Ever since I've started Lunch in the Loop, I've been moaning about not being able to find a good hot dog stand downtown. Most are imitators and flops, restaurants that seem like caricatures of real hot dog stands. But one day, as I moseyed down the street, looking for a new spot, I came across Devil Dawgs on State Street, and inside the deep and dark crevasses of my broken and black (hungry) heart, I felt hope.
Nobody loves Taco Bell more than I do. Taco Bell is my favorite fast food restaurant, and if Taco Bell were a person, we'd be married right now, with 2.5 horrific taco-human hybrid babies. So when I heard that the Bell was coming out with breakfast, angels sang a chorus in my direction. I was both excited and scared. What if...what if it wasn't any good? What if...it was amazing?
Since Chuck's is on Michigan Avenue, tourist central, I thought a $14 hot dog was going to be a fancy interpretation, especially with that price. Turns out I was wrong. This footlong Vienna Beef hot dog is the real deal.
As someone who's been lurching through the Loop trying to find surprises and things for you to enjoy, Rudy's has shown me that, even when all of your hope is nearly gone, the impossible can be achieved. That's all thanks to the Chicago char-grilled salad topped with a hot dog.
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.
My quest to find good pizza in the Loop has been kind of frustrating. Pizza should be a pretty great lunch food. But a lot of places in the Loop that struggle with the basics. Is Pat's Pizza on South Clark the place I'm looking for?
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.
When in Rome, you must order triple decker sandwiches. That's the saying, right? Do they even serve triple decker sandwiches in Rome? I'm confused. Well, that is what you should do when you visit Perry's.
When Dunkin' Donuts unleashed the Eggs Benedict sandwich ($3.59) on the world earlier this month, I naturally knew that I'd have to find a way to shove it in my facehole. Quickly.
We all occasionally need a bit of fried chicken to get through the day. And you can find a ton of it at Harold's Chicken Shack, one of many locations in Chicago, in the southern part of the Loop.
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).
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.
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.
The Loop location is decorated like an amped up version of a Hollister store, with a kitschy beach shack feel to it. You have to see it to believe it—no, seriously, step in. It's kind of awesome.
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.
If you're in the neighborhood, you should definitely swing by Naansense to catch one of the chicken or lamb naanwiches. They might make a naanbeliever out of you. See what I did there? No, I'm not proud of myself.
If you're looking for a bite in Wrigleyville that's not necessarily jammed with a fist-bumping bro-dawg vibe, Goose Island makes for a good oasis with lots of beer choices and some solid bar food.
So, I basically found the greatest thing ever. It is a shining beacon in the depressing darkness of a food court, beaming brightly at my pale winter-stricken face. I mean, seriously. Behold the glory of the Farmer's Fridge!
Overall, it's a typical Buffalo wrap, with the strong flavor of Frank's hot sauce, while the addition of corn adds little chewy sweet nuggets and the avocado adds a little fatty silk to tone down the vinegar.
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.
If you guys miss out on the el lomito at La Sirena Clandestina, I will never forgive you. This is one of the best sandwiches I've eaten in a while. Even though I just had it, I want to run over and eat another one.
To be honest, the menu isn't that much different from La Cocina, but its interior does look different, with a sleeker urban feel to it. So you'll see burritos, tortas, enchiladas, that sort of thing on the menu.
Cooking Fools is a little spot on North Avenue in Bucktown where people can take cooking classes or throw get-togethers. But when you step in, the first thing you'll see is the refrigerated take-out case where you can pick up some pre-made food.
The First Bites Bash kicked off Restaurant Week here in Chicago last Thursday with an event featuring over 50 local restaurants.
Overall, I see Epic Burger as a place that offers a higher quality fast-food burger. The food tastes like it's just trying not to offend anyone, which isn't bad, but then you're just eating for the sake of living, right? But that turkey burger, that's the one you want.
The pigs ears rule! The burgers? Not so much.
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.