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CULINARY EXPLORATION IN ILLINOIS

CHICAGO

CHICAGO= FOOD HEAVEN

Chicago is one of the big three and a great place to find authentic Mexican, Asian, and great specialties. This city is always evolving and there are always new places to check out. you can fine dining Michelin star restaurants all the way to the small family taco stands. Home to the Chicago style hot dog, and don't forget about the pizza in this city, no I'm not just talking deep dish,  they have some solid pizzerias.

The Pig

PIG'S PICKS

Craveable carnitas, glorious pizza and tiny hole in the walls in Chicago

CARNITAS URUAPAN

PIG SCORE: 4.0 / 4.0

WHAT: AMAZINGLY COOL CARNITAS

WHEN: You want the best carnitas in the windy city.

PRICE: $ - $$

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Mon - Fri  9:00am – 5:00pm

Sat & Sun 7:00am – 6:00pm

 

MAP IT: 

1725 W 18th St,

Chicago, IL 60608

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Carnitas from the ham & belly

  • All the fixings

WHY: Because I have never had better carnitas. The menu is a single half laminated page with a picture of a pig on it. Point at the part of the pig that you want them to cut the carnitas from. This is a must experience simple taco joint, don't over think it, just enjoy.

EATALY

PIG SCORE: 4.0 / 4.0

WHAT: ITALIAN OUTPOST

WHEN: You're in the city, but you want to be in Italy.

PRICE: $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Mon - Sat  7:30am – 11:30pm

Sun            7:30am – 11:00pm

 

MAP IT: 

43 E Ohio St,

Chicago, IL 60611

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Wood-fired pizza

  • Hand-made pasta

WHY: You're in the middle of downtown Chicago and hungry. You have a lot of options, but this is as much of an experience as a meal. Eataly is a two story Italian outpost that has everything from handmade pasta, to cave aged cheese. I'm not all about the star chef's restaurants, but Mario Batalia needs to be praised for this amazing store. Nothing short of spectacular, and a stellar display of marketing.

PIECE

PIG SCORE: 4.0 / 4.0

WHAT: CREATIVE PIZZA PIES

WHEN: You want some of the best New Haven pizza and a beer.

PRICE: $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

1927 W North Ave,

Chicago, IL 60622

HOURS: 

Mon - Wed  11:00am – 10:30pm

Thur             11:00am – 11:00pm

Fri & Sat      11:00am – 12:30am

Sun              11:00am – 10:00pm

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • White pizza

  • Hot Doug's atomic sausage pizza

WHY: Piece is one of the best independent pizzerias in the country. They brew their own beer and make some outstanding pies.  I love their thin crust and quality toppings, and they are a solid performer time after time.

LA CHAPARRITA

PIG SCORE: 3.9 / 4.0

WHAT: AUTHENTIC TAQUERIA

WHEN: You're looking for amazingly authentic tacos.

PRICE: $$ - $$$

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Mon - Sun  11:00am – 10:00pm

 

MAP IT: 

2500 S Whipple St
Chicago, IL 60623

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Tripe tacos

  • Head taco

  • Longaniza sausage taco

  • Carne asada taco

WHY: The best taqueria in Chicago, hidden in a simple Mexican grocery store on a side street in the little village. One step in the place and you won't question it's authenticity, but one bite of the tripe taco and you may question if you are still America.

LITTLE GOAT DINER

PIG SCORE: 3.9 / 4.0

WHAT: FUSION GOURMET

WHEN: You are planing a fun date night.

PRICE: $$ - $$$

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Sun - Thur   7:00am – 10:00pm

Fri - Sat       7:00am – 12:00am

 

MAP IT: 

820 W Randolph St,

Chicago, IL 60607

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Pork belly pancake

  • Banh mi style burger

  • Skirt steak with red chermoula

WHY: A gourmet take on comfort classics. The chef Stephanie Izzard is as talented as they come. She can make the simple sublime.

LOU MALNATI'S

PIG SCORE: 3.9 / 4.0

WHAT: THE ONLY DEEP DISH WORTH EATING

WHEN: You got some calories to burn.

PRICE: $$  

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Varies by location

 

MAP IT: (over 20 locations)

6649 North Lincoln Avenue

Lincolnwood, IL 60712

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Deep dish pizza

WHY: Lou Malnati's is the king of Chicago style deep dish pizza. most Chicagoains are embarassed by the thought of deep dish, but proudly will tell you that Lou's is the only place to go. The Pig will tell you they are right, Lou's is delicious.

FAT RICE

PIG SCORE: 3.9 / 4.0

WHAT: APPROACHABLE CHINESE 

WHEN: Authentic yet approachable Chinese is on the docket

PRICE: $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Mon           Closed

Tue             5:30pm – 10:00pm

Wed - Sat  11:00am - 2:00pm 

                   5:30pm - 10:00pm

Sun            11:00am – 3:00pm

 

MAP IT: 

2957 W Diversey Ave,

Chicago, IL 60647

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Arroz gordo (aka fat rice)

  • Braised spiced beef

WHY: This is crazy good Asian fusion cuisine.

WARD EIGHT

PIG SCORE: 3.9 / 4.0

WHAT: COZY COCKTAIL BAR

WHEN: You're looking for a place to grab a great cocktail and hang.

PRICE: $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Mon - Thur  5:00pm – 12:00am

Fri & Sat      5:00pm – 2:00am

Sun              5:00pm - 11:00pm

MAP IT: 

629 Howard St

Evanston, IL 60202

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • See No Evil (off the menu drink)

  • Marcona Almonds

WHY: Chicago has tons of great bars, but this one is extra cozy, casual and cool. Great drinks, live music on Mondays and Tiki drinks on Tuesday. This is a place the pig can relax.

QING XIANG YUAN DUMPLING

PIG SCORE: 3.8 / 4.0

WHAT: HANDMADE DUMPLINGS

WHEN: You're jonesing for fresh dumplings.

PRICE: $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Mon - Sun  11:30am – 9:00pm

 

MAP IT: 

2002 S Wentworth Ave #103,

Chicago, IL 60616

 

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Lamb & coriander dumplings

  • Beef & onions dumplings

WHY: I guess lets start with the obvious, hand made Chinese dumplings. And not just handmade dumplings, but the best in Chicago.

PURPLE PIG

PIG SCORE: 3.9 / 4.0

WHAT: TAIL TO SNOUT

WHEN: You want some pig done right.

PRICE: $$ - $$$  

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Mon - Sun    11:30am - 11:00pm

 

MAP IT:  

500 N Michigan Ave.

Chicago, IL 60611

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • House cured olives

  • JLT

  • Crispy Pig Ear

WHY: This is a Chicago hidden gem. Few restaurants can do tail to snout as well as the Purple Pig, plus I love the name.

EL MILAGRO TORTILLAS

PIG SCORE: 3.75 / 4.0

WHAT: MEXICAN CAFETERIA

WHEN: You want a solid lunch wrapped in a tortilla.

PRICE: $ - $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Mon - Sun  4:30am – 6:30pm

 

MAP IT: 

2919 S Western Ave,

Chicago, IL 60608

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Carne Asada

WHY: They are a tortilla maker that started in local taquerias. It has a cool Mexican cafeteria vibe, all the food is made to order on their homemade tortillas. A very popular lunch spot with the locals from the little village.

SPACCO NAPOLI PIZZERIA

PIG SCORE: 3.8 / 4.0

WHAT: VPN PIZZERIA

WHEN: You crave true Italian pizza.

PRICE: $$  - $$$

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Mon              5:00pm - 9:00pm

Tue - Thur    11:30am - 9:00pm

Fri - Sat        11:30 - 10:00pm

Sun               12:00pm - 9:00pm

 

MAP IT: 

1769 W Sunnyside Ave.

Chicago, IL 60640

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Pistachio 

  • Margherita

  • Salsiccia

WHY: These guys are VPN certified. What does that mean? It means they make pizzas to very strict Italian standards, like the flour they use, the special tomatoes and fresh Mozzarella cheese. It means they take pizza making seriously. 

BOP-N-GRILL

PIG SCORE: 3.75 / 4.0

WHAT: KOREAN AMERICAN FAST FOOD

WHEN: You think you kinda want Asian and you kinda want a burger.

PRICE: $ - $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Mon - Sun     11:00am - 10:00pm

 

MAP IT:  (two locations)

6604 N Sheridan Rd.

Chicago, IL 60626

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Bulkogi

  • Kimchi Burger

  • Kimchi Fries

  • Chicken Katsu

WHY: Korean dishes are so deep in fermented and umami rich flavors. And these guys pair those flavors with american comfort foods like burgers and fries. Well worth the calories.

KHAN BARBECUE RESTAURANT

PIG SCORE: 3.7 / 4.0

WHAT: INDIAN ROAST CHICKEN

WHEN: You want to try something different and amazing

PRICE: $ - $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Sat - Thur   12:00pm - 11:00pm

Fri                2:00pm - 11:00pm

 

MAP IT: 

2401 W Devon Ave.

Chicago, IL 60659

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Chicken Boti

WHY: This unassuming Indian counter service location is cooking up some of the best food to come out of a Tandoori. The thought of their Chicken Boti still makes me hungry.

XOCOATL CHURROS

PIG SCORE: 3.4 / 4.0

WHAT: FRESH & FILLED CHURROS

WHEN: You're looking for a sweet treat.

PRICE: $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Mon - Sun  9:00am – 8:00pm

 

MAP IT: 

3755 W Armitage Ave,

Chicago, IL 60647

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Classic Churros

  • Custard Filled Churro

WHY: You know what fried dough with cinnamon sugar taste like, and it is darn near nirvana. This is a small counter service shop where they make them fresh all day, and fill them to order. They even have a mystery filling. This is a special treat no matter how you look at it.

THE BILLY GOAT TAVERN

PIG SCORE: 3.3 / 4.0

WHAT: UNDERGROUND BURGERS

PRICE: $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Mon - Fri  6:00am – 2:00am

Sat            8:00am – 3:00am

Sun           9:00am - 2:00am

 

MAP IT: 

430 N Michigan Ave,

Chicago, IL 60611

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Cheesboger

  • Pepsi, no coke

WHY: An iconic Chicago burger dive. Known for a place cubs fans go before and after games, and the famous Saturday night skit with John Belushi. there are a few locations, but ONLY one worth going to, the one under Michigan ave. It is hidden, but this is the only one worth going to for the experience.

PORTILLO'S

PIG SCORE: 3.3 / 4.0

WHAT: CHICAGO DOG HAUS

WHEN: You want a true Chicago fast food.

PRICE: $ - $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Varies by location

 

MAP IT:  (multiple locations)

100 W Ontario St,

Chicago, IL 60610

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Chicago style hot dog

  • Italian Beef - Dipped

WHY: Chicago has a deep Italian heritage and no one does Italian beef or Chicago style hot dogs better than Portillo's. I am NOT a chain guy, but these guy's deserve a nod and they treat every store as a individual dog house. 

THE BILLY GOAT TAVERN

PIG SCORE: 3.3 / 4.0

WHAT: UNDERGROUND BURGERS

WHEN: You feel like hiding beneath the streets of Chicago with a burger and cheap beer.

PRICE: $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Mon - Fri  6:00am – 2:00am

Sat            8:00am – 3:00am

Sun           9:00am - 2:00am

 

MAP IT: 

430 N Michigan Ave,

Chicago, IL 60611

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Cheesboger

  • Pepsi, no coke

WHY: An iconic Chicago burger dive. Known for a place cubs fans go before and after games, and the famous Saturday night skit with John Belushi. There are a few locations, but ONLY go to the one under Michigan ave. It is hard to find, but is the only one worth going to for the experience.

VICEROY OF INDIA

PIG SCORE: 3.65 / 4.0

WHAT: UPSCALE INDIAN

WHEN: You are in the mood for traditional Indian food.

PRICE: $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Mon - Fri   11:30am - 9:30pm

Sat             11:30 - 10:00pm

Sun            11:30 - 9:00pm

 

MAP IT:  

2520 W Devon Ave.

Chicago, IL 60659

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Tandoori Chicken

  • Chicken Tikka Masala

WHY: When it comes to Chicago and Indian food you head to Devon street, the center for Indian culture. And Viceroy of India is one of the best on the street. If you go for lunch, they have a great buffet.

LA COLOMBE COFFEE ROASTER

PIG SCORE: 3.3 / 4.0

WHAT: A COFFEE HOUSE

WHEN: You want a quick cup or a place to do a little work.

PRICE: $ - $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

HOURS: 

Mon - Fri       6:30am - 7:00pm

Sat & Sun      7:00am - 7:00pm

 

MAP IT:  (multiple locations)

858 W. Armitage Ave.

Chicago, IL 60614

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • A Cup of Joe

  • A Croissant

WHY: This is a small chain, but I loved the setting, and it was very trendy. 

Pig's pick logo, eat like a local