As some of you may know, the James Beard Foundation Awards are taking place in Chicago this evening, May the Fourth (be with you). We couldn't resist celebrating the vibrant culinary variations our city has to offer. So, we rounded up some of our in-house connoisseurs to recommend their favorite eats from around the city.
Alinea: Over the course of my 3 hour (and 18 course) dinner at Alinea, I ate oysters out of an ice sculpture, had arctic char off of a burning cedar plank, sucked helium out of an edible taffy balloon, and watched a "clay" chocolate pot be filled with liquid nitrogen smashed onto my table. If you think about it as dinner AND a show, the price tag is totally worth it. - Michelle T., Account Supervisor
Au Cheval: If you like burgers, you’ll definitely like their burger. I haven’t ever made it all the way through one but I’ve tried several times. The bone marrow and beef cheek marmalade is amazing as well. You’ll get to experience it over and over as you lay awake in bed with your heart racing later that night, it’s that good. - Nate B., Art Director
Avec: Avec has been in my top 5 fav Chicago restaurants for 3 years. It stands the test of time – no matter the weather, the table, the server, dates or no dates (chorizo stuffed, not humans) it’s always a great experience with a reasonable tab. Do yourself a favor and go – and order the focaccia, a bottle of Alfredo Santamaria and the nutter butters. You’re welcome. - Mary S., Account Director
Crosby’s Kitchen: My new favorite neighborhood spot. It’s kid friendly (a requirement for me), has great outdoor seating, a friendly staff and has consistently good food. They specialize in rotisserie, so it has lots of yummy smells. I’ve had a Theo Epstein sighting there and another friend ran into Patrick Sharp once. I think I would have died if it had happened to me. So, that’s an added draw too. - Carrie S., Production and Project Manager
Green Door Tavern: One of the oldest taverns in Chicago with the oldest food. But it always satisfies. - Bob V., Creative Partner, Co-Founder
Longman & Eagle: They're 36 steps from my front door. Their tagline is Eat, Sleep, Whiskey. And while their dinner menu is for splurging, their flight of fancy doughnuts is affordable every weekend. I have them every weekend. All 4 kinds. Sometimes Saturday and Sunday. I am a doughnut. - Steve H., Copywriter and Resident Doughnut
MK: It's the nicest restaurant in Chicago that doesn't make you feel like you're supposed to be a big shot to eat there. Light from the big skylight also lightens the mood and give the place a natural, fresh feeling. - Kevin R., Chief of Strategy
Mr. Beef: It just deserves some recognition. - David Y., Creative Partner, Co-Founder
Stella Barra: In the 24 years I've eaten solid foods, I've never once raved about pizza. Until I dined at Stella Barra. Nobody does thin crust pizza like Stella Barra. And I hear their regular stuff is good too. If that hasnt sold you yet, they serve ginormous chocolate chip cookies fun add-ons like rice krispie treats or sea salt (ate them both, no regrets) and homemade icecream. From the wine to the food to the general ambiance, it is the perfect place. Go with friends. Go with a date. Go alone. Just go, okay? - Sabrina M., Social Media Marketing Manager
Sun Wah BBQ: Who doesn’t like a good Hong-Kong style duck BBQ? Its appeal is the immense portion at affordable prices with consistent top quality BBQ. With $32, you can feed up to three or four people. A tempting deal for a guy still in college. - Steve S., Intern
Share your favorite Chicago grub spot in the comments below, we take recommendations. And if you try one of the above restaurants thanks to this blog post, we take full responsibility for satisfaction and zero responsibility for any culinary mishaps.
Time for some lunch.