If you haven’t read and downloaded The Fooditor 33 yet—what the heck? It’s free and full of good things to eat, go get it now! And get ready to listen to me return to Car Con Carne, now known as Quarantine Con Carne because it’s no longer done from host James Van Osdol’s Mazda 3, but over Zoom. I’ll be on this Thursday at 8:45—watch it via Facebook Live here, or at the Car Con Carne site. There have been a couple of food-related podcasts from Car Con Carne lately, including Hot Doug and pandemic food starter-upper Halee Raff (Hardbittenn). Check them out!


Car soup sounds like a distant relative of shower beer, but it just means that Nick Kindelsperger has been picking up soup and trying it—and photographing it—in his car for a couple of weeks. The result is this piece which identifies 13 leading kinds of soup common to Chicago, with 33 places to get them—and guidance on how to eat them in your car:

Because soup is notoriously difficult to consume in the car, preparation is key. I always traveled with a half sheet pan in the passenger seat, with a towel placed underneath to make it steady as an impromptu table. The back seat was stocked with various bowls and spoons, because who wants to eat out with plastic cutlery and a takeout container? After transferring the soup to the proper bowl, I could comfortably dig into soup on the spot. Sure, I looked borderline ridiculous eating soup alone in my car, but I’ve never let that stop me.


I like coffee and so does Chicago, in more and more ways—Chicago magazine focuses on java this month in a whole series of articles, from lattes around the world to Karl Klockars’ atmospheric tribute to diner coffee (I cannot tell you how much I miss Belmont Snack Shop right now):

The ritual of diner coffee is tantric. It is the sighing of the foam and vinyl upholstery as you sit down, its glitter-flecked luster fading to an odd green-gold in the sun. It is the clatter of cheap silverware, the click of a saucer on Formica, the squeak of a bolted-down stool. It is the indelicate slosh of the unrequested refill that completely throws off your internal caffeination calculus. It is the connection beyond the cup, to the Streets and San employee after a long night, the crew that just closed down Carol’s Pub, the Senior Specials saving 10 percent on Wednesday.


What do Alderman Tom Tunney and longtime cop bar Richard’s Bar, site of a stabbing earlier this year, have in common? The rules that apply to taxpayer schmucks like you and me don’t apply to them, that’s what. According to the Tribune, after Tunney allowed “regulars” to eat inside, he faces up to $10,500 in possible fines:

Tunney, a key member of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s City Council leadership team as her hand-picked chair of the Zoning Committee, previously acknowledged diners have been eating inside his Belmont Avenue restaurant and called it an “error in judgment.”

“We’ve been sporadically letting some people in, regulars at the restaurant, to accommodate them from time to time,” Tunney said Monday. “It’s done. It will not continue, as of today.”

It was, of course, done for many other restaurants not owned by aldermen long before Monday. Meanwhile, Block Club says that Richard’s Bar don’t have to move fast for nobody:

On the front door of Richard’s Bar, 491 N. Milwaukee Ave., a posted note tells patrons the bar is open and asks people to wear a mask when entering. Below, the letter tells government agencies the bar’s owners won’t comply with any department’s shutdown requests and will send citations to their lawyer.

Okay then! Meanwhile, in news of regular people, don’t miss Louisa Chu’s piece on the life of a 79-year-old Harold’s Chicken franchisee, Percy Billings, now working out of a ghost kitchen:

It’s unclear if the ghost kitchen Harold’s #55 or any virtual restaurant can make as much off app-dependent ventures as they could from traditional restaurants. Commission and contract details are as confusing as any extremely fine print agreements.

Billings still plans to take his one day off per year, and answers emphatically when asked.

“Yes, yes I am. I’ll take off Christmas,” he said.

Buzz 2


Everybody’s talking about Ever’s new burger and fries concept, Reve (both the reverse of Ever and French for “dream”—as in, Curtis Duffy wishing he could wake up from making burgers and short ribs). Anyway, I’m sure the pickup experience will be exquisite; go here to order.

Also in the takeout burger business—Twisted Spoke. Well, they always have been, but co-owner Mitch Einhorn is pretty proud of the new burger and the companion chicken sandwich:

First I have created the new Twisted Tallboy, a new burger built from the ground up, utilizing my experience in burger technology that I have acquired over the last 25 years. All new custom blend, new bun, new condiment (based on the highly acclaimed Lush 57 Steak Sauce), new super umami seasoning salt, superfast cook time.  All of this so that you can drive up, order from you car, and we will run it out to you in 5 to 10 minutes (this is how am hoping it works). Ronald and his Big Mac can suck it, there is a new taller burger in town.

Then somebody said well what about the people who want chicken, so we adapted the Buffalo Chicken sandwich in to the new very tall Buffalo Tallboy.

Order it here.

As somebody said on Twitter, barbecue is looking to be the new Detroit-style pizza—first Moody Tongue had it, then John Shields with Johnny Good Times Smoked Barbecue and Jimmy Papadopolous (Bellemore) started offering it. And now Phillip Foss has pivoted EL Ideas to be Boxcar Barbecue for the short term, and to continue even after EL Ideas returns, with the hope of building a barbecue shack “across the street” (not sure which street he means, as EL Ideas faces train tracks). Order here.

I just mentioned Goosefoot last week as one of the places where I wasn’t sure whether they were still going at the moment or not. Well, Block Club reports on the takeout that chef Chris Nugent and his wife Nina are doing, and what they’ve been up to since closing in March:

Goosefoot reopened in late June, when the city began allowing limited indoor dining again this summer. The Nugents installed plexiglass dividers between tables, upgraded the air circulation system and added other safety measures to comply with coronavirus safety rules.

But with only 30 seats to start with, the 25 percent capacity limit was a strain on the business, Nina Nugent said… That takeout menu launched Nov. 30 and includes items like a seared, center-cut, 7-ounce beef filet finished with classic steak Diane sauce and served with potato puree, garlic-scented heirloom carrots and broccolini. It includes a choice of soup and dessert for one and costs $44.

[An item on Brass Heart, in the email edition, has been deleted as what was offered is no longer available.]


Amy Cavanagh talks about how suburbanites are getting delivery from top city restaurants—with the aid of a service called DwellSocial, initially founded to help you find someone to mow your lawn:

“We were having limited success when Covid hit,” says co-founder and CEO Allen Shulman. “Then I asked Pequod’s, ‘If I can get 10 people in Northbrook to order, will you deliver to us? They said, ‘No, but we’ll do a [central] pickup’” in Northbrook.

“It quickly became clear the real play was to aggregate demand for great food from restaurants that were too far away to offer delivery,” Shulman says.

6. TWENTY ’20

Top Ten List season begins with a list (of 20) at Time Out Chicago, phrased in a particularly 2020 way—”meals that got us through 2020.” It’s a comfort food list, for sure—check it out here.


Steve Dolinsky talks to Blue Blazer, the company that is making bottled cocktails from well-known restaurants including Billy Sunday, and Pub Royale. He also talked about pizza with Scott Simon for Weekend Edition; as I write this it’s still too early for it to be on their site, but it will be here by the time you read this, I expect.


It sounds like blasphemy, certainly insensitive, but it’s true: I’ve said to a number of people that at least until my kids went back to school in the fall, I was having a pretty good pandemic—we cooked a lot, watched a lot of movies together, got out to forest preserves to walk around. The fact is, give humans any situation, and they’ll find a way to adapt it to make things a little better and more normal.

That’s what David Hammond finds when he talks to half a dozen chefs and others with food businesses, like:

Cleetus Friedman (City Provisions, Fountainhead and hospitality director at Camp Aramoni), has found that the pandemic has strengthened family ties: “The best thing to come out of this is how close our family became. It’s the greatest thing that could have happened. We cooked together, talked together. And my wife and I have had dinner together every single night. That could not have happened without the pandemic.”


I might question the use of “veteran” in the headline to refer to a 27-year-old, but it would be churlish for even a veteran curmudgeon like me to carp about this heartwarming tale at Eater by Ariel Parella-Aureli, about a cook for Mi Tocaya Antojeria and other restaurants, Alan Mares, who went to work as head chef for the Catholic charity Mercy Home for Boys & Girls… where he lived a decade ago as a teenager:

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Mares, who lived at Mercy for three years as an older teenager and experienced homelessness and substance abuse. He credits the home for giving him a roof over his head, teaching him leadership and job skills, and helping him find his love for cooking.

While at Mercy, he went to college and culinary school — which the home paid for — and then got an internship at Lula Cafe. He loved cleaning asparagus and kale, he says, as well as working with the team that helped him excel in his career. It was a chaotic time in his life, though, because he was studying and working full-time — and trying to permanently stay in the country.

Read it all.


The argument for awards organizations sitting this year out was that restaurants would be offended by organizations putting on a big show (and implicitly making themselves the center of attention), in a year when restaurants are just struggling to survive. Nevertheless, here’s Plate magazine with its 20 Chefs to Watch issue, the kind of thing you did routinely in the fat times, but that seems harder to make work in perplexing times like these.

As, indeed, the Chicago chefs demonstrate—one, Jean Banchet Award-winning Jess Galli of Middle Brow Bungalow, which does takeout, is certainly a logical choice. But good luck eating from the other two right now: Ross Henke, of Mundano, saw his restaurant close several weeks ago, as Maggie Hennessy writes, and Margaret Pak and Vinod Kalathil of Thattu (another Banchet nominee last year) are exploring their options after giving up their spot at Politan Row (which has since closed until next year in any case). They talk about that in the piece: “‘We debate every day, but we know for sure we don’t want to be in a ghost kitchen,’ says Kalathil. ‘Part of what we’ve enjoyed is bringing this cuisine to people.'”


I met another writer at Sip of Hope once—the Logan Square coffee shop run by trained mental health professionals. Now it has inspired a TV series in development for NBC by Damon Wayans and Mayim Bialik, reports Block Club.


Well, I got one all wrong last week. First off, longtime reader Gabriel Oppenheim pointed out that Mike Sula’s piece on the Chicago FoodCultura Clarion supplement to the Reader, which read like it was saying you could only get it in select issues of the Reader, actually had a link in the piece. And I suspected that Sula had been responsible for finding some of the other contributors to the supplement, but Friend of Fooditor Cathy Lambrecht, who does programs at Culinary Historians of Chicago and Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance, explained that I had it backward:

FYI – [Artist Antoni] Miralda and U of Chicago contacted me. I introduced them to Peter [Engler], who then involved Eric [May] and Sula.

If you check my programs late last year and early this year, it was all related to this project. They were supposed to have a symposium in October, which went out the window with the pandemic. The Clarion was the product they came up with and did not have a larger budget to make it into every Reader.

Peter and I hunted for those elusive copies at every Reader box near the University of Chicago and came up empty. The only copy I have seen is the pdf.

Fooditor stands by the parts of its story that weren’t totally wrong!


I mostly cooked this week, though we did get the last of our four-week One Off Hospitality dinner subscription. (This one was just called “Paul Kahan’s Market Menu,” following Avec, Big Star and Publican dinners.) It was all a good deal for the price (under $25 per person for dinner with dessert), but especially for knowing each Saturday that we had dinner set and didn’t have to think at all, to get well-crafted, comfy but not decadently so meals that reheated easily. (Though I find I need to add 5 or 10 minutes to anybody’s reheating instructions, which is funny since I think my oven runs hot.) No word on if they’ll do it again but from the outside it looked very well organized, so I assume it wasn’t a nightmare internally, and I expect it will come back in January.

The only other thing I tried this week was Small Batch Barbecue, in Forest Park, recently featured by Steve Dolinsky. Every time I visit Forest Park’s main strip on Madison west of Harlem, I think, I should come out and try more of it—there’s a cute ice cream shop, bakeries, a lot of Irish bars, old LTH favorite Jimmy’s for Italian food, and more. (The Heritage is closed, but there’s hope it might come back, at least per the signs they put up.) Anyway, very good barbecued meats, though I wasn’t wild about the steak sauce-like BBQ sauce. But I could easily see picking up a bunch of meats here and having them at home.