Like many of my other countrymen, I sort of like baked ribs, so I couldn't help wonder if Twin Anchors really deserves all the flack.
Old Town, North Side
Bar food can be hit or miss, but I was pleasantly surprised by the tenderness of the NY Strip Steak Sandwich at Old Town Pour House.
Pastry chef Hetty Arts at The Refinery might not be on everyone's radar (I certainly hadn't heard of her until recently), but this Dutch dessert whiz has an impressive pedigree, with stints at Eleven Madison Park and Seasons (the former Michelin-starred restaurant at Chicago's Four Seasons Hotel). Check out how she makes The Refinery's chocolate cassava cake.
Moudardara might be named after smallpox, but this Arab dish is a tasty and simple vegetarian option at Old Jerusalem.
The vegetarian combination platter ($11.95) at Old Jerusalem in Old Town allows you to sample five of the restaurant's vegetarian options at once.
Between the housemade charcuterie and other fried delights, you can't blame me for never sticking around for dessert at Old Town Social. But after trying the warm doughnuts, I'll have to remember to always save a little room.
Almost every dish at Salpicón comes with choices. Some pay off handsomely, like the excellent margaritas, while others have options that don't always work. But through it all, the food remains consistently great.
Biscuits are unforgiving partners. No matter what you decide to top them with—great quantities of melty cheese, fatty bacon, breakfast sausage, etc.—if the biscuits are dry, chalky, and crumbly, the sandwich will suck. There's just nothing you can do about. But if the biscuit in the question happens to be tender and flaky—like Old Town Social's remarkable version is—then just about anything will taste good in between its buttery layers.
Properly encased in a surprisingly well-seasoned beer batter, these onions rings are uniform in size- job one in ensuring crispy-crunchiness across the plate. DIY steam vents pock the surface, creating textural contrast and providing sweet release for the onion's inherent moisture.
For all the fancy reinterpretations of brunch classics I have tried since the start of this column, sometimes it's nice to remember what prompted my love of that special time in-between breakfast and lunch. Old Town Social serves up a basic no-frills breakfast dish that prompted me to remember this past weekend why the classics are just as important as their modern breakfast bedfellows.
After I went to Walgreens to check out its sushi, I got to thinking—just where was the oldest sushi restaurant in Chicago? I nosed around on Google until I found my answer: Kamehachi.
Charcuterie is getting increasingly popular in Chicago, and some of the best is coming from chef Jared Van Camp at Old Town Social. There are 16 different housemade offerings, most of which are made from heritage pork, and all are accompanied with a tangy mustard piccacilli and crunchy grilled bread. Throw in the massive bourbon selection, and you're left with a bar that's setting a new standard for bar eats in Chicago.
Old Town Social offers two different burgers, both of which start with a half-pound of grass-fed beef, ground daily in the restaurant. The Basic burger comes with nothing but pickle, lettuce and tomato (PLT). But there's no reason to get that when the Served Our Way is on the menu. That one comes with house-made bacon, cheddar cheese, PLT, a fried egg, and garlic aioli.
Serious Eats Chicago contributor Daniel Zemans checks in with another piece of intel on the Windy City pizza scene. Daniel also blogs about Chicagoland pizza with his friends on the Chicago Pizza Club blog. —The Mgmt. [Photographs: Daniel Zemans, except...