With 48 hours to tackle a city that was new to me, I decided the best way to spend my time in Chicago was to eat…and eat and eat and eat. Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t foolish enough to pass up taking in the breathtakingly tall buildings along the river, Millenium Park and The Art Institute of Chicago. In fact, trekking to them on foot probably helped me digest the large meals I ate, and made me feel less guilty about stuffing my face again a few hours later.
My first stop was DMK Burger Bar, home of Chicago’s grass-fed beef burgers. Located in the Lakeview area, owners Michael Kornick and David Morton have created a menu with high-quality meat at an affordable price. Not having eaten breakfast, my friend and I both opted for the No. 4: a beef burger with roasted hatch green chile, a fried farm egg, Sonoma jack cheese and smoked bacon. Not stopping there, we also ordered the chili-rubbed onion rings with house ketchup (deliciously crispy with the just the right amount of heat), deviled eggs and both the Amish blue cheese & smoked bacon covered fries, as well as the Wisconsin cheddar & scallion covered fries. We washed our mountains of food down with refreshing blood orange sodas. Whew! Needless to say, it’s the perfect place to indulge the morning after a long night out.
Later that evening, after attending the a show at Second City, we drove to Wicker Park to have a drink and a late-night snack at Big Star. Filled with single twenty and thirty-somethings, this cash-only taqueria features a large outdoor patio, a bar consisting mostly of beer, tequila and whiskey, and a food menu made from sustainable ingredients. I ordered a michelada (Tecate with a salted rim, lime and salsa), while my friend ordered one of the many non-traditional beers on tap. We also tried their house made chips and salsa, as well as the tacos de rajas de poblano (roasted poblano peppers, onions, oregano, crema and queso de freir) and tacos de panza (braised pork belly, tomato guajillo sauce, queso fresco, onion and cilantro). The small menu also includes a bacon-wrapped hot dog, which to me, looked like West Hollywood street meat on steroids.
The next day, after a liquid breakfast at Starbucks, I met up with a friend at Chicago’s famous Lou Malnati’s (the River North location), for my first taste of deep dish pizza. Though the wait was an hour long (residents line up down the block to snag a table at the small pizzeria), the hostess asked us to order our pizza ahead of time, so that it was ready the moment we finally sat down. My friend suggested the small “Malnati’s Chicago Classic” (a sausage deep dish with the restaurant’s famous, and trademarked, Buttercrust™). As far as pizza goes, New York’s thin-crust is still my favorite. But, I enjoyed this deep dish’s tangy fresh tomatoes, garlicky cheese and VERY filling crust.
Though I probably consumed more calories in two days than I normally would during an entire week, I left Chicago with a huge smile on my face knowing I’d only hit the tip of the iceberg with the array of food choices the city has to offer. I can’t wait to return and eat my way through another part of the city.