August 11, 2013

Chicago Restaurant Reviews: a couple of my favorites

Last one!  This concludes my 2012-13 Chicago restaurant reviews.  They were not ranked from first to last pick, alphabetic order, or any other way - simply my top favorites at this time in life.  I'm sure to have a brand new list by next year but until then, happy eating in Chicago and beyond.  

I previously listed my favorite International cuisines, brunch spots, pizza, neighborhood favorites, and places I recommend for a beverage.  Here are a couple of my all-time favorites.  They cannot be categorized in any other way....

2900 W Belmont Ave 

When I first moved to Chicago, Kuma’s made me feel more comfortable with their death metal blaring, tattooed staff pouring stiff drinks.  Ahhh – home.  Something a little more edgy was warranted to lessen the shock of no more Seattle.  Since then, we’ve come back again and again.  It’s always the same – smoky, crowded, gothic-looking host scribbling names on an endless list, motorcycles parked out front.  If you see a crowd on the sidewalk, the wait is at least two hours.  I walked right in once, on a Tuesday morning at 11 am.  Music was blaring, drinks were flowing, and we barely nabbed a seat at the bar.  If there is any possibility of sitting on the back deck when the weather is nice, jump at it.  If there is any possibility of taking whiskey shots with your waitress, same goes.  DO NOT take your kids here – why people always do that, I’ll never understand.  It’s terrible for their ears.  The BEST thing about Kuma’s is the fact that you can order any burger with their traditional patty, with chicken, or with as a veggie burger and they’re all delicious.  Goatsnake (herbed goatcheese, poblano corn relish, cholula lemon vinaigrette, buttermilk breaded fried red onion) is my current favorite.   The side salad is surprisingly well-executed.  Kuma’s, Too is now open in Lincoln Park but I’ll probably never go there; I prefer the coarseness of West-Belmont.  It fits the Kuma’s profile. 

Tips:  don’t ever go really hungry, try the whiskey on tap like the locals do, spend your 1-2 hour wait running errands or taking a walk, try to take some of your food home and they don’t split checks. 

1531 N Damen Ave

Sitting on the deck at Big Star on a sunny summer afternoon is so lovely….if you can get in (so crowded but so delicious).  Decidedly hipster environment, service is good despite the chaos in there.  The tacos are simple and delicious – I suggest splitting a salad (they’re really big), chips and guac,  one fish taco, one potato taco.  This place has a very reasonable price-point and is good for a group of 3-4.  The margaritas are great; simple and strong, not sweet.  Take advantage of the whiskey selection and the very rare nightly drink specials – hard to find in Chicago!  Again, put your name in then go do something else for awhile (or head to the Violet Hour) and it will be worth it in the end.  

Tip:  it's also a great late-night spot and they have a "to-go" window

1 comment:

  1. Kuma’sCorner -- this place is definitely worth all the hype and wait. Yes, getting there at 4:30 and waiting for a table until 6 pm is not unusual, but if you come mentally prepared for the wait, the burgers will blow your mind.