Italian eats can be found at Convito Cafe and Market, and fans will argue it's the best fare in town (fantastic reviews are everywhere in sight).
Gluten-free and low-fat is the name of the game at Convito Cafe and Market, where eating healthy, flavorful dishes is of utmost importance.
Got kids? No problem at Convito Cafe and Market! This restaurant is a fantastic spot for families to dine together.
Sit outside when the weather is fine — Convito Cafe and Market has a lovely patio to enjoy a warm day.
At Convito Cafe and Market, you can dine with your immediate family and your extended family due to the easy seating for large parties.
Give the restaurant a call to reserve your table ahead of time.
The dress code is strictly casual at Convito Cafe and Market, so come as you are (and as you are comfortable).
Feed the gang at your next get-together with catering from Convito Cafe and Market as well.
Take advantage of the free parking next door to Convito Cafe and Market.
Convito Cafe and Market provides ample space for bikers to store their bikes.
Menu items at Convito Cafe and Market tend to be mid-priced, so expect to plop down about $30 per person to dine here.
Convito Cafe and Market offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so stop by whenever is most convenient for you.
High-quality Italian food awaits you at Convito Cafe and Market!
When you're in the mood for pasta or pizza, head over to Convito Cafe and Market and indulge in a classic Italian dish.
JP McCarthy's is a local pizza gem for casual diners.
Find the perfect vintage to complement your meal — this pizzeria offers a fine selection of wines, beers, and beyond.
Bring your whole brood to this pizzeria, where families can dig in to tasty and kid-friendly fare together.
Wireless Internet access is just a click away at JP McCarthy's.
On busy nights, it's best to book a table ahead of time.
Fancy-schmancy attire is not required; in fact, guests are told to keep things casual.
Just let this pizzeria know how you want it. You can have the food delivered or carried out yourself.
That's right! JP McCarthy's will bring their delicious food to your house for any occasion.
We believe in rewarding our loyal customers. To do just that, we give all patrons free parking in our very own lot.
Both public transit and parking are readily available for JP McCarthy's' diners.
JP McCarthy's' diners can store their bikes safely at the rack around the corner.
A visit to JP McCarthy's will set you back less than $30 per person, so you can make it a regular part of your schedule.
JP McCarthy's serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so stop by whenever is most convenient for you.
For hot pizza and a cool atmosphere, be sure to stop in at JP McCarthy's.
Next time you're looking to indulge in America's favorite dish, call the team at JP McCarthy's to help you out.
For authentic and delicious Italian cuisine, look no further than the highly-rated JP McCarthy's.
For fresh maki, Wilmette's Akai Hana has got you covered.
Easily avoid animal products, gluten and high-fat items when you dine at Akai Hana, where dietary needs are always considered.
The drink list at this restaurant has everything you need to complete your meal (and your night out).
Little guys and gals will also love dining at this restaurant, which offers a family-friendly environment (and menu).
At Akai Hana, you can dine with your immediate family and your extended family due to the easy seating for large parties.
Wireless Internet access is just a click away at Akai Hana.
Don't get stuck waiting for a table — the restaurant accepts reservations.
Wear what you like when you dine at Akai Hana — the restaurant has a chill vibe just right for casual dining.
The restaurant also offers catering if you want to bring the flavors of Akai Hana to your next party or event.
Grab your meal to go at this restaurant if you're in a hurry — or better yet, have them bring it to you through their delivery service!
At Akai Hana, we supply free parking. No fees, just your car and our lot.
You'll also find plenty of safe spaces to lock up your bike if you prefer to cycle to the restaurant.
Akai Hana's mid-priced fare will typically cost you about $30 per person or less.
Akai Hana serves up authentic and traditional Japanese fare, so head on over today and discover the delicacy of Japanese cuisine.
For Chef Rob, cooking fine cuisine is a family affair. He learned his skills at the knee of his Sicilian grandmother, who taught him everything he knows about how to run a kitchen. Today, he still hones his recipes in a similar setting, cooking furiously as his wife and daughter stand ready to dutifully taste his creations. After finishing his at-home experiments with the daily haul from the local market, he heads to Wilmette Chop House to begin preparing food for that night‘s hungry customers.
During the dinner rush, Rob welcomes many of the same faces that he laughed and joked with at the market that morning. He oversees a grill filled with filet mignon, lobster tails, and his signature double-cut bone-in smoked pork chops. These delicious proteins come out hot on the heels of fresh-baked bread, acquired from Heavenly Hearth Bakery just around the corner. To wash down Chef Rob’s creations, bartenders mix up the restaurant’s signature cocktail—the Thin Mintini. In addition to describing the drink's refreshing taste, the beverage’s name also hints at the building’s history; the venue once served as the original bakery for the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Not content to cater only to two of the five senses, Rob also retains the services of professional musicians at his piano bar on most evenings, who wow audiences and reviewers with their skill at the keys and with catching food tossed at their mouths.
Grab a bite at Wilmette's Ridgeview Grill.
Calling all gluten-free and low-fat diners! Ridgeview Grill has a multitude of dishes right up your alley that are freshly-prepared and taste amazing.
You'll find a wonderful selection of drinks from this restaurant's full bar to top off your meal.
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.
Whether you have a group of five or a group of 20, Ridgeview Grill can seat both large and small groups.
At Ridgeview Grill, the prime seating is on the patio. Come check out what all the buzz is about.
Reserve a table ahead of time and avoid the lines.
No need to dress up for a trip to Ridgeview Grill — the casual restaurant encourages laid-back attire.
Catering makes it easier to organize any event, and Ridgeview Grill will ensure that it is delicious.
If you need to get somewhere fast, the restaurant also serves up grub to go.
Drivers will jump with joy when they find out about the free parking in the lot next door.
Bike parking is also available outside the restaurant.
The menu at Ridgeview Grill is reasonably priced, with most items costing less than $30.
No cash? Use any major credit card and work on reeling in those rewards.
Spend your morning, afternoon, or evening at Ridgeview Grill, where guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Fill up on fries and other comfort food at Walker Bros Original Pancake House, a savory spot for American cuisine.
Gluten-free? No problem! Walker Bros Original Pancake House has options for even the most sensitive stomach.
Don't leave the kids at home — youngsters will love the family-friendly cuisine at this restaurant just as much as mom and dad.
Your group can sit comfortably at Walker Bros Original Pancake House, a local restaurant.
You can't book your table ahead of time at Walker Bros Original Pancake House, so show up early for your pick of tables.
Walker Bros Original Pancake House is completely informal — dress as you see fit (and are most comfortable).
Getting your food to go is also an option.
Find a space on the street or park in the lot not far from the restaurant.
Walker Bros Original Pancake House's diners can store their bikes safely at the rack around the corner.
Breakfast fare is rated highest at the restaurant, though you can also stop by for lunch or dinner.
When you're feeling hungry, head on over to Walker Bros Original Pancake House and indulge in a tasty and innovative American dish.
So enjoy a casual dining experience at Walker Bros Original Pancake House and load up on some classic American dishes.
So take your next meal to the next level and indulge in some great American eats at the highly-rated Walker Bros Original Pancake 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.