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The Bench Chicago (formerly Benchwarmers Chicago)

Some Like It Hot!

As in 5 star spicy hot grilled shiracha wings at The Bench Chicago (Chef D.Cain's changed the name). I had never heard of Benchwarmer's/The Bench until my friend decided on buying one of their restaurant.com coupons. Even better, it's super conveniently located just off of the North Avenue exit for the Kennedy! It's spacious, has friendly staff, and some great tunes playing!

Let's get the the good stuff! Chef Owner / D.Cains's Shiracha 5 star wings are some of the very best I've ever tasted...Outstanding!!!! My friends and I will most certainly be back for the well-above average bar food...and especially to try all of their unique wing flavors.

The hand cut fries with special seasoning, the italian sausage with peppers, the tuna steak sandwich, the stuffed mushrooms, and the homemade chips were a few steps up from your usual, same old bar food. Oh right, let's not forget the crazy good desert, Banana's Foster served in a pastry like egg roll!

Jan 19, 2014
StreetFed in Chicago Area

Better Cuban Restuarants in Chicago

I LOVE Cuban food, YUMMMMM!

I grew up on El Prado's (Which was considered the very best. On Lake street in Maywood-IL) food plus I learned to cook Cuban cuisine via my parents Cuban friends who arrived here from Havana in the early 60's.

The owners of Siboney Cuban Cuisine located on Western Avenue in Bucktown, imported their chef from a popular hotel in Havana...it's the closest to El Prado that I've tried. This is a nice place for a date night. Also try the sportyish adjoining bar too. I had a fantastic Arroz con Pollo!! The skirt steak is outstanding as well.


Another fun Cuban place is, 90 Miles To Cuba on Armitage at Rockwell, plus it's BYOB!!! This place gets pretty hopping on the weekends with quite a few birthday and anniverary celebrations...I've seen people dancing around the tables which can be quite fun!! They will provide the pitcher of fresh muddled mojito's, don't forget to bring your bottle of rum.

Feb 06, 2012
StreetFed in Chicago Area

Chicago rehearsal dinner with a bar and Brooklyn-style charm?

Guilt Bar fits within a few of your parameters...I think it's perfect!!!

Also, there's a large private, yet intimate downstairs lounge. The atmosphere is quite cool too.


I like the suggestion for The Gage as well.

Dec 23, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

Andouille, Kale, White Bean & Potato Soup. A great Fall-Winter Soup!


Ingredients; I use mostly organic prepared ingredients because they contain far fewer ingredients/additives and generally no wheat or other gluten laced additives.

1 lb of 1/4" sliced organic Andouille Sausage. I used the Uncle something or another brand that's readily available.

8 cups of low sodium organic chicken broth

1 head Kale washed, chopped in strips and remove tough stems

4 roma tomato's, drained, seeded, and diced

2 cans of white beans washed and drained

1 large white onion chopped

3 garlic cloves chopped

Kosher salt at the end so not to over salt

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

2-3 cap fulls of balsamic or red wine vinager

2 thick cut Russett Potato's or Yukon Gold (Wait a little longer to add the Yukon as they are much softer...much tastier as well)


Brown sausage in large soup pot

Add chopped onion to pot and saute on low heat until soft and translucent, a few mintues

Add garlic and potato chunks and sautee for 2 minutes

Add Kale and sautee for 2-3 minutes stirring until wilted evenly coated

Add chicken broth and vinegar and bring to a medium boil and then lower heat and simmer with cover
for 40 min.

Add chopped tomato, white beans, and kosher salt and simmer covered for 20-30 minutes or until desired doneness.

Serve with warm crusty bread or corn bread. Enjoy!

Nov 04, 2011
StreetFed in Home Cooking

Where to buy Jamon Iberico in northwest suburbs

I recall seeing either the, 'Iberico or Jabugo', at Costco, both from Spain and both fabulous! It was pre-sliced in a vacuum sealed pack, located in the aisles, not in the meat area.

Oct 14, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

Best Tortillas in Chicago?

The El Milagro brand is the next best thing to the, straight-off-the-comal fresh made ones served at a few restaurants and taquerias in town.

The El Milagro corn and flour tortillas and tortilla chips are the best in town, there's no comparison. Most grocery stores in the Chicago area get frequent shipments,,.yep, while they're still warm, YUM!!

Sep 19, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

Gluten Free Bakeries in River North or Mag Mile Area?

I don't know of a GF bakery downtown, but Wildfire, which is a decent downtown steakhouse, serves warm GF bread at the table, plus burger and sandwich options, again with GF bread.

Also, if you haven't already tried UDI"s brand of GF products, pick up the "whole grain" sandwich bread, hamburger buns, and Pamela's pancake mix (better than wheat flour pancakes, really amazing stuff) at Whole Foods Grocery Store.

Also, head to Roti Mediterranean Grill served with GF pita from Rose's Bakery.

For pretty decent GF pizza, try Connie's at Navy Pier for the best thin crust and Father and Son-Marcello's on at 625 W. North Ave., for the best deep dish in town.

GF Thai upon request:
Thai Wild Ginger at Clybourn and Webster Avenues. The Webster Regal Theatre is across the street in case you're in the mood for a movie.

Thai Wild Ginger Restaurant
2203 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

Sep 16, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

Wheat Free, Gluten Free, Celiac Safe Restaurants or Cafe's in Chicago

Ha, I knew that they tasted familiar...I've been making all sorts of wraps and crazy good thin crust pizza's with them for a few years!

I'm so happy to see that Rose's commercial baking clientele is expanding! She's a great lady! She's selling some product at Whole Foods too.

Jul 01, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

Cheap Casual Dinner?

Yep, 90 Miles to Cuba and Cafe Iberico are a great suggestion! I especially like the Cuban option, as it's BYOB and pretty fun in general. Weekends are full of B-day parties there.

A couple of other options are:
Tufano's for CHEAP old school Italian in a charming neighborhoody atmosphere, in Little Italy. There are a few cool bars and lounges nearby.
Babylon on Damen in Bucktown for really tasty Middle Eastern, plus ton's of bars nearby including the Map Room...
A La Turka is a great place to celebrate a few birthdays in vibrant atmosphere with belly dancers and reasonably priced Turkish cuisine.
The Logan at Milwaukee and California for great bar food, cheap drinks, in a pretty nice bar and grill atmosphere! Plus they have a pool table! Same owners and identical layout of The Northside Bar and Grill located down the street.
Oh, and then there's Greektown! Yep, it's crazy loud, inexpensive, and great fun! Greek Islands for dinner and then 9 Muses afterwards! Love it!

Cafe Iberico
737 N Lasalle Drive, Chicago, IL 60654

The Map Room
1949 N Hoyne Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

1073 W Vernon Park Pl Ste 1, Chicago, IL 60607

Jun 28, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

Wheat Free, Gluten Free, Celiac Safe Restaurants or Cafe's in Chicago


Wow! Windy City Burger looks amazing. It could turn out to be one of my regular stops! Thanks for the tip :)! DaLuciano's is rather ordinary, in my opinion. Actually, Maggiano's (yes, Maggiano's) serves up the best gluten-free pasta that I've tasted! Yep, they'll make pretty much any pasta dish, gluten-free!
Here a couple of solid gluten-free recs:

Thai Cuisine:

Thai Wild Ginger accross from the Regal Webster Theatre (Clybourn and Webster in Lincoln Park) is quite good. They are extremely accomodating and will make just about any dish, gluten-free. Fish sauce is the go to seasoning/salt in Thai cuisine, which is typically gluten-free...plus, they use a gluten-free soy sauce when needed.


Father and Son Pizza / Marcello's serves the best gluten-free pizza in the city! The pan pizza is nearly identical to the regular pizza.

Roti Medditerranean Grill: Pretty decent fast casual food. Think of a Middle Eastern Chipotle, only slightly less casual. They have gluten-free pita too!
4 downtown locations and two north suburban locations.

Thai Wild Ginger Restaurant
2203 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

Windy City Burger
3109 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60657

Jun 25, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

Worthy Peruvian or Ecuadorian?

The Peruvian style rotissierrie chicken is fantastic at D'Candela on Kedzie at Belle Plaine.

Here are several positive reviews from Yelp:


Jun 16, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

Upscale Lebanese Restaurant for a Business Dinner?

Ah yes, I meant to include this previous post regarding KAN ZAMAN:


Here you go!

Jun 06, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

Upscale Lebanese Restaurant for a Business Dinner?

Kan Zaman is perfect!!!

Great food and great atmosphere, plus it's a bit more upscale than your typical Lebanese or Middle Eastern restaurant in Chicago. Their Website is under construction, but here's a link from menupages.com:


Kan Zaman
617 North Wells Street
Chicago, IL 60654-3714
(312) 751-9600

Jun 04, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

Best Rotisserie Chicken

The Flying Chicken on Montrose at Kimball and Brasa Roja on Irving Park at Bernard serve tasty Colombian Mesquite, Spit roasted chicken! I love the arepa at Brasa Roja too!

Also try Aripos in Oak Park on Marion Street for very good Venezuelan Cuisine. The central focus is the corn cake, aka 'Arepa'...great stuff!

Flying Chicken
3402 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

May 20, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

great food and live music?

The Green Mill is one of the very best Jazz Clubs on the planet!!

I'm not sure if it is still there, but ask the bartender if they still have the Green Mill Scrap book that sits under the grand piano! There are all sorts of cool pictures and newspaper clippings, all about the Green Mill and the spectacular adjoining Uptown Theatre...from opening day to featured articles from newspapers from around the globe.

The Green Mill
4802 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640

Mar 31, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

great food and live music?

Yeah, Pete Miller's is always great, a bit pricey though. Evanston is a nice area for exploration.

Also check out Smoke Daddy's on Division Street in Wicker Park. Pretty decent BBQ and live Blue's bands, NICE! Their BBQ sauces are incredible....don't forget to order some to go!!


Smoke Daddy Restaurant
1804 W Division St Ste 1, Chicago, IL 60622

Mar 31, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

great food and live music?

It doesn't get any better than that...great food and live music, together as one! Unfortunately, it's more easily accomplished in New Orleans or maybe in Austin, Tx. There are plenty of great restaurants and music venues here. What kind of live music do you like?

Fitzgeralds in Berwyn (20-25 minute cab ride from downtown), a near west suburb of Chicago, has a lot of character (been around since the 1920's or so), plus they serve decent food from their adjoining Cajun/Southern-ish restaurant, Wishbone). The food, music, atmosphere, and crowd is eclectic, you should check it out for sure!! http://www.fitzgeraldsnightclub.com/

A few other must see/hear music venues are:

Martyr's: Check out Browntrout, Sola, or Deleece for dinner, prior to the shows.
Yep, Martyr's usually has 3-5 bands per night. Many famous musicians have played here.
http://www.martyrslive.com/ A neighborhood gem and it has a very intimate feel!!!! They serve typical bar food...maybe a little above average. Also stop by The Globe for a drink, a very fun dive bar with an eclectic European crowd. It's 1 1/2 city blocks away.

The Metro in Wrigleyville is an uber important venue with the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins, U2,,,,,plus too many other bands that have played there. Stop by Rockit Bar and Grill or The Raw Bar for a unique American/Persian menu. All are located within a few doors of eachother.

The Double Door in Wicker Park. Takashi is a must stop prior to the show, it's just accross the way.

Estelle's is Wicker Park has live music upstairs and an 80's dance floor on the first floor, what a blast!

4111 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

Mar 30, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

Best margarita mix??

When you're in the mood for a fresh squeezed margarita, but the grocers limes are sort of tough and dried out, the grapefruit variety is a great alternative.

Try it, you will love it :)!

Mar 12, 2011
StreetFed in Spirits

Imported canned tomatoes ... worth it vs. nonimported? (Mesmerized by Whole Foods' tomato can aisle)

Fire roasted tomatoes have been quite popular for a while now, I just haven't found good use for them yet...the fire roasting process seems to release a lot of the natural sugars. I find the extra sugar to be overwhelming.

Perhaps the fire roasted Muir Glen woud be good in chili eh? What else do you use them in?

I use the imported San Marzano variety for everyday cooking as well, but will add a bit of the domestic, higher acid variety wnen needed.

Mar 10, 2011
StreetFed in General Topics

Imported canned tomatoes ... worth it vs. nonimported? (Mesmerized by Whole Foods' tomato can aisle)

The imported whole skinless plum tomatoes with basil from the San Marzano region are the best! Yes, it makes a huge difference!! There are plenty of great locally grown tomatoes, but it's tough to figure out which one is best for a marinera...plus they're still a bit too acidic, know what I mean?

Surprisingly, the prices for the imported tomatoes at Whole Foods are pretty reasonable. Luckily, I have quite a few Italian Specialty stores here in Chicago! Most of the patrons speak in Italian, love that, plus I like to ask a few of the grandmas for pointers.

Mar 10, 2011
StreetFed in General Topics

Best margarita mix??

Yep, there's nothing like a homemade margarita, but they take some time!

Here's a homemade alternative that doesn't require so much squeeziing.

GRAPEFRUIT MARGARITA: USE HUGE RED GRAPEFRUIT INSTEAD OF LIMES, really amazing stuff!!!! Yep, you can add a little fresh squeezed lime if you prefer a little more acid. Plus, you want to roll your hand firmly on the whole grapefruit on the counter, this will release the juices from the pulp. Don't go too high end on the tequila. I usually use a blend of Costco Kirkland house brand Reposado Tequila, plus the Sauza Gold.

Oh, and forget the triple sec as it's too sweet...use sprite, 50/50, fresca, squirt, or and/or soda water for tweaking. Avoid the recipe referenced above that calls for Everclear, that's sacriledge, plus a disaster waiting to happen.

Mar 10, 2011
StreetFed in Spirits

Best barbeque sauce out of a bottle?

Smoke Daddy's original bbq sauce...or any of their bbq sauces for that matter, WOW!! They finally have it available online! It tastes like it was just cooked this morning, it's pretty amazing!!

It is head and shoulders above the big box brands, and will give all of the top rated specialty small batch bbq sauces a run for its money!


Mar 09, 2011
StreetFed in General Topics

bottled bbq sauce

Here's a sauce that you don't want to miss! Smoke Daddy's original bbq sauce, WOW!! They finally have it available online! It tastes like it was just cooked this morning, it's pretty amazing!!

It is head and shoulders above the big box brands, and will give all of the top rated specialty small batch bbq sauces a run for their money!


Mar 09, 2011
StreetFed in General Topics

Out-of-Towners looking for good vegetarian food

Roti is really growiing on me, good stuff...yes, the menu is very veggie friendly! It's sort of like a Middle Eastern Chipotle, only not as casual.


The food court at the Whole Foods Market on Kinzie and North Avenue is fabulous...far more options at this location! Plus there's a full bar/pub and a live music on some days. Veggie options galore there!


Feb 27, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

Arepas in Chicago

Check out Aripos in Oak Park on Marion Street, just east of Harlem Avenue. The entire menu is focused on Venezualan style Arepas. It's a cool area for browsing too! Aripos is my usual stop before I hit the live music scene at Fitzgerald's, although I haven't been there since the end of the summer, now I'm craving some arepas! I've had a couple of pretty decent meals there, and of course some tasty arepas! Their serve pretty decent food at reasonable prices, plus the decor is stylishly casual. This is a big departure from most places that serve Arepas. Brasa Roja on Irving Park Road and The Flying Chicken Also serve decent arepas and empanadas.


Flying Chicken
3811 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60613

Feb 25, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

South Side Polish Buffet?

Haven't actually eaten inside as it's always been mega packed, only had food to go. Highly recommend it!

Feb 21, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

South Side Polish Buffet?

Gilmart Quality Food & Liquor
5050 S. Archer Ave
Chicago, IL 60632

Authentic, quality, cheap as dirt, Polish Food in a Cafeteria setting. This small place gets seriously packed, so avoid the crazy busy weekends.

Feb 18, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

Looking for Fantastic Latin food across the United States for a project for my Spanish class

Oh man, what a great school project!!! Can I come with, jk :)?

Lola's for Spanish Tapas
3312 Esplanade Avenue
New Orleans, La 70119

Hey, New Orleans is pretty close to St.Louis! NOLA is a fabulous food city and a must stop on your culinary tour!!
Stop by Lola's (Fairgrounds near the Jazz Fest race track venue) on Esplanade for wonderful Spanish Tapas...it's such a little neighborhood gem, plus it's BYOB friendly!!!. The atmosphere is so homey too. We ordered three types of Paella on my last visit; the seafood, the combo with everything, and a veggie paella, WOW! Believe it or not, we all agreed that the veggie paella was the best, at least that night it was.

Feb 18, 2011
StreetFed in General Topics

Chicago Hot Dogs or Greek Places in the West Suburbs?

gordeaux: I totally agree with you on Pompeii! Yes, turnover is key at Pompeii as they keep bringing out the freshmade food during peak hours...otherwise, the pizza gets cardboard-ey, the salad is wilt-ey...which is pretty much the case at any restaurant during non-peak off hours with the same type of setup.

I grew up going to the dumpy-ish original location on Taylor...ah, the good ole days! The huge Taylor street location does a brisk business, 7 days a week. For this reason, I find that the food tends to be better than at other locations.

Yeah, Portillo's can be a total zoo at times, but I still love it! I usually stay away from chain restaurants, well, except for a few places: Portillo's, Pompeii, Roti, etc.

Feb 18, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area

Kielbasa & other German & Eastern European Sausages, Chicago Area

Paulina Meat Market is great, although a bit expensive.

There are plenty of great sausage/butcher shops all over the Chicago area! Here are a few:

Kurowski's Sausage Shop Few English speaking patrons here, which ads to the character
2976 North Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60618-7345

Bari Foods
1120 W. Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

Alpine Food Shop Great subs and of course, great Italian Sausage and other meats.
7538 W. North Avenue
Elmwood Park, IL

Riviera Italian Food and Imports Great old school 60+ year old deli/butcher, very inexpensive!
3220 N. Harlem Ave
Chicago, IL 60634

Minelli's Meat & Deli Full Itailian Deli & Butcher, plus a few great ready made pastas/sauces from the owner's grandma.
7900 N. Milwaukee Avenue Located inside the mall
Niles, IL 60714

Gilmart's Food & Liquor / Full Polish deli and butcher shop, excellent stuff! Very inexpensive.
5050 S. Archer Avenue
Chicago, IL 60632

Feb 15, 2011
StreetFed in Chicago Area