It's 11 a.m. and you've got a taste for pizza — maybe it's Giordano's Super Veggie deep dish. Or maybe you're thinking of that wonderful, garlicky-delicious chicken Vesuvio at The Village on West Monroe. Or maybe it's the juicy Angus beef burger at Naha on Clark.
Then common sense and reality kick in: You're not going to be able to cram such a fine meal into your lunch hour. Nope, not when you have 60 minutes to get to the restaurant, then have to wait the 30 minutes or so it takes to cook the pizza or chicken. And will it be worth it if they run out of the burgers before you get there?
It's OK to have common sense and be in touch with reality. But think about this: If so many restaurants make it possible for customers to order ahead for carryout, are there any restaurants that will let you order ahead then sit down in the comfortable restaurant?
We checked with a few restaurants and found that customer service is alive, well and willing to help office workers get away from their desks, have a fine meal and return (refreshed we hope) in 60 minutes. And yes, if you're hoping to enjoy a house specialty that the restaurant sometimes runs out of, they'll try to help there too.
Consider the burger at chef Carrie Nahabedian's Naha (500 N. Clark St., 312-321-6242; naha-chicago.com ).
"We're pretty well known for our Angus beef burger and occasionally, especially when the weather is nice in the summer when the patio's open, we have a lot of folks ordering burger," says Daniela Ortiz, the private dining coordinator at Naha. "We do have people who really love it and will call ahead just to make sure that we have sufficient stock or could possibly hold one if we're running low."
Same's true at Bistro 110, where chef Dominique Tougne's artichoke with baked brie and herb-scented whole fish are in big demand.
"I've actually had people call just to check to make sure that we have the artichoke because that's a really popular item," says Anita Anile, assistant manager at Bistro 110 (110 E. Pearson St., 312-266-3110; bistro110restaurant.com ). "The same is true with the whole fish."
And what about dishes that take some time to cook? Pizza perhaps?
During the lunch hour at the Prudential Plaza Giordano's, for example, "you can call ahead and preorder so that by the time you get here and sit down to eat, it's ready," says Fabian Martinez, manager at that Giordano's (135 E. Lake St., 312-616-1200; giordanos.com ).
At The Village, Vivere and La Cantina, the trio of restaurants that make up the Italian Village (71 W. Monroe St., 312-332-7005; italianvillage-chicago.com ), customers regularly order food before they arrive at the restaurant, says Manager Roberto Aguirre.
"We do that all the time," says Aguirre, especially at The Village. "Usually people tend to order pizza, which takes like 30 to 35 minutes cooking time. Or chicken Vesuvio—which is one of the best in town—that takes like 35 minutes. So people, especially the regulars, do that and so when they arrive their food is ready."
A few things to remember:
•Can you order ahead at your favorite restaurant special dishes or those with long cooking times? Call and ask.
•Rules vary with each restaurant. Be clear on what happens if you don't show up.
•With a preorder, a credit card may be required but isn't charged until the guests arrive.
•With a request to "set aside" a house specialty until you arrive, a credit card may not be required.