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My two-week Chicago feast (a report, or more like a catalogue)

I just finished a busy couple weeks in Chicago, with just enough time for work and food. With that in mind, I wanted to make the most of it, food-wise. My travels took me all over the city and surrounding suburbs, and as a result, I got to sample a pretty good range of Chi-town munchies. Pretty much everything I ate was good (many thanks to friends as well as to Chowhound and Yelp for all the suggestions). Here’s what I can remember, in no particular order, with stars next to particular stand-outs:

• *The Winner* - Hoanh Long (6144 N Lincoln in North Park). A bit of a hike, but so very worth it that I came back three times in two weeks (and I’m not usually one to repeat). Super-nice family running the place, took care of me even at the end of their night and remembered me when I came back two more times over the next week and a half. Had the PHENOMENAL spicy beef salad with papaya (there are two beef-and-papaya salads on the menu, and I think this is #15), so good I made a special trip back to the restaurant as my last Chicago meal just to have this dish again. Thin, grilled slices of beef over shredded papaya and other veggies with roasted peanuts. So fresh, a little sweet, pretty durn hot. Had the pho, which had a somewhat different taste than others I’ve had elsewhere, but in a good way. Had a spicy squid dish I’d read about, also worth repeating, in a rich and spicy sauce with a bit of a crunch. Tried the Vietnamese coffee and milk (tasty, very rich) and the salty lemonade with soda (oddly refreshing). Wish we had a place like this in Cambridge!
• **HB Restaurant (3404 N Halsted, Chicago). Found my way here accidently; happy accident! Truly fantastic, juicy pork chop.
• **Enoteca Roma Wine Bar and Bruscetteria (2146 W Division St, Chicago). Shout out to the bartender/manager here, who went out of his way to pick out a great dinner for me here. Rich polenta, splashed out with a venison sauce across a marble slab and the best affogato (ice cream, or in this case, burnt sugar-flavored gelato, covered with a shot of espresso) I’ve had in recent memory
• **Sticky Rice (4018 N Western Ave, Chicago). As everyone promised, delicious and fiery Thai
• **Publican (837 W Fulton Market, Chicago). All delicious, from the halibut and potee to the collard greens and pea sformato and even (or especially?) the beer. On that note, on the waiter’s recommendation, had a Belgian Stout (Brasserie Ellezelloise, Hercule Stout) which was easily one of the best beers I’ve tasted – though I was a touch surprised to get a $15 bill for the bottle
• **Intelligentsia (53 E Randolph St, Chicago and 3123 N Broadway, Chicago). Started off just about every morning with the daily special, robotically prepared for me in one of their three Clovers. Not to be too cheesy, but these guys come as close as anyone to reaching that impossible ideal of coffee that tastes as good and as rich as it smells. Had to bring a pound of beans home.
• **Harold’s (307 E 51st Street, Chicago). Delicious fried chicken and gravy on a bed of fries. It’s a testament to the greasy goodness of this food that we were willing to gobble it down as, er, a sort of savory dessert *after* another (not insubstantial) dinner.
• Taqueria El Milagro (1923 S Blue Island Ave, Chicago). Good tacos, very good bean tamale
• Graham Elliott (217 W Huron St, Chicago). Foie and rhubarb? Yes. Rabbit? Eh. Pork chop? Definitely yes.
• Cooker’s Red Hots (469 Lake Cook Rd, Deerfield). Happened to be out this way and Yelp helped me find a delicious Chicago char dog and fries and friendly service
• Chickpea (2018 Chicago Ave, Chicago). Home-style Palestinian food. Big fan of the citrus-y tea
• Edwardo’s (521 S Dearborn St, Chicago). Serious deep dish
• De Cero (814 W. Randolph, Chicago). Upmarket Mexican, good guac.
• **Cafe Hoang (232 W. Cermak Rd, Chicago). A bit of a wait, but 100% worth it for fresh, tasty Vietnamese
• **Pita Inn (3910 Dempster St, Skokie). Another Yelp find. This place is great, serving up generous portions of delicious Mediterranean grilled meats and mezzes along with homemade pita.
• Jerry's (1938 W Division St, Chicago). Upscale sandwiches for dinner? Definitely yes.
• Egg Harbor Café (512 N Western Ave, Lake Forest). Breakfast, tasty
• Dona Torta (3057 N Ashland Ave). Great tacos; torta was a bit much for my taste
• Brothers K Coffeehouse (500 Main St, Evanston). Great vibe, great pastries, great espresso drinks, free wi-fi – perfect place to hunker down for a working morning
• Eden’s Fast Food Restaurant (6045 N Cicero Avenue). Another Yelp find. Delicious, if greasy, chicken gyro
• Moncafe (231 E Wisconsin Ave, Lake Forest). Good service; mediocre coffee

Apr 26, 2009
josholken in Chicago Area

Searching for Pho

mcukier, THANK YOU. I was in Chicago for a couple weeks and craving Vietnamese, followed your lead to Hoanh Long and it was incredible. Had the beef salad and the squid the first time (with a tasty vietnamese coffee and milk), the pho and a chicken salad the second time (with a salty lemonade and soda), and made a special trip back for my last meal in town just to have the beef salad again (I'd nominate that as my best dish in 2+ weeks of solid eating throughout the city). Not to mention that the folks who run the place are super nice. This is exactly the kind of find that you hope for on Chowhound - thanks for the tip!

Apr 26, 2009
josholken in Chicago Area

Bobalicious - Newton

Just want to add on: this place is fantastic, IMO. I've been in search of great bahn mi since I got hooked a couple years ago in Seattle, and this is the best I've found in either Boston or NYC, for sure. Have been three times so far, different versions each time. Today was the pork - excellent, fresh ingredients, perfectly crusty bread, and very spicy. Look forward to many happy returns!

Jun 25, 2008
josholken in Greater Boston Area

Beta group?

How can I get involved? I am a HUGE chowhound fan (I tell everyone I know to use the site as a resource), and I am going insane with the current/recent lack of search functionality - the site is effectively useless!

-Josh

Apr 07, 2007
josholken in Site Talk

Good places for an omnivore and a vegetarian in Madrid?

So here's a challenge: I am a committed eats-anything hound traveling in Madrid for a week starting this Tuesday and hoping to have as much great food as possible...and/but I'll be with a friend of mine who is a vegetarian and avoids dairy. Can I get some help from the Madrid hound crowd?

We'll definitely be looking for a strictly vegetarian meal or two, but we're primarily looking for fantastic all-around places that can also be vegetarian-friendly. Have heard Gula Gula as one recommendation.

Appreciate any help we can get.

Thanks,
Josh

Mar 10, 2007
josholken in Spain/Portugal

Locanda Vini & Olii - good, not amazing or cheap

Went to Locanda Vini & Olii tonight on strong recommendations from friends and had a good but not exceptional meal. Thought the decor was great - definitely had a relaxed date-place feel (with only positive connotations intended), and both staff and diners were actively friendly.

Food was solid but not flashy. Started off very well with bison Carpaccio with julienned pears, shaved cheese and arugula – light, fresh, delicious, and beautifully plated. Rosemary chickpea soup was tasty, if maybe a bit heavy on rosemary. Had two pastas – goat cheese ravioli and a papardelle with braised rabbit. Neither was memorable (though the ravioli was better), and both were delivered in what I’d characterize as an intentionally frumpy presentation. For our main, we shared honey glazed duck with shallots and chickpeas. The duck was very good (glaze made for delicious crisp/sweet skin), and the shallots were an excellent complement. The chickpeas were nearly tasteless, however, and once again the plating was plain – did not add to the excitement of the dish.

Worth noting we had an *excellent* cappuccino to round out dinner – a pleasant addition.

All in all, dinner was $160 including a good $42 bottle of Tuscan wine and tip – no bargain.

Nov 04, 2006
josholken in Outer Boroughs

HOU: any good food near West Montgomery and North Shepherd? Holes-in-the-wall? Breakfast?

Any kind of food is fine, as long as it's good and it's not a chain.

Thanks,
Josh

Oct 11, 2006
josholken in Texas

Houston: best hole-in-the-wall vietnamese?

Hi all,

I'm in Houston (and away from NYC) for a few months on business, and I want to take advantage of all the Vietnamese options here that I don't have back at home. I've done some searching through old posts, but haven't seen a thorough examination of the myriad hole-in-the-wall vietnamese places. What's good? What's best? What should I try whereever I go (other than the standard and delicious bahn mi and pho)?

A few names I've already seen are:
- Thiem Hung Sandwich
- Miss Saigon
- Givrals
- Sandong Snacks

Thanks for your help,
Josh

Oct 10, 2006
josholken in Texas

Sushi near Penn Station

Try Penn Sushi right in Penn Station itself - it's one of the take out places in the hall at the southeast side of the main amtrak waiting hall. As far as I can tell, it is run by a Japanese family and has suprisingly fresh and tasty sushi as well as a small selection of soups and other foods...not to mention an impressive selection of Japanese snacks. Best food in Penn Station to my taste.

Sep 29, 2006
josholken in Manhattan

nice, stable site with tons of features. too bad it's not as much fun as the old chowhound.

Please, people. As a long-time and vocal fan (to everyone I know) of this site, I am SO happy that I no longer have to qualify my enthusiasm with "...try to ignore the circa 1993 interface..."

This new design is FANTASTIC! I've done searches and seen all the relevant threads in a matter of seconds (imagine!) and have been inspired to post multiple times where before I rarely bothered.

Go chowhound!

Jul 26, 2006
josholken in Site Talk

Suggestions for a good intermediate baking class?

Hi all -

Not sure if I should use this list or another, but I'm looking for a good intermediate and advanced baking class in NYC - something a step or two more serious than the "learn the basics and have a drink" options I've seen.

Anyone had any good experiences?

Thanks.
Josh

Jul 19, 2006
josholken in Manhattan

knock my socks off for under $3

- red cabbage knish at yonah schimmel's on houston btw 1st & 2nd
- any two dishes over a bowl of rice with raita at punjab on 1st btw 1st and A
- chocolate chocolate chip cookie at levain bakery on 74th btw columbus and amsterdam

...and if you're willing to leave manhattan, try some of the lamb pastries sold from the windows of the stores on brighton beach ave in brighton beach. mmm.

Jul 18, 2006
josholken in Manhattan

Stumbled upon a great restaurant in Amsterdam's Jordaan district

We went on the advice of this and other posts and had a GREAT meal (one osaka and one hiroshima pancake) - everything was fresh and well prepared. Our chef also turned out to be a Class A chowhound, himself, and gave us good advice on the rest of the city. I'll post that separately, but if you happen to go (which you should), it won't hurt to ask for suggestions.

Jul 17, 2006
josholken in International Archive