It seems like the food world has an enormous hunka-hunka burnin' love for Rick Bayless. Even though I've had plenty of tastes of his food, I'm still on the fence on whether or not I like his style.
You know that irritating catchphrase, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas?" They're wrong. Disappointment definitely comes home with you.
The previous pizza businesses in this location haven't had much luck. One of the last versions, Pizza Broker (best name ever) disappeared. Then it was Nicola's Pizza, which wasn't much different. Now it's Loop Pizza. Maybe the spot is just suffering from a curse. A pizza curse.
Pret is an extremely quick-serve sandwich restaurant. You can be in and out within two minutes, which is perfect for office folks rushing to their next meeting.
Someone in a boardroom a while back decided it would be a great, no, an amazing idea to create an item that would take critical market share away from the competition. And thus the Little Caesar's Deep!Deep! Dish Pizza was born.
Baconfest Chicago is like Lollapalooza, except instead of bands, you have a talented crew of chefs, and instead of music, well, there's bacon.
Boni Vino Ristorante and Pizzeria is on a stretch of Van Buren just behind the Chicago Board of Trade, and the front windows are so dark that the interior has been a mystery to me for years.
If I had to summarize the entire Shark's Fish and Chicken experience in a few words, I'd say this: Get the catfish, honey barbecue wings, gizzards, or maybe the taco puff. Also, there's a pawn shop next door with a TV show.
The ingredients are solid, but the beef in these burgers is just too dense.
Roly Poly Sandwiches, as I learned during my research, is a chain restaurant that only serves wrap sandwiches. But my child-like curiosity got the better of me, and I knew I had to visit. Besides, the place is called Roly Poly, how could you not want to go?
One thing I've discovered during my food writing journeys is that if you want to learn about new lunch places, ask your coworkers. They might be holding onto some gems you've never known about. Case in point: Osaka Express.
Considering I've done about 60 Lunch in the Loop posts, it's still a wonder to me that there really aren't that many classic hot dog joints down in Officeville. That makes Max's Take Out a gem, especially if you're looking for a hometown Chicago lunch.
The food at French Accent is served buffet style (I see some you buffet-haters rolling your eyes already) and it's a little overwhelming at first; there are a ton of choices. There's a carving station, a panini station, a very big hot buffet line (complete with desserts), and a bar—for those of you who prefer your calories in the form of alcohol.
As a general rule, I try to avoid non-Chicago chains for Lunch in the Loop because it seems like cheating. But then again, whenever I play Monopoly I always opt to be the banker so I can embezzle cash, so I don't mind a tiny bit of cheating now and then.
Ceres Cafe is located on the ground floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, and it's mostly known for their extremely strong after-work drinks. But they've got an enormous diner-style menu too, in case you're not going for a three-Martini lunch.
Little Goat's All American burger is good for traditionalists, but if you're willing to explore, definitely try the Korean Burger with a goat patty, kimchi, bacon, fried egg, and spicy mayo.
It's like a classic Chicago pub had a baby with the bar from Cheers. There's old signed celebrity photos plastering the walls, so if Ol' Blue Eyes has been there, it's got to be good. Right?
As the name suggests, Halo Asian Mix's menu is varied—there's Hawaiian (Spam Loco Moco, anyone?), Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, and even a whole Thai section. Not everything is a winner, but as they say, variety is the spice of life.
Naf Naf Grill is a recent transplant from Naperville, and my friends from the suburb always claimed that it was the best Mediterranean food they'd ever had. How does it hold up?
Overall, the Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger tastes like a patty melt without the rye bread. Just like most fast food offerings, it sort of teeters along the edge of okay and not-so-good.
Lately, I've realized that during my heartwarming coming-of-age Lunch in the Loop journey, I haven't done much exploring of hot dog joints. Mostly because there aren't as many as you'd think in the Loop. The majority of the hot dog stands live in the other parts of the city. Weird, right?
The Marquette Inn is an unassuming little diner right in the heart of the Loop. The interior is dark and dingy, but it has a lot of character and is, in my experience, always busy.
Order the Ace Burger easy on the bacon jam, and it's one great burger.
Now that we're all grumbling and back at the office, we can at least take solace in good lunches while we despair at our desks. I am happy to report, however, that there is now another place that offers bánh mì in the Loop, bringing the total number of places to two. Good job, downtown Chicago.
I hate playing favorites, because when I pick one sandwich or salad over another, the other one gets its feelings hurt. But you know, after writing over 50 Lunch in the Loop posts, you know there's got to be at least a few things that really stood out.
I've been waiting a while for Lunch in the Loop to be established before I unleashed my introduction of Burrito Buggy to you all. Burrito Buggy easily serves the strangest combination of food I have ever seen in the Loop.
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.
Paella gets most of the glory when it comes to must-eats in Valencia, but if you're visiting, be sure to also try fideuà, esgarrat, and horchata, among other foods listed in this slideshow.
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.
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.
When I heard that Jerry's Sandwiches was offering a special Mardi Gras-themed menu this week, I immediately put their address in my calendar and scheduled a deliciously artery-clogging appointment for myself.
Lindsey has a sweet tooth, which is something you probably already knew thanks to her countdown of peppermint desserts in the city. But even if you didn't get a chance to catch up with that post (which you should) this picture of her hugging a Kitchen Aid should explain a lot.
Ever since I started this Lunch in the Loop column, everybody's been harping on me to put up a post about Chicken Planet.
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?
Admittedly, we don't spend a lot of time here talking about what's coming up with Next. Unless, of course, a burger happens to be involved. But this is just so...cool.
Gapers Block threw its first annual barbecue contest this past Saturday. The competition pitted seven great local barbecue joints against each other.
To kick off Knockout Noodles, I'm starting with a visit to Cho Sun Ok, the small, yellow-signed Korean BBQ in Lincoln Square; in addition to meats and fish pan-seared at the table, Cho Sun Ok also specializes in naengmyeon, or cold noodle dishes.
After the wild success that was Burger Day 3000, the boys of Burger Day are back for their fourth beef patty tour of Chicago by visiting five restaurants in one day. The quality wasn't as good this time around, but the day was every bit as fun.
Most of you will doubt recognize Dennis Lee as the man behind The Over 21 Club and Lunch in the Loop. What you probably don't know is that besides making jokes about oddly named restaurants and trying to feed stuffed bears, he's really a very serious and quiet guy. Okay, not really, but I'll let him do the introduction.
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.
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.
Ever since I was outed as Serious Eats commenter Fart Sandwich earlier this year, I couldn't believe my luck when Ed and the gang asked me to write for the site. It's been just about six months now, and writing for Serious Eats has really given me the opportunity to explore food in the city I love so much.
As I've mentioned a few times this week, Serious Eats Chicago has only been going for a month and a half. So, it's best not to look too hard at the numbers and try to come up with some grand thesis. Regardless, here's our best shot: Chicagoans love fried chicken. And ramen. And any story that mentioned Hot Doug's. I know, earth-shattering stuff, right?
As ubiquitous as they may be, I'm not sure if there is a Chicago food less appreciated and understood than the tamale. Great ones are located all over the city, from Roger's Park to Gage Park. I could have kept going, but 16 felt like a good number.
We've done all the hard work and scouted out 14 of the most beloved fried chicken places in Chicagoland. These are the places you'll be dreaming about for days to come. Check them out in our slideshow.
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 .
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.
Most people who have only heard of The Wiener's Circle probably know it for the screaming insults that are part of the late night routine. But those who have actually been to the place will tell you this small stand puts out some very solid burgers.