Chicagoland Food Joints Part 1

Alright so I’ll say this right now and get it out of the way: I’m definitely a food guy. And yeah, admittedly, I’ve never been fit for my entire life, but it comes at the cost of enjoying every bite. On A scale from my girlfriend burning water to Chef Gordon Ramsay, I'm definitely Guy Fieri eating in slow motion to Killing Me Softly. Whether I’m making it, or the chef behind the counter is, I seriously could never get tired of a really good dish. So just when I thought I’d limit myself to writing articles about music, why not expand to another favorite side hobby of mine: Food.

All of the restaurants that were selected on this list were chosen by myself. They weren't picked because they are the best of the best, and they aren't in any particular order, but they all serve amazing food with a good atmosphere, and that's all that matters. I’ve tried steering away from the restaurants that would usually end up on this list, especially the Chicago legends, but to no avail, and I am so sorry to my Chicago readers, there are some very basic necessities that you and I both know have their place on this list. It’s hard to not hit names you see everywhere, because there’s truly kitchen magic that happens at a lot of those places. And besides, A good portion of our viewers are from New York, so why not show them how we do it over here. So after weeks of reviewing, discussing, and paining over what should be on this list, I give you my top picks for delicious food in some truly great places:

 

 

1.) Kuma’s Corner- Lincoln Park/ Downtown/ Schaumburg

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The first time I ever walked into a Kuma’s, I remember walking into a location with my family on mother’s day and my mom was completely like “Yeah this will do”. My mother walked into this restaurant that was COMPLETELY decked out in almost anything metal and was completely un-phased. I mean the walls were lined with band posters, album art, and skateboard decks and they were bumping heavy metal music. It wasn’t until one of the waitresses set down one of the best looking burgers we’d ever seen that my own mother gave it the thumbs up. So there’s no excuse to not sit down and enjoy the food!

     Like, C'mon. How good does that actually look to you? True eye candy.

     Like, C'mon. How good does that actually look to you? True eye candy.

Each burger at the restaurant is named after a band, and while that sounds cliché, they each have a unique twist on them that makes them just as delicious as the last burger. Into spicy food? Try the high on fire burger. Want something Savory? I highly recommend the mastodon burger. No bun? Absolutely not a problem, just replace it with a bed of fries and pour some bomb chili on it, and you got a slayer burger. I don’t think you could honestly go wrong at Kuma’s, because even if you don’t like their burgers or you can't eat beef, they have a personalized mac and cheese dish that’s raved as “out of this world”.  If you EVER find yourself near a Kuma’s, and can’t decide where to eat, don’t even make it a competition, because it’s truly amazing. If menus are your thing, click here and you won't be let down.

 

 

2.) Portillo’s- any Chicago suburb/ Cali/ Arizona

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The Bare Portillo's essentials: the Chicago staples of Italian beef and a Chicago style hotdog with the works. Oh yeah, and cheese fries too

The Bare Portillo's essentials: the Chicago staples of Italian beef and a Chicago style hotdog with the works. Oh yeah, and cheese fries too

Well it was inevitable to put Portillo’s on the list. Either you live in the Chicagoland area where it’s everywhere and watching every move you take, or you know someone who lives in the Chicagoland area and they NEVER shut up about it. Either way it’s undeniable that the place is a legend. And by all means, the hype doesn’t make it bad, it just gets a little repetitive hearing the same thing over and over again. But really, when you focus on the food, it is something truly unbelievable. The joint is known for its Chicago style hot dog, Italian beef (look it up if you don’t know. NY I’m lookin’ at you.), cheese fries, chocolate cake shake, and truly much more than that. Personally when it comes to the ‘dog, I’d look around more before getting one here, but it’s still pretty darn good.

 On top of that, each Portillo’s restaurant has that antique, crisp, and unique vibe to it that most restaurants would pass off as a super cheap throwback. I swear, devouring a Portillo’s hot dog under all of the retro neon lighting while listening to oldies music will never lose its charm. Ever. Here's their entire delicious menu.

 

 

3.) Sultan’s market- Lincoln Park/ Wicker Park

First walking into the Lincoln Park location, I knew this place was going to be fantastic. It was the day after a fantastic night that I had spent with my brother, and being that he lived in Lincoln Park at the time, he said that a friend from High School that we both knew gave it a big thumbs up. So, being as adventurous as I am, I was absolutely down to go in and see what they had to eat; and boy, was I not disappointed. Walking in, seeing the Middle Eastern décor, smelling the multiple aromas of delicious herbs and spices in the air, and looking at the menu, I was absolutely dying to try the food. When it comes to the classics of Middle-Eastern cuisine, these guys definitely have it down to a science. If I remember correctly, I had gotten the chicken shawerma sandwich, and all I can clearly remember was how delicious that thing was.

Also, being the bottomless pit I am, I looked at the hot/ cold bar at the midway point of the meal and spotted the stuffed grape leafs they had like “Yup this is definitely happening.” Went up, bought them, absolutely fell in love. I would definitely recommend this place to anybody who likes or even wants to try Middle Eastern/ Mediterranean food. For sure a go to spot if you’re in the area. Here's a menu.

 

 

4.) Pilot Pete’s- Schaumburg

Pilot Pete’s is a pretty unique place. A lot of people who live around me always go there, and you never really hear anything bad about it. I always go there, and the only thing I really feel bad about is the post meal shame of eating way too much delicious food, which BARELY even counts as anything bad. Pilot Pete’s is essentially an airplane-themed family restaurant that had been serving classic dishes for the longest time that I can remember… oh yeah, and I completely forgot to mention that this place is actually built right off of the runway at Schaumburg airport. You can actually sit right next to the windows that face the runway and watch planes take off and land.

I would honestly recommend this place more so for the atmosphere than the food, but that by no means renders the food as bad. I recommend buying the Louie Won Ton Nachos and maybe sharing it with a couple of people. The dish consists of fried won ton chips covered in a creamy alredo- prosciutto sauce, topped with green onion, asiago cheese, and mozzarella cheese. Just a warning, the post meal guilt will for sure be real on this dish, but it is honestly one of the best plate of nachos I’ve ever had in my life. Got that menu for yah.

5.) Garibaldi’s- Hoffman Estates/ Arlington Heights

I remember that there used to be a location right by my parent’s house when I was pretty young. Imagine a Hawaii five-o setting with 50’s beach surf stuff in a 50’s style diner where they served some bomb pizza. Well, unfortunately that location closed a while back, but there are still a couple more locations in the west suburbs keeping the pizza game strong. While they do have a pretty expansive menu selection, I’ve never had anything else but the pizza. I remember growing up with it and always getting a single slice of cheese. To this day, I would still choose Garibaldi’s over other pizza restaurants in the area if they still operated in Bloomingdale, but unfortunately the other locations are a little bit further, so I can’t enjoy it as much. I do, however, remember having it recently, and I must say, they’re still doing it right. Take a look at their menu if your interested. Just look at that slice and tell me that ain’t one of the most delicious looking slices you’ve seen.

That's all for now. Like usual if you guys have any questions, comments, or concerns, write them down in the comments below and give this a like if you definitely want to see more. Remember to share this, and ALWAYS remember:

Stay. Lofty.