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From that one-off Kentucky dinner (a feast of rice biscuits, pearl onion soup and mince pie) to the weekday boarding-house lunch (fried chicken, greens, biscuits and potatoes, all circa 1933), Big Jones is making history of any other dining plans we had.
For cyclists, this Lakeview storefront might be a boutique bicycle fabricator and bike-repair shop that happens to serve coffee. But as far as we’re concerned, this is a sun-soaked café…where people happen to be working on bikes in the back. How else do you explain the fact that the barista brews such solid cups of Stumptown coffee? And why else would there be such a thoughtfully sourced assortment of products—from Southport Grocery cupcakes to precious bars of Brooklyn-made Mast Brothers chocolate?
Baker Ehsan Ganji’s massive miche (the same bread available at the Publican proper) is at once crusty and a little cakey; meanwhile, his cranberry-walnut loaf makes what we’re ready to deem the world’s best toast. The best part of all this great bread? We hear PQM also sells some meats to go with it.
A classy, well-made cocktail used to be a hard thing to find in a Boystown bar. Thankfully, as of last summer there’s Elixir, which not only shakes mean drinks, but also keeps the crowd in control and the music somewhat low, which earns it the Boys to Men Award for Grown-Up Drinking.
Chicagoans have a hard time admitting the ’burbs have something we don’t, and now that John des Rosiers has opened a branch of his carryout operation, Wisma, in the French Market—well, that’s one less thing city folk need to worry about. Wisma’s got des Rosiers’s silky soups, hearty sandwiches and sensible entrées (salmon with quinoa). Photo: Nathan D. Steinbach
Will Von Hartz’s teensy pop-up takes residence for the cold-weather months in the Miko’s Italian Ice shop in Bucktown. With chocolate cake, pour-over coffee and gooey grilled-cheese sandwiches from chef Remy Ayesh, we can get through even the coldest, longest winter.
Butter pecan gets SoCo and praline liqueur, coffee ice cream combines with Baileys and a shaving of cardamom, and scoops of butterscotch-vanilla are doused with Maker’s, seasoned with Hawaiian red sea salt and spun to smoothness. Photo: Jason Little
To get to EL, Phillip Foss’s 16-seat BYOB, you drive down an industrial alley in a crossroads of railway lines on the city’s Southwest Side. You may feel nervous. But then you see Bill Talbott, the relaxed-but-professional, warm-but-attentive host/waiter/sommelier, standing at the door. He quickly learns your name, attends to your wines and sets the congenial tone that makes dining at EL a one-of-a-kind experience.
Just because the “farm-to-table” movement has been co-opted, distorted and overwrought doesn’t mean there aren’t restaurants out there more committed to its principles than ever. Chief among them is Art Jackson and Chelsea Kalberloh Jackson’s understated Bridgeport restaurant, where seasonal produce comes direct from Pleasant Farms, a network of small urban farms in and near Chicago.