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A guide to eating respectable meals near the Art Institute.

By Uncategorized

One of the unique features of the School of the Art institute Chicago is that nary a meal plan is offered. Sure we have Sonny’s in the Columbus building, and those little faux-cafeterias in the Sharp and MacLean buildings, but where do students who live in the dorms or those who want to mingle with Chicago’s office workers eat? I offer several downtowny alternatives for your lunchtime munchies and nighttime cravings.

Webmaster’s Note: this looks suspiciously similar to last year’s guide to eating downtown. In an effort to provide our readers with fresh content I have added my own commentary to Natalie’s reviews. Like this note, my thoughts will be in italics.

-Editor’s note: The Webmaster’s note looks suspiciously similar to my butthole, so I’ll be responding to his responses with a little dash in front of my comments so that he can tell that he didn’t write it.

Webmaster’s Note: Having never seen the Editor’s butthole I cannot vouche for the accuracy of the above comment. However, my butthole looks like this * so my rebuttal’s will have that in front of them.

The Gage
24 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 372-4243

You’ve seen this place. It’s next to the Thai place. What’s it like inside, you wonder? The beer is expensive and there are lots of people with iPhones in here, so if you have one of those, throw on a blazer, and you’ll maybe fit in. I don’t know about the food here, but I do know they have fancy modern plates they serve the food on, and you can get a glass of Prosecco for 7 dollars, which is quite reasonable, considering their beers cost about the same. Oh, did I just sound like a douchebag? It’s contagious!

Last May my mom and sister were visiting over Mother’s Day weekend. We went here for brunch. It only cost my about $70 and they gave us free mimosa’s. The food was tasty. I thought it was a pretty good deal.

– The Webmaster “does” brunch. That’s all I have to say.

* I “went” there for brunch. I do not “do” brunch because I am not a douche.

Artist’s Restaurant
412 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 939-7855

Once, there was a tiny chihuahua that was fed a rather large amount of fettucine alfredo, and then the little dog got all bloated and threw up a perfect little pile of partially digested noodles in sauce. A perfect little pile. And thinking back on that moment where that little dog threw up that pile of noodles, I can see that if I went back in time and picked up that pile with a spatula, placed it atop a soggy English muffin, then placed a half melted piece of cheese on top of that, I could waltz right in to the Artist’s Restaurant and serve it to someone without anyone batting an eye. But go on in if you want.

If you’re walking down here from school there’s a sushi place on the corner of Michigan and Van Ness that has great smoothies. Go there instead.

– I just went to this sushi place for the first time recently. Webmaster is correct: you should go there and get something. I don’t know about those smoothies with the balls in them. They kind of creep me out, but the sushi is good.

* The balls creep me out too. I get my smoothies sans balls.

17 W Adams St
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 427-3170

Oooh, it’s so historical and wow check out the history in here and blah blah blah… look honey, there are articles about it and crap all over the walls… 108 years in the Loop blah blah blah. This restaurant shut down for a while in 2006 so the daughter of the original owners could bust the workers union that provided benefits and better pay to employees that had been with the Berghoff for many many years. Oh, but surprise! She reopened it with a brand-new staff who works for dirt cheap and have no institutional historical knowledge of the Berghoff. So if you’re into that kind of place, the kind of place that doesn’t value workers who are committed to a 108-year history of serving old-world German food to an appreciative community, then this is the place for you!

Natalie used to be a union organizer, so this place makes her especially bitter.

– It’s true.

Panda Express
110 W Monroe St
(312) 558-9106‎

You can get a bowl of a pile of stuff at Panda Express, including a bowl of orange chicken. You know how Diet Coke is delicious because it tastes like chemicals? Well, there is something about this orange chicken bowl that tastes like chemicals, in that familiar way. If you inhale through your nose while you have a whole chunk of the glazey chicken in your mouth, it feels like a chemical wasabi wave is taking over your face. Go in there and get that bowl and try it. Email your description of the experience to [email protected], and we will post it on the internet so that others may more fully understand the wonder that is Panda Express’s orange chicken bowl.

Eating at Panda Express is generally done in desperation and because you’re sick of Cosi and Subway and don’t want to walk any further than you have to. Oh, and there is no prize if you do actually email us an account of your experience.

– There is a prize. Webmaster doesn’t know, but the prize is that I will sneak into his studio and give the winner one of his paintings. Probably his favorite one.

* The joke is on you, all of my paintings suck.

Takashi Yagihashi’s Noodles
Macy’s 111 N. State St., 7th Floor
(312) 781-4483

The cure to hangovers is hot spicy soup, and this is available en masse at Noodles. There are some other yuppie delights to be had in “Seven on State,” but Noodles is at the top of the food court hierarchy. The menu at Noodles has been described as “pork-centric” for sure, but there are vegetarian options, I think. You know what? I don’t remember because I love pork.You’ll spend about ten dollars here (but you’ll get two meals out of it), but more if you look around Macy’s, and if you’re hungover you might wind up with a new pair of shoes you’ll regret once the fog lifts from your soul. Don’t worry. The fog will lift.

I’m a dude, thus not prone to foolishly spending money on shoes that I’ll just get paint on anyway because my judgement was clouded by too many pitchers of Exchequer Ale the night before. I can eat here without worry.

116 S. Michigan Ave.
(312) 223-1061

OH GOD. Not another creepily-textured, asymmetrically-sliced bagel from Cosi. Seriously. In lieu of their square, springy, egg-cake breakfast bagel, you may be better off tossing back a couple brand new sponges, right out of the wrapper, which will mimic the texture of Cosi’s breakfast staple without all those pesky calories. But hey, they take your articard, and dammit, you love your articard.

Last year Cosi had two coupons in FNews at the beginning of the year. One was a ‘buy one get one free’ for any sandwich and the other was a half off or something. It was a pretty sweet deal. Then Natalie wrote a scathing review of Cosi and they pulled they’re advertising.

-Sorry about that, everyone. My bad.

* Yes, but one of the perks of this job was having access to the leftover issues of FNews which contained said coupon that didn’t expire until 10/31/2007, so I still got to take advantage of their killer deal longer than most. Apology accepted.

226 S. Wabash Ave.
(312) 939-5633

Five words: One Pound Burger. Also Beers.

The food at Exchequer is generally not so great, why would I want their one pound burger?!?!!??

– I agree with the the Webmaster’s observation that their food sucks. But a one pound burger is very amusing.

230 S Wabash Ave.
(312) 922-0077

Go to the juice bar at Kramers and tell them what is wrong with you. I’ll be damned if they don’t have some concoction to cure it. PMS? No problem. Getting a cold? Easy. Broken wrist? Maybe not, but they’ll try. This is maybe the best deal in the loop: you can get a huge bowl of soup, some main dish type thing (I prefer the spinach pie), and a fresh juice. Stock up on your Dr. Bronners and grab a fancy candy bar on your way out. Vegans, listen up: this is the one place in town you can eat where you’re not just eating a salad.

Natalie took me here during my first day on the job at FNews last year. I don’t remember what I had, but it gave me terrible gas for a week. I haven’t been back since.

-The webmaster always has terrible gas.

* Ladies, did I mention that I am single?

14 S Wabash Ave
(312) 214-4282‎

If you miss going to diners with your grumpy Jewish grandparents, then you’re in luck, because Ada’s will make you feel right at home. But there is a price you must pay for feeling right at home, and that price is about 15 dollars. Ada’s has beers and coffee and an intimidating dessert counter your grandmother would kvetch over. Once I went to Ada’s for beers, and this weird dude was watching me from across the room, and then he picked up my friend and my tab, which was about 60 bucks, and he came over and was all, “Hey, I’m so-and-so, and I’m a contractor in from out of town, and blah blah blah,” and then I was all, “I’m married, dude,” and then he was disappointed, until he realized I was with my friend, and then he turned to her and said, “How about you?” and then we all had a good laugh, especially me and my friend, who didn’t have to pay our bill. So if that’s the kind of scene you crave, stop on in.

True, Ada’s food is over priced, but if you go to the bar with any regularity you’ll learn that your tab at the end of the night does not accurately reflect why you’re so drunk.

-I agree with that. People are always buying the Webmaster drinks, because he is so beautiful.

* Especially gay bartenders even though the Webmaster is straight.

Potbelly Sandwich Works
55 E. Jackson
(312) 427-9347

Potbelly’s has cold cuts and crap, if you’re too lazy to make your own damn sandwiches at home, but the real deal here is the meatball sandwich with hot peppers on it. Also plus: banana milkshakes. If you are stoned, which many people are, especially in the painting department, also which I am not necessarily condoning, this is a nice combination of items to ingest. I have heard, I mean. From painters.

I’m a painter. I resent these libelous accusations!


* I cut my hair so at least I no longer look like a stoner.

Au Bon Pain
122 S. Michigan Ave.
(312) 427-4925

Au Bon Pain has half-price baked goods after 6. Their breads hurt the delicate roof of my mouth, and the sandwiches they keep in that weird incubator are at once repulsive and tempting, though repulsiveness always wins. There’s no real reason to eat here. Their orange juice is overpriced, as are their grapes and containers of Swedish Fish, their salad bar is expensive too, unless you only put things that don’t weigh a lot in your salad (you pay by the pound). Remember when nobody wanted to eat at salad bars in the 80s, and so they came free with your entrée? What? You weren’t alive then? Oh.

Remember when you read that same joke about salad bars last year? The internet never forgets.

-Shut up, Webmaster.

* Don’t worry, our readers weren’t alive last year either.

Patty Burger
72 E. Adams St.
(312) 987-0900

Patty’s is reasonably priced and now they have chicken sandwiches and breakfast. Patty’s institutional-chic interior whisks you away to the poshest hospital cafeteria of your mind’s eye for a brief moment and then BAM slaps you back into reality when you open the door, step out onto the sidewalk and buy a Streetwise.

I keep trying to like the food at this pin-up girl-themed, fast-food place, so I keep going back in there asking to be impressed, but I keep not being impressed, but then I keep going back. Their fries aren’t awesome, and the peanut butter and chocolate milkshake instantly filled me with regret while exfoliating my sensitive throat. The burgers are good, and apparently their veggie burger is delicious.

Don’t waste your time with Patty Burger, it’s just OK. Better burgers can be had for less money a little further down Adams at Max’s (it’s next to a wig store). The cheeseburger special is $6.50 and it comes with fries and a drink. It is a staple of my diet. If you want a better burger for more money go to Epic Burger (on State past the library). You can get a fried egg on your burger and it’s open past 9pm during the week.

-People that get fried eggs on their burgers are gross.

* I thought so too until I tried it. It’s actually much better and less gross than you’d think.

Under 55
55 E Monroe St, Lower Lobby
(312) 849-9512‎

This place is weird. It’s like eating at a food court in the basement of a skyscraper. Oh wait, it is a food court in the basement of a skyscraper. They have sushi and roast beef and maybe a taco counter, but someone wise once told me never to eat anywhere that doesn’t focus on one kind of food, because that means they don’t do any one thing really well, they just do a bunch of stuff kinda ok. Which is actually a really great metaphor for most of your relationships, isn’t it?

I just now realized that Natalie included the phone numbers for all of these establishments. Like what are gonna do, call Under 55 and ask what the soup of the day is?

-YES. Call them. I dare you. The Webmaster is a pain in the butt.

One Response to BROWN BAG IT?

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