Don’t want to cook? Enjoy Thanksgiving in a neighborhood venue

Daniel Patton | Managing Editor

There’s no sensation like dining out on Thanksgiving. Holiday menus, thoughtful decoration and bustling hospitality provide a uniquely warm reminder that someone else has to do the dishes.

This year, several restaurants in the New Eastside are committed to welcoming the last-minute procrastinators as well as the advanced reservation decision makers. From multi-course extravaganzas to underground tacos, here’s a list of nearby bistros that will be open for America’s autumn feast.

SPACER03-01 Filini Chef Carolina Diaz is preparing a five-course epicurean journey from the Great Lakes to the Mediterranean Sea.

IMG_5221-02Midwestern favorites like Sweet Rutabaga and Italian classics like Creamy Polenta Blend of Mushrooms stand out among the soup and side courses. For those who can’t decide on a region, the Homemade Pumpkin Gnocchi in the pasta course combines them both. Besides Roasted Organic Amish Turkey, the entrée list also offers Prosciutto Wrapped Stuffed Pork Loin. Dessert is a choice of cakes: Pumpkin Cheese or Apple Cranberry.

Cost: $80 per person ($95 with wine pairing)

Hours: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Reservations: Require a credit card and will result in a $45 fee “if a reservation is a no-show or is cancelled after midnight the night before.”

221 N. Columbus Dr. · (312) 477-0234

SPACER03-01 The Palm at the Swissôtel is serving a traditional Thanksgiving meal in three courses prepared by veteran Chef Reuben Izaguirre. The choices begin with kale, radicchio or traditional salad and continue to include wild mushrooms, roasted butternut squash, and homemade cranberry sauce before arriving at the turkey and stuffing. Dessert is either pumpkin pie or homemade cheesecake. The menu features an option for kids and the bar has a couple of TVs, which enhance the restaurant’s reputation as a favorite family Thanksgiving destination. According to host Michelle Labriola, “people have started making reservations already.”

IMG_7904iia-01Cost: $55 per adult, $24 per child under 12

Hours: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Reservations: highly recommended

323 E. Upper Wacker Dr. · (312) 616-1000

Amuse in the Swissôtel is planning a feast to fit in with the relaxed atmosphere and great service that it offers throughout the year. The three-course menu, prepared by Chef Dan McGee, will include soup, turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes. “It’s a traditional Thanksgiving meal,” says Food and Beverage Manager Ben Quick, “with pumpkin pie for dessert.” After dinner, the lounge will shake and stir its upscale cocktails until midnight. “We’re a bar,” Quick says. “So we’ll have the TVs on.”

Cost: around $32

Hours: 6 a.m. to Midnight (dinner service approximately 4 p.m.)

Reservations: highly recommended

323 E Upper Wacker Dr. · (312) 565-0565

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Morton’s The Steakhouse plans to stick with the trick it does best for Thanksgiving dinner, and that means steak. “Last year we didn’t serve any turkey,” explains Manager Chevalo Villalobos, “and we were busy.” From 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., he expects a carnivorous crowd to check in at random intervals and order regular menu favorites like the “very juicy” Chicago Style Bone-in Ribeye. The restaurant will also be showing the football game and employing its year-round mantra to spread the holiday cheer. “Our specialty is to make people happy,” says Villalobos.

Cost: regular menu

Hours: 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Reservations: recommended

65 E Wacker Pl. · (312) 201-0410

SPACER03-01 Hoyt’s will spend the holiday working as hard as its founder, William H. Hoyt, who entered the hospitality industry as a Chicago food retailer with $89 in 1858.

IMG_8323iia2-01The cozy but swanky restaurant that now bears his name at the Wyndham Grand on Chicago’s Riverfront will serve breakfast until 11 a.m. and then offer its regular menu as well as a prix fixe Thanksgiving feast that includes soup, a full turkey dinner and dessert. A scaled down version that includes only dinner will also be offered. Select bottles of wine will be available for half price.

Cost: $28 (three-course prix fixe) · $21 (turkey dinner only)

Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Reservations: recommended

71 E Wacker Dr. · (312) 346-9870

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McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood & Steaks offers a traditional two-course meal in both adult and kids portions prepared by veteran Executive Chef Stephen Hicks.

IMG_8253ib-01The appetizer features a choice of Butternut Squash Soup or Walnut Peeled Mixed Green Salad. The entree is a turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy, cornbread dressing, butternut squash, apple casserole and cranberry sauce. For those with enough room, pumpkin pie and the regular selection of desserts are available at the regular prices. A limited steak and seafood menu will also be offered and there are TVs at the bar. “We served about 800 people last year,” says Manager Tomi Matanovic, “so reservations are highly recommended.”

Cost: $25.99 for adults; $9.99 for kids

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Reservations: highly recommended

1 E. Upper Wacker Dr. · (312) 923-7226

SPACER03-01 Houlihan’s is “really busy on Thanksgiving,” says Manager John Astle. “We do the whole turkey dinner with the pumpkin pie and everything.”

IMG_7752ia-01Besides the regular influx of holiday families, the place draws a lot of smaller parties who “don’t want to go to the suburbs” and a mix of professional travelers from nearby hotels.

“You get people from Europe and people traveling and even some flight attendants,” Astle continues. It’s also a popular late-night destination for post-dinner drinks and TV.

Cost: $18.99

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Reservations: recommended

111 E. Upper Wacker Dr. · (312) 616-3663

SPACER03-01 MingHin Cuisine’s new location at 333 E. Benton Pl. will be open and serving the dim sum that made it famous from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving. The normal Happy Hour discount will be suspended for the day, but the signature Asian mixed drinks will be served until closing.

IMG_5378iia-01Cost: regular menu

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Reservations: recommended

344 E. Benton Pl. · (312) 228-1333

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Taco Fresco in the Pedway by the Metra Station will be open and serving, among other favorites, it’s popular steak taco, just like it has for the past seven Thanksgivings. According to Sam the Manager, the easiest way to get there is to take the stairway by the Cultural Center and keep walking straight ahead.

Cost: $2.75 for the steak taco; various prices for the rest of the menu

Hours: 7 a.m until “early afternoon”

Reservations: not required

151 N. Michigan. · (312) 565-1444

MingHin restaurant arrives in the New Eastside

By Daniel Patton | Managing Editor

MingHin Cuisine, the highest Yelp-rated dim sum destination in Chinatown, opened a new location at 333 E. Benton Place in September. Serving authentic Cantonese dishes and signature Asian cocktails in three separate rooms that create as many distinct moods, the taste is the same as its flagship restaurant, which received a 2016 Michelin Guide Bib Gourmond distinction.

The dim sum menu, available all day, offers a selection of more than 40 items ranging from dumplings to sweet custards, with dozens of buns, rolls, crepes, cakes and pot stickers in between. The shrimp and pork Siu Mai ranks among the most popular, the chicken feet with special sauce among the most unique.

Under the supervision of Chef Ming, who learned to cook when he was a teenager in Canton, China, all the items are prepared with fresh ingredients as soon as they are ordered. The authenticity and the process distinguish MingHin’s dim sum, which Manager Thomas Mun describes as “traditional Hong Kong style,” from the rest.

“We prepare everything by hand,” he says, “and we steam every single item after we receive the order.”

Besides dim sum, the menu contains an impressive variety of beef, pork, poultry, vegetable, and fried rice dishes. There are also more than twenty items listed under the Live Seafood designation. For aficionados making their first visit to MingHin, Mun recommends the Ginger and Scallion with Lobster.

But when it comes to favorites, he goes right for the barbecue, which includes pork belly, spare ribs and his top choice, the roast duck — “so crispy,” he explains. MingHin also makes a “world famous” Beijing Duck that is prepared in the traditional two-course style but does not require the traditional super long wait. “You do not have to order it early,” Mun says. “We sell it like hot cakes.”

An ample selection of beverages complements the cuisine, including signature cocktails mixed with lychee liqueur, the sweet nectar of the Asian passion fruit. Created and prepared by Mun himself, the most popular is “probably the Lychee Martini,” but it doesn’t end there. “You call it,” he says. “I make them.”

Since the restaurant sits on top of a hill that descends into Lake Shore East Park, the eastern windows overlook a vast and peaceful expanse of natural greenery that underscores the distant high rises along the river. Here, the main dining room seems to float over the landscape. The second dining room and the bar are on the other side, nestled in the walkway connecting to Randolph Street. The windows bring scenes of pedestrian bustle into the space, where natural woodwork and gentle lighting create the tranquility of a cozy hideout.

MingHin Cuisine is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Happy Hour is from 2:30 to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (except holidays), and features a 20% discount off the total bill (dine in only). Delivery is available from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

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