Our Authors

Joe Roy

Joe Roy

Contributor

I am a twenty-something Indiana transplant with the good fortune to have moved to Chicago, where food is serious business. When I'm not eating (or planning my next meal), I'm hanging out with my wife and five year old daughter.

Columns

  • Website
  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Favorite foods: Macaroni & cheese, coney dogs, olives, and anything cooked in my cast iron skillet, Steve.
  • Last bite on earth: A perfectly medium rare cowboy ribeye, salted to perfection, with plenty of bleu cheese butter broiled on top.

Don't Miss Lunch at Cellar Door Provisions

Cellar Door Provisions is the sort of place I never want to leave, and they make it easy to stay all day: Fresh bread and breakfast dishes are available at 8am, pastries start hitting the counter at 9, and the day's butcher paper scrawled lunch offerings are available at 11. More

Looking for a Horseshoe Sandwich in Chicago? Visit 6 Degrees in Bucktown

Though prolific downstate, it seems the only real place to find a horseshoe in Chicago is at Springfield ex-pat owned 6 Degrees, a nondescript bar on a sleepy stretch of Damen. I like a big pile of cheesy meat fries as much as the next person, but the horseshoe is so much more than that. Deftly ordered with the proper protein, it's a surprisingly balanced beer soaker of a dinner. More

Chop Shop Does It All, But Does It Have The Chops?

Chop Shop has everything—a butcher counter that serves sandwiches by day, an upstairs restaurant with a seasonal menu by night, and on the evening we visited, a purple-hued, and possibly dry ice filled, event space in the back roughly the size of a city block. My grandpa, the butcher (God rest his soul), would be amazed at just how far the humble meat counter has come. More

Joe's 10 Best Bites of 2013 in Chicago

I broadened my fried-food-only focus a little over midway through the year and hit the two year mark as a contributor in November. But whether I was slogging through french fries, fried chicken, top notch doughnuts, or beyond, I was continually struck by just how good it is to eat in Chicago. More

Experience a Friday Fish Fry Done Right at Steve's Lounge

Awesome write up, Titus! I stopped into Steve's a few years back when I was putting together a Lenten fried fish guide for SE. I really dug it, and I'd be a regular if I lived even remotely nearby. They didn't have the bluegill the night I came, but that's what I grew up eating on Friday nights, and it's still my fried fish of choice.

I appreciate the fish and chips v. fish fry distinction, too. I think that's a tough one to explain to people that didn't grow up with the tradition, but it's an important one. When I'm in the mood for a fish fry, fish and chips doesn't scratch that itch. Cod is generally too thick, too flaky, and too mild: I want crunchy edges and fish that tastes like fish.

Also, it's a damn shame that there aren't more places around on the north side to find a proper fish fry. I went to college in Bloomington, IN, a city lacking in Catholics. Those were four lonely, fish fry less years. Given how many Catholics are in Chicago, I expected it to be the fish fry land of milk and honey when I moved here. I'm still blown away by how few options there are around here up north.

Anyway, apparently I have a lot to say on the subject... Thanks for shining a light on Steve's— I can't wait to go back!

Like it Or Not, Twin Anchors' Baked Ribs Are Here to Stay

cpd007: Thank you for the kind words! "Good BBQ, but in a different way," is a great way to put it. And it sounds like I need to check out Russell's sauce, too!

Like it Or Not, Twin Anchors' Baked Ribs Are Here to Stay

@Coogles: Thanks for the comment! I think you summed up the place pretty perfectly. I'd stop in and stumble home all the time if I lived nearby, but I don't think I'd go out of my way to make a trip here. Knowing that you can get the Prohibition sauce at the bar may be a game changer for barbecuing this summer, though...

Uncle John's Barbecue Legacy Lives On in Richton Park and on 47th Street

@plazmaorb: Absolutely not! These are aquarium smoked ribs, which are cooked relatively fast and hot. Fat renders out and they take on plenty of smoke, but you're still working for each bite. Stay tuned for a look at the classic "Chicago Style" barbecue of which you speak...

@amgross: Hmmm, an appropriately pointed question. Even though the sauce is a bit off at this point, I'd still say the combo at Uncle J's. It's the closest out there to the original, which was my benchmark for South Side style barbecue. Uncle John's in Richton Park is a great option for those south of the city, but with Uncle J's serving damn close to what they were doing at the original spot on 69th, it's no question for me. Without the context of the original, this is all very confusing...

@illone: True dat. It's never the same trying to shake some iodized life onto the dish tableside. The worst transgressors are places that don't season fish/chicken before battering or breading and deep frying. It really makes a difference to season the meat directly. Anyway, I could talk about salt all day...

Looking for a Horseshoe Sandwich in Chicago? Visit 6 Degrees in Bucktown

FredipusRex: Tabasco has always tasted sweet to me, and it's one of the least used hot sauces in the family fridge. Don't judge, but the only time I ever really use it is in conjunction with green can Parmesan cheese on top of my mom's Midwest (ground beef and kidney bean packed) chili. It sounds weird, but it totally works. As far as Frank's goes, that's my favorite go to vinegary hot sauce. Different strokes, huh? :)

Back to the horseshoe: the sauce is definitely made with real cheese, but it's pretty mild otherwise. I've read that some recipes are made with beer (like a traditional Welsh Rarebit), but I can't confirm if the beer notes were from the cheese sauce or the two Daisy Cutter tallboys I washed the horseshoes down with.

Learning the Ways of the Crawfish Boil at Toon's Bar & Grill

@kalirugo: makes sense... concentrating on anything besides what all that orange goop inside is made the experience way more enjoyable.

@Mike Gebert: thank you! I'm already planning my next visit.

This Valentine's Day, Get More Than Your Just Desserts at Margie's Candies

@marinelm: you're not wrong, and in fact, my daughter agrees. She refers to it as "that place with the weird smell by the cash register." We had a dusty old place just like this back home, so maybe I'm just immune to it...

Grilling Steak at Home? Pick Up Some Dry-Aged Steaks at Joseph's Finest Meats in Dunning

@Titus: What a blast from the (not too distant) past! I used to drive by this place on the way to work in the burbs when I first moved to the city. I stopped in a few times for pepperoni, etc, but I'll be back for the steak for sure. Thanks for the post!

Bring an Extra Helping of Strategy to China Buffet in Avondale

@cpd007: be careful— one you start, it's hard to stop. I just got done circling the Sbarro knock-off in the Sears Tower basement like some sort of crazed, low-expectationed wolf...

Easy 30-Minute Pressure Cooker Chicken and Chickpea Masala

@J. Kenji López-Alt: thanks, Kenji! This is going down next week!

Easy 30-Minute Pressure Cooker Chicken and Chickpea Masala

@J. Kenji López-Alt: Can I be a huge pain? I know that this can probably be adapted to a dutch oven (increase covered cooking time, etc), but my question is this: do you still think the chicken could be added without searing it first? Thanks!!

Bring an Extra Helping of Strategy to China Buffet in Avondale

@RealMenJulienne: I can see it now: "Stand and deliver" you say to the shaky-handed, paper hatted worker at the carving station, greed in your eyes and your plate already buckling from the excess...

One promise my best friend and I made in high school: we would never take a date to a buffet. Not a promise you'd think you'd have to verbalize, but back then... To my knowledge, I THINK I've kept that oath, but I think my wife would need to weigh in to be sure.

Bring an Extra Helping of Strategy to China Buffet in Avondale

@Double_J: I don't know about any official SE Chinese Buffet theme, but yeah- total coincidence. Nostalgia pulls pretty hard, huh?

@BeavisPeters: I've never seen/tasted one, so I can't comment...

@guycooking: Thank you! I'm in the same boat; 12 year old me would be ashamed of my 2.5 moderate-sized plates, and I was spent for the rest of the day. If I do buffet these days, though, the hot food rule always holds true. Even at that, though, that was little consolation at the Vegas hotel buffet...

Bring an Extra Helping of Strategy to China Buffet in Avondale

@RealMenJulienne: Thanks so much for the comment! I had a hunch that there wouldn't be many buffets in the city, but I was pretty surprised to find that most if not all are in Avondale. I kinda want to try New China Buffet- if only for the "over 80 items!" on the sign.

Smallish world: I'm from Fort Wayne originally, and I spent my high school years going to one call Lon Sen. No real Chinese, but they DID have AYCE crab legs a few days a week, so 6 of one, right? The buffet of my youth, I will proudly admit, is Old Country Buffet... A trip to next door DZ Discovery Zone followed by dinner at OCB was just about the perfect Saturday growing up. Apparently there's one in the city, so a visit might be in order, if only for that Stauffer's style mac and cheese.

Sorry for the length; apparently I feel strongly about buffets...

Rib-Sticking Polish Food Done Right at Smak Tak

I thought writing was all about slipping in jokes only I think are funny... ;)

Rib-Sticking Polish Food Done Right at Smak Tak

Well done with "Polish Vortex." Sounds like a local Trans-Siberian Orchestra cover band...

Lunch in the Loop: It's Turkey Burger Time at Epic Burger

Thanks for the shout out, Dennis, but don't see yourself short! I think I remember you having a slight mustache last time I saw you... Just as manly with half the work as a beard :)

South Side Eats: Fill Up at Sammy's Kitchen Before Flying Out of Midway

Oh my gosh, this looks amazing!! Now I need an excuse to take a flight out of Midway...

Eating in The Willis Tower: My Three Day Chinese, Thanksgiving, and Half-Priced Sushi Bender at Market Creations

@spencer c: I had the same experience. It was beyond sobering when the receipt said I just bought 1.77 lbs of food. I maintain that they use heavy plates...

Eating in The Willis Tower: My Three Day Chinese, Thanksgiving, and Half-Priced Sushi Bender at Market Creations

@Dennis Lee: The Jets are gonna have their day toniiight! What can I say? I was enticed by what somehow smelled like kimchi coming from the second floor. Imagine my surprise...

Publican Quality Meats is Worth Planning Your Day Around, But it's Not Required

@rickZ: Yeah, it's pretty amazing, actually... Especially with the slightly spicy pickle on the side.

Watch Jon Stewart's Epic Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Rant

@cpd007: Whether a variation or not, I think there is merit in drawing a deep dish/pan distinction. Deep dish usually has a thin, cornmeal based crust that extends up the pan and is built very much like a dessert pie, with tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings subbing in for fruit or other fillings.

Pan pizza, on the other hand, is built on a thick, focaccia-like foundation, and its airy, open hole structure is akin to the Pizza Hut pan pizza that many of us Midwesterners grew up on.

This very different crust, combined with the caramelized edge Nick mentioned, makes for a very different experience than the Lou Malnati-model deep dish.

Descendants from the same pie, sure, but both certainly scratch different itches the other couldn't begin to satisfy.

Think of it like this: you wouldn't describe Pizza Hut as Chicago style pizza- would you?

I won't speak for Nick, but the reason that I am insistent on this distinction is that I prefer Pequod's style pan pizza to deep dish. Bad deep dish eats like bad pie, the greasy crust crumbling under fork, and at its worse, topped with a filling that isn't warm to the center. More often than not, that's the pie I've gotten at Uno's and Due's, and if most detractors base their opinions on those places, I have a hard time disagreeing.

Yes I'm a transplant, and yes I'm a food writer, but to quote High Fidelity, how can it be bullshit to state a preference? I don't appreciate the coastal condescension either, but pan pizza does it for me in a way that deep dish doesn't, and anytime I'm confronted by a Chicago pizza naysayer, taking them to Pequod's usually sets them straight.

Both styles may be different sides of the same coin, but given Burt's unquestioned influence on the Chicago pizza scene, combined with the style's obvious differences and its ability to galvanize those not eating their slice with a large dollop of nostalgia, I think creating space in the Chicago deep dish-thin crust dichotomy for pan pizza is a worthwhile endeavor.

All this being said, if I am going to have deep dish, it will be from Lou Malnati's, and preferably from the Lincolnwood location. I have a vivid gradeschool class trip memory of eating really bad Chicago pizza in a 90s impressionist-sports-art decorated spot. Years later after finally moving to Chicago, I found myself eating the same bad pizza. In the same awful dining room. In the Lou Malnati's on Wrightwood in Lincoln Park.

No- I'll head up to Lincolnwood, where the nostalgia is decidedly not borrowed. And no buttercrust or sausage disk for me, though I do swing South Side a little by adding giardiniera to my sausage pie.

The Food Lab: How to Make Jerk Chicken at Home

@Kenji: I've been checking daily since your tweet, and I'm so excited to finally try your recipe!

Any chance we can talk you in to figuring out the thin, vinegary sauce that comes on the side at jerk joints? I'm sure the chicken doesn't need it, but that was one of the highlights when we were at Scotchie's on our honeymoon.

South Side Eats: Mama Nena's Shrimp House

Welcome aboard, King Titus!! Can't wait to find out what's next!

Deep Fried Chicago: Milt's Barbecue for the Perplexed

Hey everyone, thought I'd weigh in on the prices. You're right that compared to other BBQ spots, the prices are a little high. However, all the meat at Milt's is strictly kosher and prepared under the supervision of the Chicago Rabbinical Council– both of which undoubtably contribute to the higher prices.