Indulge in Southern-style cooking at Chuck's Southern Comfort's Cafe — this hearty hub serves some of the best biscuits in town.
The drink list at this restaurant has everything you need to complete your meal (and your night out).
Have a few picky young eaters in the family? Not a problem at this restaurant, where the food and ambience are perfect for family dining.
Bring your laptop here and tap into the complimentary wifi.
If dining outdoors is your idea of a good time, you'll love the gorgeous patio seating at Chuck's Southern Comfort's Cafe.
Make a reservation to ensure your night goes according to schedule.
Wear what you like when you dine at Chuck's Southern Comfort's Cafe — the restaurant has a chill vibe just right for casual dining.
This restaurant offers convenient carryout and delivery, so diners aren't limited to the restaurant space.
Love the food so much you want to serve it at your next soiree? No problem — Chuck's Southern Comfort's Cafe offers catering.
Chuck's Southern Comfort's Cafe is conveniently located near multiple valet and parking lot options for diners.
Make use of the luxurious bike racks at Chuck's Southern Comfort's Cafe.
Chuck's Southern Comfort's Cafe is a mid-priced establishment, with the average meal costing under $30.
Chuck's Southern Comfort's Cafe has menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — just pick your favorite meal and head over.
So try the amazing Southern fare at Chuck's Southern Comfort's Cafe, where there's heart and soul in every dish.
Barraco's Pizzeria's piping pizza is just as hot as its ratings, and customers call this tasty spot one of the best around.
Help yourself to a healthier lifestyle at Barraco's Pizzeria, where gluten-free and low-fat plates are the standard.
At this pizzeria, kids of all ages are welcome.
On warmer days, you can take advantage of Barraco's Pizzeria's al fresco patio seating.
Eating requires the perfect environment. This pizzeria's pickup and delivery options let you choose where you want to dine.
You can also serve food from Barraco's Pizzeria at your next party — the pizzeria offers catering.
Take your vehicle to dinner
nearby parking is plentiful and will not pose a problem for drivers looking to dine.
If your preferred mode of transit is of the two wheel variety, you're in luck — there's tons of bike parking outside the pizzeria.
Some people say that if you've had one pizza, you've had them all. Diners who've tried Barraco's Pizzeria's pizza say it is the absolute best.
High-quality pizza is waiting for you at Barraco's Pizzeria, so find out what all the fuss is about and get your hands on a cheesy slice of deliciousness.
So head on over to Barraco's Pizzeria, where the pizza is hot and the atmosphere's cool.
When you don't feel like cooking dinner, pay Barraco's Pizzeria a visit and enjoy a hot and fresh pizza pie.
The tacos are top-tier and the burritos are nothing short of amazing at Jalisco Restaurant — sift through five-star reviews or just head on over to find out more about this Mexican menu.
Jalisco Restaurant is a jackpot for those looking for low-fat and gluten-free meal options.
Bring the whole clan to this restaurant — kids and parents will love the menu and ambience here.
Don't like waiting to be seated? Make a reservation whether it's just you or the whole group.
If you're hoping to make a smashing impression at your next soiree, you can also have Jalisco Restaurant cater for you.
With food this good, you'll be running into this restaurant to pick it up yourself.
Jalisco Restaurant provides easy access to an adjacent lot.
Jalisco Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so stop by whenever is most convenient for you.
Come experience an amazing array of Mexican dishes when you try the highly-rated Jalisco Restaurant.
Come on over to Jalisco Restaurant and enjoy a casual night out and some great Mexican cuisine.
When you treat yourself to a flavorful Mexican dish from Jalisco Restaurant, you will leave feeling satisfied and full.
Stop by McDonald's after work for a quick burger and fries.
Watching your diet? Stay on track at McDonald's, a local restaurant with gluten-free and low-fat options.
Have a large group? No problem. Head to McDonald's for easy seating.
Don't stay cooped up on a beautiful summer day! At McDonald's, you can dine outdoors on their lovely patio.
Need to catch up on some work or the latest news? Get online at McDonald's with their complimentary wifi.
If you need to get somewhere fast, the restaurant also serves up grub to go.
Driving to McDonald's? Check out the nearby parking selections and park with ease.
Travel by bike to McDonald's and store your bike at a nearby rack.
Eat your way through the day at McDonald's — diners can enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner here.
No need to sweat your schedule — the restaurant is open 24 hours a day.
If you don't feel like cooking dinner, stop by McDonald's on your way home and get a tasty burger to go.
Pick up a tasty lunch or dinner from McDonald's and enjoy the convenience of quick and flavorful meal options.
Take a break from the office and enjoy a tasty sandwich with a side of chips at Mabenka.
Mabenka knows how to make gluten-free and low-fat fare taste great, so stop by for a healthy (and flavorful) bite.
The bar at this restaurant is fully stocked, so pair your meal with a glass of wine or beer.
Tots are more than welcome to dine with their parents at this restaurant.
Mabenka is a good restaurant to dine with a small or large group.
Reservations are offered, so call ahead to lock down your table.
Head to Mabenka in comfort, where attire is business casual.
Call Mabenka for catering if you have a big event coming up.
You can also grab your food to go.
At Mabenka, street and lot parking is made simple for diners.
Mabenka's diners can store their bikes safely at the rack around the corner.
Meals at Mabenka are incredibly tasty and reasonably priced around $30.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all available at Mabenka — swing by for your favorite meal.
A good sandwich always hits the spot. So, when you need a quick bite to eat, stop by Mabenka.
Start with the calamari and save room for the fresh catch at Burbank's Frank's Chicago Shrimp House — this Burbank seafood spot has quite the selection.
Score low-fat and gluten-free eats at Frank's Chicago Shrimp House.
This restaurant's most sought after items include Jumbo, Regular, Chicago, Scallops, and Combination Platter.
The restaurant can fill up quickly, so reservations are recommended.
Frank's Chicago Shrimp House can also cater your next party; call today for details.
Some say walking is the greatest thing in life. This restaurant knows it's carryout.
Take advantage of the free parking next door to Frank's Chicago Shrimp House.
For a night out with great food that won't break the budget, head to Frank's Chicago Shrimp House.
Head on over to Frank's Chicago Shrimp House first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening — Frank's Chicago Shrimp House is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
For the freshest catch in town, make your way over to the highly-rated Frank's Chicago Shrimp House.
Cindy Espinosa has cooked almost every dish on the menu at Nellie’s (2458 W. Division St.), the Humboldt Park luncheonette she co-owns with her husband, Pablo. Yet she’s never attempted mofongo, a dish of mashed fried plantains that’s a Puerto Rican tradition.
“I see it being made,” she said. “I know how it’s made, but I’ve never tried it.”
It’s easy to see why. The cooking process, which I watched unfold in Nellie’s kitchen, is pretty involved, with a lot of hand-mashing and frying. “It’s more of a Friday-night dinner type of thing,” Pablo said. “You might eat it once a month at home.”
Yet the final result—a dome of fried plantain that diners can moisten with a dip into housemade chicken broth—is worth the work. Here’s how Cindy and Pablo’s cook, Carmen, makes it.
Carmen first peels and chops green plantains, the same fruits used in the restaurant’s jibaritos and tostones. According to Pablo, the restaurant goes through a crate of about 50 green plantains every week.
Then Carmen tosses them into a deep-fryer with some chopped tocino, or pork lard. When the lard has cooked down to a salty, crispy crunch, she dumps it and the plantains into a type of mortar and pestle called a pilon. “Every Puerto Rican household should have one,” Cindy said. The pilon’s concave bottom is what gives a serving of mofongo its distinctive dome-like shape.
In Puerto Rico, you see “all types of sizes” of pilon, Pablo said. That includes some as large as a butter churn, which sit on the floor. Nellie’s is a tabletop model, about 6 inches tall, wooden, and covered in carvings. It makes only one portion of mofongo at a time, which can make things hectic for Carmen on a busy weekend day. (All that mashing “takes an arm,” Cindy said.)
Making mofongo to order gives the staff flexibility to tailor each serving. For instance, Carmen can leave out the tocino to make a vegetarian version of the dish. (Both Espinozas have been vegetarian for a year and a half.) Other versions on the menu include iterations with shrimp in place of tocino or with a mound of chicken, shrimp, or steak nestled inside the dome. Mofongo can also be a side order to fried chicken (chicharron de pollo) or fried pork.
I get to sample the classic, main-course version.
The mofongo dome appears next to a small silver tureen filled with housemade chicken broth for dipping. There is still a big chunk of meat and bone floating in it, as well as a big, soft carrot that I devour, savoring its umami flavors. Moistened with a little broth, the green plantains lose their fibrous dryness to become melt-in-your-mouth comfort food; the bits of tocino provide an occasional kick of salt.
I send a mental thank-you to Carmen’s arm for providing this food. I hope it was worth the work.
Photo credit: Andrew Nawrocki, Groupon
To many Chicagoans, the neighborhoods south of Roosevelt Road seem to be a culinary wasteland. To Jimalita Tillman, Chicago native and executive director of the Harold Washington Cultural Center and Performing Arts Theatre (4701 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.), fine-dining opportunities definitely exist on the South Side—if you give them a chance.
Because many of these restaurants depend on word of mouth, Tillman said, the advertising budgets of their more northern competitors often trump their oral marketing, and so she often spends “all day” giving South Side restaurant recommendations to area visitors and theater-goers.
“There are many great places [to eat] throughout these areas,” she said. “It really depends on what you’re in the mood for.”
And if you're in the mood for a little musical and cultural Chicago history to pair with your meal, you don't have to travel far from the landmark arts center. The Harold Washington Cultural Center, in the former location of the historical Regal Theater where the likes of Ella Fitzgerald once performed, is right in the heart of the Black Metropolis—a region marked by the culture and Southern-inspired music scene that developed during the Great Migration. Today, Bronzeville is still flavored with leftovers from its swinging past.
To savor alongside your meal, we paired each of Tillman’s restaurant recommendations with a few musical, historical, and cultural tidbits.
4655 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., Chicago, IL 60653
It’s the quick and personable service that makes this gourmet hot-dog eatery a standout, Tillman said. Of course, Chef Cliff Rome serves the usual Chicago-style hot dog, but it’s the varied wiener and burger options he creates that color H-Dogs’ menu with the fine-dining flair he perfected while studying in Paris. The Healthy Hound—a grilled veggie dog with sprouts, roasted peppers, red onions, and cucumbers—sits alongside salmon burgers, turducken sausages, and portobello-mushroom sandwiches without the least bit of tattletaling or fighting over who had the mustard first. Sweet-potato or truffle fries complete the gourmet-on-the-go experience.
Bite of History: The gourmet hot-dog diner sits in a historical building that was once known as 47th Street Marketplace. Before a 2010 fire destroyed the building, it was considered a symbol of the revitalization of Bronzeville and housed Tillman’s Spoken Word Cafe—one of the original hosts of HBO’s Def Poetry series hosted by hip-hop artist and actor Mos Def.
2. Pearl’s Place
3901 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60653
“I’m a breakfast head,” said Tillman—as are many in the crowd of diners waiting to get inside for brunch on any given Sunday. The kitchen cooks up a mix of Southern and soul food—yes, there’s a difference—but Pearl’s Place sprinkles it with the right amount of creole flavor. After sampling Pearl’s juicy yet crispy fried chicken, sautéed salmon croquettes, or all-day breakfasts of vegetable omelets or homestyle pancakes, it seems only right to finish with a bite or two of peach cobbler or sweet-potato pie.
Bite of History: The interior decor, with album jackets and vinyl records lining the walls, features a photo story of the neighborhood’s jazz and blues history with jazz legends Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Lena Horne—all of whom graced the stage at the Regal Theater during Bronzeville’s musical heyday.
3. Norman’s Bistro
1001 E. 43rd St., Chicago, IL, 60653
The bistro’s entrees—including vegetable confetti ravioli, smoked cranberry salmon, and the Great Duck burger—offer an upscale taste-bud experience at “South Side prices,” Tillman said. From the food to the decor, presentation is an art in this sleek and classy spot featuring creole-inspired American food with a Brazilian flair. In the exposed-brick, art-filled wine bar, sommeliers pour from an extensive list of wines. Separate from the dining room, the intimate setting of the bar creates an ideal spot for the happy-hour crowd.
Bite of Culture: On Sundays at 9 p.m., the bistro hosts a live jazz jam session. Or make an appointment and walk over to Gallery Guichard—housed in a turn-of-the-20th-century Italiante row house—to peruse its African-diaspora art and blown glass, sculptures, and photography by local as well as international artists.
Photography by Andrew Nawrocki.
Clockwise from top: Birria in action—rich, briny consommé and tender goat meat, stewed for hours with bay leaves, cinnamon, and other spices. // Ceramic bowls absorb the birria's heat, keeping the broth warm throughout meals. // When Rick Bayless recommended Birrieria Reyes de Ocotlan to "Esquire" magazine, he described the eatery’s birria as "full of flavor, incredibly homey and satisfying."
In Ocotlán in Jalisco, Mexico, the temperature rarely dips below 40 degrees. That's mild by Chicago standards; however, when the Reyes family immigrated 2,000 miles from Ocotlán to Chicago, they brought with them a recipe that would prove thoroughly compatible with the colder weather. That recipe is birria—a savory stew made by simmering goat meat for hours with herbs and spices. On a cold day in mid-March, I made a trek across town to the family's Pilsen restaurant, Birrieria Reyes de Ocotlan, to taste it myself.
As soon as I entered the eatery, I smelled the warm, rich aroma of simmering goat meat. Goats were also present in the decor: miniature replicas decorated shelves and cupboards, and a mounted goat head kept watch over the booths, a toothpick dangling humorously from its lips.
After I ordered birria at the counter, a server presented me with three dishes. The smallest held pickled onions and lime wedges, which are traditional birria condiments, and an oblong basket cradled warm, fresh tortillas. The largest bowl brimmed with rich, briny consommé, chopped onions and cilantro, and hunks of tender goat meat.
The first spoonful of broth tasted bright and smoky with hints of ancho peppers and cinnamon. I separated a piece of goat meat with light pressure from my spoon. Leaner than beef, the meat still had pieces of bone inside, which infused the meat with the flavor of their marrow. The crisp onions and fragrant cilantro stood out against the birria's savory elements to create a harmony of flavors that was especially comforting on a cold day.