Roadfood Roundup: Illinois

As is the custom on Mondays here at Serious Eats, we asked our friends Jane and Michael Stern to help us get the week rolling with their take on the best foodstuffs in the nation. Instead of focusing on a single food item like we have in the past, we asked them to focus on a region. Here, we have Illinois—well, Chicagoland mostly, but a treat nonetheless. Happy eating! —The Serious Eats Team

D'ARCY'S PINT | 661 West Stanford Avenue, Springfield IL 62704; 312-492-8800

D'Arcy's serves up the unofficial sandwich of Springfield, Illinois: The horseshoe:"The base sandwich is two pieces of Texas toast with meat placed on each slice, served with either a traditional or spicy white cheese sauce and what seems like a pound of crinkle cut fries. Meat choices include corned beef, walleye, Italian sausage, and breaded pork tenderloin." More by Jim Ellison on

GENE & JUDE'S | 2720 North River Road, River Grove IL 60171; 708-452-7634

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From the quirky to the familiar. Gene & Jude's offers one of Chicago's best dogs, according to the Sterns: "You get a hot dog or a double dog. The natural-casing, all-beef Vienna brand tube steaks are slim and snappy; they are inserted into soft buns and dressed with mustard, onions, piccalilli, or sport peppers as you request." More by Michael Stern on

MR. BEEF | 666 North Orleans Street, Chicago IL 60610; 312-337-8500

If dogs with sport peppers aren't Chicago enough for you, how 'bout some Italian beef? "Oh, what a sandwich! Piles of the wet beef are mounded into a muscle crumbed torpedo of Gonnella-brand bread. This is bread made for beef sandwiches. It gets soft as it soaks, but has the oomph to stay in one piece even if you get your sandwich “dipped,” which means double-soaked in gravy." More by Michael Stern on

GENE & GEORGETTI | 500 North Franklin Street, Chicago IL 60610; 312-527-3718

Chicago was once one of America's preeminent meatpacking towns, so you better believe that the City of Big Shoulders knows its way around a steak. Here, the Sterns recommend Gene & Georgetti: "Steaks are served without frills, unadorned and alone on an oval plate—ravishing sirloin strips, T-bones, and filets mignon with charred crust and juice-heavy insides." More by Michael Stern on

GARRETT'S POPCORN SHOP | 670 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago IL 60611; 312-944-4730

Now that you're full, how's about some dessert? Caramel popcorn, anyone? "Generally speaking, candy-coated popcorn is a trivial junk food. CaramelCrisp is serious and soulful, its taste and texture dramatically more important than any other kind of candied corn." More by Michael Stern on