What we Ate: Chicago

Chicago Food by Natalie Parker

There’s one common thread when Mr. P and I travel, whether it’s a long vacation or a weekend away: eat all the things.  We turn from the mild mannered couple who cooks small portion sizes to Homer Simpson in the land of chocolate.  We carefully plot how many meals we have and where to go.

We’re huge food fans, part Food TV junkies, and love street food just as much as being waited on.  We tend to like simple food done really well rather than what I like to call “precious” food (deconstructed items or things with foam, for example).

On our trip to Chicago, here’s how we made out.  Note: this wasn’t our first trip to Chicago, so we skipped the deep dish pizza this time.  We were bummed though when we got to the airport and realized we’d forgotten to try the Chicago Mix.  Next time!

Breakfast

Waffles Cafe: We’d heard of the wonut — a mix between a waffle and a donut and had to try it.  We were in a hurry, so we got birthday cake wonuts to go.  I’m sure they have the potential to be really good, but ours were room temperature and didn’t trill me.

Trenchermen: We saw this on Unique Eats and managed to get in for brunch.  The food?  Excellent.  There were fantastic pastries and main dishes, including the bacon flight which came with three types of bacon (though to be honest, you have to like non-crispy bacon to really enjoy the flight).  Mr. P says his biscuits with pepperoni gravy was the best thing he ate all weekend.  The menu changes often, so check in before your trip. Note they charge for last minute cancellations.

Chicago Food by Natalie Parker

Lunch

Mustard’s Last Stand (Evanston): Multiple Northwestern alumni told us to hit this place.  We stopped on our way to the tailgates — it’s located just outside the west lot of Ryan Field.  To me, it was a basic, pretty good hot dog.  It’s a good place to stop if you’ve never been and the people at the stand were really nice.  They were accommodating when Mr. P asked: “I see a cheese dog on the menu and a double dog.  What are the chances I can get both of those together?”

Publican Quality Meats:  Another place we saw on Unique Eats.  This place doubles as a butcher shop and a sandwich place.  Mr. P and I split a sandwich on naan with avocado crema, thinly sliced sausage, and pickled onions.  So good.  Then we shared a charcuterie platter.  It was a bit out of the way but definitely glad we made the trek.

Chicago FoChicago Food by Natalie Parkerod by Natalie Parker

Xoco: We found this place last time we were in Chicago and it was a must-do again on this trip.  If you want to try Rick Bayless’ food without sitting down at a restaurant, this is the place.  I’ve only ever had one dish: the torta Ahogada.  It’s carnitas with pickled onions on a sandwich served with a spicy tomato broth.  I still have dreams about it.  If you go, make sure to get an order of churros too with chocolate dipping sauce.  I may or may not have sipped some of the sauce after the churros were done.  Maybe.

Yes, I realize I’m from California and can get churros here anytime I want.  But listen, when fried dough is done really well, you don’t ask questions and just get it.  Okay?

Chicago Food by Natalie ParkerChicago Food by Natalie Parker

Dinner

David Burke’s Primehouse: I had no idea how many steakhouses there were in Chicago.  No idea.  A friend of ours made reservations here and to be honest, I wasn’t too enthused, thinking I can get a steak in any city.  But wow.  Everything here was absolutely fantastic.  Mr. P and I split a steak because they were huge.  It was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had.

Eataly: This could be brunch, lunch, dinner, or drinks really.  Or anytime of the day on a day that ends in “y.” It’s been on my list since Kelly Purkey raved about it.  It’s a giant Italian food emporium where you can shop or dine at 10+ food areas.  Since it’s all one big store, you can look around with a drink in hand.  Mr. P and I had a light dinner here one evening and I loved that you could have a quick bite at one of the standing tables.  We returned for pre-dinner drinks and snacks with friends a different night.  Definitely a must-see!

Chicago Food by Natalie Parker

Heaven on Seven: We saw this on an episode of Heat Seekers and it was perfect for a quick bite the night we got in.  The food wasn’t as spicy as I expected, but there’s a collection of hot sauces on the table that helped.  Definitely go for the gumbo.  The main dishes were pretty good but not memorable.

Piece Brewery & Pizzeria: We met up with some coworkers of one of our college friends here after the Cubs game.  This was really good pizza.  It’s not deep dish, just regular.  However, you pick your size, sauce, and toppings all a la carte.  It was fantastic and I’d definitely go back.  It also looks like a great place to watch a game with all the TV’s.

Drinks

Bat 17 (Evanston): Recommended by my Northwestern alumni coworkers, we stopped here before hitting the tailgates.  There is a restaurant next door owned by the same folks but we sat in the burger bar and just had drinks.  I was surprised at how quiet it was.  There were a ton of TV’s and it looked like a great place to pregame.  Perhaps it was because classes hadn’t started yet at Northwestern.  They had a great beer deal, a 105-ounce table tap for $35 which the guys really enjoyed.

Chicago Food by Natalie Parker

Mother Hubbard’s Sports Pub: We found this while looking for a place to get a beer and watch football.  It gets my enthusiastic thumbs up for the TV’s and the service, exactly what one wants at a sports bar.  We came back a second time with friends after the Cal game to have dinner.  It was basic bar food, not bad, but nothing to write home about.  I’d definitely go back to watch a game.

Murphy’s Bleachers: One of the Wrigleyville institutions.  Mr. P and I had been here before and chose it this time as our pregame meeting spot for our friends before the Cubs game.  It has a ton of space, including an outside with overhangs in case it’s raining.  It’s also right across the street from the bleacher entrance at Wrigley, so we could gauge how full it was getting before we headed in.  It’s also great for people watching as everyone makes their way to the game.

Chicago Food by Natalie Parker

If You Go

Bat 17, 1709 Benson Avenue, Evanston, IL
David Burke’s Primehouse
, 616 N Rush Street, Chicago, IL (inside the James Hotel)
Eataly, 43 E Ohio Street, Chicago, IL
Heaven on Seven, 600 N Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL (entrance on Rush Street)
Mother Hubbard’s Sports Pub, 5 W Hubbard Street, Chicago, IL
Murphy’s Bleachers, 3655 N Sheffield Avenue, Chicago, IL
Mustard’s Last Stand, 1613 Central Street, Evanston, IL
Piece Brewery & Pizzeria, 1927 W North Avenue, Chicago, IL
Publican Quality Meats, 825 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL
Trenchermen
, 2039 W North Avenue, Chicago, IL
Waffles Cafe, 203 E Ohio Street, Chicago, IL
Xoco, 449 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL

My work here with food is never done.  What did I miss?

Chicago Food by Natalie Parker

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