While i had my share of great food in New York, unfortunately time was of essence over there so i couldn’t go about wasting half a day waiting in line outside a hot-dog place or driving outside the city limits early morning for some roadside batter fried shrimps. Chicago provided an opportunity for many such excursions and never disappointed my taste buds, except for in the famous Chicago pie pizza, which is just not for me. I might be stabbed the next time i enter the city but i just don’t love their take on pizza. Sue me!
Pizza aside, the city is an amalgamation of fantastic and myriad cuisines which would satisfy any foodie. I may not have eaten everything it offered but i had a lot and a lot needs to be said about it.
Let’s start with the legendary and now unfortunately shut down Hot Dog shop, Hot Doug’s. But not before i could make two trips to this wonderful but chaotic eatery. Hot Doug took pride in its encased meats and that is a sentence i don’t write casually. My favourite remains the Andouille sausage, a might hot Hot Dog called the Bo Derek. The place has everyday specials like the subtle Foie Gras and sauternes duck sausage with Truffle Aioli, a Curry lamb sausage with mango mustard and over 20 other flavours you could choose from. And each one was spectacular. RIP Hot Doug’s. It was a pleasure knowing you. But worry not, Chicago has many more places to get a hot dog from, the most famous one being Portillo’s which is present on a bunch of locations and George’s hot dogs.
|Hot dogs at Hot Doug’s
Calumet Fisheries Inc – Much has already been written about this place, recommended by Anthony Bourdain, so i was all eyes to see what it was all about. Located a little ahead of the gold coast on the way to Indiana, this american dhaba may not have a seating arrangement but more than makes up for it with its delicious smoked fish. Pick up anyone of the available fish and do order the batter fries shrimps with the tarter sauce. YUM! My only regret is that i did not go to the place a second time.
|Steak ale pie at Pleasant House bakery
Pleasant House Bakery – There are about four savoury pies that this place serves. And through my many visits to the place i have come to the conclusion that all of them are scrumptious. The pies at this place are comforting and heartwarming, with the buttery crisp crust filled with flavoursome steak ale, chicken or mushrooms served with a side of mint chutney. Though small in size and simple in ambience, this place more than makes up for it with its food and it’s knack of packing in a punch of flavour that is hard to forget. It is impossible not to go back for seconds.
|Dolmades and spinach pie at Santorini
Santorini – This Greek restaurant was the first great meal i had in the city. And even after 6 months or so, i find getting the plate of cold appetisers out of my mind difficult. Get a combination platter with Skordalia, Tzatziki, Tirokafteri, Taramosalata and Melitzanosalata which arrives with fresh pita bread and i’d doubt you’d be able to even think of the main course. But of course you should and go for Moussaka, the spinach and feta cheese pie and Dolmades. And finish it off with a Baklava and then sleep for the rest of the day.
|Fresh fruit crepe at M Henry
M Henry – Go early. Get breakfast. Order anything you want because everything is great but in the end don’t forget to order the fresh fruit crepe. Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth (like me), this mélange of warm peaches, sour cherries, sliced almonds and vanilla crème anglaise will change your mind. And not to bad to look at too.
Gather – A great sunday brunch place. I could just keep eating from the free pastry platter that they serve at the table.
Piece Brewery & Pizzeria – Order one of their craft beers and get a personal pizza. The red sauce is amazing and the thin crust pizza is just the right companion for a port.
Pick Me Up Cafe – Hungry and nowhere to go at night? Open till 4 in the morning, this place serves a mean Red Eye and some delicious milkshakes.
|Pork Belly at Yusho’s
Yusho’s (Japanese) – This hip joint, with its minute appetiser platters would have been a no go for me, had it not been for the food. The pork belly served on a Japanese pancake is to die for. The pork is so well cooked that you have to be inhuman to not let out a ah! as it falls apart at even the slight touch. Pair it with the right sake or get a sake flight and your evening is made. On the low side, it is insanely difficult to find parking in the area so just forget the car and get a cab instead.
Ruxbin – This place has a very small kitchen, so making a reservation is a must. But once you are in, sit back and enjoy their in-house sodas and garlic fries. And choose from one of their specials and don’t forget the dessert.
Cafe Lula – Another cafe, with a eclectic menu that will tingle and surprise your taste buds. While everything was wonderful, I shall never forget the steamed Bass with garlic, my entire life.
Big Star – Great mexican food, if you can find a table here. Though i did love everything i had here, the best were the potato tacos. Could have easily had 10 of those.
Demera – Great Ethiopian food with enough flavour to even satisfy the indian palette. Go for the communal Messob with a variety of vegetarian, meat and sea-food combination options which will provide enough for four people. But don’t forget to order their Shai tea infused with cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Reminded me of Kahwah chai but nonetheless delicious.
Of course, still left is the whole of Chinatown but there is so much to eat there, that it would take a whole month just eating there to write about it. Maybe next time!