Monday, October 15, 2007

Chicago Restaurant Roundup

Perhaps it was just good timing, but when I visited the Whole Foods in DC for yogurt (ended up finding FAGE, yay), the Saveur magazine next to the checkout aisle had a huge cover story on Chicago. On impulse I purchased the magazine and read it on my plane trip. As a side note, kudos for public transportation. I managed to get from Georgetown to Reagan National without a car and also from Midway to Eddie's place. Sweet stuff. The magazine was actually full of good stories and recipes from Chicago. They especially recommended two street foods: Chicago style hot dog (with pickle and coriander seeds and lots of other stuff) and Italian beef (gloried roast beef au jus with hot peppers and veggies). Of course they talked about the different ethnic foods and Chicago pizza. I wasn't convinced. Pizzeria Uno had been my only experience with deep dish pizza, and I only remember two characteristics: greasy and bad crust. Needless to say, all this changed after I tried real Chicago pizza in Chicago. It's like Eddie said, when you take a local specialty out of its borders, you lose something. Kind of like how any random pizzeria in NYC has better NY style pizza than the glitziest pizza restaurant out of town.

Besides the usual touristy stuff such as Sears Tower (totally worth it, by the way), Millennium Park, Navy Pier (go on the Ferris Wheel and the Stained Glass Museum!), and the Loop (I loved the Chagall mosaic) from my Fodor's Chicago's 25 Best Guide, I got to try some good food thanks to my gracious host and practically Chicago "native" Eddie. Some highlights below:

Cafe Iberico
737 N. LaSalle Dr, Chicago, IL 60610 (close to Chicago stop on red line)
genre: Spanish tapas
favorite dish: grilled octopus (I want to find this somewhere in NYC!).
notes: very pleasant place. the sangria somewhat stronger than I expected. a party of 3 ordered 6 tapas and we were very full afterwards. At least it inspired us to walk a lot and check out the city at night (well, we missed the boat tour since they had changed their schedule at beginning of Oct.)

535 N. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60610
menu pdf
genre: traditional?
favorites: corn bread focaccia, Bandera style roasted chicken
notes: I was way underdressed for this but I loved it all the same. Saw the chicken rotisserie as I walked in and was convinced that I must try their signature.

5309 S. Blackstone, Chicago, IL 60615 (plus other locations)
favorite pizza: Spinach and Cheese, although the Special was good too. We had half and half.
notes: beware that the pizza takes 40-45 min. to cook. So arrive early! We had the fried mushroom for appetizer which made us more hungry, but hey, better we had something in our stomachs right?

Below is the photo that is my current wallpaper. Serene and beautiful Lake Michigan, taken at the Navy Pier.

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