My kind of food town, Chicago is. Going a few days early for a family wedding, we walked and ate our way through town. Our best meal was brunch at cousin-recommended Little Goat, a sister restaurant to the Girl and the Goat, run by Stephanie Izard of Top Chef fame. We feasted on the best corned beef hash, bulls-eye French toast (egg cooked in a hole in the center of the toast) with fried chicken, kim chee bacon and eggs, oatmeal, and a terrific gluten-free pineapple muffin and a fresh and rich cinnabun. This is a fantastic informal cafe in the West Loop (820 W. Randolph).
Another wonderful dinner was an old stand-by in Greektown, Santorini (Halsted), featuring large portions, freshly made, good service, and a happy vibe. Excellent appetizers of grilled octopus and a mixed mezes plate whet our appetites for "authentic Greek chicken", shrimp Santorini, pastichio, and fresh fish. Unfortunately they were out of the daily lamb specials. Must go back.
The best pizza we had was from Lou Malnati's (439 North Wells Street, but many locations) delivered to our room, but still so good. Great as leftovers too. My new Chicago pizza favorite was the Chicago Classic with marvelous sausage and a butter crust, rich tomato sauce and a large amount of cheese. We were also lucky enough to have the rehearsal dinner at a Gino's East, which used to be my favorite Chicago pizza. Their crust has more cornmeal than Lou's but the sausage is less thrilling.
Another old-time Chicago favorite we got to enjoy was Portillo's, sort of a high-class fast food place at 100 W. Ontario. We had classic Chicago hot dogs and fries and strawberry shortcake. Also got to try their great Italian beef sandwich. We had breakfast at the also classic (85 years) Lou Mitchell's (565 W Jackson) which is great to be in, but the food is really not that special. I do appreciate the gratis donut hole as a starter. Eggs and potatoes and corned beef hash, decent but no desire to return. I did have a great old-fashioned donut at what I guess is an in-spot at 939 W. Armitage and elsewhere, Glazed and Infused. $2.50 which I think is pretty high for a donut. The incomparable Stan's in Santa Clara is still under $1.
On a recommendation, we went to Twin Anchors (1655 N. Sedgwick), another 80+ yearer, for ribs and they were great. A neighborhood bar visited by Frank Sinatra, which they never let you forget. Ribs were very tender, sauces very tasty, onion rings and baked beans superb, and service was very special. A journey from the Loop but well worth it.
Right in the heart of the Loop and very close to the spectacular Millenium Park and the ever-wonderful Chicago Cultural Center (you must go see the Tiffany ceiling), we found Heaven on 7 (111 N. Wabash), a Creole joint with a delicious soft shell crab po'boy, excellent beans and cole slaw, and an amazing variety of hot sauces. Seemingly hidden on the 7th floor of a small office building, it's definitely worth discovering.
And a classic always worth rediscovering is Frontera Grill, (445 N. Clark) where Rick Bayless offers fabulous Mexican food made with the finest ingredients. Our brunch included beef and pork tacos,
Paying homage to Frank Lloyd Wright with a visit to Oak Park, we stopped for lunch at the very decent Delia's Kitchen (1034 W. Lake St) a block and a half from both Unity Temple and the Wright homes on Forest Ave. Great soups of the day (fluffy matza ball and Mideastern lentil), a very generous Cobb salad and turkey sandwich, friendly servers who make you feel welcome, and convenience to the sights make this a great find.
I left Chicago 5 pounds heavier, well-sated, and toddlin' home.