The Chicago food scene has transformed over the last decade from deep dish pizza, hot dogs, and steaks to more interesting cuisine. You can reach many different Chicago neighborhoods quickly and easily by using the local trains (the ‘L’) and buses. As an ethnic melting pot, Chicago is the perfect place to
experience diversity through food. I rounded up my recent culinary adventures from last week for your consideration.
If you’re looking for a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs meal, especially in the colder months, head to Shokolad in Ukrainian Village.
This tiny, neighborhood spot on Chicago’s west side offers delicious pastries but do not overlook the fantastic meals here. The pierogies are pillowy pockets of perfection with a variety of fillings and they come by the dozen. The soups are a real stand out as well, especially the traditional borscht (beet soup) with fresh dill. You can order soups by the cup, bowl or in large containers to take home.
In addition, entrees like crepes, veal, fish, and chicken are a great bang for your buck at Shokolad. I ordered the veal with mushrooms, onions, light cream sauce and buckwheat. The veal was tender and flavorful. It reminded me of my mother’s veal marsala dish and I will definitely be having this again on my next visit.
Shokolad is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is a delightful spot on a sunny corner in the vibrant Ukrainian Village neighborhood.
(2524 W. Chicago Avenue – Take the Blue Line to the Chicago ‘L’ stop and transfer to the Chicago 66 bus west to Shokolad.)
I will be adding this fabulous brewpub on Chicago Avenue to my list of the Best Restaurants in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood. The menu is small, creative and packed with flavor. Here is how my recent lunch here went down:
I started off with a cup of lentil soup which was surprising not only because it was delicious with layers of flavor but also because it was pureed. I never had lentil soup in that format. Have you? Forbidden Root’s lentil soup was finished with a drizzle of olive oil, bacon crumbles and croutons Every slurp was delightful!
I almost ordered a bowl of this soup and I will likely do so on another visit. However, I needed to leave room for the Arctic Char. For those of you who never had this fish, it can best be described as a cross between salmon and trout. The skin on this Arctic Char was perfectly crispy and the flesh was a tender medium texture. The fish was an unexpected contrast to the cranberry bean hummus upon which it sat. The hot versus the cool. The crispy versus the creamy. Wowza! I loved this dish.
Forbidden Root is a welcome addition to the landscape of great Chicago Brewpubs I’ve visited lately. The menu has about thirteen drafts on tap and I look forward to sucking down pints of the chocolate stout which has nine percent alcohol. That should keep me warm and fuzzy this winter!
(1746 W. Chicago Ave. – Take the Blue Line to the Chicago ‘L’ stop and transfer to the #66 Chicago bus west toward Austin)
Hoosier Mama Pie Company
If you have a sweet tooth, there are many Sensational Chicago Bakeries you should visit. Hoosier Mama Pie Company in West Town is like a warm hug from your own mama. This tiny storefront has a few tables where you can dig into the sweet and savory pies of your liking. Or, buy your favorite by the pie or by the slice and enjoy it at home or on your commute.
I highly recommend the ginger-custard pie because it is the very best custard pie I have eaten anywhere on Earth. Hoosier Mama made this pie the perfect amount of creamy, jiggly, tart and spicy. Try not to lick the screen.
I know many locals who deem dessert to be there favorite Chicago food group. Hoosier Mama Pie Company is a great place to set up camp.
(1618 W. Chicago Ave. – Take the Blue Line to the Chicago ‘L’ stop and transfer to the #66 Chicago bus going west toward Austin.)
Chicago Cut Steakhouse
Despite all the creative new restaurants that have exploded on the Chicago food scene, steakhouses are still a huge draw for locals and visitors alike. Chicago Cut Steakhouse is one of the most popular among them.
This elegant steakhouse is perched above the Chicago River with sweeping views of the riverfront and iconic Chicago bridges. It’s the latest hot spot in town where movers, shakers, and foodies come to see and be seen. Chicago Blackhawks fans and lovers of the Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and Chicago Med empire can run into their favorite players and actors here on any given day or night.
Moreover, the bar at Chicago Cut Steakhouse is just the right amount of clubby, cozy and clandestine. It’s the perfect place for quiet conversation or an affair (HA!)
As for the menu, the cocktails, steaks, and seafood at this bustling River North steakhouse are made with tremendous care. I ordered a lovely, sparkling wine with the Alaskan halibut and both were great. I love that this place is open for lunch.
(300 N. LaSalle Dr. – 1 block north and 1 block west of the Clark/Lake ‘L’ stop on the Green, Pink, Orange, Blue and Purple Lines.
So, there you have them, folks! Ditch the car and ride the rails to experience my latest Chicago food adventures. Do you have a favorite restaurant in the Windy City? I would love to hear all about it! Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA trains and buses to these Chicago food destinations. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!