While North and South Siders duke it out for Chicago supremacy, West Siders have quietly gone about their business. They don’t need to assert anything because they’re too busy enjoying a wealth of culinary offerings their warring counterparts don’t even know about. The Westsiders would probably like to keep it that way, but the wealth of culinary delicacies, which includes terrific tacos and tortas, blistered juicy chicken, Eastern European dumplings, Michelin-level cooking, and even reinvented American comfort food, deserves its spot in the sun. Fortunately for you, we’ve got the rundown. Advertisements
My very favorite thing to do as a food writer is to hop in the car and devote a day to just driving around the city looking for new spots or to rediscover old ones that no one ever talks about anymore.
Sometimes you feel like dining in your underwear. After all, Chicago only really has two inhumane climates: frozen and swampy. Spending significant time outside is often an irrational endeavor in our fair city. In fact, I’ve always thought because of the homebound experience of our citizenry, Chicagoans would make great pioneers in the colonization of Mars, where going outside, at least sans space suit, would be certain death.
In the pursuit to review as many new restaurants as humanly possible, I rarely have the opportunity to stop and tell you about the places I go to celebrate special occasions, the restaurants I visit when I have no agenda except personal satisfaction. Though people will always want to know what’s hot and new, they also ask about those dependable mainstays that make excellent backdrops for life’s momentous occasions (birthdays, anniversaries) and regularly occurring but important circumstances (Sunday brunch). Whether your hard-to-please parents are in town for the weekend or you’re scheduling a second Tinder date, there’s something here for every dining dilemma.
There are a lot more Filipino grandmas in Chicago than I thought. I know this because on a random Thursday afternoon, I was surrounded by dozens of them chowing down on barbecue pork skewers at the new Filipino mega-mart Seafood City located in North Mayfair
Tacos, burgers and pizza. These are the three super food groups on which trends are built. As much as chefs might like it to happen, things with confusing and cutesy French names rarely make it past the appetizer section of a single high-end restaurant. You’d think that might also be the case with the tartine.
There are things, for all time, which are decidedly the essence of Chicago: the Belushis, Michael Jordan, The Second City, thick-fingered Old-Style-drinking dudes who pronounce the word sausage as “saah-sidge,” the Sears—err, Willis—Tower, hot dogs dragged through the garden, and deep-dish pizza. The most underrated of these, or maybe the least known outside the shores of Lake Michigan, is the Italian beef sandwich.
I still remember the stench, the flare of my nostrils as they caught the tang of spoiled beer wafting from floors of the L.
The phrase “salad days” has often been used to describe one’s carefree youth or the moment at which a person lived at the zenith of his powers. The expression was coined by Shakespeare in the play “Antony and Cleopatra,” wherein Cleopatra reminiscing about dalliances with Julius Caesar speaks of her “… salad days, When I was green in judgment…” As one who rebuffs salad as if it were swine flu, I can only deduce that by making such an association, Shakespeare was allergic to food or, at best, was a Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, super-vegan.
Though I’m a bacon-eating Catholic, on Christmas Eve I like to think of myself as an honorary Jew. And no, it’s not the “I have all the money in the world, but still can’t find the secret of life” Madonna/Ashton Kutcher/Britney Spears faux-mystic Kaballah kind. Rather, I become the “I really don’t understand these people who chop down trees and track pine needles all over their house when Menorahs are so much more compact, and thank God at least Chinatown is open on December 24th, kind of Jew” (see note below). While all the other Christians are huddled around their turkey or some other second-rate roast, I’m down in Chinatown mainlining Sichuan noodles.