Travel the World Without Leaving Chicago
by Becky Liscum
Exploring our hometown has never been more exciting. It’s impossible to hit all the gems in the city unless you divide and conquer–start by choosing an ethnic neighborhood you have yet to explore, then create your own itinerary. There’s Middle Eastern fare and Vietnamese on the north side in Uptown, Greektown on the near west side, Polish in the Jefferson Park neighborhood and a broad cultural experience on the south side: Latin American in Pilsen and Little Village, Chinatown, Little Italy–a world of choices in Chicago. And, of course the hot new cuisine scene on “restaurant row” in Fulton Market on the border of West Town.
If the world of choices is overwhelming, there’s another way to explore: by choosing a specialty culinary tour. Chicago Food Planet Food Tours is a great place to start your journey. “The World’s Fare” offers a global experience all within a four-block walk. Tours run Thursday – Sunday through March.
Another dining out resource is a new guidebook called The Fooditor 99: Where to eat (And What to Eat There) in Chicago by Chicago food writer Michael Gerberg. It’s a 60-page reference book with 99 examples of the best in Chicago dining from tasting menus to tacos and Thai foods.
HERE ARE SOME OF OUR SUGGESTIONS TO PUT ON YOUR STAYCATION DINING CARD:
Beatrix, with two locations, River North: 519 N. Clark St. and Streeterville: 671 N. St. Clair St.
Start with: a fresh-squeezed “Power Greens” juice or, for a cocktail, be tempted by the Sgt. Pepper
Followed by: Cauliflower Grits & Eggs or Bea’s Cheese Blintzes
Dirk’s Fish and Gourmet Shop: 2070 N. Clybourn Ave.
Dirk fires up the grill every Saturday of the year–rain, sleet, snow or sunshine–offering a taste of his fresh catch. It may include octopus, Asian carp or other sustainable seafood. Not to miss: Dirk’s smoked fish. Soups, salads or sushi can fulfill your lunch needs.
If you want to experience the fusion of global cuisine melding Latin and Indian cuisine, Vermilion: 10 W. Hubbard St.
Start with: an artisanal herb and spice cocktail, followed by a choice of four innovative tasting menus.
Morning Coffee and Pastries:
Start on the north side. If you haven’t been to Wrigleyville lately, then you haven’t been to Wrigleyville–the marquee at Wrigley Stadium this year needs no further explanation.
Osmium Coffee Bar: 1117 W. Belmont St.
In the Cubs’ ‘hood this hangout features a varied selection of mochas, lattes and Dark Matter Coffee.
Loba Pastry + Coffee: 3422 N. Lincoln Ave.
Boasts “adventurous pastries, artisan coffee and single-estate teas.”
Late Afternoon – Early Evening:
A10 Hyde Park is the destination for BBQ with a side of R&B tunes:
1462 E. 53rd St. Experiencing this Michelin-rated destination is a great way to cap off your Chicago Staycation.
Head south to Bridgeport
Nana: 3267 S. Halsted St.
The family-owned organic restaurant is grounded in American cuisine but includes Latin American, Mexican and Spanish influences. Kudos for this family’s commitment to not only sourcing but promoting local farmers and producers with fresh, seasonal offerings.
Something to share: nachos with pulled pork as a crowning ingredient.
Tempted by: Pan-roasted trout or ancho-chile braised short ribs.