As Frank Sinatra said, “Chicago is my kind of town,” from the people to the sights and, of course, the food. Much like my hometown of New York City, “a helluva town,” Chicago has so much food to eat that getting to it all would be near impossible, but I gave it a good try. Here’s the breakdown.
Gino’s East (@GinosEast) — After a sunny but breezy day at Navy Pier, a ground swell for some stick-to-your-ribs kinda food came to mind. It was time for the quintessential New York-style pizza lover to encounter Chicago’s famous deep-dish variety. Gino’s East was the recommendation.
Aside from the wait to get into Gino’s East, diners must prepare to wait for the made-to-order pies, too. Rustic and satisfying appetizers, such as mozzarella sticks, held the stomach firm until the Chicago Fire arrived. Layers of cheese, spicy sausage and sauce are nestled inside of a hearty crust that the faint of heart should not try to cut themselves. Leave it to the professionals.
Photos by Kysha Harris
Garrett Popcorn (@GarrettPopcorn) — No visit to Chicago is complete without that sweet and salty taste of the original Garrett Popcorn. Plump popped kernels of corn tossed with rich cheddar or sticky caramel are delicious on their own, but together they are a marriage made in heaven. While the jumbo bag was calling my name, the medium-sized bag would have to suffice and last for as long as it could. It wasn’t long for this Earth.
Citrus Diner (@CitrusDiner) — Not all great food needs to live inside the urban walls of Chicago. In fact, right outside in suburban Westmont is this cute little space recently reborn into a bright, sunny and inviting diner only serving breakfast and lunch.
Of course, Citrus Diner serves simple breakfast items that satisfy the masses, such as eggs, omelets, sandwiches and wraps. However, there was one dish that seemed to have my name on it—the Magilla Gorilla. French toast made with banana bread and topped with pecans, sliced bananas and maple syrup. That one is going in the mental recipe box!
The Purple Pig (@ThePigChicago) — After many, many, many recommendations from friends and colleagues in New York and Chicago, dinner had to be had here. This tapas-style place serves off-center inventive dishes that spark the palate and the imagination.
Whipped burrata salad with candied lemon peel, fennel, fried artichokes and arugula awakened the senses with sweet, savory, peppery abandon. The beef tendon cracklings arrived to the table still popping, audible even over the din of the restaurant. Finally, milk-braised pork served over mashed potatoes was a revelation and a returning favorite for diners at surrounding tables.
Dessert at the Purple Pig hit every high note, with lemon pannacotta with pistachios and a ricotta- and chocolate-filled donut. Once the inside is revealed, that donut would be used to get every last bit of filling off the plate.
The surrounding suburban areas of Chicago were a welcomed respite from the towering buildings of the city proper. Wicker Park is one such area that reminded me of Brooklyn. A stroll down Clark Street prevealed a bastion of great shops, eateries and restaurants.
Xoco (@XocoChicago) — Seeing this Rick Bayless eatery on the block became the perfect opportunity to finally sample his love of Mexican cooking. A snack of barbicoa tacos on freshly made tortillas just seemed to put the day right as rain.
Jeni’s Ice Cream (@JenisIceCream) — I’ve been an Instagram fan of Jeni’s for some time, so to bump into a store while in Chicago was a sign to venture in and try some, all, of their unique flavors and chill out from a hot day. While I would settle on some brown butter pecan ice cream, their seasonal popped corn ice cream made me swoon with delight. That is food passion right there!
Thank you, Chicago, for revealing just some of your food bounty. Obviously, I must return.
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Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl and on Facebook . For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at .