Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams founder Jeni Britton Bauer runs her thriving ice-cream business from Columbus, Ohio. But she’s an Illinois native (originally from Peoria), and Chicago holds a soft spot in her heart. Her grandfather grew up in the same neighborhood as Jeni’s Lakeview scoop shop.
“Both of my grandfathers went to Cubs games,” she said. “My one grandfather would walk backward into the games because somehow he could get in for free. … The security guards wouldn’t notice that he was going in.”
Jeni herself became a St. Louis Cardinals fan, but she’s got a good reason: the Cardinals came to visit her in the hospital when she was sick as a girl, and she credits them with aiding her recovery. “Keith Hernandez, good-lookin’ man in that outfit,” she joked. “It was a done deal.” She still loves Cubs games, though. “It’s just such an authentic experience.”
So what else does the ice-cream mastermind do when she’s in Chicago, besides visit Wrigley Field (presumably walking in facing forward)? Eat, of course.
Here are her top picks around town.
The Publican (837 W. Fulton Market)
"I could sit at the beautiful Publican restaurant all afternoon, snacking on their pickles, giant pork rinds, and sipping on rosé—and I have."
Girl and the Goat (809 W. Randolph St.)
"Stephanie Izard makes a mean Cheez-It ice cream that you cannot miss."
Anything from Rick Bayless
"Even at O'Hare, I never miss a moment to get something delicious from one of Rick Bayless's restaurants. His gazpacho is unparalleled and a true must-have!"
Check out our full Q&A with Jeni for more on her flavor-creation process and her newest cookbook, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts.
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Curious where other Chicago chefs eat and drink when they're out of their kitchens? Check out our other Tasting Menu features:
Chef David Schneider of Taxim
The owner and chef of the Wicker Park eatery on where he goes for tortas, falafel, souvlaki, birria, and other authentic dishes.
Chef Dominique Tougne of Chez Moi
The French-born chef shares some of his favorite dining destinations in Chicago.
Chef Carol Wallack of Sola Restaurant
The Northcenter chef shares her favorite places to find a healthy meal amongst Chicago’s bounty of hot dogs, gyros, and pizza puffs.
Chef Matthew Pollock of Epic
Where the South-Side native goes for square-cut pizzas, customizable burgers, and potent local spirits.
Chef Brian Greene of Bow & Stern
The chef who’s bringing shellfish to West Town on where he unwinds when he’s not shucking fresh oysters from the West Coast.