chicago food picks

As some of you know, I am a Chicago native. Though LA is my current home, I will always have a strong connection to the Windy City (named for its politics not the actual wind, though it does have strong gusts from the lake)…I digress.

One reason in particular I happily praise my hometown; the food. It is hearty, full of flavor andd worth the calories. My recent trip was filled with plenty of eating, drinking and being merry with friends and family. Below is a list of some of my favorites!  Whether you’re headed for Lollapalooza or just for a quick trip, bring your appetite to one of my favorite Chicago spots.

P.S. You can save the Google Map I created at the bottom the post to your “Google Maps App” for easy access 😉

cheeseburger "house style" with bacon
cheeseburger “house style” with bacon (beer and chocolate milkshake were  necessary too!)

1.BEST DAMN BURGER: Au/Small Cheval

Au Cheval is the original location in the West Loop. It’s small, sexy and home of Chicago’s most notable burger. Small Cheval is the NKOTB in Wicker Park. I went recently and love the abundant outdoor seating- it’s picnic tables, very communal and you order at the counter. Both are worth a visit! TIP: go during off hours, they tend to be less crowded.

the order

  • chocolate shake (small only)
  • burger (add bacon and egg if you’re bold)
  • fries
  • fried chicken (au only)
  • BONUS: shot of fernet to wash it all down

2.SWEET FIX: Sweet Mandy B’s

Sweet Mandy B’s has been a bakery staple in my life since high school. It’s located in Lincoln Park, and was dangerously close to our family friends house-so we became very familiar with all their goodies.

the order

  • snickerdoodle cupcake
  • molasses cookie with cream cheese frosting

3.FRIED CHICKEN: Honey Butter Fried Chicken

Admittedly, I haven’t eaten here (I KNOW…A fried chicken place I haven’t tried??) I tried to go on a Monday, and they were closed. A tear was *almost* shed. Word on the street, and from my mom, this is some of the best fried chicken in the city. Plus you can order ahead and bring it home.

the order

  • fried chicken
  • fried chicken sandwich
  • biscuit with honey butter
  • pimento mac n’ cheese

4.LOX ON LOX: Snaggletooth

A newcomer to the city located in Lakeview, this is an instagrammers dream bagel/lox/schmear cafe. I tried to go on a Monday, and it was closed (what’s the deal Chicago?!) but it’s gotten a LOX of good buzz. Pun intended. And now that I now like lox (taste buds DO change!) I can’t wait to eat here next time I’m back.

the order

  • bagel platter with lox and the fixins
cheers to you Chicago
cheers to you Chicago

5.ROOFTOP DREAMS: Cindy’s Rooftop/Hotel Lincoln

Cindy’s lines are usually longer because, well, look at that view. Located on the top of the Chicago Athletic Hotel this is one of the hottest rooftops downtown. Beautiful views of Millenium Park and Lake Michigan plus damn good cocktails. Go here for a fun view of the Lollapalooza crowds. Hotel Lincoln’s rooftop is another great option- views of Lincoln Park instead of Millenium, and just quick hop to Second City and Old Town.

decor is minimal but on point!

6.LONG-STANDING FAVORITE: Mindy’s Hot Chocolate

I have a long-standing tradition with two of my best friends that we will always have a meal at Hot Chocolate while we’re all in town. Mindy Segal is a James Beard award-winning pastry chef, and the rest of her menu does not disappoint. Open for brunch too! Check out the newish 606 trail (similar to New York’s Highline) to walk off this meal.

the order

  • mac and cheese (all time favorite)
  • pretzel bites
  • burger
  • medium hot chocolate
  • dessert (order at least 2)
oreo blizzard with malt
oreo blizzard with malt

7. NOT TO MISS CHAINS: Potbelly’s & Dairy Queen

My life would be complete if Potbelly’s was open in LA. It’s hard to eat Subway knowing that there’s a premiere sandwich shop calling my name. All the bread is toasted in an actual toaster (not that weird machine at Subway) plus they have amazing milkshakes. Dairy Queen is a summer staple; soft-serve and blizzards are  as American as a baseball game.

the order

  • tky with everything no oil + a chocolate malt (my go to order at Potbellys)
  • oreo malt blizzard
  • twist dipped in chocolate
ALL DAY
ALL DAY

8.ROSÉ ALL DAY: The Hampton Social

My college girlfriends took me here this past trip and I loved the summery vibes. Great choice before a night out in River North. And that rosé all day sign ain’t bad either!

the order

  • rosé
  • lobster pizza
  • oystas

9.PATIO STATUS: RM Champagne

Tucked in a little alley, RM Champagne is a lovely surprise in the West Loop. It has a New York vibe and the patio is prime during the summer. I went while it was still too cold to have it set up, so inside is always fun option too. Perfect for a date-night or night out with your friends.

the order

  • bubbly
  • oystas

10.GREEEEEEK: The Athenian Room

This Lincoln Park staple has been there since my parents were youngin’s running around the city. It’s nothing fancy, but a classic cheap meal.

the order

  • rotissere chicken
  • gyro
  • greek fries

11. GIMME DEM OYSTAS: GT Fish and Oyster

GT Fish and Oyster is a fun River North spot for all things seafood. I always love sitting up at the bar so I can watch the chefs in action.

the order

  • lobsta roll (hot with butter)
  • oystas
thin crust for the win
thin crust for the win

12. FAVORITE CHICAGO ‘ZA (not deep dish): Barnaby’s Pizza

I have a confession/secret/don’t kill me when I say this: Chicago style pizza isn’t my thing. Too much bread. Give me a thin crust pizza please. And Barnaby’s has THE BEST crust (it’s cornmeal). So crunchy and perfect.

the order

  • sausage, fresh tomato, green olives, onions (go-to!)

13. IF YOU MUST HAVE CHICAGO STYLE: Lou Malnati’s Pizza or Pequod’s

If you haven’t had deep-dish, it’s worth a try when you visit! I am partial to Lou Malnati’s or Pequod’s. Both are true staples.

the order

  • deep dish ‘za (duh)
alway say yes to burrata
alway say yes to burrata

14. INTERIOR DESIGN ‘GASM: 3 Arts Club Cafe @ Restoration Hardware

This newer destination to the Gold Coast is a stunner. What else do you expect for a restaurant located in a Restoration Hardware store? Put your name in (no resos) grab an adult beverage, walk around the many floors and try to keep your jaw up. Good spot for a ‘gram too.

the order

  • burrata, tomatoes and toast
  • grilled cheese
  • cheese burger
  • lox plate
  • chocolate chip cookies
view from about 3 Arts
view from about 3 Arts

15. TOP THREE I NEED TO TRY: Girl and the Goat, Duck Inn, Green Street Smoked Meats, Alinea

Chicago will always have new restaurants for me to try, but those four are top of my list for my next trip-reservations required for Girl and the Goat, Duck Inn and Alinea.

What are your Chicago staples?? Let me know!