June 25, 2013

Chicago Restaurant Reviews: Neighborhood Favorites!

When I did my top Seattle restaurant reviews before I moved, I felt confident that I could give a proper overview that most other locals would agree with.  This is not the case for Chicago, despite my best efforts in going out to eat WAY too much.  There are neighborhoods I’ve never even been to yet and restaurants undiscovered. Chicago is ALL about the neighborhoods and sometimes it gets hard to reach out to new places away from work or home that you might want to explore once you have your favorites. 

Here are three places I go to constantly, for better or worse.  What are your favorite neighborhood restaurants?

2055 W Roscoe St    

Does the Village Tap have the best food?  Naw.  Does it have the best prices?  Probably not.  However, this neighborhood bar will always have a place in my heart and remind me of Chicago because it is so welcoming and comfortable.  Every time I’m there, I see a neighbor I know.  One of the bartenders is a singer who holds local shows and plays at street festivals.  The servers know us by name and tell us about their kids.  This is the bar where I discovered Southern Tier’s Pumpking Ale (served seasonally and I wait all year for it).  I sit by the fire place in the winter and on the back deck in the summer – roof open, ivy climbing the brick wall.  The Village Tap is my Cheers and it is a lovely, comfy neighborhood bar. They serve a lot of great local Chicago beers and you can’t go wrong with a Cajun chicken sandwich, Gigi’s grilled cheese, the burrito, or a classic burger with salad or fries. 

1658 W Belmont Ave  

I love Scooter’s so much that I have one of their red T-shirts and I wear it all the time.  Being from the West Coast, I had never had custard before I moved down the street from Scooters.  After the first time I experienced this soft serve, rich with egg yolk, melt-in-your mouth deliciousness, I became one of their best customers.  But I’m not alone in that; any given summer evening there is a line out the door and families with babies and dogs line the street by their walk-up window.  Keep in mind they close December through March each year which is perfect timing to nab a chocolate turtle pie for Thanksgiving dessert and then have a spring ice-cream party with my friends for the re-open.  The owner is often there, greeting customers and she always waves to us when we're in.  This is obviously a well-run family business.  My favorite thing about it (besides the custard) is the signs posted where the young employees work:  Everything Matters.  

Ginger’s favorite Concretes:   
Chocolate custard with strawberries and Oreos
Blueberry pie
Minty-Moore (served in March – what a great way to start the year)
Almond joy: coconut and chocolate chunks (get chocolate custard!)
Turtle (get chocolate custard):  salted pecans, caramel
Banana-Oreo (is a special they run every so often) 
Reese’s (I threw this one in for Trevor)
7931 Lincoln Avenue, Skokie  

Shout out to the ‘burbs where I work.  Most suburban restaurants disappoint as they close early and typically cater to a more family feel.  Not so for Libertad in Skokie where you may need a reservation on a week night and can get inventive Latin-fusion dishes and delicious sparkling wine after work.  Perhaps slightly expensive for a weeknight, their concept is based on the ever-popular small tasting plates.  It has an energetic feel good for co-workers or friends, but not great for strollers or high-chairs.  The hummus does not disappoint and their vegetarian section of the menu is a feature, not something added on because they had to.  Attentive service and a delicious way to avoid traffic after work.  They never rush you and I often end up staying for hours.  Best thing about going out in the suburbs?  Free and plentiful parking.  


1 comment:

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