Not too long ago, my old friend Misty came into Chicago and man, was she hungry. She demanded Chicago food, REAL Chicago food, so I had to deliver. I had to. Look at her–she could totally take me down.
We started on the north end of the city on Devon Avenue, in a little strip locals call Little India. This is where my father used to take me for Indian sweets when I was a girl, it is where I bought my wedding sari and had my wedding henna done. This street is my Indian culture packed into store fronts and snack shops, so it was the perfect place to start. We stopped by Sukhadia’s Sweet Shop, which is really more of a snack and sweet shop. We ate my favorite Indian sweet, dudhi hulva (shredded squash cooked down with sugar, condensed milk, and cardamom), but we were so hungry, we forgot to take a picture. However, if you ever want to try an Indian sweet, dudhi hulva is the way to go. It is not terribly dense, or crumbly like burfi, it is moist and has great texture. Oh, and it’s bright green–dead giveaway. We also had a mango lassi, my favorite Indian drink, and channa masala with poori, which is a spicy chickpea curry served with fried bread.
I love Sukhadia’s channa masala–the raw onion helps cut through the heat of the sauce, and give it a great fresh taste. There is just something so satisfying about tearing off a piece of fluffy poori, scooping up the spicy mixture and depositing it in your mouth. Ugh. I love it, but in small doses. Indian food is potent shit. We started working out way south to the border of Lincoln Square/North Center. Across the street from Welles Park lies a humble little organic hot stand called Drew’s Eatery. This is not your typical Chicago-style hot dog stand, although Chicago-style toppings can be ordered. Drew stocks his restaurant with organic sausages, hot dogs, sodas, baked goods, ice cream and more. He buys locally when he can, and is a nice guy to boot. While we waited for our dogs, there was a really loud, obnoxious kid playing in with toys in the corner.
Thankfully, the dogs came quickly. For the vegetarian in the group, we tried the vegan Italian sausage.
This was my first time trying Drew’s vegan Italian sausage, and I’m not stranger to veggie dogs. To me, a meat lover, it was just okay. It tasted a bit dry, and didn’t have that much flavor to me, but then again, the vegetarian seemed satisfied, and that is what really counts. We also tried the red dog (a chicken/turkey roasted red pepper and jalapeno sausage, I believe) and the green dog (a chicken/turkey spinach and feta sausage), both from Applegate Farms.
These dogs are very subtley spiced, and that is what I love about them. They are meaty, but not greasy like a Polish sausage, so you don’t feel so weighed down by it. The red dog really tastes like jalapeno, which I love, and the green dog tastes just slightly smoked. I love these dogs. So did the ladies. Dogs at Drew’s will run you $4-5 each, but when you realize they are organic and sometimes locally made, it is totally worth it. Our next stop was ever further south in the heart of Wrigleyville, home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team and about 40 million displaced frat boys still drunk from the night before. AH, Wrigleyville!
I dig Ian’s for a proper slice of pizza because they are so damn creative. Mac n cheese pizza? Bacon-ranch-cheddar-bbq sauce? FUCK YEA!
Here is the damage we did:
Starting on the upper left, that is a whiskey beef and potato slice (in honor of St. Pat’s day, which had just passed), and a mac n cheese slice. Below that on the left is the portabella mushroom with spinach and tomato, potato with bacon, cheese, ranch, & bbq sauce, and another portabella slice. These slices will run you $4/ a slice, which isn’t too bad, considering their size and creative toppings. My favorite, OBVIOUSLY, is the one with bacon. OBVIOUSLY. I wanted to finish off our food tour at my favorite chocolate shop in the city, Mr. Kite’s in the Gold Coast/River North hood. The last time I went to this place, it was just before leaving for Australia. The shop was so tiny, no more than three people could be in there at once. They used to sell s’mores with homemade marshmallows between graham crackers dipped in chocolate. MMMMMMM. But no. It was closed. Which made me curl into the fetal position and cry a bit, and then drive a bit further to The Goddess and The Grocer in River North, a shop I knew would have good pastries. We ended up getting a Baily’s Irish Cream chocolate cupcake
a key lime bar slice,
and a slice of strawberry lemonade cake.
The cupcake was ok (my friend Claire does make a better one), but I really enjoyed the key lime slice and the cake. The key lime slice has coconut in the crust, which was a really nice surprise. The cake was white cake layered with strawberry jam and lemon curd, topped with strawberry frosting. In the end, I had to roll Misty and her friends back home. And you know what’s funny? We’ve barely just begun to skim the surface of Chicago food. REAL Chicago food. Score.
~LTG! ********************************************************************* Sukhadia’s Sweet Shop 2559 W Devon Ave Chicago, IL 60659 (773) 274-1583 www.sukhadia.com Recommendations: channa masala with poori, mango lassi, dudhi hulva sweet Drew’s Eatery 2207 W Montrose Ave Chicago, IL 60618 (773) 463-7397 www.drewseatery.com Recommendations: Red dog, green dog, pb cookie with banana ice cream sandwich! Ian’s Pizza 3463 N. Clark St. Chicago, IL 60657 (773) 525-4580 www.ianspizza.com Recommendations: Mac n Cheese slice, the Papa slice (potato with bacon) The Goddess and Grocer 25 East Delaware Place Chicago, IL 312-896-2600 www.goddessandgrocer.com Recommendations: strawberry lemonade slice, key like bar, Baily’s chocolate cupcake