a really bad attitude about it. I swore I would never go back and haven't, but if they've done something about the noise-level, I might reconsider.

  17. I cannot believe nobody mentioned the BOB or Michael's! The BOB (Bar on Buena) is on Buena (shocking!) between Broadway and Sheridan. Good comfortable place, great burgers, better beer selection. Micheal's is on Broadway at Belle Plaine (4100 N.). Great pizza, nothing special about the inside.

    Fat Cat is your standard comfort food. Nothing special but good. Service for us is never stellar but not bad either. I like the place.

  18. I'm not sure if this is within our borders or not as I am new to the area, but we went to Ceres' Table on one of their first nights open and it was fantastic. Beautifully prepared food and great ambiance. Across from St. Boniface on Clark. I think they might even have a liquor license now, but you may want to BYO in case.

    Other favorites have already been mentioned.

  19. THANK YOU so much! I was one of the people posing this question to the group and I am overwhelmed with the response! We will have no problem finding a place (or four) to walk to during our visit to Uptown over Christmas break. Thanks, again!

  20. Blue Ocean has some decent sushi. It's what I call foo foo sushi; lots of rolls and such but again pretty good.

    For a chill bar, Fat Cat is my place. Been going for over a year pretty consistently. Food is your typical bar food with some interesting options like the fried mac and cheese. Staff has always been great, never had a bad experience. Love the fact they also show some totallly random movies.

    Furama is decent chinese. Dim sum is what you go there for though, especially now that it's cold. I just wish they had the hot chilli oil instead of just the chilli sauce. Great for dim sum fix when you can't go to Chinatown.

    Silver Seafood. This place has some awesome Chinese style combination fried rice. It's the closest place to real Chinese outside of Chinatown. Go with a group so you can order multiple dishes. I often go just to grab some carryout to take with me.

    Anyone have a great burrito place up there? That's what I'm looking for next.

  21. Hey Dennis,

    I recommend Carmela's (Lawrence, just west of Broadway) for burritos, tacos, etc. It's dirt cheap (everything is under $5) and very tasty. My friend is a big fan of the marinated pork but I prefer the chicken or skirt steak. Check it out.

    Going to try La Ciudad this weekend, will let you know how it is...

  22. I just moved out here a few month's back and don't live too far from Villa May pizza. Their thin crust is delicious...can't stop eating it. Their deep dish isn't the best though...just a warning. I've eaten at Guadalajara something or other over on Lawrence and Clark...their burritos are pretty good, but all these other taco joints sound pretty good to me as well!!!