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My Taste
June 24, 2005 | 6 Comments

The Taste of Chicago has begun. I haven't been to "The Taste" in many years and I don't plan to go this year. If you are planning on going, Barrett from Too Many Chefs has posted a good overview of what is potentially the best food of the festival. (I don't like Eli's either, Barrett).

If you're like me, and you don't want to fight crowds, buy food tickets, or use a port-o-john, I've put together an alternative "Taste". This list would make a nice couple days for a group (or a nice month for one or two people). I promise that there's not a single hot dog, deep dish, or Italian beef sandwich on the list. I also promise that you'll get a much more authentic taste of our fine city than you would in Grant Park:

Start your day at Edgebrook Diner for some of the best hash browns in town. This is the kind of diner where you want to be a regular and have everybody know your name. 6322 N Central

Stop at Argo Georgian Bakery and buy something fresh from the oven for munching on the road. 2812 W. Devon

Head east on Devon to Khan's (follow your nose, this place smells like heaven) for a Pakistani breakfast of halwa puri. 2262 W. Devon

A nice appetizer before lunch awaits just south of the Lincoln/Western split at Spoon Thai. Stop in for some of the best Thai fried chicken around and a banana blossom salad. Don't linger too long because Albany Park awaits. 4608 N Western

Kang Nam should provide an nice lunch base with a wide array of panchan and some Korean BBQ. 4849 N. Kedzie

A block south, you can pick up some warm lavosh and Middle Eastern sweets at Al Khaymeh bakery. 4738 N. Kedzie

Keep walking south and grab some felafel balls by the piece (19 cents each, I think) at Salaam. Don't forget the hot sauce. 4636 N. Kedzie

Still hungry?

Head east and slightly north to Argyle street for some roast pork and BBQ duck at Sun Wah. Get a bag of fried chicken skin for the road. 1134 W. Argyle Grab a bowl of pho at Tank Noodle and a couple bahn mi sandwiches from Ba Le. (I like the meatball). Tank: 4953 N. Broadway. Ba Le: 5018 N. Broadway

On your way downtown, experience Chicago's cutting-edge fine dining scene. see if you can squeeze in Chef Bowles' tasting menu at Avenues. 108 E. Superior

Just southwest of the loop, Manny's awaits. Manny's carries the torch for cafeteria-style Jewish soul food. I can't resist hot pastrami and this is the best in town. 1141 S Jefferson

Now, you're not far from Chinatown. Soup dumplings at Phoenix Dumpling House, salt & pepper shrimp (heads and shells on) at "Little" Three Happiness, and anything starting with "Dry Chili" at Lao Sze Chuan should keep you busy for a while. If you need something sweet, there are plenty of bakeries like Saint Anna to curb your craving. (I go for the sesame balls with red bean paste). PDH: 2131 S. Archer. LTH: 209 W. Cermak. LSC: 2172 S. Archer. St. Anna: 2158 S. Archer

Are you still with me?

From China to Mexico. Head west on Cermak. There should be a street vendor in front of Cermak Produce that'll be serving homemade tamales and cups of sliced mango (in season) with lime juice and chili powder (among other things).

Keep heading west into La Villita and you'll find Casa De Samuel with some of the best handmade tortillas around. They go very nicely wrapped around the venison cecina. 2834 W Cermak

Oakley between 24th and 25th is a beautiful part of Chicago's Italian heritage, and Bruna's is my favorite. A bowl of carbonara should give you the energy to continue. 2424 S. Oakley

Get a feel for Bridgeport at Uncle Johnny's Grocery and Deli, a historic corner grocery in a former butcher shop, meat-hooks still hanging from the ceiling. Uncle Johnny's prepares and pan-fries one of the best breaded steak sandwiches around, to order. (I'll explore Uncle Johnny's a little more in-depth in a future post.) 500 W 32nd

Finally, a taste of our town wouldn't be complete without a hot link. Grab both each at Lem's and Barbara Ann's for comparison. Lem's: 311 E 75th. BA's: 7617 S Cottage Grove Ave

Now that's a taste of Chicago.

Special thanks to Cathy2 from LTHForum for her inspiration for this post, and Happy Birthday to LTHForum.

Posted 08:46 AM
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