Thai One On

I just returned from a trip to Chicago and realized that I haven’t yet mentioned one of my favorite restaurants that I go to regularly when I’m in town. It’s called Dao Thai Restaurant and Noodle Palace conveniently located just east of Michigan Avenue on Ohio.

They have terrific food and service, but one of my favorite features of this restaurant is a row of tables down the center aisle that just have pads as seats with an opening for your legs. I break my own usual pattern of eating at the bar when alone to sit at one of those.

Dao Thai Restaurant and Noodle Palace
230 East Ohio Street
Chicago, Il 60611

My faves:
Pad Thai with extra tofu (fried) and peanuts and the Crab Rangoon Wantons

Havana in Chicago

Just returned from a biz trip in Chicago and found a new restaurant (Havana) that I think is perfect for the business traveler dining solo or a spot to take colleagues or customers that want something a little different than the many tourist spots in the magnificent mile area. Havana is a small restaurant on Clark (easy to walk to from many of the hotels in the area)that specializes in, what they call, Cuban and Pan-Latin inspired food and drinks, and I could tell that the place catered more to the local neighborhood and regular patrons than the tourists that were just steps away at the always crowded, 1-2 hour wait, Frontera Grill. The food was very good and the attentive and friendly waitress told me that they’re known for their great Mojitos (which I didn’t try but assume they’re probably good)But it was the atmosphere of the place that won me over. They offer some outdoor seating right on busy Clark Street, but I suggest sitting inside. The dark wooden bar, tables and booths are warm and inviting and the ceiling fans give the place a decidedly tropical feel. All the while, soft Cuban music plays in the background, never overpowering the conversation I was having dinner with my colleague (Admittedly, we were there quite early on a Saturday evening, so I assume it does get much louder once the live music that they promote on their website starts – which could also be fun) All in all, Havana is a restaurant that I’ll keep on my list for when I’m in the Windy City. I love finding these little “hidden” gems.

Menu: Reasonably priced Cuban and Pan-Latin inspired food and drinks Havana 412 N. Clark Street Chicago IL 60654 Phone 312-644-1900

A “Hidden” Treasure

Bandera is one of those great restaurants that seems to be “hiding” in plain sight. It’s in the middle of downtown Chicago right on Michigan Avenue and it has a huge sign that you almost can’t miss and yet, until about 3 years ago, I’d never ventured in. It took someone from Ohio to tell me about it!

Since then Bandera has been one of my favorite restaurants in downtown Chicago for several reasons
1) great food that isn’t too fussy – but definitely interesting and always delicious
2) a place that I can recommend or take anyone to because of its diverse (although not large) menu – from delicious burgers and fries to Prime Rib (not to mention always interesting fish of the day and other specials)
3) casual but fabulous ambience (excellent for solo dining or for taking a colleague to lunch or dinner) with a jazz trio that starts at 6:00 every night and several tables pulled right up to large windows overlooking the hustle and bustle of Michigan Avenue below
4) moderate prices that won’t blow the expense account budget

I go to Bandera almost everytime I’m in Chicago for work. Sometimes I’ve gone more than once. It’s the coleslaw… I’m addicted!

Menu: Eclectic American
Faves: The coleslaw (wish I had some right now!!), burgers (Bandera chops their meat fresh everyday), the “fall off the bone” barbecue beef back ribs (comes with coleslaw :>)
Just an FYI: The jazz trio (piano, bass guitar, drum) sets up toward the front of the resaurant, where the windows are – If you’re with colleagues and you need to talk, ask for a table more toward the back (still great ambience and you’ll still be able to hear the music.)
Also, they don’t take reservations for parties larger than four.

Bandera
535 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
312.644.3524
http://www.hillstone.com/
(then click on Bandera)