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  1. #1
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    Chicago-to-Louisville: Food Reccomendations

    Been perusing old threads through the search function, but since most are from pre-Covid Iíd figure itís worth asking the collective for their wise advice once more!

    I have a work trip in early October that will have me spend a few days in Chicago, and then drive through Indian to Louisville, KY where I will spend a few more. Basically 3 days/2 nights at each place.

    Iíll admit- I donít know anything much about either place, and even less about whatís in-between.

    Not wanting to waste the opportunity, I want to eat and drink what I can while I have the opportunity to do so on the company time. Iím open to all kinds of food/drink/music options in either city. And if someone has a recommendation for road trip stops along the way all the better.

    Thanks in advance all, and much love!

  2. #2
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    i can give you plenty of chicago recommendations but i need to know what you like/want/are willing to prioritize. world class sushi? cheap local sandwiches? ultra high end coffee? specific global cuisines? chicago has it all, give me an idea of what you want and i can point you in the right direction

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by tgapp View Post
    i can give you plenty of chicago recommendations but i need to know what you like/want/are willing to prioritize. world class sushi? cheap local sandwiches? ultra high end coffee? specific global cuisines? chicago has it all, give me an idea of what you want and i can point you in the right direction
    Alright Iím looking for a host of cheaper eats for one night and a higher end option for another night (we might need to eat with some clients). But the more real the better. Iím out in western Washington these days, but growing up in MT Iíve historically been pretty starved for authentic food. So Iíd rather eat food in Chicago from across the pond to the west rather vs the east, if you know what I mean.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by S_jenks View Post
    Alright Iím looking for a host of cheaper eats for one night and a higher end option for another night (we might need to eat with some clients). But the more real the better. Iím out in western Washington these days, but growing up in MT Iíve historically been pretty starved for authentic food. So Iíd rather eat food in Chicago from across the pond to the west rather vs the east, if you know what I mean.
    do you know where in town you'll be staying? i don't know all of chicago - mostly i've spent time on the brown and red lines, and in the northern half of town, too. that said, here are my picks:

    mr beef - the one on orleans - this one was the inspiration for The Bear, and it's, IMO, the best italian beef in chicago. at this point i've had beefs from easily 10 different places, and mr beef wins. double dipped, hot and sweet.

    budacki's drive in - the one off of damen - my favorite stop for a chicago dog. no frills, cheap, loaded.

    khmai fine dining - out in evanston - is a first generation cambodian restaurant that is also a james beard nominee. expect world class flavors and presentation with 1st-gen immigrant authenticity and novelty. holy shit i love this place. when you're done, stop by Ward Eight (walking distance) to grab a drink.

    il quartino - classic italian small plates, get the veal meatballs. if you like italian home cooking, this is my go-to.

    q sushi - off of damen (ravenswood) - don't let the laid back atmosphere fool you; this is NOT a neighborhood sushi bar; this is absolutely world class. just really chill. feels like a neighborhood sushi joint, but the quality is as good or better than anything in LA, San Francisco, or New York.

    momotaro - honestly, we both prefer the sushi at Q, but for ambiance and drinks and whatever else...momotaro wins, hands down. it's fucking classy as fuck. great client spot.

    three dots and a dash - one of the best tiki bars in the country. pair this up with either XOCO (good mexican street food) or Ema (Mediterranean) or RPM Steak for a fun, fancy, client dinner.

    side practice coffee - this is the best coffee shop in chicago, and i would be remiss not to mention them. they fucking kill it. i love them so much.

  5. #5
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    I was just in West Lafayette this past weekend. Triple XXX Family Restaurant has some tasty burgers. Breakfast is good too!

    In Indy, St Elmo steakhouse was good.
    Because rich has nothing to do with money.

  6. #6
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    Chicago-to-Louisville: Food Reccomendations

    Downtown Indy has many good restaurants, and is easy access from 65 as you drive through. St Elmoís is the classic, but Harry & Izzyís is an offshoot without the high end steakhouse vibe. They have the famous shrimp cocktail.

    If you just want a good burger, Bru Burger is hard to beat, as is Bazbeaux for pizza. Mesh is another goto.

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  7. #7
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    Between chitown and Indy hit up tiebels.

    Old school 1960 Frank Sinatra vibe. Not the best food. But all you can eat chicken or perch. I guess I stop in for nostalgia. Phil Smidtís was better. All you can eat perch and frog legs. But itís gone.

  8. #8
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    The food I miss the most from the time I lived in Chicago is the dim sum in Chinatown. It's been 27 years so I couldn't tell you who has the best but that's where I'd go, for sure.

    Chinese restaurants in the intermountain west range from mediocre to terrible.

  9. #9
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    Don't do the trip on Interstates. The best food will be along the secondary roads and there ought to be farm stands all over the place with fresh picked, tasty snax. Don't be in a rush and I bet you'll find some great breweries and distilleries along the way too. For me it's about the local flavors during harvest season.

  10. #10
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    I just spent a week in Chicago.
    Deep dish pizza is a must. Stay away from an of the chains.

    My taxi driver laughed at the notion that my partner wanted to go to Giordanos
    This was his recomedation.

    Pequod's Pizza, 2207 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614, 773-327-1512

    It was amazing. A little wait to get in but the vibe was fairly cool.
    What if "Alternative" energy wasn't so alternative ?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by neckdeep View Post
    The food I miss the most from the time I lived in Chicago is the dim sum in Chinatown. It's been 27 years so I couldn't tell you who has the best but that's where I'd go, for sure.

    Chinese restaurants in the intermountain west range from mediocre to terrible.
    Ha, funny you say that, I was going to leave some reccs for Chinatown but I was lazy and didn't want to look up the restaurants. So here they are:

    Yummy Yummy Noodles - off the Cermac stop, on Wentworth - they make yummy yummy noodles.

    Lowcountry - go for the seafood boil holy shit. Roughly same area.


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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bad dancer View Post
    I just spent a week in Chicago.
    Deep dish pizza is a must. Stay away from an of the chains.

    My taxi driver laughed at the notion that my partner wanted to go to Giordanos
    This was his recomedation.

    Pequod's Pizza, 2207 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614, 773-327-1512

    It was amazing. A little wait to get in but the vibe was fairly cool.
    Also a solid recc. I like them or Gino's, but Gino's is a chain.

    I just think deep dish is a winter food

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  13. #13
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    Before unos went corporate. Unos or dues was better than Gino imho. They all suck now. Good to hear there are independents doing the deep dish

    Mr beef was my fave. Good to hear it’s still going strong. Portillo busted out. Not as good. But they do mail order kits. Which is nice.

    Plus up vote on dim sum. Sunday morning. Being slightly hungover. Second floor huge space. Only a third gringo. Watching the cart of mystery food going past and pointing and trying it. Chicago has a great Chinatown. Nyc not so much.

    Maxwell street is dead now. But you can still get a pork chop sandwich. Google it. Again. Nostalgia. Tastes best at two am after the bars close.

    Best deli outside of nyc is mannys on Roosevelt road.

    Also. Chicago Greek town is solid.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Core Shot View Post
    Before unos went corporate. Unos or dues was better than Gino imho. They all suck now. Good to hear there are independents doing the deep dish

    Mr beef was my fave. Good to hear itís still going strong. Portillo busted out. Not as good. But they do mail order kits. Which is nice.

    Plus up vote on dim sum. Sunday morning. Being slightly hungover. Second floor huge space. Only a third gringo. Watching the cart of mystery food going past and pointing and trying it. Chicago has a great Chinatown. Nyc not so much.

    Maxwell street is dead now. But you can still get a pork chop sandwich. Google it. Again. Nostalgia. Tastes best at two am after the bars close.

    Best deli outside of nyc is mannys on Roosevelt road.

    Also. Chicago Greek town is solid.
    Yeah Gino's is the best CHAIN pizza place. Better than Giordanos or Rosatis (gross) or Lou Malnottis by a decent stretch. Going to the original Gino's is even better.

    Only been to Pequod's once but I loved it

    Also - Trizub has fucking dope as fuck Ukrainian food. Don't be surprised if you are the only non Ukrainian in that joint. Their salo is goddamn outstandingly good if you love salo.

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by gravitylover View Post
    Don't do the trip on Interstates. The best food will be along the secondary roads and there ought to be farm stands all over the place with fresh picked, tasty snax. Don't be in a rush and I bet you'll find some great breweries and distilleries along the way too. For me it's about the local flavors during harvest season.
    This is the way. Take some time off I-65 on the way. It's harvest season in the Midwest and every farmer's market and farmstand is worth a stop. Also, you're going to be bored to tears looking at all the wind farms between Chicago and Indy.

    I'd swing through Bloomington which is a great college town and is absolutely beautiful in the fall. I went there for a UofM - IU football game years ago and I could see why John Cougar Mellencamp sang about the area so fondly.

    I'll leave Chicago to others as there's just so much to cover there - really is a top 3 food city in America. That said, personal faves are:

    Longman & Eagle in Logan Square; Avec/Publican - really anything run by Paul Kahan; Topolabampo still amazing and has a star, and try some tavern style pizza which I actually prefer to deep dish (which is also great).

    Lousiville eats:

    Ed Lee's 610 Magnolia is never not awesome. Proof on Main in the 21c Museum Hotel is consistently great. The chef/principals of 21c actaully bought a farm just north of town by the Ohio River that is absolutely worth a drive and the restaurant is Barn8 - pure Bluegrass n Bourbon with all local ingredients. Grab a Hot Brown at the Lobby bar at the Brown Hotel to say you did it.

    Try as many bourbons as you can cause there's so many in that City and the surrounding area that will never be found outside it.
    I still call it The Jake.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by gravitylover View Post
    Don't do the trip on Interstates. The best food will be along the secondary roads and there ought to be farm stands all over the place with fresh picked, tasty snax. Don't be in a rush and I bet you'll find some great breweries and distilleries along the way too. For me it's about the local flavors during harvest season.
    You have not driven through Indiana.

    The only crops grown there are corn and soybeans. You might fine a melon or tomato stand, but that season has past by now.

    Outside of the larger cities and suburbs your food options are mostly fast food in sad little towns that have been dying for decades. In most of the state Applebeeís and Olive Garden are considered fine dining.


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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by tgapp View Post
    Lowcountry - go for the seafood boil holy shit.
    Spoken like a midwesterner. Fish "boils" are a Wisconsin classic. In a Chinese restaurant, its called "hot pot".

  18. #18
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    And in Lowcountry its just called a boil (or Lowcountry boil).

    I'll make at least one a month, but fall is prime boil season.
    I still call it The Jake.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by neckdeep View Post
    Spoken like a midwesterner. Fish "boils" are a Wisconsin classic. In a Chinese restaurant, its called "hot pot".
    I'm from Utah and the place is actually a Midwestern joint, it's just in Chinatown. There's one other true Chinese place we went to and I can't remember the name of it for the life of me. I'll try to look it up.

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  20. #20
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    I agree with skistack: the most important thing about a road trip in Indiana isn't food, its how quick you can get in and out of America's Most Boring State without running afoul of its hyperconservative asshole constabulary.

    Remember, this is the state that used to put people in prison FOR LIFE if they grew pot plants that weighed 100 pounds.

  21. #21
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    I had a great time watching Figure Eight races here: http://www.speedrome.com/schedule.html

    Good all-american redneck fun. I think there are some massive indoor Karting complexes in Indianapolis, too.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by neckdeep View Post
    I agree with skistack: the most important thing about a road trip in Indiana isn't food, its how quick you can get in and out of America's Most Boring State without running afoul of its hyperconservative asshole constabulary.

    Remember, this is the state that put people in prison FOR LIFE if they grew pot plants that weighed 100 pounds.
    While you're not wrong, Ohio is damned near mountainous, and infinitely more biodiverse when compared to Indiana (as is Kentucky once you cross the river), but I tend to think there's beauty and stuff worth seeing no matter what part of the country you're in.

    Sometimes driving through a rural small town that's been slowly decaying since the family farms all got bought up by ADM and grabbing a bite at the local restaurant, or even grabbing a glass bottle of soda from a gas station that has only one pump, on a cool fall day is an interesting way to gain a different view into our world on your way from point A to B.
    I still call it The Jake.

  23. #23
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    ^^ That's what I'm talking about

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by BmillsSkier View Post
    While you're not wrong, Ohio is damned near mountainous, and infinitely more biodiverse when compared to Indiana (as is Kentucky once you cross the river), but I tend to think there's beauty and stuff worth seeing no matter what part of the country you're in.

    Sometimes driving through a rural small town that's been slowly decaying since the family farms all got bought up by ADM and grabbing a bite at the local restaurant, or even grabbing a glass bottle of soda from a gas station that has only one pump, on a cool fall day is an interesting way to gain a different view into our world on your way from point A to B.
    Yeah, half my family is from tiny farm hamlets east of Champaign, IL.

    Believe me, if you never visit Royal, IL...well, I guess you haven't missed a damned thing. Speaking from experience, one gas pump towns are very overrated.
    Last edited by neckdeep; 09-27-2023 at 03:41 PM.

  25. #25
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    Chicago food. Ahhh. Miss it.

    Cleaning out my moms house. My brother tried to sell my chili pepper eye chart from frontera grill. For $35. Thank dog no one bought it. It’s a second anniversary poster. Signed to me by Rick. Before he opened topolobampo and before he became an internet sensation and a pbs star. It’s priceless. Glad to have it back. Frontera was so awesome in the first few years.

    Old memories as well of Jean banchet Le Francais and the only four star Michelin restaurant. Haute cuisine in the middle of nowhere north shore. RIP. Although it was close to Bob Chins crab house which I think is still there.

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