Editor's Note: Whether you're a tourist or an office worker in downtown Chicago, you can get sick of eating at chain restaurants all day. So we've started a series to get you the lowdown on where to find a great...
The Loop, North Side
Ever since I've started Lunch in the Loop, I've been moaning about not being able to find a good hot dog stand downtown. Most are imitators and flops, restaurants that seem like caricatures of real hot dog stands. But one day, as I moseyed down the street, looking for a new spot, I came across Devil Dawgs on State Street, and inside the deep and dark crevasses of my broken and black (hungry) heart, I felt hope.
Since Chuck's is on Michigan Avenue, tourist central, I thought a $14 hot dog was going to be a fancy interpretation, especially with that price. Turns out I was wrong. This footlong Vienna Beef hot dog is the real deal.
As someone who's been lurching through the Loop trying to find surprises and things for you to enjoy, Rudy's has shown me that, even when all of your hope is nearly gone, the impossible can be achieved. That's all thanks to the Chicago char-grilled salad topped with a hot dog.
When in Rome, you must order triple decker sandwiches. That's the saying, right? Do they even serve triple decker sandwiches in Rome? I'm confused. Well, that is what you should do when you visit Perry's.
We all occasionally need a bit of fried chicken to get through the day. And you can find a ton of it at Harold's Chicken Shack, one of many locations in Chicago, in the southern part of the Loop.
The term "naked cake" has grown popular in recent years to describe un-iced wedding cakes. No more wondering what's under the thick layer of fondant; you can see the multiple layers of deliciousness that await. Check out how Toni Marie Cox creates her version of the cake.
For reliable corned beef in the Loop this St. Patrick's Day, look no further than The Berghoff Bar.
It's nowhere near as essential as the burger, but that's not really the point of a grilled chicken sandwich, is it? Most people just want chicken that still reasonably juicy, and on that point M Burger does a truly admirable job.
While the onslaught of new ramen restaurants seems to have died down a bit lately, Ajida opened up quietly on Wells just over a month ago. I'm used to ramen stands being a little beat up and homey looking, but that's probably just the Asian romantic in me. Mostly because I am, in fact, Asian.
The Loop location is decorated like an amped up version of a Hollister store, with a kitschy beach shack feel to it. You have to see it to believe it—no, seriously, step in. It's kind of awesome.
Turns out that if you can suffer a non-subterranean lunch, Billy Goat III on Wells Street has you covered in the french fried potato department.
If you're in the neighborhood, you should definitely swing by Naansense to catch one of the chicken or lamb naanwiches. They might make a naanbeliever out of you. See what I did there? No, I'm not proud of myself.
So, I basically found the greatest thing ever. It is a shining beacon in the depressing darkness of a food court, beaming brightly at my pale winter-stricken face. I mean, seriously. Behold the glory of the Farmer's Fridge!
The Buffalo Rolls at South Branch could've failed miserably for all the reasons most take out egg rolls flounder, but in the face of adversity, these rolls rise to the top.
As I passed by the food court near Clark & Lake again, I noticed a new bright green awning advertising a place called K-Kitchen, selling Korean food. "This is the food of my people!" I thought. "If I don't go in, I'll bring shame upon myself for not supporting my heritage." So I stepped in and I was suddenly reminded about why I never go in.
I'm a sucker for a good club and South Branch's take is easily one of the best I've ever had.
To be honest, the menu isn't that much different from La Cocina, but its interior does look different, with a sleeker urban feel to it. So you'll see burritos, tortas, enchiladas, that sort of thing on the menu.
Overall, I see Epic Burger as a place that offers a higher quality fast-food burger. The food tastes like it's just trying not to offend anyone, which isn't bad, but then you're just eating for the sake of living, right? But that turkey burger, that's the one you want.
Like the subs the beef is assembled quickly and frantically by one person. This is ridiculously inefficient, but important, because it ensures that the sandwich has some semblance of proportion.