Serious Eats: Chicago
Western Avenue: The Real Tastiest Street in Chicago
Last week, Good magazine named Chicago's Broadway as one of the tastiest streets in the U.S. Good magazine's criteria said a best street features "exquisite food you can actually afford." Haute cuisine is out of the equation. That said, as usual, a bunch of dudes writing from the coasts (this time L.A.) get it wrong. Broadway's not even the tastiest street in Chicago.
It may not even be in the top five. Off the top of my head, I say 18th Street, Devon Avenue, Clark Street, Halsted Street, and Milwaukee Avenue, amongst others, might be better. My gut says there's no question that the real tastiest street of all though, is Western Avenue.
Western Avenue, which runs 23.5 miles, is the longest continuous street in the city of Chicago, but its strength goes beyond length. There's a density and diversity that just can't be beat.
On the Southern end near the Irish enclave of Beverly, you've got one of the many Harold's Chicken Shacks in the city (11857 S. Western) serving up some of Chicago's best fried chicken. Further north, there's BJ's Market and Bakery (9645 S. Western) which serves up some flaky baked catfish slathered in a tangy mustard dill sauce and some kick ass flaky peach cobbler.
Right up the street, you'll find the Original Rainbow Cone (9233 S. Western) where generations have been coming for founder Joseph Sapp's legendary chocolate, pistachio, strawberry, orange sherbet, and Palmer House (cherry nut) packed ice cream cone.
Much farther North, up in the German enclave of Lincoln Square, you'll find the Thai Triangle which features some of Chicago's best Thai eats including Spoon (4608 N. Western) which serves excellent Kai Thawt or lemongrass and pepper Thai Fried Chicken, Opart Thai, (4658 N. Western), and Sticky Rice (4018 N. Western).
Even farther North, at the edge of the city, you'll find Candlelite Pizza (7452 N. Western), which has some of Chicago's best cracker thin crust sausage pizza, along with awesome garlic fries tossed with fresh chopped cloves and red wine vinegar, and a cast iron skillet fresh baked chocolate chip cookie sundae.
South of Lincoln square, you'll run in to Borinquen Lounge (3811 N. Western), which serves up the jibarito, a sandwich where garlicky deep fried plantains sub in for bread and hold pulled pork, steak or your choice of protein along with a healthy side of yellow rice and creamy pigeon peas.
In West Rogers Park, the Indian/Pakistani/Orthodox Jewish enclave near the corner of Devon and Western, Khan BBQ (2401 W. Devon Ave.) holds court serving up Chicago's best tandoor grilled meats including a singular smoky green chili slathered chicken boti.
In between Lincoln Square and Devon, you'll find San Soo Gap San (5247 N. Western) one of Chicago's best charcoal fired Korean bbq joints serving up Gojuchang paste slathered short ribs and a whole host of excellent panchan. Just slightly north is Max's Italian Beef (5754 N. Western Ave.), which serves one of Chicago's leanest most satisfying beefs and its famed ghetto fries slathered in Merkt's cheddar cheese, giardinara, onion, and bbq, Chicago's answer to Montreal's squeaky curd and gravy topped poutine.
There's also a couple of first-rate barbecue shacks on Western led by Honey 1 (2241 N. Western) which serves up smoky honey kissed bbq sauced Renaissance fare sized turkey legs.
I can't forget Humboldt Park's birria or excellent goat consommé and tacos from Birria Estilo Jalisco (2045 N. Western) or the farm fresh grilled panini from Vella Café, (1912 N. Western).
Some would argue the dueling 24 hour taco shacks Arturo's (2001 N. Western) where Top Chef contestant Stephanie Izard liked to get a tostada after a shift at her old restaurant Scylla and Lazo's (2009 N. Western) would deserve a nod.
There's no question that Margie's Candies (1960 N. Western), an 87 year old ice cream parlor that serves up sundaes big enough to swim in makes the cut on this venerable tasty avenue.
There's also family style reasonably priced pasta at Il Vicinato at the edges of Tri-Taylor/Little Italy (2435 S. Western Ave.)
The thing is, I know I'm missing at least ten other places that others consider favorite reasonably priced eats. One thing I know most Chicagoans would agree on is that Western Ave. is most definitely tastier than Broadway.