When I heard the title of MJ’s blog, Carb Before the Storm, I knew that I would like what she had to say. Turns out she is a great writer. Her writing is informal but well thought out and put together. It is honest, funny and engaging. Since I’m no Chicago expert (ask me anything about NYC…and we’re in business), MJ volunteered to write a little piece about her favorite secret places to eat in Chicago…but please, keep them quiet. I’d like to be able to eat there some day. ”
Chicago’s Foodie Adventure – Three Restaurants in Chicago that the Locals want to Keep a Secret
Do you find yourself planning your travels around food?
I sure do! Then it comes as no surprise that a significant part of my travel planning involves spending countless hours on Google, Yelp, and OpenTable.
However, here comes the dilemma… what do you search for? Famous food in Seattle? Best foods to eat in NYC? F*%#, I don’t know where to eat in New Orleans!
I have played this game and a list of ‘touristy’ options generally comes up. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying there isn’t anything worth eating on that list. I’ve been guilty of having clam chowder in Boston or pizza in NYC and I’ve loved them all. However, there is something to be said about getting the local experience in a city.
Traveling to a new city with someone in the know versus flying by the seat of your pants can lead to two dramatically different trips. You may not have me as your personal Chicago tour guide but I can let you in on some secrets.
Farmhouse - Farmhouse is located in the River North neighborhood which is a mere half mile walk from The Magnificent Mile. However, stepping foot into Farmhouse transforms your surroundings to what a quintessential Midwestern restaurant ought to be. Farmhouse sources their ingredients from Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana and they have a wide variety (28 to be exact) of craft beers on tap.
Now for the food…
You can’t step foot into Farmhouse and not try the Wisconsin cheese curds. The curds are crispy, salty, and gooey.
The mussels are another favorite. The portion is sized nicely but I was truly satisfied by saving the crusty garlic bread for dipping into the flavorful broth.
As for the main event, you can’t go wrong with the classics, a grass-fed burger with house made condiments and tavern cut fries. I usually don’t brag about burgers but this is one I keep going back to.
Farmhouse also serves pasties, a Northern Michigan favorite of dough typically filled with beef and potato. Farmhouse is a must-eat place on your dining list if you are looking for that Midwest charm.
The Bristol – The Bristol is located in the Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhood which is a perfect place for a leisurely walk, while hitting up vintage clothing stores, and taking in a fantastic meal. The atmosphere at The Bristol is calming and instantly puts you in the perfect mood to socialize and truly enjoy the dining experience ahead. If you love exposed brick walls, warm wood tables, and candle lit company, then this is your spot.
Take advantage of the craft cocktail list while waiting for your table and order some duck fat fries while you are at it. The fries are perfectly crispy and the flavor from the duck makes them irresistible.
You also have to try the monkey bread. It is fun, airy, and impossible to resist.
As for the mains, the menu does change but the Dry Aged Strip Steak and the Smoked King Salmon are winners that are executed flawlessly.
Do not leave without trying the Basque cake, it has been known to make even non-sweet lovers swoon!
It is also worth checking out The Bristol for brunch, the area is perfect for an afternoon of shopping and dining off the beaten path.
Blokes & Birds – Blokes & Birds is located in the Lakeview neighborhood located North of downtown and is just a short stop away from Wrigleyville (if you fancy some baseball and a night scene reminiscent of your college days).
The space is warm and inviting. Treat yourself and order a grapefruit inspired cocktail, the Queen’s Jubilee, from their beverage menu and take in the surroundings.
Start with the Devil’s on Horseback and depending on your party size, you may want to order two. The Devil’s are sausage stuffed dates wrapped in bacon and are pure heaven.
You don’t think it can get any better until you scan the rest of the menu and rest your eyes on the Foie Burger.
This is a decadent meal that is perfect while you are living it up in Chi-city!
Chicago is the perfect place for your foodie adventure and I hope this guide begins to show you the possibilities of what our great city has to offer.
Travel happy. Eat well!