It's nowhere near as essential as the burger, but that's not really the point of a grilled chicken sandwich, is it? Most people just want chicken that still reasonably juicy, and on that point M Burger does a truly admirable job.
Think I got every single one of my thoughts out about Eataly yesterday? Of course not! Eataly is a big place, and there is so much more to say about it than could ever fit in one post.
Let there be no mistake, Eataly Chicago is big. With 63,000 square feet of space, dozens upon dozens of aisles of groceries, and 22 (or so) different restaurants and bars, where do you even begin? I made over 10 separate visits to help find out.
No, this is not beef stew. This is actually a popular Japanese take on curry.
When Jim Graziano reached out to me to let me know about a muffuletta sandwich special available now through Fat Tuesday, I was beyond intrigued. Though he offered to send a picture, I had no interest in looking at the offering—I wanted to eat it.
Have you recently stopped to think about how much raw seafood is around us? Almost every other new restaurant seems to have some kind of uncooked fish on its menu. But where can you find the best stuff?
Instead of trying offer a little bit of everything, Rotisserie in Eataly Chicago only offers two options a day—a rotating daily special and prime rib.
Cellar Door Provisions currently only makes one kind bread (though they do sell a range of pastries). But who cares about choice when that one is such a genuine wonder?
I had all kinds of ideas of how to make this recipe my own, but all the embellishments felt forced, so I stripped almost all of them away. I only had one true insight, and that was to add slivered almonds.
Not that we need some Iowa perspective on our native sandwich, but it's obvious that the restaurant is attempting to address certain issues of most Italian beefs, which is mostly a good and noble thing.
Last Friday, I feasted on a 28-day Piemontese dry-aged ribeye at Eataly's La Carne, and there is no question that it deserves to be included on any list of the best steaks in Chicago, even if it doesn't look or taste like any other steak in town.
Steakhouses are strange places, and I felt odd every single time I stepped in one. Many of you seem to feel the same way. The number one question I got about the steak feature was this: What are steakhouses like?
After a few bites you'll feel warm and ready to tackle the cold. But because it's late in the day and the sauce is spiked, you can skip the chopping wood part, and instead plop down on the couch and fall asleep early.
Instead of feeling overwhelmed by all the different components, I felt the pure rush of discovery, which caused me to hunker down and eat way more of this than one person should.
As a food writer, I am legally required to post about eating out on Valentine's Day. Honestly, it's in the bylaws somewhere. Which is fine, because as a husband, I have to admit that I am actually all for the tradition, even if I have very definite opinions about the specifics.
I'm not here to provoke an argument or debate the merits of whether deep dish even deserves to be categorized as pizza. I'm just trying to deal with a Chicago winter that has brought two polar vortexes and over five feet of snow.
Roasted fish gets paired with a flavorful Vietnamese dipping sauce called nuoc mam gung—a potent mixture of ginger, garlic cloves, chilies, lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce—that tugs at your tongue in all directions. Plus, all you have to do for the sauce is toss everything in a bowl and stir.
Over the past year I've eaten at more steakhouses than I have in the previous 30 years of my life combined. And since the à la carte system is still a fixture of every steakhouse, I was required to consider a genre of food I'd never really considered before: steakhouse sides.
Watch the two dig into some fried caterpillars at Four Belly, and, just for kicks, some octopus balls, frog legs, and roasted black garlic ramen. I'd call Dennis a natural.
This recipe is not what you think it is. I know it looks like a haphazard affair of roasted vegetables tossed on top of farro, but there is a whole lot more going on here.
I had a hunch that the many of Chicago's best steaks weren't in steakhouses. So I took a more circuitous route, one that still allowed for a few traditional heavy hitters, but left just as many behind. Here are the results.
Japonais closed at the end of 2013 for some renovations, which is not completely out of order for a 10-year-old restaurant. But instead of just slapping up some new light fixtures, it decided to go big. That partly explains how Masaharu Morimoto became involved.
This large neighborhood is probably best known for its Puerto Rican community and as the birthplace of the jibarito. But there is much more to explore in Humboldt Park.
While it's a shame Redhot Ranch doesn't carry pickles, it's best not to let a minor issue get in the way of a genuinely excellent new burger option in Chicago.
Originally, this chicken and rice dish, with its mix of cinnamon and almonds, reminded me of Morocco, which isn't such a bad place to be. But then I realized that the spices are just as comfortable in India. In the end, I decided that as long it tasted good I would let the dish remain a bit ambiguous.
No matter how much I think I have the dining scene figured out, there is always more to find. I can't wait to get back to work in 2014, but here are the dishes that genuinely excited me in 2013.
Guests enter Three Dots through a back alley, climb down a dark staircase (with a wall full of skulls staring creepily) and into the tropical basement bar. Half of the menu is made up of classic tiki cocktails, the rest are the creations of Paul McGee, formerly of The Whistler.
It's excruciating to wait for tomatoes to come into season. So when I found ripe little Sun Golds looking beautiful at the market, I wanted to celebrate. I dreamt of a dish that would highlight the unique character of the little tomatoes, putting them at the center of the plate.
There is beauty in the veggie taco. That was one of the many surprises uncovered during my two trips to Mexico. While meaty options were far more prevalent, vegetable fillings abounded, and they were often the most colorful and enticing option. I've been on the hunt for similar tacos in Chicago ever since.
I know it's July, but restaurants have the tendency to jack up the a/c to wintery temperatures during deep summer. So unless I'm dining al fresco, you'll find me eating something to battle the chill—like tagine.
It's been almost two years since Matthias Merges opened Yusho, but they are still going strong. I can understand why friends in the restaurant industry rave about this place.
The vegetables are lightly coated in a greaseless batter, which surprisingly maintains its integrity even as it cools. Most of the mix is made of green beans, which are pleasingly crisp and sweet. But it's the other vegetables that are worth hunting for.
Cheese curds are tricky little guys. While they might be all squeaky and salty when fresh, they can easily turn to rubber if too cold or melt into goo when warmed. What to do?
You will watch this animated short featuring a floppy blob of a dog making an omelette for its exhausted, depressed owner, and you will enjoy it. Thank you, Madeline Sharafian (a BFA2 character animator at CalArts) for these two-and-a-half minutes of heartswelling cuteness.
Broiling salmon in this Rick Bayless recipe results in a great crust, while leaving the fillets juicy inside. The asparagus ended up in that great spot between crisp and tender, and the pungent dried red chile salsa helped tie both parts together.
while Macau may be known now as a mecca for gamblers, Fat Rice is not playing games of chance when it comes to pairing and building flavors. And therein lies the fun of eating this food: there are so many unfamiliar tastes to discovery anew, and the chefs have done the hard work of refining their dishes, that diners can freely submit to the strongest pull of their curiosities.
Don't let En Hakkore's simply titled panini ($7.50) fool you; the name is hilariously insufficient for a creation containing kimchi, onion, mushroom, green onion, mozzarella, provolone, and cheddar on pressed bread.
Is it wrong to compare something favorably to cheesy puffs? That's the position I'm in trying to describe the awesomeness of the white cheddar chicharrones ($5) at Trenchermen.
Tasting sort of like mini-burritos, two of these make for a solid meal. The skirt steak is cooked in the broiler to get a great char on the beef, while nailing the desired medium-rare.
In this month's version of "We Drink All the Hot Chocolate at..." we go on a little soul-warming vacation south of the border with the five hot chocolates at Xoco (just kidding: this is not actually a new column we're starting...or is it?).
Rice cakes are odd little things. Straight from the package they look sort of like plastic cylinders; raw, they sort of taste like them, too. But sauté rice cakes and they develop a crackly crust, while the insides become tender and almost creamy. Best part? The transformation takes about a minute, making this a great base for a quick meal.
Still sparkling from its makeover, Lula is pulling off the impressive: it's the neighborhood veteran that also feels brand new.
Here's a tasty meat-light chili that will fill you up and taste like it took far longer than an hour to make.
If pickled ginger works so well with sushi, there's no reason it can't help out all kinds of other dishes, too. As I found, it manages to add some serious perk to a bowl of fried rice.
Though it stuns me to say so, L' Patron's carne asada tops the very good offerings of nearby Las Asadas by a wide margin.
Whiskey and Pecans seems like a logical enough combination, but you don't realize just how perfectly these two flavors pair until that first buttery spoonful of Whiskey & Pecans by Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams.
It's Friday afternoon, and if you're lucky you've got about 60 hours before you have to think or speak for anybody else again. Time for the Whiskey Sour--the comfortable T-shirt of drinks.
Oh, the Shamrock Shake. Invented right here in the 1970s, and symbolically dumped into the Chicago River for the past few years, the Shamrock Shake and Chicago have a long history together. But relationships change. Luckily, you don't have to go this whole week without trying one from McDonald's. Here are a few restaurants that are make their own versions.
Salty and sweet is the best of both worlds, right? That's just what you get with "Chicago Mix," a cheese and caramel corn-filled bucket of joy. Championed by Chicago fave Garrett Popcorn, it's actually pretty easy to make at home.
The result is an honest-to-goodness taco salad that has all the flavors of a classic one, minus the seasoning packet. That isn't to say it's a particularly healthy salad—sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese still make an appearance—but now there is a lot more lettuce, and grilled steak has been substituted for the ground beef.