Stock up your fridge with a run to Van Til's Mega Mart in Hammond.
Perfect for cooking! Almost every delicious dish begins with oil and vinegar as an ingredient or for simply making sure your food doesn't stick to the pan!
Switch up your weekly pasta routine with a new and exciting pasta recipe. Grab some noodles from Van Til's Mega Mart and get cooking.
This store has all the supplies you need to make a scrumptious dessert when your tastebuds are calling.
If you're planning out your weekly meals, you will appreciate the assortment of snacks at Van Til's Mega Mart.
Van Til's Mega Mart makes it easy to quench your thirst by stocking water for whenever you need it.
Get your grill fired up and grab your tongs! The meat here is perfect for the grill any time of year.
Stock up on all of your deli favorites, such as salads, meats and cheese, at Van Til's Mega Mart and enjoy every bite.
Not only is fish great for your heart, but it also packs a punch in the flavor department, so get to grilling!
The gourmet spices and seasonings available here will take any meal to the next level.
Whether you prefer wheat or white bread, Van Til's Mega Mart serves up a large selection of freshly-baked breads.
From classic sandwiches to signature creations, the sandwiches at Van Til's Mega Mart are sure to make your stomach happy.
Make sure you always have a variety of beverages on hand, especially during the warmer months. This drink is sure to take care of business.
When you're just looking to open a can, heat it, and then eat, the canned food aisle at Van Til's Mega Mart offers you exactly just that kind of convenience.
The frozen food here tastes so good, you'll forget it came from the microwave!
Do you meet your recommended calcium intake? If not, pick up some dairy products and put yourself on the path to a healthier lifestyle.
Cereal in the morning, cereal in the evening, or cereal at suppertime. With the selection here, you'll want to eat cereal anytime.
Whether you cook it or eat it raw, the produce from Van Til's Mega Mart will be tasty no matter what.
You'll love the selection of coffee and teas at Van Til's Mega Mart, decaffeinated options available, too!
If no-muss, no-fuss is your kind of attitude, a delicious TV dinner may be right up your alley.
You don't have to be worried about parking. If you are heading to Van Til's Mega Mart, there are plenty of options nearby.
So if you're looking for only the best ingredients to use in your cooking, look no further than Van Til's Mega Mart in Hammond.
Find the best deals and steals on food and beverages at Serendipity Cafe in Hammond and save some serious cash on your weekly grocery run.
Health nuts will go crazy for the refreshing beverages available here, a great way to stay happy and hydrated.
Enjoy a small, bite-sized snack from Serendipity Cafe and cure your hunger pains.
Get your noodle on! Serendipity Cafe has some of the best and affordable noodle and pasta options in the area.
If rushing out the door is your morning routine, be sure to pick up a box of cereal for a quick and easy breakfast solution.
Take your cooking up a level of flavor when you choose from their wide selection of seasonings and spices.
Discover a new flavor of bread at Serendipity Cafe and get creative with your sandwiches.
If you're just getting into cooking, pick up some oil and vinegar from here and learn the basics of cooking with these necessities.
This fixing adds that little something extra to any baked good, so include it in all of your favorite recipes.
A simple solution to long hours spent over the stove, a microwavable meal will trick your taste buds into thinking it was made from scratch!
The produce available here is a great side to any meal in need of some fresh nutrients.
For dairy lovers out there, this store does dairy right, so make sure to pick up some on your next trip.
While you're stopping in today, you'll love browsing their selection of terrific meats.
With a bottle of water in hand, it's easy to refresh and refuel. Grab a couple drinks from Serendipity Cafe and stay on the go all the time.
The exquisite coffees and teas from here are great for an after-dinner beverage or a pick-me-up during your workday.
Craving a late-night snack? Treat yourself to a canned good from Serendipity Cafe and satisfy your craving.
Packed with essential nutrients, be sure to try walk away with some delicious fish for dinner.
Whether you need some snacks for the big game or a quick dinner option, the frozen foods from here are sure to suit your needs.
Serendipity Cafe is surrounded by endless parking options.
So head on over to Serendipity Cafe in Hammond and pick up some fresh produce and other tasty grocery items.
For that can't-get-enough Mexican flavor, check out El Taco Real, where five-star dishes are just over the counter.
El Taco Real is a local eatery that serves up both gluten-free and low-fat dishes.
This restaurant also provides alcohol, so diners don't have to worry about bringing their own bottle.
Go ahead and bring your rug rats with you — this restaurant has kid-friendly food and seating.
The restaurant accepts reservations, so it's simple to snag a table in advance.
Throw on your favorite T-shirt and head out the door — dining at El Taco Real is all about comfort.
Throwing a big party? Count on El Taco Real to provide top-notch catering with the same great dishes you love.
What's that you hear? It's carryout at this restaurant.
Parking is made simple at El Taco Real, a local restaurant with nearby street and lot parking options.
The menu at El Taco Real is reasonably priced, with most items costing less than $30.
So come to El Taco Real, where you can expect nothing less than the highest rated Mexican fare.
Come enjoy a casual night out with your friends and some Mexican cuisine at El Taco Real.
El Taco Real serves up a variety of Mexican eats, so head on over today and indulge in some of your favorites.
Aurelio's Pizza's piping pizza is just as hot as its ratings, and customers call this tasty spot one of the best around.
Pair your entree with a glass of wine or draft beer — this pizzeria has a fully-stocked bar to complement your meal.
Complimentary wifi is available as well.
Arrive a little on the early side for your pick of the prime tables — no reservations are accepted at Aurelio's Pizza.
Slip into something more comfortable before dining at Aurelio's Pizza, where dress code calls for business casual.
Impress the visitors at your next gathering by calling in Aurelio's Pizza for catering.
Grab your meal to go at this pizzeria if you're in a hurry — or better yet, have them bring it to you through their delivery service!
Driving to Aurelio's Pizza? Check out the nearby parking selections and park with ease.
If cycling is more your speed, you'll find plenty of space to stash your bike outside the pizzeria.
Who doesn't love pizza? And who doesn't love pizza with great ratings? Aurelio's Pizza is home to some of the best slices in the neighborhood, so order a hot one today.
When you are feeling hungry, pay Aurelio's Pizza a visit and enjoy a hot and fresh pizza filled with endless flavors.
Guests say this hotel is perfect for the whole family when you're in Hammond. Let Best Western Northwest Indiana Inn take care of everyone.
This hotel is pleased to provide its business guests with a full-service business center.
Looking for free wifi? You're in luck! Best Western Northwest Indiana Inn offers complimentary wifi for all guests.
Grab a quick workout at the hotel's great fitness center.
Guests of Best Western Northwest Indiana Inn can enjoy a dip in the on-site swimming pool.
Comfort food or cooked for nutrition, all available by room service.
Guests can satisfy their hunger cravings at the easily accessible hotel restaurant.
The hotel lounge serves up a wide variety of beverages, including spirits, wine and beer.
Keep your expenses in check at Best Western Northwest Indiana Inn, an establishment with affordable pricing.
There's no need to worry about parking. There are plenty of options in the area.
Not all motels are built the same. Find great value and even greater service at Best Western Northwest Indiana Inn in Hammond.
Settle down with delicious dumplings and other Chinese favorites at Wings Chinese Food in Alsip.
This restaurant also provides alcohol, so diners don't have to worry about bringing their own bottle.
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.
Arrive a little on the early side for your pick of the prime tables — no reservations are accepted at Wings Chinese Food.
Just let this restaurant know how you want it. You can have the food delivered or carried out yourself.
With a host of nearby parking options, many choose to drive to dinner.
Wings Chinese Food provides ample space for bikers to store their bikes.
Meals at Wings Chinese Food are affordable, with the average tab amounting to about $30 per person.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all served at Wings Chinese Food, so come by whenever it fits your schedule.
When it comes to traditional Chinese fare, Wings Chinese Food serves up some of the best options in town.
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.