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Chicago restaurants cater to all tastes


Richard Ouzounian
Toronto Star

You don't really need an excuse to visit Chicago, since there's always enough shopping, arts, architecture, museums and other delights to lure you there.

And while you're there for the weekend, here are some suggestions on where to chow down.


CUSTOM HOUSE, 500 S. DEARBORN ST.; 312-523-0200: Situated in the Hotel Blake (a newly renovated boutique lodging I can recommend highly), this happening place manages to combine elegant décor, a hip atmosphere and amazing cuisine.

If you show up early, there's a great three-course pre-theatre menu for $46.

Or you can order a la carte from delights like Sweetbreads on Polenta, luscious Veal Cheeks in a Tomato-Anchovy Preserve and a Sour Cherry Pie served with a unique Cherry Cola Sauce.

Well worth a visit.


LOU MITCHELL'S RESTAURANT, 565 W. JACKSON BLVD.; 312-939-3111: This is a real slice of vintage Chicago, an old-fashioned place with black-and-white tile floors, a huge menu and a "can-do" attitude that will find free donut holes, Milk Duds and other goodies coming your way, in addition to a fine traditional breakfast menu that features some of the fluffiest omelettes I've ever eaten and banana pancakes that are legendary.

Try to grab a booth and bring cash; they don't take any credit cards.


POTBELLY SANDWICH WORKS, 520 N. MICHIGAN AVE.; 312-644-1008: On the fourth floor, inside the shopping paradise called The Shops at North Bridge on the Magnificent Mile, you'll find this place to kick back for a quick, delicious and inexpensive lunch.

It's part of a very popular Midwestern chain that specializes in toasted sandwiches with an Italian flavour. (Think Quiznos kicked up a few notches.)

All their sandwiches are enormous and cost $4.19. Have a meatball with marinara sauce and provolone cheese and you'll be full and happy for a long time.


RIVA, NAVY PIER, 700 E. GRAND AVE.; 312-644-7482: If you're going to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, this is the place to dine, either before or after, since it's just one flight upstairs. An eclectic menu that juggles fine steaks, impeccably fresh seafood and excellent pasta combines with a cheerful atmosphere to create a winning combination. My dish of choice is their linguine, which they serve with a pound of fresh Little Neck clams, and your choice of a spicy red or creamy white sauce.


ANN SATHER, 909 W. BELMONT; 773-348-2378: This is the home base of the locally beloved Swedish restaurants that have been Hogtown faves since 1945. It's crowded, bright and friendly. Their menu includes everything from seven kinds of Eggs Benedict (try the one with Crab Cakes), wonderful breakfast wraps (Sausage, Egg and Cheese is my favourite) and traditional Swedish pancakes with lingonberries. Some locals come just for the famous Cinnamon Rolls, so you better have those as well.


HACKNEY'S PRINTERS' ROW, 733 S. DEARBORN; 312-461-1116: In a fascinating part of the South Loop you ought to explore, you'll also find this branch of the popular Midwestern restaurants. Join the chatty crowd in the bar or settle into the quieter dining room. The Hackneyburger is the big draw; no gimmick, just fresh-ground beef, a home-baked bun and superb coleslaw. An order of French fried Onions will seal the deal and send you home very content.




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