I love my city. Truly I mean this. Chicago is the only place I would ever want to be. We get national attention for shootings, our traffic blows, our weather super blows, and the south and west side best resemble Chechnya, but I don’t care, I love it here. I have been to San Fran, NYC, D.C., Orlando, Atlanta, Dublin, Rome, Paris, Florence to name a few and this is still the only place I want to live and 99% of the people who live here love it too.
Someday, I will no doubt, find myself in a nice, quaint lake house in Michigan, but still, that will only be a few hours from my “home” (plus, just think of all the pies I can make then).
While I love to cook, my love of eating far outweighs my love of cooking. So I eat at restaurants. A lot. I also happen to have a wealthy sister who loves Chicago’s restaurant scene as much as I and who also likes to pay for me, because I am a single, not-so-wealthy, mother.
Listed you will find some my favorites in this city. I will do my very best to update this list when I find something new and wonderful. I know the list is small, I will make it bigger, I haven’t even begun my favorite bakeries, pizza, italian beef, italian delis….I will get to those one day. Promise.
If you are visiting ever, or live here, and are reading this realizing you haven’t tried one of these gems, GO THERE. Go to every one of these places. You will be in love. I promise. Outside of the first one (my most favorite place in the world), they are in no particular order.
I love Paul Kahan like…like…mmmm I am at a loss for a comparison. I tried. I really love his restaurants. Avec, Blackbird, Publican Quality Meats, all awesome. But nothing in the entire world does it for me like The Publican. It’s loud, communal, like going into a party every time you go there.
Maple Tree Inn
I don’t like Cajun/Creole food. Except when I go here. Here I love it, I mean seriously love it. This is one of those places that I find myself needing a wheelbarrow to get me out…mostly because I eat my body weight in delicious food, but also because I am drunk. They have awesome New Orleans drinks. It is like a party when I go here whether I am with one other person or six. There is sometimes live music, it is a very neighborhood place and everyone seems like they are your friend when you come in. It is off the beaten path, but every south sider I know that gives a damn about food and a good time, knows this place.
Mindy Segal is what I always wanted to be when I grew up. Instead I am this person. Thankfully she resides and has this restaurant in my city. And please don’t just go here with dessert in mind, the food is local and fresh and the brussel sprout hash at brunch is great on a cold day.
Penny’s Noodle Shop
This place has been one of my go-to eateries since I was in my teens. It is simple Thai food, and it always good. I went on a date here when I was 18 with an older guy, I thought was the coolest person ever. He ordered the hot pepper noodles and proceeded to sweat profusely into his plate of food. Not so cool. It is a B.Y.O.B. restaurant, (is that even cool still?) which I like, because I can always have a good beer I like.
Southern food that is simple and spectacular. Small(er) plates for sharing, so you can eat a lot.
Spanish tapas, but awesomer than any you have ever had. Plus I love the inside of this place, it is fun. I held my sister’s bridesmaid pre-drinking dinner party here, and it is all shareable food, it is great for groups.
Someday I will get to my love of Fried Chicken and all the best places to get it. Table Fifty-two will be up there on that list. Art Smith is spectacular, and I love almost anything he is making.
My sister and I go here all the time for lunch and we have nicknamed it the “$64 lunch.” It is located in the JW Marriot Hotel, but you wouldn’t know it when you go here, lunch is filled with local businessmen.
Osteria Via Stato
Kind of like Paul Kahan, I love Rick Tramonto, but I love pork and pickles the most, so maybe I love Paul Kahan more…sorry Rick. This place is is loud too (do you sense a theme for me?) and very much like eating in Rome, crowded and food being passed around at every table. Awesome.
This place is neighborhood-y, on Taylor Street. The French food is classic and fills you up. Bonus too, they outdoor patio in the summer is simply gorgeous.
Thai Urban Spoon
Another lunch favorite. The Thai $13 lunch (one app and one entrée choice) is a great deal and the food here is fresh and good and they are fast as hell.
David Burke’s Primehouse
For our anniversary one year, my ex and I went here and blew it out. And I mean two waiters came over and told me they couldn’t believe how much food I could consume for my tiny body, they were thoroughly impressed. I was also drunk, as we had an entire bottle of Champagne and a bottle of wine for just the two of us. It was one of the best meals I ever had. Everything here is big and delicious. I even wolfed down a dessert…or maybe two…like I said I was drunk.
EAT THIS: Bone in filet; 55 day aged bone in rib eye; Brussel sprouts (I can’t for the life of me remember what was in them except for bacon, but damn delish); Creamed spinach; Truffle French fries; Caramelized pineapple sundae
Literally “the table’ in Italian. I love this place. It is small and very unassuming. The pasta is homemade and the gnocchi tastes like it did in Rome.
This is Paul Virant’s fancy restaurant in Western Springs and it is worth a drive, walk train ride, whatever, to get here. You won’t be disappointed.