It was clear from the moment I moved here that Chicago cared about its hot dogs more than any other place I'd ever been. And after five years of searching, here are my ten favorite Chicago-style hot dogs.
'Old Town Social' on Serious Eats
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.
When I started poking around in Chicago, I found a surprising array of corn dogs, from Texas hot links in Anson Mills polenta batter to foie gras corn dogs to a pair of dogs topped with chili and cheese.
We love the dishes where the bacon is everywhere and nowhere, so all you can detect is the haunting aroma of smoke and the salty profile of the cure. But we are not immune to the pleasures of the occasional bacon overload, just so long as each calorie-laden fatty bite is worth the extra mile on the treadmill.
What is it about breakfast sausage and eggs in the morning? Sure, there is something simple and satisfying about the combination, but we're guessing it goes deeper. Perhaps it's that, besides maybe a hot dog, breakfast sausage is the first sausage most of us eat as children.
For a time there, it felt like every restaurant was contractually obligated to serve a Caesar salad. Luckily, a new wave of restaurants have reclaimed the salad, lavishing attention on the once neglected dish.
It's hard to think of another dish as comforting or familiar as macaroni and cheese. But even though it's generally regarded as a simple dish comprised of two components, there are a shocking number of ways to get the job done. No matter your personal preference, there's a macaroni and cheese in Chicago out there for you.
We gathered together a mix of new and old delicacies, which should help get you in the holiday spirit, no shivering on the L platform required.
National Sandwich Month continues with a countdown of some of our favorite egg sandwiches in Chicago.
There are few foods that rival the versatility of the biscuit. You can douse them in thick sausage gravy or break them open (preferably while still warm) and slather them with butter. You can turn them into a sandwich, gild them with jam, or eat them as a side dish with fried chicken. Here are some of our favorites in Chicago.
Last night, some of the best chefs in Chicago set up shop in Lincoln Park for the Green City Market's Chefs' BBQ Benefit, which helps raise money for educational initiatives at the market. The original plan was to try and eat every single dish, but considering there were over 80 restaurants at the event, I had to make do with sampling as much as I could. I did pretty well.
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.
Though this column has only been going on for a few weeks, I've of course been eating sausage all year long. In the spirit of year-end lists, then, here are some highlights from 2011 that are worth a detour to try.
There's a Western-style cattle ranch with 1,000 acres of pasture less than 100 miles from the Chicago Loop. We're talking Billy Crystal and Bruno Kirby in City Slickers stuff here. The land itself is the ecosystem and living quarters for Quarter Circle Seven Ranch's nearly 600 grass-fed steers.
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.