Monday, December 22, 2014

11 Restaurants I Love in Chicago

Chicago is the foodiest (is that a word? I'm using it regardless) city I've ever visited.  A person could write endlessly about Chicago restaurants.  Since I tried to eat at a different one every time I went out, you will see periodic posts about the restaurants with a main page to tie them all together.  My list does not include every place I visited as I lost track eventually.  All of the restaurants below warranted multiple visits.

Below are my top 11 favorites (in no particular order):

1. Kuma's Corner

A very popular rocker burger bar with exceptional food - on my initial visit I tried the Mastodon burger and Build Your Own Mac n Cheese.  This restaurant has two locations in the Chicago area.  Both places have an interesting atmosphere with blaring rock music and tattooed and pierced servers and cooks.  Expect to wait unless you hit the restaurant at a rare moment.  It's that good.  A must visit type of place.

2. Lady Gregory's Irish Bar & Restaurant
Located in the delightful neighborhood of Andersonville, Lady Gregory's features a mile long list of whiskeys. Try their Ultimate Grilled Cheese with candied bacon and their Mac and Cheese with bacon.  Noticing a trend yet?  The first time I ate here, the summer menu featured a Guinness cheesecake that was so delectably rich, I couldn't eat it all in one sitting.  A rarity.

3. Smokin' Woody's

I probably ate at this restaurant the most during my time in the city.  It was a top favorite for ordering-in. The pulled pork sandwich and cornbread are to die for. The rest of their sides offerings are so-so.  After eating at multiple bbq restaurants, it is my top choice for pulled pork.  Eating at the restaurant is ok but extremely small, only 4/5 tables, cash only.  I recommend their delivery service.

4. Ann Sather
Best ever cinnamon rolls!  Even if you don't eat at the restaurant, go get their cinnamon rolls. (in writing this post, I discovered they publish their recipe online)  So delicious.  If you decide to stay for breakfast, try the French Toast Fantasy.  It is made with their signature cinnamon rolls and is recommended by Rachael Ray. Go hungry because it's huge.

5. Bat 17 (technically Evanston, IL)
I love bbq pulled pork.  I could do a post just on pulled pork restaurants.  Hmmm, that's a good idea.  You'll be seeing that in the future.  I happened upon Bat 17 while walking randomly around Evanston.  I went to go to the movies (best theater in the area) and spent the day exploring.  This plate of food is an appetizer portion of bbq pulled pork sliders.  An appetizer portion!  The photo is missing the fourth slider which was already in my belly.  Fantastic dish. Comes with my favorite, onion straws and extra bbq sauce.  Not the best service in the world but great food.  Try their desserts as well.  Homemade gigantic cookies and pies. If you are into the craft beer scene, they have over 50.

6. Homeslice Pizza
Forget the pizza (actually the pizza is amazing too).  Go to Homeslice for this appetizer.  Roasted garlic served with housemade Gorgonzola basil spread and crustinis.  Oh man, so delicious.  I've had to stop myself from digging the garlic cloves out and eating them whole.  Ok I have.  I did stop myself from licking the container the spread comes in.  That is an achievement.  This appetizer reheats well if you want to save some room for pizza.  I've tried The Knife & Forkner pizza.  It is so loaded with goodness you really should use a knife and fork to eat.  When you are done eating, walk off some of the carbs and go to Sweet Mandy B's just down the road.  Hopefully they will have some of their lemon cupcakes left.

7. Marmalade
Located in the North Center neighborhood, this cafe is very unassuming.  In fact, my friend and I discovered it by accident.  We were biking to another well known cafe and decided we were too hungry for the trip involved. We saw Marmalade and said what the heck we'll try it.  Marmalade quickly became our go-to brunch spot.  My favorite item is the multi grain hotcakes but if that is too basic for you, try any one of their numerous french toast or Eggs Benedict's choices.

8. The Bongo Room
The Bongo Room has several locations.  If you go on the weekend, expect a good long wait at any of their locations.  With the two choices pictured above, is it any wonder they don't have a wait every day. My favorite and must have is the White Chocolate and Caramel Pretzel Pancakes. If you like bananas, try the Chocolate Tower French Toast.

9. Yes Thai
Chicago has an abundance of Thai restaurants.  The closest one to my apartment was Yes Thai on Damen.  I already liked cashew chicken before eating at this restaurant but after eating here, I became addicted.  I could drink their homemade special sauce.  So good.  Hint: if you like a lot of sauce like me, order it "wet".  I have tried to duplicate this dish with no success.

10. Tango Sur
An Argentinian steakhouse located in the Southport corridor, this restaurant serves huge delicious portions. The dish I ordered with steak and sides was easily shareable.  Tango Sur is a big hit with all my restaurant friends as well especially if you want steak.

11. Sweet Baby Ray's Smokehouse
Very disappointed to learn upon writing this post that the Chicago restaurant has closed.  It was located in Wrigleyville and fairly busy during Cubs games.  Maybe it'll open back up for summer.  The platter of pulled pork easily feed two people.  And they offered like 25 different types of bbq sauce.  As a bbq sauce lover, I was in heaven.  The mac n cheese was another of my favorites

In case it isn't obvious already, pulled pork, burgers and mac n cheese are my favorite out-to-eat foods. Yum.

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