With a patio overlooking the water, Papi Chulo's Bar & Grill feels more like the beach than the city. Between burgers and beers, guests can challenge each other to a beanbag and volleyball tournament or surrender to a squad of flat-screen TVs broadcasting football and basketball.
Sid Kotlick and his brother-in-law, Len Toll, never would have guessed that one day their ramshackle eatery, Calumet Fisheries, would make it to Hollywood. Yet lo and behold, the South Side staple was featured in the background of the iconic bridge-jumping scene in The Blues Brothers. Years later, Check, Please! and Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations both dropped in to commend the menu's selection of catfish, herring, shrimp, and scallops, all cooked to perfection in an onsite smokehouse. Bourdain dubbed the food “destination smoked fish” for the restaurant’s closeness to the outskirts of Chicago and the banks of the Calumet River, where fisherman used to dock their boats to stop in for a bite. To bring out the natural flavors of each aquatic morsel, cooks marinate the seafood overnight, then smoke it over cherrywood and natural white oak logs. Diners can also dig into fried smelts and frog legs as well as eleven side dishes, from sweet potato tots to breaded pickle spears. And the fishery only has one catch: all orders are carry out.
At Parrot Cage, voted a top brunch spot by OpenTable users, servers whisk seared seafood, succulent meats, and contemporary American cuisine to white-draped tables amid an elegant atmosphere, where lush décor pays homage to the historic building's past life as the grandiose South Shore Country Club. The restaurant was created by the Washburne Culinary Institute, as a place where seasoned chefs tutor pupils in every aspect of running a restaurant. Beyond the restaurant's teaching element, press features agree that Parrot Cage Restaurant is top notch. Centerstage called the dishes "precise and deliberate," and a Chicago Reader reviewer praised the "superb view of the lake" and confessed that with "friendly and prompt" service, he "couldn't tell which staffers were students."
The restaurant's name, tropical green hue, and 100-year-old Victorian parrot cage honor the vibrant feathered creatures of Hyde Park and South Shore. Servers speculate that Chicago's first such birds escaped from an owner's cage, an exhibit at the 1893 World's Columbian Expedition, or an unsatisfying romance with a street pigeon.
At the BYOB pizzeria, coffee house, and gallery Medici on 57th, the art doesn’t just hang on the exposed brick walls; it also covers the furniture. The weathered wood of each table and chair is scrawled with images and words from past diners, all who have enjoyed an eclectic menu of deep dish and thin crust pizzas, deli sandwiches served with shoestring fries, and angus beef burgers on potato buns. And though the restaurant tops it pies with such gourmet toppings as goat cheese, roasted chicken, and German ham, guests may also opt for the garbage pizza, which comes smothered in sausage, ground beef, pepperoni, and Canadian bacon. Regardless of the meal, indoor patrons enjoy their food surrounded by vibrantly colored paintings, stained glass, and gargoyles. Alternatively, the outside patio opens its doors to canopied seating and kaleidoscopic flowers during the warmer months. The BYOB policy allows one to imbibe spirits in a dry district, while alcohol-free beverages include fresh squeezed lemonade, thick smoothies, and ice cream floats.
Bulldog Brewery was born out of steelworker Kevin Clark's home brewing hobby. But founding his own brewery didn't mean Kevin was ready to quit his day job. And neither have co-owners, Bob Fausto and Jeff Kochis, a steelworker and a second-generation firefighter respectively. The hard work required of having two jobs is in keeping with the brewery's mission: to celebrate small town America and the blue collar workers who live there.
One of the ways they achieve this goal is by providing a place for customers to relax after a hard day's work, whether it's with a grilled panini sandwich or a pint of flavorful lager, stout, or IPA. Their beer also celebrates the working man. The 1890 Stout, for instance, commemorates the year that oil refineries came to Whiting. Its dark, crude-like color conceals notes of vanilla bean and cherry, and it's best consumed while wearing an oil can jauntily perched upon your head.
South Side Shrimp brings the bounty of the Gulf to the shores of Lake Michigan with a simple and satisfying menu of perch, pollock, catfish, and of course, shrimp. Each tasty batch of golden-brown fried shrimp is wild-caught and imported from fourth-generation shrimper Dominick Ficarino in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. Chefs lightly season their tasty catches in garlic, batter them, and fry them to a delicious golden brown before serving them with sides of homemade cocktail sauce, fries, hush puppies, and clam strips.