Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Saturday, February 24

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Takoyaki at Mitsuwa Half Empty: Half and Half Closed + Earwax Drops Movies. »

Restaurant Fri Nov 09 2007

You Say Potato

I know my fiancée loves me above all else, but coming in a very close second is a plate of extra-crispy diner-style hash browns.

Maybe I should take offense at ranking just above a plate of fried potatoes, but I don’t, and here’s why: proper hash browns seem deceptively simple to make, but much like light-as-air Southern biscuits or flaky pie crust, they can be maddening to master. While I consider myself confident in the kitchen – I roast a mean chicken, am not intimidated by cream sauces, and brine and deglaze with the best of them – I’ve given up on at-home hash browns. On the many occasions that I’ve tried to deliver a homemade plate of crispy ‘taters to my love, I’ve never come close to the real deal. The day I dissolved in tears over yet another sticky, oily, starchy pan of ruined spuds was the day I declared that any and all hash browns consumed by our household would be purchased and eaten in their rightful place: the diner.

In so doing, I inadvertently set us up for yet another test of our relationship. I like to try what I call “boutique” breakfast spots – you know, places like Wishbone, Orange and Victory’s Banner, where food has a theme and style is as important as and sometimes even trumps substance. Yet in keeping with their imaginative twists on breakfast favorites, many of these places have abandoned browns in favor of herbed home fries, parsley-specked smashed potatoes, or some such.

One recent morning, the great potato debate came to a head. When a waitress at one popular spot told my man that, unfortunately, he could not have his potatoes extra crispy as requested because, well, they just don’t make mashed potatoes that way, he looked personally affronted. “Mashed potatoes for breakfast?!” he said, as if she had told him they only served tripe omelets.

His disappointment and my guilt hung over the table like a thick cloud of burned fry oil.

Yet the wedding is still on for Dec. 22, thanks to compromise: we’ve agreed to trade off on choosing breakfast spots – and guess what? Now and then I’m sure I’ll choose our favorite corner diner, S&G, because there’s nothing quite so familiar and delicious as two sunny-side-up eggs with cheese, nestled atop a crispy nest of good old fashioned hash browns.

GB store
GB store

Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

GB store



Drive-Thru on Flickr

Join the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

About Drive-Thru

Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Robyn Nisi,
Drive-Thru staff inbox:



 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15