Summer Vacation: Chicago Food Edition

Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Unlike my trip to Chicago back in Spring, food actually played a big role as my friend surprised me with new places to try out and most of them required taking a mini road trip of some sort. Rather than roaming around the local area, he took me to places on the outskirts of Chicago as well as some parts of downtown. I thought I had a few restaurants that I favored over others, but all of that changed when I ate at some of the places that I will review down below.

This trip was an amazing one. Again, it was short-lived because of the duration that I had being there, but every day felt like an adventure just waiting to happen. I tried to take as many photos of the places that I ate at, but a lot of the places were either quick (grab and go) or it was really dim inside. Check out these places below!

Russell’s BBQ
1621 N Thatcher Ave
Elmwood Park, IL 60707

My friend suggested that we try out a barbecue place that he wanted to try out in Elmwood Park. From the outside, the restaurant looks quaint and tiny with outdoor seating if you want to bask in the sun nibbling on your meal. The moment we walked in, we were welcomed by a place that had plenty of seating options (probably with an occupancy of over 150) and a huge menu to select your meal of choice from. We both opted for the half slab combo that comes with two sides. I chose the coleslaw and mashed potatoes and I loved them both. The ribs were really good and the biscuit was soft. We munched down our meal and decided at the last minute to get ice cream. Unfortunately, we could not finish our ice cream as it started to melt faster than our ability to consume it. Otherwise, this place was really good!

Jameson’s Charhouse
9525 Skokie Blvd
Skokie, IL 60077

Similar to the last time I stayed at The DoubleTree by Hilton, I had my Tuesday morning breakfast at the Jameson’s Charhouse. I opted out of the continental buffet (a whopping $14 versus $8 meal) and went for an American breakfast that offered two eggs, hash, a choice of bacon or sausage and toast. I usually am not a fan of most restaurant’s hash browns because they usually end up soggy from too much oil or the hash ends up tasting bland, but this side of hash was actually pretty good! It has a lot of crunch to it while still being balanced with the softness of potatoes. There is an iHop across the street if you do not feel like spending so much on a small portioned meal as an alternative breakfast course if you do stay at this hotel.

Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf
218 W Kinzie St
Chicago, IL 60654

As I mentioned in the post accompanying this food one, my friend surprised me by taking me to a really classy restaurant. The interior of the restaurant spoke for itself as it was lively with business individuals and people who were dressed up for their dining experience. My friend and I wanted an intimate seating arrangement so we were guided to sit on the lower level of the restaurant, where the vibe was much different from the top floor. The bottom was dim, but romantic donning candles at every table and at the corners of the booths. Unaware of the portion size of the meals, my friend and I ended up ordering more than we could actually finish. He ordered the bolognese (hand cut pappardelle topped with parmesan and bread crumbs) and a loaded baked potato (bacon, sour cream, cheddar and chives) as a side. I ordered the buttermilk fried chicken (comes with ranch and crystal hot sauce) with a side of the pommes frites (comes with garlic aioli dip).
Let me just tell you how amazing all of this was: It. Was. Freaking. Amazing. Every single bite provided you with enough flavor to satisfy your taste buds. There was not a single thing that I did not enjoy about our meal and we kept switching off our plates to get a bite of everything. For dessert (yes, we ordered dessert), we got the lemon meringue pie and boy was it the most magical pie we have ever tasted. Topped with toasted meringue and filled with lemon curd goodness on the most delectable honey graham cracker crust, it was the most heavenly dessert I have ever had thus far.

The Doughnut Vault
401 1/2 N Franklin St
Chicago, IL 60654

On my last trip to Chicago, my friend, Mac and I were supposed to try out a doughnut place. With the amount of time there was left, we decided to skip out on attempting to make the trip in time before the place closed. Wednesday morning prompted my friend to take him and myself downtown, where he took me to Doughnut Vault, a popular stop amongst city dwellers for their famous gigantic doughnuts. We both got an old fashion doughnut as well as a chocolate glaze. I must say, as a coconut loving doughnut consumer, these doughnuts were fantastic. It did not make me feel like I was clogging up my arteries (some doughnuts just taste like yeast/oil) and they filled me up really well.

Jim’s Original Hot Dog
1250 S Union Ave
Chicago, IL 60607

I have always been a hot dog person over burgers. I think it is probably due to the nature of the size of a hot dog and the ease of eating one over a burger that makes me enjoy hot dogs a lot. After our trip to The Shedd Aquarium, my friend introduced me to a place called Jim’s Original Hot Dog. Now I have had plenty of hot dogs in my life, but this one was absolutely stellar. Every meal comes with a side of fries and spicy hot sport peppers. The fries were freaking amazing. I do not even know how to explain the decadence that are these fries. The polish dog (which was what I ordered) was topped with onions and mustard. Holy macaroni was it made to perfection. I enjoyed every bite of it.

Side story: I asked my friend if I could get a bite of the peppers. He warned me that I probably should not do it as they are considered to be extremely hot. Two gentlemen beside us, who were also enjoying their meals, also voiced their concern over me taking a bite of the peppers. I took a single bite and it was decently hot (I have a high tolerance to spice). Seeing my reaction, my friend decided to take a bite - but unfortunately the bite he took was of the same pepper I bit off of, meaning he just consumed a bunch of seeds in the process. I have never seen someone get so red and teary-eyed as fast as he did. He later dared me to take a whole bite of a pepper, to which I did, and my insides were dying to say the least.

436 East Golf Road
Schaumburg, IL 60173

The weekly Wednesday evening car meet was hosted at a local Fuddruckers in Schaumburg. To this day I cannot remember if I actually ate at Fuddruckers prior to this trip and if I did, it was probably in Atlanta, Georgia. I also cannot seem to remember what it was that I ordered, but it was pretty good! I think if I remember correctly, I enjoyed my chili cheese fries more, though, but that could have just been the fact that I was craving fries to begin with. On a Wednesday evening, this place was not packed so there was an ample amount of seating to go around to accommodate all the guys who attended the meeting that evening.

Roka Akor
4999 Old Orchard Ctr
Skokie, IL 60077

On my last full day in Chicago, my friend decided to take me to one last fancy restaurant before sending me back to California. After searching for a place, he found one that happened to be located within Old Orchard, the mall across the street from the hotel. Roka Akor is an interesting Japanese restaurant that claims it holds high integrity of their food and how the meals are prepared. After we had placed our order, our waiter came out with a complimentary appetizer called butterfish tataki dressed in yuzu shallot dressing and white asparagus. It was so amazing, we ordered a second helping along with our meal which consisted of lamb chops with Korean spice and grilled eggplant, spicy lobster maki, and a side of asparagus with sweet soy and sesame. Overall the meal was delicious and interesting with flavor. The maki was delicious and I highly recommend the sushi if you visit Roka.

Maggiano’s Little Italy
4999 Old Orchard Shopping Ctr
Skokie, IL 60077

As for dessert (because for some reason, we can never go without dessert), my friend wanted me to try out this amazing dish that he had at Maggiano’s. He ordered a warm apple crostada to go that came with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce. As per usual, for some odd reason, we were full and couldn’t finish the last bite of the crostada, but it really was delicious and I highly recommend getting it.

Portillo’s Hot Dogs
9400 Skokie Blvd
Skokie, IL 60077

As if it is our tradition to end my trips on a lighter note, my friend took me to Portillo’s as my last meal before I board my plane back to California. This time around, I ordered a hot dog just to try it out. It was absolutely delicious! Topped with mustard, relish, freshly chopped onions, sliced red ripe tomatoes, kosher pickle and sport peppers on a steamed poppy seed bun, this $2.75 hot dog really hit the spot.

Until next time, thanks for reading! If you would like to read up on my past trips to Chicago, check out this link here.

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