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Dennis Lee

Dennis Lee

Contributor - Serious Eats Chicago

A handsome, perpetual troublemaker, and lover of food (which is a terrible combination), Dennis tripped and fell into food writing after writing semi-rude (okay, totally rude) comments on Serious Eats under a questionable, yet food-related, username.

One thing led to another, and after a test review with the esteemed Daniel Zemans, the Serious Eats staff decided to give Dennis a crack. To this day, no one knows why. No one. Seriously, nobody.

Boy, did they regret it!

Now Dennis is the mastermind behind the Lunch in the Loop weekly feature, along with as many shenanigans he can pull off before he gets in any real trouble...that you know of.

  • Website
  • Location: Chicago
  • Favorite foods: Pretty much anything that'll fit into his mouth. And if it doesn't fit into his mouth, get a hammer, and we'll make it fit. That's the "royal we."
  • Last bite on earth: His aunt's famous kimchi. Or, maybe avocado. Steak? Does bourbon count as a bite of food?

Chain Reaction: We Try McDonald's Bacon Clubhouse Sandwiches

What is a Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich? Allow me to enlighten you. It all starts on a new artisan roll (which looks like a shellacked brioche), packed with applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onions, white cheddar, lettuce, and tomato. It's called a sandwich, and not a burger, because you're graciously allowed to choose a burger patty OR chicken (grilled or crispy) as its centerpiece. And, of course, there's some lily gilding to be had in the form of the ever delightful Big Mac sauce. Here's what we've got to say about McDonald's latest creation. More

Taste Test: Dennis Eats All of Cricket's Cat Food

As a lonely single male with a cat named Cricket, trust me when I say that here at Serious Eats, we count our pets as part of the family. And, like any responsible parent, I make sure that Cricket gets nothing but the best. (I have to live vicariously through her, after all.) That means testing out her scratching posts, her litter box, and, of course, her food. More

Eat This Now: Tonkotsu Ramen from Strings Ramen in Chinatown

I was excited to see the opening of Strings Ramen in Chinatown just a few doors down from The Phoenix Room. I got even more excited when I saw the menu only has four bowls of ramen on it, because I'd rather see a place with a few items it does well rather than a billion things it does a mediocre job with (I'm looking at you, Cheesecake Factory). More

Chain Reaction: We Try Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza

When I first saw the commercial for the Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza ($12), I wasn't sure what to think. The first thing you see is John Schnatter himself (he loves being in his commercials) flipping a magical burger patty on a grill, turning it into a pizza that he proudly serves up on the counter to a very, very excited crowd of patrons. And as a good consumer and devoted serious eater, my insatiable curiosity about this pizza-burger mashup got the best of me. I set out to give it a test drive. More

Lunch in the Loop: Ramen and Skewers at Ajida

While the onslaught of new ramen restaurants seems to have died down a bit lately, Ajida opened up quietly on Wells just over a month ago. I'm used to ramen stands being a little beat up and homey looking, but that's probably just the Asian romantic in me. Mostly because I am, in fact, Asian. More

Chain Reaction: We Try Subway's Flatizza

Flatizza. Just try to say that out loud. It looks easy, but it took me three tries to say it to the sandwich artist over at my neighborhood Subway. If you couldn't figure it out by the name, a "Flatizza" is Subway's version of a pizza, done their way. Er, your way. The recipe is simple: Take one of the flatbreads they use for flatbread sandwiches, swirl some pizza sauce on it, and top it with cheese, veggies, and/or meat. Pop that sucker in one of their quick toaster ovens, and voila, you've got some kind of pizza thing! Mmm...pizza thing. More

Lunch in the Loop: Searching for Korean Food at K-Kitchen

As I passed by the food court near Clark & Lake again, I noticed a new bright green awning advertising a place called K-Kitchen, selling Korean food. "This is the food of my people!" I thought. "If I don't go in, I'll bring shame upon myself for not supporting my heritage." So I stepped in and I was suddenly reminded about why I never go in. More

Behind the Scenes in Nick's Home Kitchen

Also, I keep my wok on top of my fridge too, because my kitchen is very small. And the blender. And the food processor. And my cast iron skillet. And my tea kettle. What am I doing with my life?

Behind the Scenes in Nick's Home Kitchen

Dude. This is hilarious.

Lunch in the Loop: Devouring the Hot Dog Salad at Rudy's Bar & Grille

Bing bong, that was my screw-up. Fixed!

Lunch in the Loop: Devouring the Hot Dog Salad at Rudy's Bar & Grille

@scaramoche Okay. But I'm scared that if you don't like it, you will be mad at me.

Lunch in the Loop: Devouring the Hot Dog Salad at Rudy's Bar & Grille

Thanks for the congrats, all! I'll be unleashing my new knowledge upon you very soon.

I will still be taking pictures of Cricket, so no worries there.

Lunch in the Loop: Devouring the Hot Dog Salad at Rudy's Bar & Grille

Guys, I know it sounds insane, but it was genuinely okay. I swear, I only had one milkshake martini before I ate it. It wasn't like drunk-good. It was weird-good. None of you have to believe me, either.

Dinner Tonight: Sloppy Jessica, or Mac-and-Cheese-Chili Pizza on a Bun

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the greatest show ever.

Chain Reaction: We Try McDonald's Bacon Clubhouse Sandwiches

Hey guys! That whole "burger diaper" thing wasn't meant to gross you out. I was just trying to think of an easy way to think of it. I am fairly certain I used that term before and nobody seemed to mind, but if it bothers you guys that much I won't use it again. Thanks for letting me know.

@FlavorCountry I totally respect your opinion. As to the bun, I promise it wasn't a stretch -- it was something I noticed that I thought might be interesting to other people. I was also wondering if I was the only one who noticed it. I could easily be in the minority here. And I do enjoy fast food burgers; I know my writing has an irreverent attitude, but if I didn't enjoy them I wouldn't be writing these. You know? I meant it when I said I was fascinated by fast food.

Behind the Scenes in Robyn's Home Kitchen

I'm never agreeing to doing one of these. There's so much shit in my freezer that I can't even cram a finger in there. Plus my kitchen is small and it's where all culinary dreams come to die. All my produce is so old it has beards too. In summary, nobody ever come over.

Chain Reaction: We Try McDonald's Bacon Clubhouse Sandwiches

I thought of a good slogan too. "It's the things we put in it that makes it the way it tastes."

Lunch in the Loop: Pat's Pizza in the South Loop

@coppertone24 I generally don't include chains unless they are Chicago-based, but I've done a few that seemed useful to me! Gino's is totally worth a crack. Also, you're awesome for remembering I went to Kramer's. Exchequer has also been on my to-do list for ages now, so don't think I'm ignoring it!

@chi_type Pizza drama is the best kind. It tastes like anger and deliciousness.

Taste Test: Dennis Eats All of Cricket's Cat Food

Wow, this comment section turned into Cat Food Eaters Anonymous real quick. I will neither confirm nor deny any accusations of my pet food experiences, for I need something mysterious to keep the ladies knocking on my door. And by "ladies" I mean absolutely no one.

@Robyn Lee I love you too!!! When we meet, I shall bring a large bag of pet food for us to enjoy together. It'll be great! You can bring the salted goat milk.

@franko I was out with my sister in Chinatown here in Chicago when she spotted the bowls and bought them for Cricket. It was some small dingy shop. If you're ever around Chicago, I'll be happy to show you where we got them.

@belinskaya I have way more of the "onlookers" that would not fit in the photo, because a 32 year old male with a crapload of stuffed animals isn't sad at all. And I've never caught the cat eating bugs, but when she finds them she sort of hunts them down and I *think* she's eaten a couple.

@Amandarama I have to eat fish food first, then I will move onto the advanced stuff. I'll invite you over for the Fancy Feast.

Open Thread: Do You Lick Your Beaters?

Actually, now that I think about it, I'm not flexible enough to do that.

Open Thread: Do You Lick Your Beaters?

Lunch in the Loop: Perry's Deli

Hahaha I step away from my laptop for a day and look at all these awesome comments. Thanks guys! Yes, I was Fart Sandwich. A fact that I am proud of, and not proud of, at the same time. I never thought people would ever learn my true identity so I am perpetually embarrassed. It's also my Twitter handle, another thing I never thought people would discover either.

Let's all go party! Even if we're nowhere near each other. We can party in spirit.

Chain Reaction: We Try the Dunkin' Donuts Eggs Benedict Sandwich

Well, the Egg McMuffin was originally based off of a rip-off of Jack In the Box's Eggs Benedict sandwich way back in the day, which is kind of a cool fact. I mean when it comes down to it, if something sells at one place, that idea usually gets regurgitated shamelessly at different fast food chains. Sometimes that's good, sometimes it isn't!

Glazed Donut Bistro Brings Outrageous Mash-ups to Los Angeles

Dude, Farley, I wish I was out there to try some of this stuff with you.

Lunch in the Loop: Harold's Chicken Shack

@cpd007 Holy crap. I just Googled where Ladd is. That's a haul, man! Maybe when it gets warm out we can rent a convertible and go eat fried chicken. That's like the perfect setup for a male bonding film.

Eating Roasted Alligator and Spider-on-a-Stick at the Explorer's Club 110th Annual Gala

Bull rod bull rod bull rod!!!!

Watch Dennis Lee Dig Himself Into a Hole of Loneliness As He Eats By Himself at White Castle

@rarerollingobject That might be the most perfect response I have ever read.

Watch Dennis Lee Dig Himself Into a Hole of Loneliness As He Eats By Himself at White Castle

@rarerollingobject Totally cool, as long as someone invents a teleporter so we can eat White Castle together.

Also, I've had a few other people ask if I'd be interested in dating them after they saw the video. So apparently you have competition!

Eat This Now: Tonkotsu Ramen from Strings Ramen in Chinatown

@Cerasi You know, it wasn't on the printed menu either. The nice server just told us that it was the special that day (which was this past Sunday). However, it sounded like people were receiving it pretty well which gives me hope that it'll be on the specials rotation every now and then.

Do you have a car? The best place to get Ikura here in Chicagoland is at the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights. I scoured the whole city for it at one point and could only find it in tiny tubs for a crazy price, but at Mitsuwa it's actually more affordable. The problem is, it's a drive. So when I go I kinda splurge a little too much. I also get like 5 bottles of Calpico too.

Watch Dennis Lee Dig Himself Into a Hole of Loneliness As He Eats By Himself at White Castle

@theotherworldly Terrific catch. If you look carefully, that *might* have been on purpose. There's lots of other little details we added to make things more interesting.


Watch Dennis Lee Dig Himself Into a Hole of Loneliness As He Eats By Himself at White Castle

@likenoother Holy shit! Yeah I was totally there! It is far away from where I live in the city, but it was totally worth it.

Eat This Now: Tonkotsu Ramen from Strings Ramen in Chinatown

@yukiyummy Thanks for calling me out on that. It was a typo, I'm guess I eat a lot more tonkatsu and that's what my fingers remembered when I was typing! It's fixed.

@cpd007 Haha, I'm glad you enjoyed it. So much fun.

@July No kidding. I'm holed up in my apartment right now, crying at the snow.

The Serious Eats Chicago Dog Style Guide

Here's the thing: Most people think that the Chicago dog has an inflexible formula, one set down from on high, which mandates a certain seven toppings that must be included or the whole deal is off. But the reality I've encountered over the many years I've been searching for the best hot dog in Chicago is far more varied and interesting. Here's the guide to make sense of it all. More

Standing Room Only: Hot Diggity Dogs

At first glance, Hot Diggity Dogs looks like the kind of place that has been open for 40 years or so. The menu doesn't help. The stand, located underneath the Wellington Red Line station, specializes almost exclusively on the trinity of hot dogs, Italian beefs, and burgers. But, in fact, it has only been open for little over a year, making it one of a number of places that have popped up in the wake of Hot Doug's immense success. More

6 Off-Menu Dessert Mashups at McDonald's

Years ago, a friend introduced me to a mildly hilarious unofficial off-menu dessert at McDonald's: an apple pie and a vanilla ice cream cone, smashed up in a cup together to make the best McFlurry McDonald's doesn't know about. This concoction doesn't have an official name (yet) but it got me thinking: if it was that easy to improve upon the pie, there must be other undiscovered treasures hiding within plain sight. The only logical next move was to find out. More

Meet & Eat: Blake Royer, 'Sausage City'

Blake is a part of the old school. In the blog world, that means he's been writing for Serious Eats since early 2007—years before he even thought about living in Chicago. But in a general sense, it's also true. Sure, he's made his own bacon before, but how many other people have had to butcher the pig first? More

Hangover Helper: The Slinger at Diner Grill, Chicago IL

Diner Grill is a 24-hour joint inside of a beat-up old train car, and it's pretty much known in Chicago for serving what I like to call "belligerent drunk people food." They serve breakfast, burgers, and fries, at all hours of the day, but most people show up around 2 a.m. looking for something greasy to fill their post night-of-mayhem hunger pangs. More

Joe's 5 Best Fried Bites of 2011 in Chicago

I've only been writing TGI Fry-Day for about a month and a half, which means I've barely dipped my toe into the bubbling fry pot that is Chicago. But that doesn't mean I just started eating fried food. If I'm wet behind the ears, it's only because I had an itch in the middle of my order of fried pickles. Submitted for your approval, here are my top five fried obsessions from 2011. More

A Look at the Serious Eats Chicago Launch Party

I knew the main reason Ed wanted to have a launch party in Chicago was so that he would have an excuse to get as many of his favorite Chicago restaurants together in the same room as possible. Picking one was an impossibility, but our preliminary list quickly grew to the point where there were almost as many restaurants as potential guests. In the end, we settled on four amazing places . More

Chicago: 7 Favorite Taco Joints

In any big city, tacos are a great representation of what the local food scene has to offer. Small, simple, and versatile, this is street food at its finest. Or it's a popular chef (ahem, Paul Kahan) doing tacos at their cheffiest-finest. There's quite a bit of diversity on this list: from the homey, traditional carne asada and carnitas to kalbi (Korean short rib) to a crunchy fish taco. More