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Wednesday, May 22

Gapers Block

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Andrew Huff / May 10, 2009 8:42 PM

This was one of the very first Fuel questions, back in 2003. Seems long enough ago that we can revisit it.

mike-ts / May 10, 2009 10:37 PM

For real, no joke: home, sweet home. Good for solo, or for groups. Food made to order. BYOB is allowed and encouraged. Sanitary conditions guaranteed, and well seen upon entry. Host accepts tips, to go towards the utility fund. And once the guests leave, even after they took some with, there's still leftovers - free food for days! And if you want to smoke for your dessertif, sit on the couch, put your feet on the glass table, and light 'er up, buddy!

charlie / May 11, 2009 7:00 AM

Weary Traveler

Madison, Wi

Andrew Huff / May 11, 2009 8:29 AM

I guess I should have specified we're looking for Chicago restaurants.

y a j / May 11, 2009 8:40 AM

Bonsoiree, hands down, is my favorite. The food is amazing, innovative but not intimidating (and it doesn't hurt that chef Shin is adorable).

Second place: Cyrano's for classic French bistro food.

Breakfast: the Hot Spot.

Rudiger / May 11, 2009 8:41 AM

Great question; I'm sure I'll find some new favorites among the responses. My current favorites include Sunshine Cafe, Lula, Hopleaf, and Hot Doug's.

Carrie / May 11, 2009 9:27 AM

Oh too many to pick one...
Vella for brunch
Red Rooster for fancy
Irazu for deliciousness
Brasserie Jo is a newly found favorite. Honestly one of the best meals I've ever had
And Penny's. Lots of good memories stem from Penny's so it will always be on my list.

Gordon / May 11, 2009 10:18 AM

TIE: Katsu and Hot Doug's.

mary / May 11, 2009 10:33 AM

hmm... hot doug's... la scarola (although i haven't been there in a year or so, and i've heard it's totally outgrown its space)... ann sather & southpoert grocery (each for breakfast)... maybe others, but i dont go out very often and i am generally a creature of habit. i find things that work, and stick to it.

mary / May 11, 2009 10:34 AM

with a live comment preview, you'd think i could catch typos...

Mucky Fingers / May 11, 2009 11:16 AM

Any restaurant where I'm not paying the bill. I know that sounds callous, but all my favorite meals were ones that didn't involve the trouble of me cooking it or paying for it, which is the case most of the time.

Val / May 11, 2009 11:21 AM

Best Dinner:
Tango Sur. (it's amazing) I'm going Thursday! Lets meet up everyone. Ha

Best Coffee/Brunch/After Dinner coffee & dessert:
Julius Meinl. Amazing Coffee and if you like to enjoy brunch by yourself like I do, it has a community table to work/read at.

Kevin / May 11, 2009 12:56 PM

It must be Handlebar for my wife and I, since whenever we go out to eat (not often), we have to specify if we're NOT going there.

winediva / May 11, 2009 1:55 PM

Current fav's:

West Town Tavern - best value downtown and crazy good fried chicken on Mondays
Avec - anytime I'm near the loop
Bistro Campagne - for a special night
Wishbone - brunch
Hot Dougs - duh
Jury's - oh the burgers
Osteria Via Stato - for big groups

with other people's money:
The Gage

and for delivery...
Opart Thai
Maries Pizza
Noon 0 Kabob

sarah / May 11, 2009 4:13 PM

i am still not over the closing of leo's lunchroom (my favorite restaurant of all time), and never will be. my current favorites are ethiopian diamond, alice and friends, green zebra, and flo. yes, i am a vegetarian.

Good Luck / May 11, 2009 4:42 PM

Mucky Fingers and Winediva make me thank God that I have the friends that I do...we love to go to dinner with each other and we split the bill.

Different choices determined by who is paying?

Can you say "chump"?

I'm favorite chicago restaurant is Thai Spice up in Rogers Park.

Mercourier / May 11, 2009 8:17 PM

Bite. Just ate there tonight with a good book; the chicken was terrific and the desserts always fill my dessert stomach.

Good Luck (original) / May 11, 2009 9:45 PM

Why do you post under my pseudonym? You're not me.

Who cares if Mucky is about himself and Winediva segments restaurants based on who's paying? I'm sure the "other people's money" refers to the business expense account.

West Town Tavern is an outstanding spot, as is Mexique just down the street.

I checked out Urban Belly this weekend and it was good, if somewhat limited.

Favorite restaurant: Crofton on Wells

charlie / May 12, 2009 6:30 AM

Okay Andrew...

I'd say Anteprima. They do so many things right and the staff does not want us to leave 25 minutes after getting there. I never feel rushed and that is rare in a Chicago spot these days.

I do wish that it was 25% cheaper or I was rich.

A shout to Union Pizza in Evanston.

All the restaurants in Chicago seem to be trying too hard to be cool and most of them just make me smirk or raise my blood pressure.

Could everyone please just relax. Yes I have been here before and thanks for affirming that my beer choice was AWESOME!

tk / May 12, 2009 9:07 AM

Katsu, a big yes, and also taste of peru and turkish cuisine and bakery. And now we'll definitely have to try thai spice as well...

that_girl / May 12, 2009 9:13 AM

Can I say Bien Trucha in Geneva? We have good restaurants in the suburbs too :)

Bill Guerriero / May 12, 2009 9:15 AM

I have two favorites:

Sayat Nova (Armenian restaurant on Ohio Street off the Mag Mile)

Old Jerusalem (Lebanese restaurant in Old Town)

Honorable mention:

Dixie Kitchen in Hyde Park

flange / May 12, 2009 9:23 AM

in not much order...

honky tonk barbecue

a posoleria on pulaski around division

ethiopian diamond

ba le for takeout

TAC for the "secret menu" options (esp. issan sausage... mmm)


my dinner at moto was extraordinary and i would love to go back but no one i know is interested

and for lunch, i hope no one finds out about viand's burger bar. although those who do will have their coronaries soon enough.

jen / May 12, 2009 9:59 AM

lula cafe, kuma's, smoque, coalfire pizza, hot doug's, pequod's pizza, friendship chinese, bite cafe...

had i ever been to any of the nicer places maybe they'd be on my list but i can't afford: blackbird/avec/publican/alinea/spiaggia/etc.

Spook / May 12, 2009 10:03 AM

La Sardine because they have to best Bouillabaisse outside of Nola

madachode / May 12, 2009 10:03 AM

Mucky Fingers and Winediva prove my point that wannabe urban dwellers still are supported by their parents. Midori on Bryn Mawr

Guy Smiley / May 12, 2009 10:25 AM

Olive Garden. Their unlimited soup and pasta is to die for...

But seriously, I like the burgers at Kuma but "best restaurant" to me, includes the WHOLE dining experience and that waiting in line for hours stuff (I've done it twice) has gotten old. I'm glad they're popular but there's got to be a better solution. In fact, I don't like waiting in line for any restaurant past 20 minutes. This is Chicago. We've got great restaurants anywhere you turn. At the risk of sounding like an impatiant snob, no meal is worth standing in line for a couple of hours.

That being said, there are a lot of small storefront restaurants on Devon that kick the collective asses of a lot of the big boy restaurants in town.

annie / May 12, 2009 10:37 AM

West Town Tavern, hands down is my favorite. Everytime I go there it is perfect, comforting and delicious. It's consistenly good and I think that says alot!

charlie / May 12, 2009 10:43 AM

@ Bill, Madchode and Spook

Old Jew, La Sardine and Midori are all great places to eat.

Andrew Huff / May 12, 2009 10:56 AM

Man, I wish people would just answer the question instead of making assumptions about other commenters. On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog, so stop assuming other people are cats.

It's difficult to narrow myself down to one favorite, but I guess I'd have to say Tanoshii. I know Sushi Mike will welcome me with open arms and make me something that surprises as well as comforts, and nothing beats that.

Runners up:
Bhabi's Kitchen

baldeesh / May 12, 2009 11:19 AM

@ Guy Smiley - I hear ya on Kuma's. Great food, but I can't fathom waiting hours just to sit down!

I don't eat out often, but I've been to Dunley's on the Square a few times, and that's a great little place.

Bad Luck / May 12, 2009 12:58 PM are one of those kinds of people.

You want the internet, yet you don't want the baggage that comes with it.

Kind of like when Ramsin proclaims the ad hominem against him, and then attacks the person in his response.

"Okay, class...the Fuel Question is posted so just sit down and answer the question!"

All together, "Yes, Mr. Huff".

Maybe browse a different website if you don't like the content of this one.

snuh / May 12, 2009 1:51 PM

From thousands of miles away, the Chicago restaurants that I daydream about are Pequod's Pizza, Rose Angeles, Green Zebra, Victory's Banner, and Mama Desta's Red Sea (the food there is so-so, but more for the memories)

Irisheyes1212 / May 12, 2009 2:23 PM

When I get out of the neighborhood: Arya Bhavan @ Devon, Mama Desta's @ Clark/Belmont, Tha Oscar @ Western/Eastwood, The Grafton @ Lincoln Sq.

Close to home (walk/cab) Galvins @ Lawrence/Austin, Jets (cheap!) @ Milwaukee/Elston, Tanzitaro @ Milwaukee/Elston, La Pena @ Milwaukee/Cullom, Grealy's Pub @ 5001 Lawrence

When I'm feeling fancy pants my hands down fave is Frontera Grill @ Clark/Hubbard

I'm so not picky that really any meal out is a good meal out as long as the company is good and the drinks are better :)

daruma / May 12, 2009 2:43 PM

My very most favorites are gone: Bento (on Clark) and Hilary's Urban Eatery (Division).
That being said, my current still open faves are Topo Gigio and La Sardine. For solid breakfsat I favor Eppels (Roosevelt), Fullerton Restaurant, and Ramova (Halsted).

Amanda / May 12, 2009 3:03 PM

My favorite will always be Rose Angelis. The food is serviceable, but what a great atmosphere. Also, the outside garden at Mia Francesca on Clark: great food, and so much less noisy that inside.
I;'m also enamored of Frieda's in Andersonville: amazing mole!

caitlin / May 12, 2009 3:31 PM

I do wish commenters like Bad Luck would at least be informed before making what they consider to be brilliant quips. Maybe Bad Luck should browse websites where s/he knows the basics so they don't bite the hand that feeds. With the trolls out, maybe the banality of simple, lowbrow snark will fester elsewhere.

Getting to the interesting stuff, I am partial to the following:

Pizza: Pequod's
Take-out: Opart Thai (Lincoln Square)
Taqueria: La Amistad in Ravenswood
Lazy Saturday lunch: Hot Doug's
Sunday brunch: M. Henry
Fancy meal: Seasons Restaurant
Dessert: Scooters or Julius Meinl

Bad Luck / May 12, 2009 3:38 PM

Aww, Caitlin, you are so sweet to join the hypocrisy known as gapersblock posters.

You just commented to not "feed the troll", yet by you commenting you are essentially feeding the jackass.

"The hand that feeds"....Andrew must have you guys on payroll to stroke his ego like that.

caitlin / May 12, 2009 3:44 PM

Oh! Also check out Huaraches Dona Chio in Edgewater. Especially now that the nice weather has returned, you can grab a tortilla slathered with deliciousness and chill in the park next door.

cookie / May 12, 2009 3:59 PM

*dona lolis - on clark south of morse in rogers park (excellent squash blossom quesadillas)

*alice and friends (fantastic fake duck and really light, healthy, well balanced dishes)

*tiffin (best damn muttar paneer)

* victory's banner (wonderful smoked gouda and veggie sausage omlette)

*huey's hot dogs on balmoral and clark (scary good veggie dogs and the best fries ever)

*pizza rustica on sheffield south of irving (butteriest crust on their delicious square pizzas)

daruma / May 12, 2009 4:46 PM

OH! And how could I neglect Lou Malnattis? An accidental oversight.

Pie Hole / May 12, 2009 5:17 PM

I love learning about good restaurants here and at but I cringe at the weasely comments. Try staying on topic. Andrew is the best Andrew he can be, and it's his site; if it's not exactly what you imagined, start your own. (Petty cowards. It is to laugh.)

Andrew Huff / May 12, 2009 5:50 PM

Bad Luck, I own this website. Perhaps you should look elsewhere. Just because we don't censor comments (if we did, you'd know by now) doesn't mean we can't ban disruptive and abusive commenters.

fluffy / May 12, 2009 7:38 PM

There's always an emotional tie to the restaurants I like- it's not just about the food but the people I went with, the occasion, etc. I'm so glad people like Ethiopian Diamond. It's one of my faves too! I also like LaDonnas in Andersonville. Also like Arco de Cuchilleros for tapas, and Club Lago -mostly for the stiff drinks :-) Tango Sur never disappoints.
Bad Luck, don't be so insecure. Relax and have fun on Gapers Block. :-)

fluffy / May 12, 2009 7:48 PM

I forgot also...a restaurant pronounced "enye" but it's the Spanish letter 'n' with the ~ over it. My ex and I used to go there a lot.

crystal clear / May 12, 2009 8:39 PM

i don't have enough money to try Alinea or the fancier restaurants (30th wedding anniversary maybe? :)

but for brunch I like:
Tre Kronor
Southport Bakery and Cafe
M. Henry (best blisscakes ever)

Don't go out much for dinners. I like cooking at home or enjoying others' home cooking.

Always good:
Spacca Napoli. Had an awesome meal at Green Zebra, but can't make that a regular place for eating out.

Passed Hot Doug's on Sat. and the line was around the block. I really need to try it now. Surprised that it's on a lot of lists.

One of the reasons I stopped reading Chicagoist was because of all the abusive and negative comments after each article. I enjoy the fuel section because generally gapersblock readers tend to be respectful of each other. I think we should keep it that way.

joshua / May 12, 2009 10:36 PM

what a fun thread! i can't imagine a better question.
it seems i'm always trying some place new (to me) so today the favorite is Grocery Bistro--unagi pot stickers!
the only regulars i visit are Hachi's Kitchen, Hot Doug's, Lula and The Gage.
i accidentally reserved a table at L2O and proceeded to have the best most beautiful meal of my life, served in the most gorgeous interior i've seen. bring your loan officer.
best steak i've had in the city is Chicago Chop House.
best indian is Tandoor at devon/cumberland.
great sushi is Green Tea.
Cemitas Puebla for unique taqueria style deliciousness.
Cafe Sel Marie makes croissant french toast that is to die a thousand deaths for.
and, i must give Bongo Room some love because their pancakes were my first chicago love.

Bad Luck / May 12, 2009 11:31 PM

Okay, Andrew...put your penis back in your "own" the website. Don't be so insecure.

You do realize that you just simply repeated what I said..."Yes, Mr. Huff".

For the are "for banning comments", but you don' "would censor" if you you also burn books at the Gapersblock book club?

mike-ts / May 12, 2009 11:43 PM

Bamee Noodle Shop: pretty good Thai; not gourmet, but not bad. You get a good meal for a good price.

Satay: another place to get some Thai, this one right next to the L.

Caffe de Luca: good sandwich shop as well as coffee house. Comfortable place to wi-fi, do some writing, or read.

Handlebar and Chicago Diner for some good veggie.

By the way, r.i.p. good ole Bobak's. I sure miss that Polish restaurant on Archer.

Oh, and Andrew runs a darn good site here. My original quip was genuine, and not meant to derail the train. Maybe because economic forces have gotten me and the people I know to scale back, I rediscovered the joys of home sweet home (mine or theirs), and really wanted to plug "home" as a bona fide choice for a favorite place, not the desperate last resort so many people think it is.

mike / May 13, 2009 8:50 AM

BL, it's probably in your best interest to seek another forum for negative attention ... this one already has two douches whose mommys didn't love them.

Roland Burris / May 13, 2009 9:37 AM

Hey! My mommy loved me very much.

David / May 13, 2009 9:45 AM

Since my wife and I are in the midst of a move, we've been forced to eat out a lot.

Friendship Chinese on Milwaukee near Diversey is amazing. And My Thai, for being a multiple-location venture, has consistently great food. Same with Penny's.

Buona Terra on California/Logan is good, plus their prix fixe on Thursday is a great deal.

However, with our move complete and the FARMER'S MARKETS (claps hands together excitedly) opening again, and the CSA meat share we have through Jody & Beth at Cedar Valley Farm, my favorite restaurant in Chicago is


flange / May 13, 2009 10:08 AM

with all due respect, andrew, i must say one of the worst dining experiences i've had was my night with some friends at bhabi's kitchen. we were scolded for making a reservation (both while making the reservation and when arriving), given the wrong dishes, hassled about getting the right dishes, and berated again for the reservation as we were leaving.

(you'll have to ask him why he hates people who make reservations and why he accepts them anyway, that being the case. as far as we could tell from his lectures, he was annoyed that we could ask to get a table at 7 and then just show up and waltz past the waiting crowd to our table, but that's really weird if it's true. doesn't matter. when you work that hard to provide that miserable an experience, you don't get a second chance.)

Steve Downs / May 13, 2009 10:59 AM

The Brown Sack.
Uncommon Ground.
Melrose Cafe for breakfast.
Another vote for Arco de Cuchilleros, is back in my old hood.

Mmmm so many good suggestions!

Guy Smiley / May 13, 2009 11:32 AM

I also actually like Hop Haus (the one one Devon is the only one I've been to). The burgers are pretty good (the wild burgers - boar in particular - are surprisingly exceptional). The rest of the food is typical bar stuff, but good beer selction, an impending beer garden, lots of tv for a sports nut like me (even a couple of tables with private sets). And did I mention the burgers? If you can't make it to Kuma's, they'll do in a pinch. And you can get a seat like that (snaps finger). I'm a no-frills guy and this place works for me.

Guy Smiley / May 13, 2009 11:33 AM

I also actually like Hop Haus (the one one Devon is the only one I've been to).

Actually make that Howard and Clark street.

Andrew Huff / May 13, 2009 12:19 PM

@flange: Wow, that sounds really out of character to me. Then again, I'm a regular -- we live nearby, and Bhabi's served as our surrogate kitchen while we renovated ours. We've watched it go from four tables to three rooms. (I sort of miss when it was tiny.)

ben r / May 13, 2009 12:42 PM

Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder... best vegetarian meal on the planet.

Irisheyes1212 / May 13, 2009 1:02 PM

I really want to try Friendship Chinese now. Was it GB that posted it yesterday - Every Tuesday is dine-in $8.95 entrees! There were some really neat looking dishes including greens w/ XO brandy :)

eee / May 13, 2009 3:54 PM

jen, thanks for mentioning Coalfire Pizza. Before my family lost touch with him, a distant relative was talking about opening a fire-baked pizza place here in Chicago. I'd heard that he got the place up and running, but I never knew the name or location. It turns out Coalfire is his restaurant, and I'm totally stopping in to say hi. Thank you!

Ramsin / May 13, 2009 6:39 PM

Man, how'd I get dragged into a fuel question about restaurants?

But I seriously don't understand how nobody has mentioned Reza's. I know its a little played out--they've been copied enough--but still. Always delicious, ample portions (too much really), decent-to-good service, and delicious. Did I say delicious?

Opart is probably the best Thai (in my opinion) in the city.

snuh / May 13, 2009 8:02 PM

oh, I also wanted to give special attention to Cafe 28. Someone else had mentioned one of their first "Chicago loves", and Cafe 28 was my first "Chicago love". OHHHH the Mexican Eggs Benedict there delightful!

jen / May 13, 2009 10:34 PM

forgot to mention joy's for thai (on broadway in lakeview/boystown). lots of thai places in this city, but very few that are consistently GOOD (at least in logan square).

JJHunsecker / May 14, 2009 8:23 AM

Quite a list from others. Let's try:

La Sardine (please stop recommending--I want it to remain a secret).
Kiki's Bistrot
Gaetano's in Forest Park

The Parthenon
Cafe Selmarie
Kopi Cafe (because it is the prototype cafe)

Pasticceria Natalina
{And I just had the most amazing lemon-curd tart at 42 North Latitude. Delicious taste memories now flooding back.)

chicago wiring / May 14, 2009 10:06 AM

Hands down: Kuma's Corner! I love the atmosphere in that place (maybe because I'm a metalhead). The wait time really sucks but it's worth it for me.

paul / May 15, 2009 9:15 AM

A little late to the party here...

Just thought I'd mention Paramount Room and Publican for a 'really good pub food and serious beer' category.

I'm with those who just can't make it through to a table at Kuma's or Doug's anymore. Waiting on line in those places is like the internet - there's always someone who makes it unpleasant.

etiquette b / May 18, 2009 9:35 PM

Thai Sticky Rice. Out-of-the-norm Thai dishes, and *real* sticky rice for dessert...YUM!

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