A boutique grocer, Southport Grocery and Café curates local and far-flung sundries, such as Zingerman’s artisan cheese from the world-class Ann Arbor shop. Guests can pop in for tasting events or hunker down in the Zagat-rated cafe to sample its menu of breakfast and brunch dishes, including the sweet and savory french toast, layered with smoked ham, baby swiss, and maple-mustard syrup. The crown jewel of Southport Grocery and Cafe, however, is the cupcake. The two-handed affair is a study in simplicity. This is due in large part to wholesome ingredients, such as Massey pure vanilla extract, european-style butter, and a healthy dollop of Zingerman’s goat cheese.
Makowski’s Real Sausage slings bun-filling-encased meats, specialty links, and sausages from the Italian, Polish, and German traditions. Italian beef marinates in its own meaty juices, staying hydrated to prepare for a close-up with mouths ($4.11–$5.87/lb.). All-meat wieners come in skinless ($3.51/lb.), sheep-encased ($4.46/lb.), and pork-encased ($3.75/lb.) varieties, and italian sausage arrives precooked ($3.86–$3.93/lb.) or uncooked ($2.28–$2.90/lb.). Specialty links bring international flavors to Chicagoland shores, with chorizo ($2.90/lb.) and andouille Cajun sausage ($5/lb.) adding Southern flair in the meat case. Prices for all items may vary depending on market prices. For four generations, Makowski’s has remained a family-owned operation, keeping Chicago meats from becoming inauthentic, like Silicon Valley burgers that come from computerized cows.
Since it opened in a tiny dock space in 1950, Lawrence’s Fisheries has been plying the Chicago community with fresh seafood, including the best fried shrimp in the city, according to Chicago Magazine. The legacy started with founder Lawrence Schweig, whose commercial fishing operation on Lake Michigan reeled in fresh fish. Two generations later, the staff still uses family recipes and a signature breading process to churn out specialties such as fried large shrimp, frog legs, and bone-in catfish. Customers can get their fried fixings–as well as sandwiches and decadent desserts–24 hours a day. The counter spot retains its homey feel with picnic table seating and by serving its breaded bundles in white paper bags.
Made possible by FamilyFarmed.org, an organization that forges bonds between locally grown food and the people who grow, sell, and eat it, the Good Food Festival & Conference lets Chicagoans participate in the locally driven Good Food movement. Coming from all over the Midwest, 150 farmers and artisans display their healthily unprocessed bounties while debunking widespread myths that the freshest fruit grows in cans, and chef demos from Frontera Grill’s Rick Bayless, Perennial Virant’s Paul Virant, and Naha’s Carrie Nahabedian celebrate the spectacle of cooking. Young chefs can exercise creative muscles and artsy tendons at the children’s corner, which features face painting, a scavenger hunt, and an arts and crafts session. Scheduled workshops, such as Organic vs. Conventional Food or Home Cheesemaking, teach casual eaters about their deep-seated connections to the things they chew (additional workshop fees apply).
Debbi Fields opened her first cookie shop in 1977, launching what would soon become a household name. Today, Mrs. Fields bakers from all over the world carry on her legacy, whipping up her signature semisweet chocolate-chip cookies with the same top-secret recipe that Mrs. Fields invented. They carefully fold real butter, whole eggs, and pure vanilla into delicate, buttery batters to create soft, chewy cookies that fill nearby nostrils with irresistibly sweet aromas. Using these same ingredients and recipes, they also bake up cookie cakes that can be decorated with colorful icing and personalized messages such as birthday wishes, inside jokes, or bank-account passwords. When they’re not handcrafting milk-chocolate-chip, cinnamon-sugar, and peanut-butter cookie batters into mini, regular, or cake-size cookies, these bakers are busy making gourmet brownies with pecans and walnuts.
FliP crêpes got its start on the Chicago Farmers Markets circuit in 2003, slinging its warm and sweet or savory treats to steadily growing flocks of customers. Eventually, the company outgrew its humble beginnings and expanded to a location inside the Ogilvie Transportation Center, where customers stop in for the crowd-pleasing crepes alongside a burgeoning roster of sandwiches and paninis. Four distinct menus address any and all cravings the day might present, including selections that tackle breakfast munchies with eggs and bacon, a passion for the savory with toasted options, salad cravings with fresh and crisp selections, and sweet teeth with desserts chock-full of Nutella, strawberries, and dulce de leche. The tender crepes will only wrap their eggy arms around healthy, high-quality ingredients, so the chefs avoid high-fructose corn syrup and other undesirable foodstuffs.