Chicago is for foodies
LEA ANN FESSENDEN
The city of Chicago has a lot of things going for it such as Wrigley Field, Michigan Avenue-the "Miracle Mile," world class art museums like the Art Institute of Chicago and a rollicking history. But for me, Chicago is a city for eating. I can just look at a travel brochure of Chicago and gain 10 pounds as my mind wanders to cheesy thick crust pizza, delicious hot dogs, enticing ethnic foods and lots of creative beverages to wash it all down with.
There are over 7,300 restaurants in Chicago which means you could eat at a different restaurant every day of the year for 20 years and never duplicate a visit! That, my friends, is a lot of restaurants. So whatever your budget, taste or mood you will find the perfect spot to eat in this windy city.
Whether you want Greek, Italian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Mexican, Afghan, Ethiopian, Cajun, Guatamalan, German, Indian, Irish, French, Spanish, Peruvian, Ethiopian or good ole American you will find it in Chicago in both restaurant options as well as ethnic markets where you can purchase products from around the world and create your own at home.
On a recent visit, an intense desire for Greek food overtook my senses and the hunt was on. After talking with a number of locals and consulting the top guides, I opted for the Parthenon which was only about a 10 minute cab ride from Michigan Avenue. My friend and I were not disappointed. The food was fresh and delicious, the staff was great and they make a show of flaming your saginaki. Opa! After a few ouzos, we were told it wasn't ok to break their plates, so we contained ourselves. But I highly recommend this Greek icon in the Calumet neighborhood on Halsted.
As you probably know, Chicago is famous for their mouthwatering steaks and one of the top restaurants in the city known for their surf and turf is Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab. Being a Texan, I didn't think anyone could serve me a steak in Chicago that would come close to those I get at home, but Joe's made me eat crow. Well, not really crow, but I did eat the entire rib eye and the unbelievable stone crab. Joe's has not only excellent food but service worthy of many return trips. Up front, in the bar area, there is always a large crowd so be sure to book in advance and request a table in the back. You won't be disappointed.
Hot dogs are as important to Chicago as the Cubs and da Bears so you really must try one while you're in town. I wanted something a little different so I checked out Hot Doug's and one of his signature Foie Gras dogs. It was fantastic! Doug opens at 10:30am and within minutes the line is around the block. But don't worry, it does move quickly and is certainly worth the wait!
Last but certainly not least is Chicago pizza. The cool thing is if you run out of time and room in your tummy, you can always snag one in the departure lounge at O'Hare Airport before you fly home. They will serve it warm in a box that you can carry on board and either eat on the fly or reheat for the kids when you get home. Their yeasty thick crust, perfect seasonings and mass quantities of cheese and toppings make these a definite "must try" on your foodie tour of the great city of Chicago.