Tuesday, October 7, 2014

7 Delicious, Lesser-Known Chicago Restaurants (Part 1)

Chicago is for foodies and fatties.

In Chicago you'll find gastronomical concepts like Alinea and Moto, which are revered for their marriage of food and science. Not to mention the multitude of premium steakhouses downtown.

Hell... entire lists are compiled featuring Chicago-Specific food like Deep Dish Pizza, Chicago-Style Hot Dogs, and Italian Beef Sandwiches.  

In Part 1 of this series, I've highlighted seven of my favorite, lesser-known Chicago restaurants.

Pequod's Pizza (2207 N. Clybourn - Lincoln Park)

"Crispy cheese crust or bust", a celebrated slogan at Pequod's Pizza. In my opinion, the best Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago resides here. Their difference maker is the caramelized cheese crust (it is lovingly burnt onto the entire rim of your pizza and pan). I suggest the sausage & giardiniera combo. Forewarning, the place gets packed in the evenings (this is a good sign). Either order delivery, or step next door into The Drinking Bird for fantastic craft cocktails, beer and a game of pool while you wait.

Here's a Tip: Pull off the "Date Trifecta" by getting drinks and an appetizer at Drinking Bird, Pizza at Pequod's and a movie at Regal Webster Theaters 11. You're welcome.
Pequod's Pizza. Nom Nom Nom.

Read more after the jump!!!

El Taconazo (4124 W. North - Humboldt Park)

"Authentic" Mexican restaurants are a dime a dozen in Chicago. Taconazo (No website) soars above the rest because their tacos and salsa are both amazing. The location will take most Chicagoans (and all tourists) out of their comfort zones, as it is located in a tougher, steel-bar and graffiti covered area of Chicago.

The biggest reasons to visit Taconazo is their complimentary salsa tray and crazy variety of meat options. 4 different salsas (and sour cream) arrive when you dine in, with a multitude of spiciness. Birria, lomo, asada, al pastor.... all the meat essentials, with a couple of odd choices too.

Here's a Tip: Don't go Sunday for lunch. (Why? That's quite a specific day/time.) Church-goers pack this restaurant every Sunday, very difficult to get a seat.

El Taconazo's Salsa. Great variety!

35th Street Red Hots (500 W. 35th St. - Bridgeport)

Next to White Sox Park, 35th Street (No website) is a must-stop when you're headed to a game, but also worth the road trip to the south side. Their Red Hots, topped with greasy fries, are billed as the #1 reason to go, but I argue they've got a better option. Go for the fried shrimp with hot cocktail sauce. Cash only.

Here's a Tip: Don't ask for ketchup on your hot dog, that's a rookie mistake in Chicago.

35th Street Red Hots

Byron's Hotdogs (1017 W. Irving Park - Wrigleyville)

With all of the Chicago staples (Beef, Dogs, Gyros, Greasy Fries in a brown paper bag), Byron's Hotdogs is the tiny Hotdog stand you should visit on the north side. They also have a couple of honors to their name, including the best fries in the country (as ranked by GQ Magazine) and they've served hotdogs in the White House. On a blizzard night they once delivered our food and made a stop at a liquor store for a case of beer.

Here's a Tip: Leave a Cubs game early and head north for a dipped Italian beef/sausage combo. Or perhaps you're interested in gluttony...try the "Lord Byron" burger, a Quad-Burger that is sure to fill you up!

Byron's. Outdoor seating only.

Cheesie's Pub & Grub ( W Belmont - Lakeview)

Grilled Cheese. Open late night. It's pretty easy to see why Cheesie's is so popular. They don't overthink their sandwiches, use basic ingredients, and have an excellent craft beer list. Critics on Yelp will point out the basic ingredients as a flaw in the Cheesie's formula... those people are pretentious and clearly don't understand the concept of a grilled cheese.

Here's a Tip: In town for a festival or working downtown during lunch? Check out the Cheesie's Food Truck or catch their location on Twitter @Cheesies_Truck.

The Fantastic Menu of Grilled Cheese at Cheesie's Pub & Grub

The Pork Shoppe (2755 W. Belmont - Avondale)

Chicago is no stranger to good BBQ, and you've probably heard of top-notch BBQ joints like Smoque and Lillie's Q

I'd challenge you to take a bus or cab ride up to Avondale (Belmont and Elston) and visit The Pork Shoppe. Likely lesser-known because of the location, certainly worth the trip for their pork belly pastrami sandwich, brisket, mac & cheese and trio of sauces to dip. Not to mention, they sell cheap beer. 

Too far away from you? Peruse this "Best BBQ" list, which includes Pork Shoppe.

Here's a Tip: Free Parking! Also, adjacent to The Pork Shoppe is The Beer Temple (seriously). Head over to this craft beer shop for a treasure trove of tasty beverages after you get your BBQ fix.

M is for Meat

Tank Noodle (4953 N. Broadway - Uptown)

Anthony Bourdain recommended Tank Noodle, so maybe it is not so "lesser known" anymore. Either way, you should go. The food is fresh, there's always people eating there, and you can only eat so many Hotdogs/Pizza slices.

Expect a language issue, unless you're fluent in Vietnamese, but this adds to the allure/authenticity of the place. I'd recommend their stir-fried egg noodles and the self wrap beef and shrimp, but the entire (lengthy) menu is legit.

Here's a Tip: Their Smoothies and Bubble Teas are amazing. Get one to go after your meal, assuming you've saved room.

Vietnamese Food at Tank Noodle!

Food Quote

“Curiosity is gluttony. To see is to devour.”  ― Victor HugoLes Misérables

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1 comment:

  1. Cheesies sounds amazing!! Chicago food is the best, I wish we had more than 3 days there :(


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