Hot Restaurants

in Illinois

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Sooner or later, EVERYONE business and pleasure travelers, singles, those divorced or widowed, very-marrieds whose spouses are on the road, harried moms and dads, etc. faces the challenge of eating out alone!

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THE How-to Booklet of Solo Dining Tips & Strategies:

The Art and Satisfaction of Dining Alone REVEALED!

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Birch River Grill - An American Kitchen (847) 427-4242; 75 West Algonquin Road; Arlington Heights, Illinois

Amenities: "Take this contemporary restaurant for a trial run!" The bar area is awesome and perfect for solo dining. Eat at the bar or in front of a glowing stone fireplace, where you'll find very comfortable furniture.

The entire space has a cozy and elegant homespun feel, complete with warm woods, leathers, and textured fabrics.

Actually, without a reservation, you do have a fall-back option and it, too, is a great one! The full menu is available in the bar (seating 12) in the adjoining lounge (seating for 14).

Cuisine: Hearty, rustic American

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(312) 226-8227; 1235 West Randolph Street; Chicago, Illinois

Amenities: received this e-mail from Chef/Owner Ina Pinkney:

I am thrilled that my restaurant has always been a haven for solo diners!

After years of soloing, I had heightened awareness of the poor treatment we received and vowed that it would never happen in my restaurant. No seats in "Siberia" or near the kitchen door . . . no rude or off-handed service . . . no "invisibility"! wants you to hear about Ina's!

Included in Bon Appetit's January 2002 Best-Restaurants-of-The-Year issue, Ina's is known as a fine dining restaurant featuring "all three meals" breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Ina's is also known as a Mecca for solo diners. "If one arrives with the Sunday newspaper or work to do and wants to spread out over a table for four and we have one available it's his/hers!" said Pinkney. And they [solo diners] do arrive especially during breakfast.

During the week, a steady stream of locals lawyers, moms who've just dropped off kids at school, sales people, etc. make a pilgrimage to Ina's before taking on the day. During the weekend, out-of-towners arrive to "experience" Ina's.

P.S. When the restaurant is busy, a sure way to Ina Pinkney's heart is to offer to share a table with another solo diner.
P.P.S. Just in from Ina Pinkney: "Anyone who arrives and says they read about Ina's in will get extra-special treatment!"

Cuisine: American updated Classics

Neighborhood: West Loop Randolph Market District

Note: Free parking!

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(773) 252-1500; 1520 North Damen Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

Amenities: "Making a reservation is a great habit for solo diners!" Always true, this advice is especially valuable for solos who long to claim a seat at Mod's glass communal table seating 13, located toward the front of the dining space, rife with colors and shapes.

Make a reservation and you'll be assured a seat. Neglect to make one and a group may get lucky totally precluding you, other solos and convivial couples from sharing in the food and serendipity that occurs during communal dining.

Actually, without a reservation, you do have a fall-back option and it, too, is a great one! The full menu is available in the bar (seating 12) in the adjoining lounge (seating for 14).

Cuisine: Modern American

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Pili.Pili (312) 464-9988; 230 W. Kinzie, Chicago, Illinois

Amenities: Pili.Pili has had its eye on YOU since the beginning! (Open since April 1, 2003.) Located across the street from the Merchandise Mart, the neighborhood is filled with business travelers, many of whom lunch or dine solo.

The cafe area of Pili.Pili (named for the hot North African peppers found in the spicy herbal oil used to flavor pizza, meats and vegetables in that part of the world) is a particularly welcoming spot for people who are dining alone. It offers a more casual setting for people who want delicious, quality cuisine without the formality of Pili.Pili's main dining room.

Newspapers are available for those who want to catch up on the news during their meal.

Open from lunch through late evening, the cafe's hours enhance its appeal to busy solos.

Cuisine: Provence with other Mediterranean influences (Many of the food and beverage items are the same as those served in the main dining room.)

Neighborhood: Kinzie and Franklin

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Zealous (312) 475-9112; 419 West Superior Street, Chicago, Illinois

Amenities: Discerning solo diners know how to put restaurateurs through their paces. A local medical doctor keeps chef-owner Michael Taus on his toes. This solo regular has ordered the chef's five-course vegetarian menu over 200 times!

Solo diners, equal numbers of men and women, appear primarily during the week and vary in their seating choices. Some enjoy banquette seating which offers a banner view of the restaurant. Others opt for one of the eight seats at the bar. Still others tote along their laptops or books, preferring to lose themselves in work or pleasure and in the cuisine.

Cuisine: Contemporary American

Neighborhood: Downtown Five minutes from River North

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Looking for restaurants featuring counter/bar dining? Click: eating at the bar
Interested in restaurants featuring communal table dining? Click: eating with others

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