Not all good sandwiches need to use inventive combinations and complicated ingredients. All a good sandwich needs is excellent ingredients that meld together well, and sometimes simplicity is the best way to show that.
Wicker Park, North Side
It's a very simple sandwich, but that's always been Big Star's strength—nothing too complicated. Just good ingredients and dynamic flavors.
Asian gastropubs and brunch may not seem like the most seamless of bedfellows, but here they are jiving in tasteful tandem at Rodan.
Links Taproom is the most carnivorous addition to the Chicago food scene since The Jungle. Fortunately, unlike Upton Sinclair's tale of meaty mayhem, the only horror at Links Taproom is the tension on your waistband after a few forkfuls of pork- and goat cheese-slathered french fries.
Overall, it's a typical Buffalo wrap, with the strong flavor of Frank's hot sauce, while the addition of corn adds little chewy sweet nuggets and the avocado adds a little fatty silk to tone down the vinegar.
Chop Shop has everything—a butcher counter that serves sandwiches by day, an upstairs restaurant with a seasonal menu by night, and on the evening we visited, a purple-hued, and possibly dry ice filled, event space in the back roughly the size of a city block. My grandpa, the butcher (God rest his soul), would be amazed at just how far the humble meat counter has come.
It is a monster of a sandwich, so don't feel bad if you can only eat half of it. Share it with a friend, your mother, or a very hungry small child, even, because sharing is caring.
The Nosh embraced fall this weekend, hosting Chili Day with a diverse collection of local restaurants. Thanks to the small sample sizes, I was able to try almost all of them.
Although our waitress extolled the chicken & biscuit at the top of the menu as Carriage House's signature brunch dish, I made sure to order the hearty vegetarian option and had to guard the skillet from meat-eating friends.
Whereas sopes and ham & eggs at any random Mexican spot might be nothing more than humble hangover medicine, Takito manages to exhibit pristine flavors throughout its minimalist menu.
When Oiistar first opened, I assumed the Wicker Park shop was focused solely on ramen. That was fine with me, especially since all the noodles were being made by hand. But a recent visit revealed that the first section of the menu is devoted entirely to buns.
The Nosh at Wicker Park is a new weekly food festival in the parking lot of the A.N. Pritzker school just off of Damen in Wicker Park.
When it comes to brunch, hash is about as humble as it gets. Unlike some dishes that lend themselves easily to highfalutin interpretations (lobster Benedict, fried chicken pancakes, etc.), hash is sublime in its simplicity. That's not to suggest that humble hash can't be elevated and celebrated, as proven by aptly named newcomer Hash.
I always love little grocery stores that also function as restaurants, especially when they have countertops in the back. My neighborhood recently(ish) got a little grocery store that sells organic produce, meat, and other necessities called Plenty Grocery and Deli.
After trying all of the tacos at Takito Kitchen, it's hard to pick an absolute favorite. Instead, I'm going with the Crispy Redfish Tacos ($11), which I think neatly sum up what I love about the place.
At Carriage House, chef Mark Steuer does a dandy job gussying up classic Southern flavors in a sleek way that almost makes everything feel light. But this is not light food. It may not be the type of "butter gone wild" food Paula Deen pigeonholed, but it packs a coy arterial punch, kinda like a taser wrapped in a doily.
The deep frier at Bangers & Lace is put through its paces—so much so that I had to be extra selective on a recent visit. It's not often that a restaurant deep fries more than this column can handle, but any time my hot oil cup runneth over is a win win for everyone.
What can the two-week old Takito Kichen in Wicker Park hope to do with tacos in a neighborhood already stuffed full of them? I sat down with executive chef David Dworshak to discuss what sets these menu items apart.
The lamb and beef gyro ($7.50) at Covo Gyro Market is the antidote to every middling, greasy, overstuffed, and disappointing gyro that uses slices cut from one of those uniform cylinders of meat.
Yes, you read that correctly. You can purchase dill pickle wings ($10) at The Monarch. But are they any good?