10 Things to Eat and Drink in Chicago
This time of year, conversations at Chow Bella staff meetings tend to turn to who's eaten what and where. With the summer travel season in full swing, we bring you Food Tours, our writers' suggestions of what to eat and drink out of town.
Lauren Saria Don't skip this Italian food lover's paradise.
There's no shortage of things to do, see, or eat in a city as big as Chicago but should you need a little guidance, we've got plenty of advice. Over a recent trip (or two...ok, it was three) to the Windy City, we did quite a bit of eating and drinking and to be honest, this list includes just a smattering of the highlights. We left off the usual suspects like deep dish pizza, a Portillo's hot dog, and Italian beef (which you really should also enjoy) to point out a few more original suggestions.
Cacio e Pepe at Eataly
43 E Ohio St, Chicago
Going to eat at Eataly is as much about your dining experience as it is about wandering around the upscale market's aisles. If you've already been to the location in New York City, go ahead and skip it. But otherwise, you'll really going to want to make time. The best way to describe Eatly is if Whole Foods, an Italian market, and a food hall had a three-way -- and that produced a baby. The giant two-story store offers just about every Italian food product you can dream up, as well as 14 different restaurants and food counters serving everything from pasta to pizza and yes, there's a Nutella Bar. The La Pizza & La Pasta restaurant located in the back left corner of the second story is a good choice; you'll find wood fired pizzas and handmade pastas featuring high-quality ingredients you can also buy and bring home should you be so inspired. The Cacio e Pepe is a classic Roman dish that features handmade spaghetti dressed simply in olive oil, butter, pepper, and cheese.
In The Rocks at The Aviary
Lauren Saria In The Rocks (left), Italian Stallion (center), a cocktail amuse bouche (right).
955 West Fulton Market, Chicago
If you're a cocktail nerd, chances are you already know about The Aviary. The upscale bar comes courtesy of Grant Achatz (Alinea) and Nick Kokonasa so it's really no surprise that it's one of the best bars in the country (in fact, it recently won big at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans). If you're going all-in, you'll want the three or five-course cocktail menus. But for a more affordable experience there's also a menu of "a la carte" cocktails -- though they'll still set you back anywhere from $20 to $25 a piece. The In The Rocks is a perfect demonstration of The Aviary's dramatic flair: your drink arrives encapsulated in a ball of ice, which you get the pleasure of cracking open with a sling shot. It's messy and fun and tastes great, thanks to a blend of absinthe, sherry, vermouth, and rye.
Breakfast Spaghetti at The Little Goat Diner
Lauren Saria Breakfast spaghetti at The Little Goat Diner
820 W. Randolph St., Chicago
Chef Stephanie Izard's James Beard Award-winning The Girl and The Goat restaurant in the West Loop definitely lives up to the hype. It's cozy and inventive and surprisingly affordable thanks to a menu of brilliant small plates. That said, I think I prefer the chef's more casual spot, The Little Goat. It's located just up the street and serves elevated diner fare including breakfast, lunch, and diner. Everything -- from the Reuben with smoked corned beef and kimchi to the tempura mashed potatoes -- is worthwhile but the dish I still can't forget is the breakfast spaghetti. It looks less than appealing, a messy mass of crispy pasta covered in eggs, oysters, guanciale, and boy choy. But once you have a first bite you realize how genius it is to blend the flavors together. I guarantee you've never had a breakfast like it.