Image source: Flickr - Bryce Edwards
Any foodie worth
their (artisanal) salt keeps Chicago high on their gluttonous bucket list, and rightfully
so. Home to both the Chicago-style hotdog and the deep-dish pizza, the Windy
City is also a training ground for some of the country’s best chefs. Chefs like
Graham Elliot, Grant Achatz, Stephanie Izard and Rick Bayless call the city
home, setting up culinary beacons, attracting gastronauts the world over.
While these names are
enough to set you off on a scavenger hunt, Chicago is teeming with spots that
fly under the radar. If you’ve got only a day to stuff your face, here’s a look
at the city’s essential eateries.
Don’t let Bucktown
mainstay HotChocolate’s name fool you: this neighborhood hotspot has been been
doling out flavorful savories for years. Chef-owner Mindy Segal is a five-time
James Beard Award nominee for best pastry chef, but she also knows her way
around a scrambled egg or two. Seasonal and local ingredients inspire the
always-rotating menu, like the brioche French toast with crème brûlée cream and
the turkey hash, with pickled cranberries, sweet potato and duck confit.
Craving a taste of
the classic Chicago hotdog? Then don’t skip Hot Doug’s Sausage Superstore and
Encased Meat Emporium. A veritable institution, Hot Doug’s is on every foodie’s
Greatest Hits list. Sure, you can opt for the classic dog, but with menu items
like the Brigitte Bardot (Andouille sausage), the Elvis (Polish sausage) and duck
fat fries, it’d be a shame not to eat outside of the bun.
in hip Wicker Park, swing by Big Star’s taco window. While the joint offers
seating (and tipples) inside, its outdoor food counter is the ideal place to
grab a bite before sitting in the park across the street. These tacos are the
real deal—from the mind of acclaimed chef Paul Kahan and his team—and deserve
your attention. The taco al pastor, with spit roasted pork shoulder and grilled
pineapple and onion, is flavorful-yet-simple, while the taco de pescado’s North
Carolina catfish and chipotle mayo are off-the-charts satisfying.
Considered by some to
be the be-all-end-all of American cuisine, Grant Achatz’s Alinea is an
experience that can never be replicated. Combining science with art, it’s consistently
rated one of the world’s top restaurants and its three Michelin stars are proof
positive of its place in the current culinary pantheon.
If your sweet tooth
is nagging you to see to its needs, then you must stop at Hoosier Mama Pie Co.
in the West Town neighborhood. At this cozy and quaint pie shop, you’ll find
handmade pies tastier than anything June Cleaver could’ve whipped up. A slice
of seasonal pie—pear-apple-cranberry, anyone?—and a cup of coffee will set you
back $6. After the feast-filled day you’ve just had, it’s all you can do to sit
back, breathe in and loosen your belt a notch.
Which of these
scrumptious bites do you want to try first?