My kind of town, Chicago is
Just started my “Chicago Source” page last night and stayed up later than intended trying to remember the culinary delights of one of my favorite cities. My love of food really grew into more of an obsession because of living in Chicago in my early adulthood. There was so much accessible, great food ranging from the little ethnic and neighborhood spots to internationally acclaimed places like Trotters and TRU (Alinea opened after I left town, but I have eaten there and it is all they say it is and then some). But the best part about food, to me, is the conviviality over a meal shared. I think my favorite food adventures are memorable as much for who I was dining with as for what I was actually eating. Since pages don’t show up as “posts” thought I’d grab an excerpt to post here, but see the page for the full download on fine dining, etc.
Now for a cursory look at some amazing restaurants that are much easier on the wallet and that are still very memorable for me years later because the food and dining experience was so good. There are SO many worth writing about here, as Chicago truly is one of the great American foodie cities, that I can only begin to scratch the surface.
- Frontera Grill – Rick Bayless’ awesome authentic Mexican cuisine, Frontera is the more casual of his two (Topolobampo is the other) River North restaurants. Brunch at Frontera is one of my favorites, next time I go I’m totally getting the Hot Cakes Indgenas: Iroquois white corn pancakes with whipped goat cheese, piloncillo-agave syrup, grilled chorizo and two eggs sunny-side up.
- Tre Kronor – the most amazing Swedish restaurant, owned and run by a couple of Scandinavian (Swedish & Norwegian) heritage. Off the beaten path up in North Park, near Foster/Kimball intersection, this place is worth the drive and great for young kids as they’re very welcoming. Awesome breakfast or brunch, please do yourself a favor and order the Vanilla & Orange French Toast, while you’re at it send some up my way. Heavenly.
- The Bristol – a great neighborhood restaurant with a very fresh and seasonal menu, which rotates frequently via the chalkboard on the wall. In the Bucktown neighborhood, the menu has some great bar snacks (try the duck fat fries!) as well as some a range of entrees, almost all for <$25 to boot. We ate there last year when visiting and I’m pretty sure I’d be there monthly if I lived in the area. I actually think it’s somewhat similar to Victory 44 (in Mpls.) in concept if you’re familiar with it.
- Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria – Best Chicago deep dish pizza, hands down. Delicious buttery crust topped with hearty meats and a perfectly balanced tomato sauce. Mmmm. We miss it so much that we sometimes order the frozen pizzas online shipped to MN. There are many locations in the Chicago-area, even in the ‘burbs. The one we went to was in River North on Wells, full service with beer and TVs to watch the games.
- Nacional 27 – contemporary Latin restaurant in River North. I used to go there a lot for happy hours because I worked nearby and the drinks and bar menu was the best! The mojitos, caipirinhas, and “el corazon” tequila cocktail are irresistible.
- Le Colonial – French Vietnamese restaurant in an old house two-story on Rush St. in the Gold Coast. Asian-bistro type cuisine, fusion before fusion existed, the restaurant sets a charming and romantic ambiance. The bar upstairs is a great place to start before heading down to the dining room, the place almost feels frozen in time, but in a good way. It’s also perfect for a lunch break during a day of shopping as Oak Street and the Mag Mile are all very close by.
- And a few more: Kamehachi of Tokyo- Old Town for sushi; Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba (Lincoln Park) or Cafe Iberico (River North) for tapas; North Pond – great seasonal local food in a beautiful arts and crafts style restaurant overlooking Lincoln Park; Bin 36 (River North) or Webster’s Wine Bar (West Lincoln Park) for great wine and accompanying bites.