Where to Eat While Holiday Shopping Downtown

What we love: shopping, eating, and holidays.
What we hate: parking, traffic and mediocre food.

The problem? Reveling in what we enjoy without suffering through the bad stuff. The solution? Take the train downtown, either the Metra or the El. Choose one of these restaurants when you need a break from shopping. And treat yourself to a cab ride home with all of your packages.

There are so many wonderful places to eat downtown, whether you’re near Ogilvie Center, State Street or Michigan Avenue. You’ve just got to know where to look.

Near Ogilvie Center

Taking the train? Check these places out.

Prairie Fire Open lunch and dinner seven days. Chefs Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris keep things fresh and local. Order a Smoked Salmon Pizza, the French Lentils with goat cheese and crispy shallots, and the BBQ Brisket or the Panko-Crusted Tilapia. You won’t be sorry. There will be special Holiday High Teas on December 10, 11, 17 and 18 between 2-4 p.m. that will include scones, tea sandwiches, holiday cookies and organic teas for $18.50 per person.

Province Open 11:30 am on M-F, dinner only on Saturday. Chef Randy Zweiban is always concerned with what’s sustainable and delicious. You can’t go wrong with anything here, but you must have the Melted Goat Cheese Fondue, the Spice-Rubbed Grilled Ahi Tuna Taco, the Rotisserie Duck “Ropa Vieja” Sandwich (lunch) and the Ten-Hour BBQ’d Lamb (dinner).

Saigon Sisters Open for lunch during the week and dinner M-Sat; very reasonably priced and extremely yummy. Don’t miss the Bahn Mi sandwiches (lunch only; go for the Frenchman or the Vietnamese Meatball)), the Banh Bao (open-faced steamed buns stuffed with caramel chicken, hoisin-glazed Pork or coconut-braised beef), the Lamb Luc Lac and the Tuna Tartar (with grapefruit confit and pickled ginger).

Around State Street Shopping/Art Institute

Atwood Café As a hotel restaurant, they’re open breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it’s always bustling. The Mascarpone-Stuffed Brioche French Toast is the morning choice; Shrimp Chowder and a Grilled Turkey Burger (served on a Pretzel Roll w/ Brie, Port aioli, and caramelized onions) at lunch; and the Pan-Seared Diver Scallops w/ Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Compote or the Blue Hill Bay Mussels at dinner.

Frontera Fresco Open when Macy’s is! Yes, I know that it’s de rigeur to visit the Oak Room during the holiday season, but just look at the tree and move on over to Frontera Fresco to eat.  The Chipotle Chicken and Roasted Vegetable Salad is my new obsession, although I’d be happy with a bowl of the yummy Roasted Corn and Poblano Chowder, or maybe the Grilled Shrimp Quesadillas. And the lines are going to be shorter than at Rick Bayless’ other counter service restaurant, Xoco.

Russian Tea Time Open 11 to 11 daily.  Especially festive during the holidays, you could just order one of the sampler platters for the table and be done with it. That leaves you plenty of time to drink shots of the house-flavored vodkas. You will want to make time for that. Trust me. I also love their hearty Borscht and, of course, the Smoked Salmon Blinchiki.

The Gage Open lunch and dinner seven days. Let’s discuss the House Poutine (British “Chips” with Elk Ragout and Cheese Curds). Sounds suspect but OMG. Worth every calorie. The Duck Sausage with frisee, pickles and fried giardiniera is a close second. And the Lamb Stew Vindaloo? All vinegary, spicy bite and tender lamb. It tastes like the best pub food in London.

Off Michigan Avenue

Deca Restaurant & Bar Open for all meals every day. Oh so civilized… this beautiful open restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton’s 12th –floor lobby feels so right. Whether you choose the Wellness Egg White Frittata served with a Blueberry and Acai Smoothie or the classic Frisee Salad with lardons and poached egg, the Steak Frites or the Butternut Squash Ravioli, you will be most pleased. And now through January 1, spirits are made especially warm and bright with holiday cocktails like the Mistletoe Mojito and the Frostbite Martini.

The Purple Pig Open lunch and dinner 7 days. You can check out my full review, but this place is all about pork products and delicious full-flavored, Mediterranean cuisine.  Oh, the Fried Brussels Sprouts with Thyme, Lemon & Chili Flakes. The Winter Squash Arancini with Sage Pesto. The Salami, Goat Cheese & Black Olive Tapenade Panini. Give me a moment.

Shaw’s Crab House Open M-F lunch and dinner; Sat. dinner only; Sun. brunch and dinner. First thing you might not think of: the sushi is delicious. Did you even know they made sushi? It kind of rocks. I’m all about the towering platters filled with oysters, shrimp, Blue Crab fingers and lobster. And the Jumbo Lump Crabcake… Lord have mercy.

  Who We Are       NFP Support       Magazine       Programs       Donate