Chicago Food Wish List

Soon we will be returning to Chicago to visit family and friends. Every time we return I compile a list of people we want to see, places we want to visit, things we’d like to do, and food I’d like to eat. Then our “vacation” becomes a bit like a scavenger hunt. We are constantly adjusting our intinerary and trying our best to fit in all of the things on that list.

And for some reason, searching out those foods that I always used to enjoy has been somewhat important to me on these trips. Admittedly almost all of them are junk food with over the top taste. And they tend to represent both foods we/I should be getting away from and how some national chains have replaced local establishments. But boy do I feel good after having them. So here’s the food list with some minor explanations.

A Lou Malnati’s sausage and mushroom deep-dish pizza. I think we have ordered this the first evening we were back every visit. And we order more than we can eat then have seconds for breakfast and sometimes lunch.

A Pete’s sausage, pepperoni, and mushroom thin crust pizza. They have changed the recipe, but I haven’t noticed a significant difference yet. VERY bad for you (with grease puddles on the cheese), but a staple when we were growing up. We always ordered carry out and the woman behind the counter would scream out “You got a pizza for Haaa shee modo.”

A steak fajita burrito (pdf)with corn salsa at Chipotle(flash). One of these opened up on the ground floor of the building where I was working and we visited there once or twice a week. These are really a serving and a half and are probably a reason I gained weight soon after they opened.

A Spinach Florentine bagel with NY lox, red onion, and capers for Einstein’s Bagels. This is very much bastardized American food. A bagel on steroids topped with a layer of spinach and asiago cheese on top. We used to go there on weekend mornings to read the paper and watch the young adults stumble in from their nights out. This is a fairly popular chain, so I’ve actually had this often when in other parts of the states.

A Blackened Chicken Muffaletta sandwich from Bar Louie. A Chicken Vesuvio or a Luigi sandwich will also suffice. I usually pick up a sandwich on the way into Wrigley Field. But we also used to go there often on lunch hours and get a ton of their appetizers also.

A Corner Robbery (Corner Bakery, actually) chicken pesto sandwich with a side of DC chicken salad and one of their monster chocolate brownies. Another lunchtime haunt. During a stopover at O’Hare in 2004, I walked clear across the airport in order to pick up a chicken pesto sandwich to bring along on the flight.

Almost anything from Buca di Beppo. I love garlic. And their stuff is swimming in it. Throw in some Chicken with Lemon and I’m a happy camper. I was disappointed this past winter when we missed the chance to have some in Florida.

A Chicago-style hot dog with cheese fries at the Wiener’s Circle. Chicago’s meal on a bun. An all-beef hot dog with mustard, onion, flourescent green relish, a dill pickle spear, tomatoe slices, and a dash of celery salt. But really it’s the cheese fries with artery clogging superprocessed cheese that make the meal. Wiener’s Circle was another place we frequented in our old neighborhood.

Shrimp and grits at Wishbone. Probably the most healthy item on this list. Cheese grits with shrimp, bacon, mushrooms, scallions, and a wine & cream sauce. With a side of cornbread. Great for brunch.

A chorizo burrito (as big as your head) with extra sour cream at La Bamba. This is actually a holdover from my days in college. They opened up a location in our neighborhood and I’d stop over there once in a while. Usually when my wife was out to town.

A gyro from Clark Dog. The gyros in Chicago are different from other places I’ve been. Very processed lamb braised on a vertical rotating spit. Similar to shish taouk here in Montreal. My wife and I used to get these along with a movie rental on Friday or Saturday nights.

Pot stickers and crab rangoon from any chinese or sushi restaurant. I think pot stickers are called oriental dumplings up here and I have yet to find crab rangoon.

This is pretty much the same list I create everytime we return. Likely we’ll hit half of the places and the size of my belly with be evidence of that.

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~ by Frank on August 13, 2007.

7 Responses to “Chicago Food Wish List”

  1. It’s funny, I do the same thing when I plan a trip to San Francisco! First stop of course, is the massive burrito of my college days (rice, hot salsa, guac, sour cream, black refried beans, lettuce) and on the second night, some pot stickers from a great Chinese place.

    Can’t wait!

  2. When I was living in L.A. one of my happiest days was when I found out Portillo’s was opening a restaurant there. Of course it was down in Orange County. But that didn’t stop me and a co-worker from making long lunch trips there from our office in Long Beach.:)

    Everytime we go to Chicago, I usually hit Portillo’s and/or Giordano’s. The place I haven’t been to in some time is Miller’s Pub. Maybe on our next visit…Ah, Chicago food…

  3. If I’m ever going to visit Chicago I want to go to this Spy Shop.

    It’s a boring store and they sell holes, and I like holes. And pegs, obviously.

    (Your kids are probably a bit to young for this, though…)

  4. Frank-Shoot me an e-mail with your travel dates. We’re trying to determine when we’re visiting Chicago, and it’ll probably be in the next couple of months.-john

  5. I was just telling a friend of mine how postcards and letters from Grandma Audrey were usually peppered with what everyone ate…i.e, a menu. And then I see your post. You are so your grandmother’s grandson! I love all your choices too, you made my mouth water and I just finished lunch. The legacy and litany of family comfort foods. Well done! See you soon!

  6. You bring up a lot of fond memories. Lou Malnati’s of course. I also used to hit that small hot dog joint just north of Chicago Ave (can’t remember if it was Rush or Wabash)
    Enjoy your time back in the city!

  7. I’ve been mildly embarrassed that food (mainly junk food at that) is one of my interests for each return. But it looks like I’m not alone.

    For the record, we did poorly at reaching most of these places. But after having Malnati’s pizza for four straight meals, I guess I was quite satiated. The other ones we did have were the chicken pesto sandwich at Corner Robbery, Lemon Chicken at Buca di Beppo, and the shrimp & grits at Wishbone.

    cathy: my sister is the one who really remembers food. For a long time, she was able to recite what everyone ate at every meal when they came to visit me in Europe. She’s done that for other times also. Maybe it’s something she learned from Grandma.

    Bruno: It’s possible there was a Gold Coast dogs up there. There was also one on State at Hubbard. I think it’s gone now.

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