Joined In Aug 2019
While Lula Cafe is known for its brunch, it’s also very good for dinner. They serve standard American food and have really nice truffle and pasta dishes. It is good for families and has a cute environment. It is also near the Blue Line El and is close to a park with grassy areas to sit down.
Little Goat Diner is an upscale restaurant that is good for special occasion dinners—like finishing the Chicago Marathon! It’s owned by well-known restaurateur Stephanie Izzard. It also has good breakfast food, although the menu is limited. I love the chocolate chip pancakes that come with a little dish of chocolate mousse that you can spread on the pancakes.
Urban Belly is a great ramen restaurant! It’s hard to go wrong there. I love the coconut curry pho, lemon grass chicken, and their special green tea iced drink. It’s their own blend, it’s iced and you can get as many refills as you want. Urban Belly is more casual: You order at the counter and then seat yourself at one of the many benches. There is also another side to the restaurant called bellyQ for sit-down dining. While Urban Belly can be good for kids, bellyQ is less so.
Sweetgreen is famous for their salads, although they also serve bowls and soups like a watermelon gazpacho. Michelle Obama was once quoted for how good they are. The restaurant embraces a sustainable farm-to-table philosophy. This is a casual establishment where you can place your order at the counter and then wait for them to bring the food to your table. I like their Hummus Tahina, Guacamole Greens Salad and Peaches + Burrata. Salads change frequently, depending on what is in season.
This relatively new casual restaurant has a lot of grain bowls and healthy options that are also delicious. The philosophy at True Food Kitchen is that delicious dining and conscious nutrition can go hand in hand. With a spacious location in River North, this restaurant is good for groups and families and for brunch, lunch and dinner. In addition to its tasty meals, True Food Kitchen also features cool drinks like the Medicine Man, which includes heavy brewed green tea, cherry, pomegranate, honey and sea buckthorn.
Buona Terra is a small, family-owned restaurant with excellent Italian food. I recommend the green gnocchi and chicken Parmesan.
Caro Mio Italian Restaurant is another neighborhood eatery I recommend. The gnocchi with vodka sauce melts in your mouth.
Spacca Napoli is a neighborhood eatery with some of the freshest Italian food in Chicago. Located a short walk from the Montrose Brown Line (El) stop. This Italian restaurant features true Neapolitan style pizza with tons of flavor and soft dough. It is off the beaten path, but good for families and has lots of outdoor seating. I recommend the burrata appetizer for its fluffy cheese.
Forno Rosso is a casual pizza restaurant with great Neapolitan style pizza. Specialties include tartufu pizza with truffles and Nutella pizza—although we’re not sure if you’ll want to sample that one the night before the marathon. They also have a yummy limoncello dessert.
Pequod’s is known for its deep dish pizza with the cheese baked into the crust. Pequod’s tops their pizzas with extra homemade crushed tomato sauce. The restaurant is family-friendly with a very casual atmosphere and has won “Best of” accolades fro
Cafecito is relatively new and has three locations. It is a coffeehouse specializing in Cuban sandwiches. The place is phenomenal and the sandwiches are huge. I like the chicken chipotle (pollo chipotle) option. A family-friendly eatery, Cafecito plays a lot of lively music and has very reasonable prices—you can buy a warm toasted sandwich for less than $7.
Ditka’s is a highly regarded Chicago favorite has really good lobster bisque and is known for high-quality steak. For brunch, I recommend the flaky French toast. The restaurant has also recently added healthier options like grain bowls. There is usually not a line for brunch, but reservations are recommended for dinner.
Le Pain Quotidien is a popular French-themed eatery for comfort food, small plates and quick bites. With multiple locations in the city and neighborhoods.
Want to splurge a bit on dinner? Try Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab. This is a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant with phenomenal food and amazing service. I can’t rave enough about their soup, ahi tuna tartar and guacamole appetizer. If you like dessert, they have amazing pies. The Havana Dream Pie is a favorite of mine.
Freehand Chicago touts itself as a combination of hostel culture, innovative design and a community-driven atmosphere. This boutique hotel in Chicago’s River North Neighborhood is a win because it gives you a smaller, more personal feel than a large, traditional hotel and it offers choices. Traveling solo and don’t want to pay premium hotel rates on marathon weekend? Consider their hostel-like option and share a room with others. Traveling with a couple of other runners and want to save your money for fine dining? Consider their quad rooms with four twin-size bunk beds and en suite bathroom. Like the idea of a smaller hotel but want more space? The Freehand has traditional queen and king rooms, as well as suite options.
Close to the starting line and a popular hotel for marathoners, the Palmer House is the longest running continually operating hotel in the country with an amazing history and ambiance in the lobby. The hotel will be a hive of activity marathon morning because of the marathoners who are staying there and because it’s a popular meeting spot for local charity teams and running groups. The lobby is gorgeous, although because it is older, the hotel rooms are somewhat smaller than other hotels and the elevators are a bit slower.
Meat eaters love this all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse where the wait staff comes around to your table with skewers of meats to choose from. For the vegetarians in your group, there is also a sizable salad bar.
Andy’s Thai Kitchen is a smaller restaurant. One of my favorites is a duck egg dish, which is one of the reasons I believe this place may appeal more to adventurous eaters. Their dishes have a lot of really good flavors, and some can be quite spicy. The Lakeview location has beer and wine and is cash only, while the Edgewater location is BYOB and accepts credit cards.
The Chicago Architecture Foundation is renowned for its historical and architectural tours of the city. They have a whopping 85 tours to choose from, and you can go on foot or by boat, bus or bike. If you’re a fan of architectural history, you’ll be in your glory trying to choose the best tour for you. Even if you’re not really “into” architecture, the tours offer interesting tidbits and history about Chicago and its buildings.