Food Chain

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

With Cruz Blanca, Empire Bayless adds a taqueria and cervecería

Posted By on 06.29.16 at 06:13 PM

Oaxacan peanuts, Smoke Alley ale, La Guardia Ambar, cucumber salad, and pork cecina tacos - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • Oaxacan peanuts, Smoke Alley ale, La Guardia Ambar, cucumber salad, and pork cecina tacos

While the dazzling array of Baja-inspired seafood dishes at Rick Bayless's fantastic Leña Brava can be a bit overwhelming, next door at its sister cervecería/taqueria things couldn't be simpler.  

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Make street food at home with help from a new cookbook by the grilling and drinking collective ManBQue

Posted By on 06.23.16 at 04:21 PM

Elote wings - CLAYTON HAUCK
  • Clayton Hauck
  • Elote wings

A few years back I had the pleasure of judging a hot dog competition at Schuba's. Among the competitors were a few dudes from the men's grilling and drinking collective ManBQue who'd won the previous year. Still, I was skeptical of their entry, a classic Chicago-style hot dog rejiggered as a panfried gyoza. Seemed pretty gimmicky to me, but I'll be damned if they didn't nail it. Stuffed with a mixture of ground hot dog, onion, relish, and tomatoes, drizzled with mustard, and garnished with celery salt and sport peppers, it tasted exactly like it had been dragged through the garden. They won again, by unanimous decision. 

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Pork & Mindy’s brings the bacon to Bucktown

Posted By on 06.23.16 at 04:10 PM

  • Julia Thiel

"Put a pig on it" could be the motto at Pork & Mindy's, the Bucktown sandwich shop from the Food Network's Jeff Mauro, aka the "Sandwich King." In addition to smoked pork (available in sandwiches, atop tater tots, and as an add-on to the salads), the quick-service spot makes its own candied bacon (aka "Pig Candy"), which is heavily deployed in the previously mentioned sections of the menu, in two of the three milk shakes, and served straight up. 

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Boo-Il Galbi is one of Chicago’s last great Korean barbecue joints

Posted By on 06.13.16 at 03:06 PM

Reign in fat.

A video posted by @mikesula on

I know I've whinged quite a bit over the years about the declining quality in Korean restaurants in the city over the years, largely in part due to the slow evacuation of Koreatown's inhabitants for the suburbs. I should qualify that by saying it ignores all the interesting next-gen activity that's happening in other parts of the city (Parachute, Kimski), and even the resurrection of old favorites like Han Bat (more on that later). It is true, however, that with the exception of Gogi, the barbecue scene has been rather moribund, with most folks settling for the—yes, I'll say it—mediocre, late-night comforts of San Soo Gab San. (Admit it, you only go there when you're drunk.)  

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Friday, May 27, 2016

The Gelato World Tour hits Millennium Park this weekend

Posted By on 05.27.16 at 07:21 AM

  • Dino Buffagni (courtesy Gelato World Tour)

In order to promote gelato—and encourage the Americas to catch up to Italy's 39,000 gelaterias (the U.S. has only 900)—the Gelato World Tour is stopping in Millennium Park today through Sunday. Just don't call it ice cream; the organizers would be quick to tell you how gelato is different (it has less fat, less incorporated air, and is served at a slightly higher temperature). They'd also tell you that gelato is good for you, which seems like a bit of a stretch. But if you can swallow that half-truth, it'll help justify eating your way through 16 gelatos from across North America (and one from Colombia). Participants were selected through an essay contest; the top three winners will go on to compete in the Gelato World Tour Grand Finale in Italy in September 2017.

The lineup includes two local contestants: Jessica Oloroso of Black Dog Gelato, and Angelo Lollino and Ali Caine Hung of Vero Coffee & Gelato (inside Mariano's stores in Chicagoland). Oloroso will be serving a flavor called 606, with roasted peanuts, sweet coconut, saffron, honey, curry powder, vanilla, ginger, and caramelized cashews. Lollino and Hung have created Chicago Pothole with cocoa, chocolate sauce, roasted and caramelized pecans, dark chocolate chunks, and marshmallow-inspired meringue. Other flavors also pay tribute to Chicago, like Windy City S'mores (which uses marshmallows from the local Katherine Anne Confections). An Ottawa gelateria will be serving a concoction made with pecans candied in Quebec maple syrup and Koval bourbon.

Admission is free, but if you want to try the gelatos (and really, why else would you be there?) you'll need to buy tasting tickets. Ten bucks gets you eight tastes and proceeds go to the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. There are also talks, demos, and workshops on topics including gelato history and how to design a successful gelato shop.

Fri 5/27-Sun 5/29, noon-8 PM, Millennium Park, Chase Promenade, between Randolph and Monroe,, free admission, sample ticket $10.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

The octopus and fish go down fighting at Shiroi Sushi

Posted By on 05.26.16 at 04:57 PM

Whole fish at Shiroi Sushi in Glenview - KRISTINA MEYER
  • Kristina Meyer
  • Whole fish at Shiroi Sushi in Glenview

Five years ago when I wrote about the supposed embiggening powers of sannakji (aka "Korean Viagra," aka recently dispatched and dismembered octopus still wriggling and suckering with residual nerve activity), I was mildly disappointed that the pair I purchased at HMart didn't have the same vitality as the ones I'd been served in South Korea. Nothing's ever as good as it is at its source, right? 

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Hump it over to Eric Grill for camel meat Fridays

Posted By on 05.18.16 at 03:58 PM

Camel meat this Friday, if Allah wills. - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Camel meat this Friday, if Allah wills.

When I guzzled camel milk from the Muslim Women Resource Center Community Discount Store on Devon last summer, I discovered something: camel protein is where it's at. It's also at Eric Grill in West Rogers Park. 

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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Yakitori Boogytori cements the northwest suburbs' reputation as a hub of Japanese drinking food

Posted By on 05.05.16 at 01:52 PM

Skewered meats and vegetables, agadashi tofu (second from left), and other items at Yakitori Boogytori - NAGLE PHOTOGRAPHY FOR YAKITORI BOOGYTORI
  • Nagle Photography for Yakitori Boogytori
  • Skewered meats and vegetables, agadashi tofu (second from left), and other items at Yakitori Boogytori

Speaking of all the great Japanese food in Arlington Heights, a new strip-mall spot opened last January, joining notable north suburban izakaya like Kurumaya and Sankyu in cementing the northwest suburbs' rep as the place to be for Japanese drinking food (much as they are for Korean drinking food). In truth Yakitori Boogytori, from the folks behind Ramen Takeya and Wasabi, isn't officially an izakaya—it's a yakitori-ya, grilling skewered meats and a few vegetables over white-hot binchotan charcoal. Still, there's a nice selection of interesting and unusual small plates of the sort you'd expect to find in a legitimate izakaya.   

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Alinea, Grace chef Curtis Duffy, and Land and Sea Dept. all wore Beards last night

Posted By on 05.03.16 at 01:13 PM

Curtis Duffy of Grace won Best Chef: Great Lakes at the 2016 James Beard Awards. - JULIA THIEL
  • Julia Thiel
  • Curtis Duffy of Grace won Best Chef: Great Lakes at the 2016 James Beard Awards.

A developing case of the croup kept me away from the Civic Opera House last night, where the 2016 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards gala [insert obligatory "Oscars of the food world" reference here] was held for the second year here in Chicago. But that doesn't mean I didn't suffer through three-plus hours of Carla Hall's cringe-worthy emceeing on the live stream, and the wooden, self-serving medal presentations from corporate sponsors. 

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Three new stands are reinvigorating the Japanese superstore Mitsuwa Marketplace

Posted By on 04.25.16 at 11:00 AM

Edomae tendon at Hannosuke inside Mitsuwa Marketplace - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Edomae tendon at Hannosuke inside Mitsuwa Marketplace

There have been big doings at Mitsuwa Marketplace over the last six months. Things had been looking rather grim for a while in the usually teeming food court of the Japanese superstore in Arlington Heights, especially after the demise of Gabutto Burger. For a time it seemed the champion Santouka ramen stand was the only thing keeping the lights on. But three new stands have opened, occupying formerly empty real estate, all of them imports from Tokyo with at least some stateside presence at Mitsuwas in other parts of the country. 

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The Book of Mormon PrivateBank Theatre
June 29
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June 24

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