A trio of El Ranchito restaurants populates the Chicagoland area, providing hearty meals that run the gamut from Mexican and Italian specialties to American classics. Omelets and skillets filled with veggies, chorizo, and cheese are available for breakfast, and the menu offers a seemingly endless array of burritos, tacos, and steak dinners later in the day. The chefs also dabble in gourmet pizzas, ribs, and fresh seafood.
Depending on the location, guests are also greeted with various entertainment and amenities. The Milwaukee and Grand Avenue spots feature live mariachi bands on Sundays, as well as karaoke nights and fully stocked bars. The Clark Street location, meanwhile, is BYOB, allowing guests to bring their own beers or grape-stomping barrels.
Perfectly-plated pad thai and scrumptious satay more than justify the stellar ratings awarded to Thai On Clark.
Both the young and the young-at-heart will dig the family-oriented menu and ambience at this restaurant.
You'll find most people wearing their favorite T-shirt and pair of jeans, as casual dining is Thai On Clark's style.
Delivery and takeout are also available. You'll be knocking down our door to pick up your food, or we'll be knocking down yours.
Bring the Thai On Clark's great food to your place.
At Thai On Clark, diners should plan to park on the street.
Thai On Clark is a prime location for cyclists to park their bikes and enjoy a bite to eat.
Treat yourself to breakfast, lunch, and dinner all in one place
the restaurant offers three main meals a day, though dinner is the real winner.
For Thai fare like never before, get your fill of top-rated deliciousness at Thai On Clark.
So get a taste of the best Thai around when you swing by Thai On Clark for a quick bite to eat.
Make it easy with Thai food at Thai On Clark.
The tastes and flavors of Thailand are waiting for you at Thai On Clark, so head on over today and check out the great menu.
Caminos de Michoacan in Chicago is a Mexican restaurant that features a delicious menu 24/7. The nice atmosphere and reasonable prices allow customers to focus on what matters: the awesome food.
It's been tabbed by the locals as a really good option for dining on a budget.
You won't walk away from Caminos de Michoacan disappointed.
Inside Tiztal Cafe, sunny yellow walls match the eggs that star in the restaurant's heaping plates of breakfast and brunch fare. Diners sidle up to casual tables or the long bar to dig into the chefs' take on Mexican morning meals: omelets stuffed with spicy chorizo, crisp waffles topped with pecans, and the signature chilaquiles that helped earn them a feature on Chicago's Best in 2011. Diners would be wise to pair their meals with the eatery's infamous oatmeal shake—says Serious Eats blogger Lindsey Becker, "This shake has something of a cult following…and after trying this glorious mashup of vanilla ice cream shake and oatmeal, you can count me in as a member."
Meat-eaters in Chicago will fall in love with Reed Appliance — this barbecue joint is a tasty destination for Uptown residents.
Get in and out of the car quickly with no-hassle parking located all around the restaurant.
If you want finger-licking good barbecue, it's clear you'll want to head straight to Reed Appliance.
Five Things to Know About Baker & Nosh
This chic bakery located in the historical Wilson Apartments Hotel building is a result of baker and owner Bill Millholland’s two passions—baking and teaching—coming together. The location makes it easy to pick up a loaf of the bakery’s delicious bread or to sign up for a class and learn how to make your own. But there’s even more that makes this bakery so special:
All the baked items are handmade. Try a freshly baked loaf of sourdough or salted black bread, or treat yourself to a cinnamon roll with cream-cheese frosting.
You can watch the bread being made. The kitchen’s windows look out onto the street, where you can watch the bakers knead and shape dough.
There’s a fresh herb garden: Fresh herbs are available to customers at no cost
They teach how to bake with the best. Small six-student classes teach aspiring bakers how to make their own bread or croissants.
There is outdoor seating. A relaxing, grassy area filled with adirondak chairs is open from the spring to the fall, so you can sit outside and enjoy a sandwich, pastry, or charcuterie platter.
After exiting the gates at Union Park this weekend, the first thing on your mind will likely be finding a place to sit down. These five destinations offer a place to rest your feet, have a drink, eat deep-fried bacon, and maybe even break into a bank vault—if that’s your thing. If not, there’s always dancing.
If you wore heels all day and are ready for whiskey and snails while reclining on a sofa:
Maude’s Liquor Bar | 840 W. Randolph St.
After the last set, drag your weary hooves up to the Green Line platform and head two stops east to Restaurant Row, where you’ll find Maude’s long, leather couches perfect for slouching. The escargot is made in the traditional French style—in one of those absurdly French dishes created exclusively for cradling escargot, piping hot out of the oven and swimming in butter, herbs, and garlic—with plenty of crusty bread. To drink, Maude’s has five kinds of smashes, but you should order the whiskey smash, because it’s my favorite. (If you’re feeling exotic, try the Smokey Violet.)
If your inner biker bro is craving a craft brew:
Twisted Spoke | 501 N. Ogden Ave.
Just a few blocks away up Ogden, Twisted Spoke’s rooftop patio is the perfect spot to enjoy one of many brews from an enormous beer list—if you’re not sick of being outdoors. If you are, kick back at the long, curving bar with one of its epic bloody marys. Available in a handful of boozy variations (from classic vodka to spicy tequila), each bloody is garnished with a pile of pickled veggies, cheese, and cured meat, and served with a beer back of Genesee Cream Ale. Twisted Spoke also has deep-fried tempura-style bacon—need I say more?
If you’ve always dreamed of drinking tequila in a bank vault:
The Bedford | 1612 W. Division St.
Tucked away beneath the bustling six-way intersection of Milwaukee, Division, and Ashland, the Bedford is a cool, marble-and-chandeliers destination where the lighting is low enough that no one will notice how dusty your shoes are. The rehabbed bank basement invites imbibers to lounge inside the old bank vault—complete with gleaming safe-deposit boxes—on plush chairs and couches or at one of the many tables and booths in the main space. Groups can order a whole bowl of the refreshing (and potentially dangerous) chamomile tequila punch, a combination of chamomile-infused blanco tequila, grapefruit liqueur, lime, grapefruit juice, and grapefruit soda; it’s also available by the glass and half-bowl.
If you fudged your manicure when someone crowd-surfed over you:
Beauty Bar | 1444 W. Chicago Ave.
Cashing in on the signature $10 martini-and-mani combo, spiff up your nails at one of the manicure stations while sipping on something called the Relaxer, which is actually just a dirty martini but will likely do the job. With a DJ in the booth every night, you can shake a leg under the disco ball once your nails have dried. (Namely, you can bump 'n' grind to the sounds of R. Kelly on Saturday evening during the city’s longest-running tribute night to the local R&B legend.) Or, you could always take a seat in one of the many '50s-style dryer chairs, pull the bowl down over your head, and not talk to anyone.
If you no longer have the energy to speak but do have the energy to chew:
Au Cheval | 800 W. Randolph St.
The burger topped with cheese and fried egg—which Bon Appétit argues is the best in the nation—is the perfect excuse to sit in silence. This two-patty wonder is stuffed between a soft, chewy bun and will keep you and yours occupied long enough to at least try to conjure up a knock-knock joke or something. Accompanied by a Dr. Devon’s Pickleback (one shot of irish whiskey and another of the housemade pickle brine), the combo will likely leave everyone ready for bed, which is perfect because you’re going to need to rest up to do it all over again tomorrow.
Photo credits: 1. Kari Skaflen – Maude's Liquor Bar 2. Michelle Klosinski – Twisted Spoke 3. Brandon Jones – The Bedford 4. Jessica Schultz – Beauty Bar 5. Kari Skaflen – Au Cheval
How do you find Chicago's most Chicago restaurant? You begin by taking the world's best decision-making device: the bracket. Then you combine it with Chicago's best device to represent its messy, opinionated landscape: the ward map. Some have called this pursuit "patently absurd." We humbly disagree. By taking our logic above (bracket + ward map) and extrapolating it into a larger, totally airtight algorithm, our computers have found a winner for the title of Chicago's most Chicago restaurant. See the finalists and read more about the search here. Below is one of the finalists.
Gabrielle Darvassy was tired. Tired of the grind her 20 years in a corporate job subjected her to. Tired of the homogenous food options in her adopted neighborhood. Tired of having to make the trek to the other side of the Loop to procure any kind of quality goods and services.
Looking back, the layoff from her 9-to-5 seems to be a blessing in disguise. “People have to like what they’re doing, and they have to feel fulfilled,” Gabrielle is fond of saying. She began selling nutrient-packed smoothies at the 61st Street Farmers Market, and soon, together with her husband, she opened up B’Gabs Goodies (6100 S. Blackstone Ave.), a raw vegan eatery, on a quiet stretch on the border of Hyde Park and Woodlawn. Not the first place someone would think to serve food that’s been made with absolutely no animal products (not even butter!) nor heated to above 104 degrees.
Doing this helped put Gabrielle’s beliefs about food to the test. When she talks about food, she uses the word love, a lot. Food, she says, gives the body energy, but the people who make it also imbue it with energy.
“If the people who make it and bring it to you aren’t in love with it, it’s not going to be good for you.”
To that end, she procures all her produce from one vendor, who she knows loves what they do. “So everything we make from beginning to end is lovely. I’m not about to put in that type of work [without love]. I did that for 20 years.”
A commitment to the neighborhood
Gabrielle and her husband live in Hyde Park, where he grew up. Their home is close to the border of Woodlawn, which is known as one of the city’s “food deserts,” meaning it’s a trek to a good grocery store or any other source of unprocessed whole foods. And though Hyde Park, as the home of the prestigious University of Chicago (and our current president), holds considerably more options than Woodlawn, they’re not necessarily healthful ones. At least, not by her standards, which—besides vegan fare—include foods made without soy or gluten.
Noting how reluctant business owners were to invest in her neighborhood, Gabrielle decided to keep her endeavor close to home. Though she knew she would be more profitable north of the Loop, it was important to her to show faith in her community, knowing that, just as she has to make the drive up north for certain things, Northsiders would make the drive south, if what she was doing was viable.
“If you want your community to be better, you have to do the work in your community,” she says.
A community that keeps coming back
On our visit, we almost drove right past B’Gabs Goodies’ door. It shares the block with what looks like a warehouse on one side of the street and an empty industrial lot on the other. The address on its Facebook page adds the parenthetical “(green door)” after the address, the tiniest clue to locating it.
“People find us by word of mouth,” Gabrielle tells me, once I’ve found my way in. “They feel like it’s a vegan speakeasy.”
In fact, the only publicity they’ve ever done since they opened in 2011 has been running a Groupon and doing stories with any interested publications.
And yet, they have a loyal following, which Gabrielle calls “small but mighty” and is growing exponentially. Two U of C students chatted at a table next to us, recognizing a former professor who walked through the doors. Four women came in and out for a to-go order. A father and son shared a meal as we left. “I love this place!” the boy proclaimed—to everyone. And all the while, the staff hustled to get a catering order prepped for a community photography show next door.
Perhaps one of the best examples of the love they’ve engendered in the community is the gleaming—and pricey—Norwalk juicer a customer gifted to them. “It’s magic,” Gabrielle says.
B’Gabs Goodies’ prep “kitchen” is an approximately 3-foot-long stainless-steel counter in a nook behind the cash register. They prepare food without heat, which is believed to break down the nutrients and good energy in food. It’s basically cooking without cooking.
I must admit, learning this gave me some trepidation. My previous experience with raw vegan food was similar to that of any lifetime carnivore: my meal was so bland I barely remember it. The menu at B’Gabs left me stumped: tacos made with seeded nacho “meat,” pad thai salad with zucchini and carrot “noodles,” jicama “fries.” As someone who’s averse to many processed foods, I’m naturally suspicious of any food whose name is in quotation marks.
So I approached this from a culinary standpoint, sampling the cuisine the way I would any that I hadn’t much experience with.
I opted for the classic burger.
Gabrielle shuns all soy products, as well as fake meats such as seitan, because she, and many of her customers, are suspicious of GMOs. While I was expecting a one-note dish, this burger turned out to be a medley of flavors. The crisp onion “bread” was balanced by a savory seed patty and brightly flavored housemade ketchup. A pile of kale filled the rest of the plate, its bitterness ameliorated by the sweet tang of the accompanying dressing. To wash it all down, I chose the Fiji Hammer Time smoothie: peaches, strawberries, and bananas, boosted with maca root and yohimbe bark.
I’d walked into B’Gabs feeling a little run down, tired or perhaps coming down with a cold. I left, literally, with a skip in my step, so energized that I almost forgot to pay for my meal. A slight buzz rang through my body—was it the seeds? The yohimbe? The Norwalk juicer’s magic?
No matter; it was the richest vegan meal I have ever tasted.
Teaching someone to fish
Gabrielle’s mission is not only to provide healthy food for people in her community, but also to create lasting changes in the way they eat. “The only way to do that—regardless of economics—is to teach them how,” she says. To that end, she and her staff teach “uncooking” classes and workshops, helping people incorporate raw foods in their diets.
They also dedicate half the space to a herb and spice shop, with more than 300 varieties of plants, all lovingly sourced. They all have healing properties, if that’s your thing, which Gabrielle believes doubles down on the nourishment her food provides. Most of the herbs and spices are packaged, if not harvested, by staff, and all were selected because, not only do they make food taste better, but they’re also known to have some kind of effect on health. The yohimbe bark in my smoothie is believed to ease depression—and improve the libido (rawr)!
“A lot of people come to me when they’re sick and have exhausted all options,” Gabrielle says.
Or, as the restaurant’s motto states: “It’s not the food in your life, it’s the life in your food.”
Photos by Timothy Burkhart, Groupon