Some of my favorite places to eat
People always ask about my favorite places to eat. This is a tough question, as I eat in all types of places. From fine dining to hole in the wall places that are difficult to find.
Since I was asked by a friend the other day, I will attempt to list some of my favorites. I will provide links to restaurants that have websites to make things easier. These are places I frequent or would definitely go back to again.
I am not going to list Italian beef sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers, tacos, gyros, burritos, or pizza. This will set off tribal and internecine warfare amongst aficionados of various popular places.
Bacchanalia in Heart of Chicago– I went to Bacchanalia when they first opened in 1979. For a while, another Italian cop used to see to it that we worked together every Thursday so we could have dinner there. This is nonna food. The food is terrific, the service is as close to dining with your family as possible.
I love Mexican goat soup/stew. Two places are my favorites. Birrieria Reyes De Ocotlan at 1322 W. 18th Street, in the Pilsen neighborhood. The other is Birrieria Estilo Jalisco at 2230 N. Western in the Bucktown neighborhood. Both are hole in the wall joints but well worth eating there. Friends of mine love Zaragoza, in the Archer Heights neighborhood.
Calo in Andersonville– Calo is an old-school Italian-American restaurant. For over five decades they have satisfied patrons. Main entree portions are large. Everything on the menu is excellent.
5 Rabanitos in Pilsen. Rabanitos looks like a typical Chicago family Mexican restaurant. However, this is more refined Mexican food. Rabanitos is Spanish for radish. The food is great and prices are reasonable. The coconut pie is to die for. It is BYOB.
Gibsons on Rush is an iconic Chicago restaurant. From hamburgers to fish, to steaks, and anything on the menu, you cannot go wrong. Gibsons gets crowded, but, you can eat at the bar if you do not have a reservation. The service is impeccable. The food is consistently great. They have a large selection of fine wines and other alcohol. Gibsons treats their customers like family.
Ricobene’s in Bridgeport. Ricobene’s is one of the best places for sanguiches. What is a sanguich? It is a whole meal on bread. Their fried steak sandwich is the bomb. It is so good, it’s indescribable. It is also a nap on a bun because after you eat this behemoth, you will definitely want to take a long one.
Tank in the Argyle Asian Market– I love soup. Soups of all kind. I love Pho. Tank Noodle is my go-to place for this Vietnamese specialty. The place is crowded on weekends with noodle slurpers.
Imperial Lamian in River North is described as an upscale refined Chinese restaurant. The menu is varied and somewhat daunting at first. There are noodle dishes, dim sum, Xiao Long Bao (Soup dumplings), and other Chinese specialties. If you can get a seat next to the kitchen, you can watch chefs make hand pulled and stretched noodles and dumplings. The Pumpkin Puffs, pictured above, are beautiful creations. So are the Rainbow Shanghai Xiao Long Bao.
Chayhana at 2245 W. Irving Park, in the Northcenter Neighborhood. Chayhana is a hole in the wall, hard to find, Uzbek restaurant. I have eaten there several times and will continue to eat there. The food is that good.
J.P. Graziano Grocery Co. Inc. in the West Loop serves hearty sanguiches. The Tufano’s Antipasto and the Muffalatta sandwiches are the best. Lines can be long during the lunch hour.
For Mexican street food, go to the Maxwell Market on Desplaines on any Sunday. Everything, including tortillas and tamales, is made fresh on site.
Get out there and eat. Don’t forget to tip your server or bartender. And, look for recipes of food you like so you can make them at home.