A good overseas holiday is one where you get to visit most of the mandatory attractions and sample some of the more “mainstream” food options of which the destination can offer.
In this sense, you are only still a visitor.
What makes a good overseas holiday great is one where you get the opportunity to experience the country as a local. A holiday is never complete without experiencing what the place can offer in terms of a gastronomical adventure. That being said, I’ve even been told before by friends and family that “You’ve never really seen a place until you have tried its food.”
And with that note in mind, here’s a list of my favorite food spots in Chicago which I love to drop by each time I visit the Windy City.
1. Corner Bakery Café
I would call the Corner Bakery Café (CBC) a very convenient & nice place to have a quick hearty meal. Many years ago they started out as a little bakery but later ventured into the café business. There are at least 17 outlets spread across the city of Chicago which makes them very accessible regardless of where you are in the city. Just use the handy tool on their website to locate the nearest CBC to you.
At the CBC, you’ll find freshly baked cakes & cookies, fresh salads, homemade soups & chili, sandwiches, grilled Paninis, pastas and delicious varieties for breakfast. My personal favorite choice for breakfast is the All American Scramble. I highly recommend that you try the Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows too. CBC is opened 7 days a week. Food is moderately portioned, so don’t worry about not being able to finish a plate. Prices are reasonable too. You don’t need to burn a hole in your wallet/purse for a meal here. The CBC is always kept clean and the employees greet you with a smile. There’s free WIFI connectivity and the CBC can be found on the Internet here. They also have a Facebook page.
All American Scramble
2. Fernando’s Mexican Tequilla Bar & Restaurant
If you’re in the mood for Mexican, do pay a visit to Fernando’s Mexican Tequilla Bar & Restaurant. You’ll be able to identify the shop because it has a big stuffed donkey in the shop window. The menu is only 6 pages thick but it has a good variety of options such as baby back ribs, Mexican goodies like tacos, burritos, enchiladas and fajitas. I recommend trying the Shrimp Cilantro, the Soft Shell Tacos and the Chicken Oaxaca. Nacho chips and salsa are on the house.
And while you’re there, do not forget to indulge in a few margaritas because they are good and strong with an emphasis on strong. Fernando’s Mexican Tequilla Bar & Restaurant is situated on 3450 N Lincoln Avenue (between Cornelia Ave & Hermitage Ave). Food and drinks are reasonably priced. Meals range from USD 7.95 to USD 14.95. The environment is cozy and it caters mostly to a dinner crowd but be warned, can get quiet loud in there with laughter and chatter when the drinks get flowing.
3. Lulu Belle’s Pancake House
If you develop a craving for pancakes, then head on down to Lulu Belle’s Pancake House on 3819 N Southport Avenue (between Grace St & Byron St). It’s a good place for a scrumptious breakfast to kick start your mornings. Lulu Belle opens for business 7 days a week, from 7am and closes for the day by about 3pm. The food here is delicious; portions are fairly large (so be prepared to share if you are a small eater) with a special Southern twist.
The deco and setup at Lulu Belle’s is aimed at achieving a “right at home” feel, serving “homemade favorites”, so don’t expect anything fancy or over the top. Apart from pancakes, Lulu Belle serves a variety of waffles, french toast, crepes, salads, sandwiches, skillets, omelets, burgers and more. If you like eggs benedicts, I recommend ordering The Country and Southern Chicken. Each plate comes with another 2 poached eggs and a choice of hash browns or fruits. Prices are reasonable. You should not pay more than USD 15.00 for a main course. There is free WIFI as well but you’ll need to get the WIFI access code from the staff. You can get more information from their website here .
The Country and Southern Chicken
I sure do L.O.V.E and E.N.J.O.Y my deep greasy fried chickens and if you share my passion for it, then head towards 2940 N Broadway for some Korean Fried Chicken at CRISP. Please be prepared to get down and dirty as there is no clean & proper way of enjoying this meal. There are 3 different varieties of Korean fried chicken (Plain Jane, BBQ and Seoul Sassy).
My recommendation would be to select the 10 piece chicken wing combo (BBQ + Seoul Sassy). Tissues are provided at every table to wipe down those oily fingers but I’m guessing your fingers would be clean from all the “finger lickin good” food. It’s a small shop, so tables are limited. To find out more, go here .
Korean fried chicken (BBQ and Seoul Sassy)
5. Tre Kronor Swedish Bistro
Another shop I like to visit is Tre Kronor Swedish Bistro on 3258 West Foster Avenue. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner with an authentic Nordic flair and a warm Chicago embrace. This shop is rather small with limited tables and it often crowded, so best to call up and reserve a table before hand.
A few specialties to mention are the Vanila and Orange French Toast, Oslo Omelette, Norwegian Meatball Sandwich and Pytti Panna. Price of a meal ranges from USD 6.00 to USD 20.00, so it is very much affordable. To find out more, go here .
Vanila and Orange French Toast
6. Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria
A visit to Chicago is never complete without trying a Chicago-style pizza, also known as a deep dish pizza. After all, Chicago is famous for deep dish pizzas because it was developed there. Chicago-style pizza has a buttery crust up to three inches tall at the edge, slightly higher than the large amounts of cheese and chunky tomato sauce, acting as a large bowl. There are many good places to have deep dish pizza but I prefer visiting Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria. Why, you may ask? Because Lou Malnati’s pizzas are delicious, filled with stuffing & affordable. With 30 over outlets in and around Chicago city, just visit their website to locate which venue is nearest to you.
world famous Chicago style deep dish pizzas
Like every other pizzaria, you’ll find that Lou Malnati’s serve pastas, sandwiches, soups, salads. They do have thin crust pizzas but the whole purpose of visiting Lou Malnati’s is for their world famous Chicago style deep dish pizzas. So please do remember to try the Malnati Chicago Classic and The Lou.
Opening hours are from 11am till 9pm, 7 days a week. For more details, go here .
About this week’s guestwriter: Roger Tan is a thirty-something, avid traveler & photographer. By profession, he is an IT Infrastructure Business Partner with GlaxoSmithKline. He is actually my gym buddy and we got to talking because this guy travels to the US pretty frequently, like every couple of years, and Chicago is one of his favourite destinations. ( I get him to pick up my gym stuff for me on these trips, but that’s another story altogether-read bout that here). Of course I immediately bugged him no end, to do a guest post for me. This is his 1st ever blog post (as in ever!), and the first guestpost FY2012 on CC Food Travel Blog. Enjoy!