Slideshow: Staff Picks: Where Do You Pig Out in Chicago?

Lao Hunan
Lao Hunan

"I only have one surefire trigger to help me lose control of that part of my brain that understands self respect: spice. And I'm not talking about a pleasant hum of heat, but a complete onslaught of chilies that teeters precipitously on the edge of pleasure and pain. That's what happens nearly every time I visit Lao Hunan or Lao Sze Chuan. I go in with reasonable intentions, promising only to order a few things. But once I'm sufficiently high on the fumes, I'll stuff myself to the breaking point, pausing only to wipe the sweat pouring off my brow." Nick Kindelsperger

Uncle John's BBQ
Uncle John's BBQ

Here are what the rib tips look like without sauce. [Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"When I want to be sufficiently stuffed for the rest of the day, I head down to 69th street for a tips and links combo, hot from Uncle John's BBQ. Most people up north will insist the sauce belongs on the side, but I prefer to eat my mountain of meat like the locals do: swimming in plenty of sweet, vinegary, and spicy barbecue sauce. Plus, ordering it this way saturates the fries enough to make them worth your time. There's certainly enough food here for two (or at least leftovers), but if I'm making the two and a half hour commitment to get down and back to Uncle Johns, you can bet I'm cleaning my plate, er, styrofoam shell." Joe Roy

Edzos Burger Shop
Edzos Burger Shop

Char Burger at Edzo's [Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"My place to go pig out is Edzo's. Like I said on "Check, Please!" I cannot leave that place without getting a charburger, an order of fries, and a milkshake, so you see my dilemma. I'm normally not a huge meat eater and don't eat burgers that often, but when I do, I go to Edzo's. They also have a really good Sheboygan brat and a Maxwell St. Polish, too. I've eaten everything on their menu. It's all great, artery-clogging fare worth every calorie." Amber Gibson

Doughnut Vault
Doughnut Vault

Old Fashioned Doughnut from the Doughnut Vault [Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"Whether I'm depressed or celebratory, Doughnut Vault is the perfect place for me to go and eat my feelings. When I'm feeling gluttonous for whatever reason (as if that's a rarity), I wait in line, order enough doughnuts so that the nice counter girl assumes I'm feeding a bunch of friends, and then usually walk to Grant Park to find a quiet bench and binge in silence. It's a beautiful moment." Matt Kirouac

Indian Garden
Indian Garden

[Photograph: Mike Gebert]

"I try to avoid meals which will sack me out on the couch for the rest of the day, but if there's one genre where it's inevitable, it's an Indian buffet. Oh, look at all the vegetables I'm eating! There's just a teeny chicken leg in all that gravy! And I'm learning so much about unfamiliar foods! Don't kid yourself. You've piled up a huge plate of your own and they're bringing you half a Tandoori chicken and a basket of bread on top of it. Your only hope is to enforce a strict no-second-plate rule, and even then, you're going to eat the daily nutrition of an entire Punjabi village, you just know you are.

"A poster on Chowhound decades ago suggested that you should only eat a buffet within the first six months of the restaurant opening, as that's how long it takes for them to stop innovating new dishes and just serve the same stuff every other buffet does. Even so, though I know I can get fresher, better food by ordering a la carte along Devon, I still occasionally hit Indian Garden for a reliable enough selection of old favorites like sag paneer, chicken biryani, vegetable pakora, and that classic Yesterday's Tandoori Chicken in a Curry Gravy Thick Enough To Obscure The Fact." Mike Gebert

Sun Wah
Sun Wah

The Peking duck at Sun Wah [Photographs: Dennis Lee]

"Confession: I have never even opened the menu at Sun Wah. I have absolutely no clue what else is in it. Only the Peking Duck, first revealed to me a couple of years ago by my dear, Uptown-dwelling sister (who instantly became all the dearer for it), matters. The feast rolls up on a cart, manned by a person with a squared knife. The choicest cuts of this beautifully roasted whole duck are delicately pared from the carcass, plated, and then arrayed on the table along with sweet, pillowy steamed buns, thick hoisin sauce, and pickled julienned vegetables. That's the first step in consuming an entire duck in one sitting (two delicious others follow—duck fried rice and duck bone soup), and it's by far my favorite.

"I am a huge texture person, and this is the pinnacle of perfection: soft-as-heaven buns wrapped around crisp-chewy caramelized duck skin, crunchy daikon, and sweet, oozing hoisin. I do love a big group dinner, but in this case the fewer people around the table to share it with, the better." Lindsey Howald Patton

Santouka at Mitsuwa Market
Santouka at Mitsuwa Market

Special Toroniku Shio Ramen at Santouka [Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"I have many places where I like to pig out, but one that I'm looking forward to as winter looms is the Santouka outlet at Mitsuwa Market. When I need to cure a hangover I make the schlep to da burbs for a coma inducing bowl of ramen. We're pigging out so of course there's plenty of pork. I go with an XL bowl of miso flavored broth made with their signature tonkotsu, which is made with a rich pork stock.

"I like to jump in cheeks first. Meaning I have no problem paying the upcharge for the sweet succulent jowl meat, a.k.a. toroniku. It's food court dining at it's finest. When I'm really feeling like a full fledged sumo, I get a bowl of white rice loaded with chopped green onions on the side and throw it all in when the noodles are gone. It sucks up all the pork broth and just makes you want to sing. Too bad there's no karaoke on site." Titus Ruscitti

Hot Doug's
Hot Doug's

Thuringer Sausage from Hot Doug's [Photograph: Debbie Carlos]

"Before you guys roll your eyes at my pick, hear me out. I don't visit Hot Doug's very often, maybe twice a year; I don't want to get overly used to the experience and get spoiled. So whenever I go to Hot Doug's, I order one or two of the specials, one off the regular menu (I love the Thuringer), and a huge order of fries. I always visit with friends, which means I inevitably end up eating some of their food too. Every time I leave, I'm absolutely stuffed and I usually don't eat for the rest of the day. And I inevitably end up snoring loudly on the couch, dreaming about the next time I go back." Dennis Lee

Udupi Palace
Udupi Palace

A sampling of dishes from Udupi Palace. [Photographs: Roger Kamholz]

"I dispense with any inklings of restraint, adherence to actual, physical appetite, or burdens caused by the norms propriety whenever I sit down to meals at Udupi Palace, the all-vegetarian Southern Indian spot located on Chicago's little slice of the subcontinent, Devon Avenue. From where I live, dining at Udupi is a commitment, a trek. But the need to pig out there is much more about the food. Between the rich, intensely flavorful curries, crisp fried appetizers, molten-hot rasam soup, and array of dosa options, there is just so much there that I love, and every time I go I want it all. I often find myself there with family and friends. Servers have tried to dissuade us from our absurdly broad ordering, but such sound advice is brushed off. We insist. We know what we're doing, we say. Soon the table is hidden below an unsolvable Tetris of tin bowls topped off with coconut-sweetened chutneys and sambar, mounds of fluffy basmati rice, and baskets stacked with warm chapati and paratha breads. It's a thing of beauty." Roger Kamholz