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Please post your Chicago Chow Top 10 Lists!

  • m

I think it would be great, if someone of the most active Chowhound's in Chicago, would post their "Top 10 must-visit chow destinations in Chicago" for purposes of educating us newbies. This would be similar to how on Amazon.com, you can find lists submitted by a user of books or products related to a single subject they are interested in. In this case, the subject is Chicago chow!

I don't want to start a big discussion of what should qualify to be on everyone's list. If it qualifies for discussion as chow on this board, it qualifies for your list. It is personal to you as far as your own choices. I just want to see a condensed version of some of the most often talked about places on this board.

Put it this way: Name for me the 10 places you would take me if you were to show me what you consider to be your very favorite chow places in Chicago. You are my shepherd and I am your grasshopper. Assume I am open to try anything you want to show me. It is your most perfect list of places. Maybe the 10 places you would personally go to if you found out you were leaving Chicago forever.

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  1. Grasshopper,

    1. You WILL start a long discussion with a challenge like that, regardless of your not wanting to "start a long discussion."

    2. CH operates on the quid pro quo (give something get something), sharing basis. Why don't you start the group off with your top ten and then invite responses such as "if I like these, what else would I like that I may not know about".

    3. Search for the tip sheet/faq which some think belongs here and others don't

    JMHO

    pd

    3 Replies
    1. re: pdaane

      I think "The ever more unofficial (not to mention non-controversial and much beloved) Chicago Visitor Tip Sheet and sort of FAQ, v. 1.1" is appropriate to this discussion. Please note that it was posted September 1, 2003, so a lot of information has been posted since. Nevertheless, it's a fine starting point.

      The link is below.

      Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

      1. re: GeorgeR

        Gee, pdanne and George, you sure do know how to dump on a poster.

        But I've got to say, I've lived in Chicago all my life and spent 18 years of it with a buisness account for lunches and dinners, and I wouldn't recomment most of the restaurants listed on the massive list. (for example, Gene & Georgetti's is antiquated and gross by today's standards).

        Now, mind you, I don't have a full "top 10" to offer, but despite your wet blanket all over this post, I'll still offer these:

        Rosebud on Taylor Street (the old "Little Italy") around UIC, The original. Fine Italian dining. A bit east toward the lake and just west of Morgan (1000 W.) is the greatest Italian Ice stand in Chicago (open only during the summer months).

        Patio on the Kingery just north of 75th in the Western
        'burbs (take I55) for BBQ.

        I endorse the recommendation for Nuevo Leon on 18th street in the Pilsen area (west of Halsted).

        And I would like to add a very non-traditional experience that you can enjoy on Sundays---the (relocated) Maxwell Street Market. Great outdoor experience with food (mostly Mexican) kiosks all along the route. Roosevelt road and Canal (I said it was relocated.) dawn to dusk all year 'round.

        Even though Pizzeria Due and Uno pioneered the deep dish pizza, Giodannos is the best. Lots of locations all over the place and selected other cities, too.

        The best hot dog is found at the Home Depot on North avenue just east of the Kennedy expressway.

        One of the best Deli/breakfast joints is Manny's on Jefferson just south of Roosevelt road. Also terrific, is the Original Pancake house (Apple pancake serves 2) on Clark and Armitage.

        Best burger place in Chicago is in the Bucktown area and I'm kicking myself for not remembering the name just now, but it's a courtyard behind an Iron gate and has a bar area, fireplace, lots of plants. (Somebody out there native to the area, please help me here.)

        For summertime spectacular outdoor eating (the food is secondary here) try any of the cafes along the river in downtown area.

        Oh, can't forget Joes Bebop on Navy Pier! great creole food and live jazz!

        1. re: Hill

          The Bucktown burger place is the Northside Grill.

          .and I can't believe that nobody has mentioned the truely best BBQ joint in Chicago: Fat Willy's. Try the beef brisket.
          - and this from a man who always orders the ribs.

    2. s
      Shannon Clark

      My personal list, others will differ:
      (in no particular order, just 10 places I recommend to everyone frequently)

      Yoshi's Cafe
      Opart Thai House
      Johnies
      Gina's Italian Ice (summer only)
      North Pond
      Zealous
      Lem's (though I haven't been in years, need to go back)
      Silver Seafood (assuming recent reports of going downhill have been addressed)
      24hr Korean restaurant (especially for late night dining, other Korean places better at earlier hours)
      Naniwa/Bob San (same menu, same owners, best sushi at prices that are affordable, dishes I crave and go back for)

      In months past I would have had Printer's Row on this list, probably instead of a seasonal place such as Gina's, but since it is now closed I'll add Gina's.

      Other places that I would note as being very worthy of visiting:

      Four Taste - everything is really good, everything is appetizers and each dish is $10. Not cheap, but not overly pricey either and very very good.

      Peneng - Malaysian food which can be hard to get and is the best approximation of my real favorite cuisine, Indonesian.

      I'm not an expert on Mexican, but would certainly point people towards the Maxwell St. Market on Sundays, towards this board for various other spots, and towards some of Chicago's upscale Mexican for a treat (though I'm not a fan of Salpicon having never had a great meal there, though in fairness it has been many years).

      I would also note Bistrot Margot, Le Sardine (best deal in town on Tuesdays), and Topo Gigio as some of my favorities for French or Italian. Bricks would get a nod from me for good, cheap, convienant (for me at least) pizza. (note, I'm certain there are equally good if not better Italian places than Topo Gigio, however in over 8 years of eating there I have never had a bad meal, have always enjoyed it, and they have a few dishes I go back for time after time - the mark for me at least of a great restaurant).

      I would note to people that there are also many interesting Thai places in Chicago - Thai Avenue, Spoon (if you can wrangle the "secret" menu - not always easy on the first attempt), Thai Aree, and others - worth looking over this list. For vietnamese I would suggest Argyle & Broadway for a wide selection, but also not Pasteur and Le Colonial as other, more upscale options and places where I have always had good meals (though it has been a long while since I was at Pasteur).

      For Steaks, not something I go out for often, I would not Ruth Cris as being very good (yes it is a chain, but I've eaten very, very well there), Gene & Georgetti as full of Chicago character and capable of a great (if very expensive) meal if you get good service - helps to go with a local business leader or politician), and Mike Ditka's as a surprisingly great place - especially for Pork Chops. I would further suggest reading Chowhounds and exploring - Chicago has plenty of options for great Steaks.

      Anyway, that's my list for the moment - I'm sure if you asked me again in a few weeks it would be different. But my top ten are mostly places that have stood the test of time (perhaps not Silver Seafood if current reports are true)

      (and a place like River Kwai II and the Pakistani cab driver spots would get a mention as late night options)

      Shannon

      1 Reply
      1. re: Shannon Clark
        r
        richard alcala

        here's my top 10 list.....it was not easy to just pick 10 !!!!!!!! 1.NUEVO LEON....THE BEST MEXICAN FOOD EVER...ITS ON 18 ST. IN PILSEN...TRY A VARIETY OF THEIR APPERTIZERS IF YOU ARE GOING WITH FRIENDS.....THE QUESO PANELA,THE TACOS RAUL...THEY ARE MINI-CHEESE TACOS...TACOS DANIEL...MINI STEAK TACOS...OOPS I ALMOST FORGET YOU HAVE TO BRING YOUR OWM BEER AND WINE......ITS WELL WITH A TRIP TO THIS PLACE... 2.REZA'S...DOWNTOWN....CHICKEN ON THE BONE....DILL RICE...PERSIAN TEA,,,THAT'S LIFE AND GOOD EATING... 3.CLUB LUCKY......IN BUCKTOWN....ITS IN A OLD V.F.W. HALL...LOOKS LIKE A OLD TIME BAR FROM OUTSIDE...BUT INSIDE ITS FULL OF MAGIC.....ITALIAN FOOD....GRILLED CALAMARIA....WARM BREAD...PASTA...FISH...I'M GETTING HUNGRY JUST WRITING ABOUT IT....4.BOSTON'S....GREAT BEEF SANDWICHES ON GRAND AND CHICAGO.....5.UNCLE MIKE'S BEST BREAKFAST AND LUNCH ON GRAND AVE...6.LA PASADITA......THEY MAKE GREAT TACOS WITH A SPICY AND HOT GREEN SAUCE...NOTHING FANCY AT ALL....P.S. THE HOT SAUCE MAY PUT SOME HAIR ON YOUR CHEST......7.FOGO DE CHAO....DOWNTOWN....BEST SALAD BAR I HAVE EVER SEEN....THE FOOD HERE IS MOSTLY MEAT....BEEF, PORK, CHICKEN.LAMB...ALL HAND-SLICED AT YOUR TABLE BY BRAZILIAN WAITERS.... SKIP LUNCH IF YOU'RE GOING FOR DINNER....YOU WILL NEED THE EXTRA ROOM.....TRUST ME !!!! 8.CLEOS BAR.......MONDAY NITE...10 CENT CHICKEN WINGS.....I WAS NEVER A BIG FAN OF BAR-FOOD IN GENERAL.....BUT.......THE WINGS HERE ARE SO OUT THERE.....SO UNIQUE.....SO GOOD...I THINK I NEED A COLD, COLD....... BEER AND SOME WINGS RIGHT BOUT NOW!!!!!!!9.COCO'S IN CHINATOWN...GREAT DIM-SU..GET THERE BEFORE 2P.M. FOR THE BEST SELECTION... 10.CAFE CENTRAL...FOR PUERTO RICAN FOOD.THAT MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR IN THE TROPICS....NOTHING FANCY....JUST GREAT FOOD...TRY THE FRIED PLANTAINS....YELLOW RICE WITH PEAS....GREAT CHICKEN STEW....BEEF AND NOODLE SOUP...AND TRY THE FRIED POTATOE WITH GROUND BEEF....ENJOY....LIFE'S TOO SHORT NOT TO.......

      2. I make too many lists. Best albums of 2003. Movies. Books. Whatever. So, why not places to eat. Here's my top 10 favorites in no particular order:

        Old Chicago Pizza
        Johnnies
        Schwarma King
        Dat Donut
        Spoon Thai
        Tortas USA
        Hot Dougs
        Three Happiness
        Cafe Mariano
        Caponies

        1. Standard India
          Dixie Kitchen and Bait Shop
          Stanley's
          Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder
          El Tinajon
          Costello Sandwich and Sides
          Robey Pizza Company
          Vito & Nick's Pizza
          Home Run Inn
          Noodles in the Pot

          1. erwin - nice american food, great space
            cafe iberico - tasty affordable tapas
            erie cafe - excellent steak establishment, no hype
            taco burrito palace - fast dish burritos
            lou malnati's - true pizza
            berghoff - an institution
            soul kitchen - fun and good mid-end tasty fare
            frontera grill - high end mexican that set the standard
            reza's - the one on N Clark
            nani wa - great affordable sushi and a nice guy

            1 Reply
            1. re: M

              > soul kitchen - fun and good mid-end tasty fare

              FYI ... Soul Kitchen closed a couple months back.