Slideshow: South Side Eats: 12 Essential Dishes Below 35th Street in Chicago

Birria at Birrieria Zaragoza
Birria at Birrieria Zaragoza

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"Each bite from the bone was beautifully structured, the edges slightly crisp, the meat thoroughly juicy, and the occasional bit of rendered fat redolent of a distinctly goat-y flavor. Framed by the sweet but subtle consomme and mild mole, the natural taste of goat meat was pronounced in a way that was hardly gamy and wholly savory." Read more here >>

Birrieria Zaragoza, 4852 S. Pulaski Rd., Chicago, IL 60632 (map); 773-523-3700; birrieriazaragoza.com

Rib Tips and Hot Links at Uncle John's Barbecue
Rib Tips and Hot Links at Uncle John's Barbecue

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

We crowned this as the best rib tips and hot links combo in Chicago:

"The rib tips are a wonder and seem to suck up the smoke flavor like no other cut. Though they look burnt and wasted, they remain mysteriously juicy and delicious almost in spite of themselves. If barbecue weren't wholly hedonistic enough, these smoke-laden little time bombs ratchet it up a notch...Hot links, a mad cross hybrid of breakfast sausage, might seem like an absurd addition to barbecue if they weren't so perfectly done. Each bite is crispy from the casings, smoky from the pit, and absolutely gushing in fat. The sausage is addictive and heavily flavored with sage and red pepper flakes." Read more here >>

Uncle John's Barbecue‎, 337 East 69th Street, Chicago, IL 60637 (map); 773-892-1233

Sausage Pizza at Vito & Nick's
Sausage Pizza at Vito & Nick's

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"As is the case at every self-respecting, old-school Chicago pizzeria, a sausage pizza should be an automatic part of every order. In fact, I think it would be great if each waitress (no male servers as far as I know) approached customers and asked, 'Would you like anything in addition to your sausage pizza?' The housemade sausage at Vito & Nick's is excellent. The hunks of extra fatty fennel sausage are present in virtually every bite." Read more here >>

Vito & Nick's, 8433 South Pulaski Road, Chicago IL 60652 (map); 773-735-2050; vitoandnick.com

Italian Beef at Pop's Italian Beef
Italian Beef at Pop's Italian Beef

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"This impossibly tender beef is one of the best I've sampled in Chicago. It reminds me the most of Chickie's, with its very thinly sliced meat and strongly flavored (oddly beefy) gravy. It helps that both of these places use bright green giardiniera, which tastes fresh and spicy and helps cut the fat, giving the sandwich some much needed crunch. If you only order this, you'll almost feel like you could devour another one when you're done." Read more here >>

Pop's Italian Beef, 10337 South Kedzie Avenue, Chicago IL 60655 (map); 773-239-1243

¼ Pound Burger at Top Notch Beefburger
¼ Pound Burger at Top Notch Beefburger

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"As with any burger, the number one key to Top Notch's success is the meat. Top Notch uses fresh beef that is ground in-house on a daily basis, something that is much appreciated although not especially unique. Where Top Notch goes out on its own is in exclusively using the leg of the cow, a part of the animal that is so little desired that most stores don't even sell it. It's easier to get cow offal than it is to get a cow leg... I have no idea what cow legs did to anyone to earn their reputation as undesirable edibles, but Top Notch offers conclusive proof that the cow leg can produce some truly excellent burgers." map); 773-445-7218‎; topnotchbeverly.com

Mother-in-Law at Fat Johnnie's
Mother-in-Law at Fat Johnnie's

"It's, dare I say, kind of amazing. Though slightly beyond my comprehension, success basically comes down to the interplay of the cool, crisp toppings and warm filling. Obviously, the hot tamale deserves some of the credit, but I think it's the chili that actually ties everything together." Read more here >>

Fat Johnnie's Famous Red Hots, 7242 South Western Avenue, Chicago, IL 60636 (map)

Smoked Shrimp at Calumet Fisheries
Smoked Shrimp at Calumet Fisheries

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"The smoked food is the real story. Smoked shrimp doesn't immediately sound like a perfect gastronomic match. I worried about overly smoked, grayed shrimp that were flaccid and tepid.. But like perfectly done jumbo shrimp cocktail, they were cool, plump, and crisp. The only difference was that each bite was haunted with a tinge of smoke." Read more here >>

Calumet Fisheries, 3259 E 95th St, Chicago IL 60617 (map); 773-933-9855

Cheeseburger with Fries at That's-A-Burger
Cheeseburger with Fries at That's-A-Burger

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"The burger is kind of stunningly good. Not nearly as greasy and overwhelming as it easily could be, instead it's perfectly proportioned. The great combo of the sweet griddled onions and freshly crisp vegetables helps. The patty could use a touch more salt, but that's nitpicking. Like Chicago's best hot dog stands, the fries come wrapped up with the burger, creating a package of greasy carnage. Eat it quickly or the whole mess may steam itself into oblivion. These fries, like a few other hallowed spots, are amazing." Read more here >>

That's-A-Burger, 2134 E. 71st Street, Chicago IL 60649 (map); 773-878-9898

Glazed Donut at Old Fashioned Doughnut
Glazed Donut at Old Fashioned Doughnut

[Photograph: Michell Eloy]

"If you want fresh no-frills, traditional donuts at a reasonable price (most are $1 each), then Old Fashioned Donut is the place to go. Located deep in the South Side, this Roseland spot fries upevery type of donut you could imagine right in front of you. The glazed donuts are their specialty, though: not too sweet, but not bland; not gummy or overly airy—just right." Read more here >>

Old Fashioned Doughnut 11248 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60628 (map); 773-995-7420; Cash only.