Wanted: Anthony Bourdain experience this weekend!
I will be in Chicago for the first time. I will be traveling with young children. I would like to eat like Anthony Bourdain would if he were doing a show in the windy city this weekend.
Words I like:
Words I do not like:
I've never heard of Anthony Bourdain. But based on your vocabulary, I would spend at least one meal eating Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, either the double-crust "stuffed" pizza at Giordano's or Edwardo's, or the single-crust "pan" pizza at Lou Malnati's or Gino's East, all of which have locations all over the city and suburbs. Order ahead to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes for your pizza to bake. And I would spend one meal at Lula, where you can eat fresh, natural ingredients in the unpretentious atmosphere of a neighborhood place (Logan Square neighborhood), either outdoors or inside. chris's suggestion of Greek food in Greek Town is a good one, too. However, you don't mention where (city neighborhood or suburban town) you will be located during your visit, so we're shooting in the dark when it comes to distance and convenience factors.
Ok, I know the type of experiences you are looking for...I am a Chicagoan in NYC this week and I have been hitting the streets to find the local jewels.
Here are some ideas that are all low priced and without pretension. In fact, most are low key . Note, that these are spread out, so you will need to prioritize and will need a car.
- Green City Market (http://www.chicagogreencitymarket.org) - Local Farmers Market in Lincoln Park on Saturdays 7-1:30 pm. Local producers with music. Good place to grab lunch before/after the zoo or the lake front ) or both.
- Maxwell Street Market - Sunday Mexican market with food stalls http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/ev.... Go for breakfast through brunc.
- La Palma in Humboldt Park (http://www.yelp.com/biz/jmb-2jtaaDXe8...) - Puerto Rican food. Note that it is a shaky neighborhood...but I took my wife and 16 month old boy and we and everyone in the place had a ball. Better for lunch…though a big lunch! You get to pull out as much pork as you want for your sandwich!
- Cho Sun OK (http://chicago.citysearch.com/profile...) - Very yummy korean restaurant. Better for dinner. Love this place
- La Pasidita (http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/di...). Local taco joint/ hole in the wall. Some, if not the best, in Chicago. Go to this if you are going to visit Bucktown/ Wicker Park in West Town (two on the cooler, more original neighborhoods in Chicago). Note that there are three on the same block. I like the one that is most north and west (closest to the intersection next to the closed Pizza Hut
)- Nuevo Leon (http://www.yelp.com/biz/cQnY_VneZisfU...). Quality sit down Mexican eatery on the south side in Little Mexico on 18th Street. BYOB so you can bring your own firewater. Go early whenever you go to beat the crowds.
- Vietnamese and Thai Grocery – You could go up to have Pho noodles at a Vietnamese restaurant (I like 888 - http://www.yelp.com/biz/OTGOw4ClCSQzt...) and then do a little shopping at the Thai Grocery story (5014 N Broadway St across the street) or try some Chinese pastries.
Hope this helps.
FWIW, Pho 888 is closed every Monday, and Pho Xe Tang (aka "Tank") is closed every Wednesday.
Continuing in that vein, Pho 777 and Cafe Hoang are both closed every Tuesday, Tien Giang and Pho Xe Lua are bothe closed every Thursday, Hai Yen is (also) closed every Wednesday, Sun Wah is closed every Sunday, etc.
Competition is fierce on the Argyle strip, and, as a result, the restaurants "take turns" closing.
You'll do great at nearly any place you choose that's discussed on these boards. I do love Bourdain's show, the one in Korea with one of his staffers was great.
I'll offer two suggestions.
First, take a 10 minute walk West of MI AVE to my favorite neighborhood family Italian, Tony Rocco's River North (W Ontario, West of Orleans). I live nearby and the restaurant is perfect for a weeknight dinner with kids. Updated Mama's classics and Tony's is owned and run by a Mom (Karen) and her daughter. Sidewalk cafe is great if nice out and inside you have the character of an 80 year-old loft building.
Second, you should take a cab to Manny's. Old-school New York style deli--think Katz's--that makes a very good corned beef on an onion roll. Open only for breakfast and lunch and not on Sunday, just quick cab ride from MI Ave. Manny's, still run by the Raskin's, is on Jefferson at Roosevelt, about a mile directly west of the Shedd Aquarium.
Enjoy your trip
I'd consider dim sum in Chinatown, a short El ride or cab from downtown. The choice is dizzying, but it will be fun for kids, and if they don't like something, you only wasted $3 or less. I'd search the board here for recommendations. Every place I've tried, though, was pretty good. This used to be a Sunday morning thing, but it's available morning and afternoon in a lot of places every day of the week. This is assuming you don't have a healthy Chinatown in your town, of course.
Going up to Argyle St. for Vietnamese is a good idea too. I too like Pho 888, right across from the Red Line Argyle stop, but most of the places are pretty good. One good thing about that cuisine is you do most of the spicing, so unlike thai, your kids won't get bushwhacked by chiles.
Hot Doug's might be a good place to try. Taking the humble hot dog to unheard of heights, and on Fri. and Sat., they have fries done in duck fat.
And I'd try tapas at Cafe Iberico at Chicago and LaSalle, walking distance from downtown and a chance to see some nice architecture along the way. Something for everyone there, and great sangria, pretty cheap and informal. Do not attempt on Fri. or Sat. night after six or so. It's a two-hour wait.
Now from my recollection, Bourdain like things on the more adventurous side as well. So something in the gastro-challenge area might be appropriate? And what says gastro-challenge more than an eyeball taco.
So if you are in town on a Sunday, head down to the Maxwell Street Market (actually on Canal Street) and search out the Eyeball Taco stand. In the meantime, you can find all sorts of more-commonly-eaten Mexican specialties.
An excellent overview of the Market is here:
and a little more here:
That's about as Ethnic/Authentic/Fresh/Loud/Neighborhood/Family/Foodie as you can get.
Bourdain not so much but great Chicago Eats try
Johnny's Beef 7500 W North Ave Elmwood Park, IL 60707 (708) 452-6000
Have a beef wet and hot and don't leave without an Italian iced Lemonade
Al's #1 Italian beef 1079 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL - (312) 226-4017 The original and best.
Superdawg Drive In N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL - (773) 478-7800
Cannot be missed for a great Chicago Dog also really fun for the kids.
Gino's East 633 N Wells St, Chicago, IL - (312) 943-1124 for the deep dish Chicago Pizza is the best atmosphere and fun for the family.
Ghandi BBQ is probably the best Indian on Devon at Western. The best tandoori chicken in town.
Don't miss the dim sum at Phoenix Restaurant in Chinatown 2131 S Archer Ave # 2, Chicago, IL - (312) 328-0848
Well, Manny's is not Katz's. This is Katz's:
But it is a great Jewish cafeteria, one of the last of its kind, a Chicago institution, and it certainly meets all of your criteria. A good suggestion and very Bourdainish, particularly in view of the crowd that it draws.
Ditto for Maxwell Street Market. There's a lot more than eyeball tacos there food-wise and otherwise. Check the threads, and be sure to get there in the morning.
Definitely go for the Mexican experiences. La Pasadita has great tacos, but unless you make it a stop on the way to Wicker Park/Bucktown, the neighborhood does not have much to recommend it. Definitely take the el to Pilsen (referred to in another post as Little Mexico). If there's a big line at Nuevo Leon, try Taqueria Los Comales, where you'll defintitely find ethnic, authentic, fresh, loud, neighborhood, family, and lots of food for a small amount of money. And it's a fun neighborhood in which to walk around and sample a few different taquerias.
Pick up the new Chicago Reader, the Logan Square issue, and check out their restaurant tour of the area. In particular (and all the foodies here will like this), they have a tour of the little no-name taquirias in the area, with specialty recommendations. One place that does only goat, another that does only pork, etc. I think the Reader hit a home run with this section.