Cozy, Off the Beaten Path Chicago Dining

Being a decent cook has its drawbacks. The biggest is that when we go out to eat, my husband usually comments that we could have made the same thing at home and for half the price.

Unfortunately, this is often true. Dining out becomes an anxiety as we search for reasonably priced, uncommon, delicious food. I spend a lot of time on Google maps exploring the places we visit and the restaurants nearby. We’ve hit it right on several occasions. Now, I’ll share these little treasures with you!

Eduardo’s Enoteca

eduardos

photo credit: Eduardo’s Enoteca

I must have walked past this place a dozen times. It’s located on North Dearborn Street, just north of Goethe. It is small, so reservations are a good idea. There are sidewalk tables in the summer, adding a few more seats. It is a secluded little place, with white table cloths and glowing lights. In my mind, that equals expensive. In truth, Eduardo’s is reasonably priced.

The Italian cuisine includes homemade ravioli and rich, buttery sauces. The wine selection is good, and you can actually afford to add a bottle of wine to your dinner without breaking the bank.

We had appetizers recommended by the waiter, a variety of pasta dishes, and a fabulous tiramisu. Save room for it, and you won’t be sorry.

I was cautioned that the ravioli portions are small, but ordered one anyway. It was a lobster ravioli. It did look small on arrival, but after I finished every bit, I was completely satisfied. The buttery sauce was, no doubt, the reason. Oh, and the fresh-baked bread basket that our server kept replenishing; plus, the wine; and, the bruschetta appetizer; and the aforementioned dessert. Okay, I guess I did eat a lot. It was worth every calorie.

D4 Irish Pub & Café2017-05-18 14.36.10

D4 was a lucky find when we stayed a the DoubleTree.  It is located on East Grand Avenue between North Columbus and North McClurg, just a couple of blocks north of the river.

This Irish pub has a great beer selection, if that’s your thing. For me, the real attraction is the atmosphere and the small plate options.

D4’s décor is pub style “elevated.” White porcelain tile floors and dark wood trim are the backdrop. Add in bookshelves, fireplaces, glass paneled interior doors, leather, brass rails, and you get the idea.

The food is creative and delicious, though inconsistently so at times. Best to get there are on the early side of the evening so that you have the kitchen’s attention. Happy hour is 4-6 pm weekdays, when small plates are specially priced. It’s a good diversion from the retail frenzy of the Magnificent Mile, though you can still people watch from the large windows along East Grand.

Orso’s

orsos_interior

photo credit: Sean Parnell

This forty year-old restaurant on the corner of North Wells Street and West Schiller is traditional Italian dining. The menu does, however, include steaks and seafood, pizza (gluten-free versions available), and salads. The atmosphere is lovely, including dimly lit table niches and glowing, dark woodwork. Orso’s has a cute back patio for al fresco dining. The patio also houses a bar where, it seems, a lively band of locals gathers regularly.

Reservations are recommended, though we were able to be seated on the patio on a weeknight without one. If you are going for a full-blown romantic dinner, call ahead. Also, this is not, in my opinion, a place to take the kids. Think adult conversation over drinks without cracker crumbs and spilled juice. Sounds good, right?

featured photo: By cyclonebill  

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