Wednesday, July 22, 2015

5 (or 6) Bites to Eat in Chicago

There’s about a million restaurants in Chicago and if you ask for a recommendation, you’d get as many opinions on which is the best. So to add to that list, here’s my 2 cents on a few delicious bites that I tasted during my days in Chicago.

Pizza - deep-dish Chicago style pizza – is a given.  I imagine asking a Chicagoan where’s the best pizza is like asking a Marylander who has the best crabcakes.  I had a spinach personal size pizza from Giordano’s at Navy Pier (there’s a restaurant and a stand). And while in O’Hare, I enjoyed a cheese pizza from Reggio’s (Concourse C – not sure if they are near other gates, too.)  Be ready for the carb and cheese overload and enjoy.
You can't pass up a deep-dish Chicago pizza
Okay, now on to other food.

Popcorn. Specifically – Garrett’s Chicago Mix. A bag of the caramel corn and cheese mix is a Chicago must-taste. It’s a unique blend of sweet, sticky caramel and lick your fingers cheesy. (The first time I had it, I thought someone messed up the bag.) Once you are within a block of a shop, you’ll smell the hot burnt sugar sweetness. I also got a bag of the caramel with pecans (other nuts are also available) – it’s like a grown-up bag of Cracker Jacks.  For travel, I would recommend the caramel – it keeps better than the cheese or butter.
Get it while it's hot... caramel and cheese popcorn

Mini churros & sweet cream cheese sauce. Fried dough – enough said, right? Churros require a special crispiness, hot (as in warm) but not burn your tongue hot, and sweetness. Add a sweet dip – this one was a cream cheesy; I usually go with chocolate, but this was a yummy different option.  And a cup of coffee – it was the beginning of a great brunch at GT Fish & Oyster.
Churro's in Chicago. Yep.

Kimchi as condiment. I have eaten this fermented cabbage (or other vegetable) native food of Korea all my life. However, I generally eat it with rice, noodles, and Korean or other Asian food. I have never thought to eat it as a condiment on a sandwich or any “American” food.  I had an Oyster Po-Boy with Kimchi (all those yummy words together, how could it go wrong?) at GT Fish & Oyster.  At BellyQ, there was a Warm Potato Kimchi Salad – which I didn’t try, because I didn’t like all those words together, but was intrigued by the idea.  I did however, ask and receive a side of kimchi, which was pretty good.  (I’ll have to do a post on kimchi one of these days.  More later.)
I don't know whose idea it was to put Kimchi on a sandwich.

Grits. I really didn’t plan on feeding my grits-hunger while in Chicago, but I guess there is a touch of southern heritage here (read TheWarmth of Other Suns).  At BellyQ I had Coconut Grits. You like Coconut Rice? Ahh, they coulda slid some slices of mangos on it and had a whole new addictive food. (No pics, sorry, but it was good.)  I also had Shrimp & Grits, because as I mentioned in my Charlotte food post, it’s one of my favorite dishes. I had this bowl, with a more tomato soup taste with a kick, at GT Fish & Oyster for brunch.
Shrimp & Grits. This one up north in Chicago.

Fried deviled eggs. Because. It was deviled eggs. And it was fried. What could go wrong. Nothing.  Except you only get one.  At ThePurple Pig. Yes, as a vegetarian, you can find a good meal at a place with “pig” in it’s name.  Try the calamari with Fregola.  As a carnivore, particularly a pork-ivore, you will find a lot of interesting plates, including the Pig Platter.
Fried deviled egg. Crispy, hot, creamy.

Can I add one more? Because how can I do a food list without some chocolate?  From a foodtruck!  I had a chocolate cheesecake cupcake with chocolate frosting (feel that in your sweet tooth?) from Chicago Cupcakes.  The truck was at Jackson Park, near the Museum of Science and Industry, when I got my fix, but the guy said they are usually downtown and you can check Twitter to find them on any given day. Check them out.
Chocolate Cupcakes. What else do you need to know?
Note that I traveled to all of these restaurants (except the food truck and O’Hare) from my stay at the Hyatt on Wacker Dr. by foot or by bike. So when you go to Chicago, take your walking shoes.

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