At least 1/3 of summer road trips you might take from Chicago involve going through Indiana—probably more, because what is there in Iowa, really?—and so it’s worth bookmarking Titus Ruscitti’s guide to some old school Americana stops worth making in Indiana, of which I’ve been to precisely one (The Port in Chesterton). A sample:

Even though I’d been to Rochester many times growing up, as my aunt and uncle have a lakehouse there, I didn’t make my first visit to Dick’s Drive-In until adulthood. They’re known for the previously discussed Spanish Dog. Dick’s was originally a BK Root Beer stand when it opened in 1957. They make the best Spanish Dog I’ve come across which is all about the tomato forward sauce that’s basically the same stuff used to make a Sloppy Joe (you can find recipes for Spanish dogs online). Just don’t call these chili dogs or coneys bc they’re not the same according to those that love them.

He also visits Bar Kumiko, where he assesses how a nearly $100 wagyu sandwich compares to, say, a Spanish Dog in Rochester, IN:

It wasn’t until the day before I decided that I was going to get what’s likely the most expensive sandwich in the city bc why the hell not. It’s a katsu steak sandwich made with A5 Wagyu which is some of the best beef money can buy in these parts. I don’t eat a ton of steak these days and when I do it’s usually in my own or someone else’s yard and not at a restaurant but this was something I’m not fully capable of putting together in my own kitchen in part bc I have no idea where to score the beef. But with a pricetag that’s close to $100 (with tax) the first question most people are going to ask isn’t “is it good?” but rather “is it worth it?

Click here to learn the answer.


The real news in Louisa Chu’s review of Bronzeville Winery is hidden until the fourth paragraph:

Bronzeville Winery just lost its opening chef, Whitney McMorris, who made an impressive debut after working at The Aviary among other notable restaurants in the city. Her breathtakingly beautiful dishes should remain until this fall, with some summer specials, according to Cecilia Cuff, co-owner with Eric Williams, who also owns The Silver Room and hosts the annual summer block party that has become an iconic event of the season.

Oh well! McMorris is now at Venteux, on Michigan Avenue. Anyway, sometimes you have to kill a story when it turns out no longer to be true; I’ve done it at Fooditor, and the Trib used to do it—Phil Vettel was working on a Blackbird review, more than a decade after his original one, but by the time it was ready to go, Mike Sheerin was out; so the piece never ran.


The Reader’s food issue is out—anyway, it’s mostly personal reminiscences of various types, the one solidly reported piece is by, unsurprisingly, Mike Sula, about a biotechnology company—that’s fancy science talk for guys growing algae—in The Plant:

[Leonard] Lerer is the chief scientific officer of Back of the Yards Algae Sciences, a food-focused biotechnology company he founded in his downtown apartment kitchen in January 2017. He’s also CFO of its pharmaceutical research arm Parow Entheobiosciences, both of which now occupy the Plant’s 7500-square-foot top floor with millions of dollars worth of high-tech lab equipment. With it, each company integrates lab-grown algae and fungus into the pursuit of their respective missions: to research and develop sustainable plant-based food colorants, meat substitutes, and agricultural biostimulants, along with psychedelic drugs for the treatment of psychiatric disorders like PTSD, OCD, anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia.


Jim’s Original is a legendary Maxwell Street hot dog and polish stand (check out the discussion of it near the beginning of the Gorilla Gourmet Maxwell Street video). Meanwhile, the corner of Diversey, Elston and Western has been home to a series of deeply mediocre fast food stands, most recently The Chop Society. Now a Jim’s Original is opening in the space (catercornered, incidentally, from an Al’s Beef franchise). Will heritage triumph over long-running mediocrity? We shall see, but Louisa Chu has a story about it—turns out that members of the same family owned both the original Jim’s and the not so hot north side places.


In other tube steak news, Monica Kass Rogers has a piece at NewCity about the black-owned business The Hot Dog Box and its unconventional hot dog toppings:

Right now, the flashy poster in the front window of the Milwaukee Avenue shop highlights “The Millionaire Frank & Beans,” part of [owner Bobby] Morelli’s new, five-dog “We Let the Dogs Out” summer sausage series. An upmarket take on the canned-bean classic, the steak dog comes with arugula sprouts, a honey champagne mustard sauce, wood-fired garlic baked beans, bacon crumbles and an edible one-hundred-dollar-bill wafer. There’s also the Piña Colada dog, with a pineapple spear and toasted coconut sprinkles. Other yet-to-be-revealed dogs in the series will likewise be elaborately festooned.


If you’ve been to a few tasting menu joints, you probably know what it’s like. But what if it’s all new to you—what should you expect? This writer for Insider says she’s been to other three Michelin star jernts, but one of the captions also says “My napkin was even folded for me when I got up to use the restroom,” so I’m guessing it’s still a bit new to her—which is fine! Plenty of people who go to Alinea are probably going on their first experience of such a place, and that’s pretty much what you get here:

Our second course began with a charred piece of arctic char that had been marinated in bourbon maple syrup for two days and glazed with maple syrup before getting a hard sear that created a delicate candy-like snap….

This was also the first of many food “jokes” and puns we’d encounter throughout the meal — charred char, an urchin served in a glass urchin, crab plated on a glass crab.

[H/t Richard Shepro]


Here’s an interesting spin for a piece on Chicago restaurants: the influence of Moorish culture on Chicago restaurants representing different cuisines, including Bocadillo Market:

At Bocadillo Market in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, chef James Martin offers tuna crudo with a harissa citrus vinaigrette ($19), and almond pie with pickled cranberries ($12).

“The Arabic-Berber flavors bring me a lot of the passion, and the history helps me cook this food because of that African influence,” Martin said. “These flavors can go in so many different ways, whether it’s delicate airy tuna or hearty smoked lamb ribs.”


After no reviews for a couple of months, Time Out Chicago suddenly reviews 5 Rabanitos—a Pilsen standby, perhaps even mainstay or stalwart, which has been around for a good half dozen years:

When we first walked up to 5 Rabanitos, my date asked if we were in the right spot—the signage doesn’t provide a lot of promise that it’s going to be a great meal, but once we were in the door, his attitude changed immediately…

Chef Alfonso Sotelo, a XOCO alum, helms the kitchen, providing delightfully comforting dishes with just the right amount of personality. His dishes are flavorful and heartening—if I could sit and eat his food for hours I would.


A piece at Food and Wine talks about how exciting Filipino food is at the moment—but also kind of others it throughout. For instance, even as author Khushbu Shah talks about the richness of the food heritage Filipino chefs are drawing on, the illustration plays up the exoticness of everything (like a bun) being ube-purple. And she says Filipino chefs are mad at the white guys getting credit for popularizing it:

“For a long time, Filipino food was generalized as one of those Fear Factor foods—it was only balut [a delicacy of fertilized duck egg] and other funkier dishes being highlighted,” he explains. “Our cuisine is so much richer and more interesting than just that. It’s not just a cuisine of extremes.”

Amy Besa, co-owner of Purple Yam in Brooklyn, finds this crediting of white male television hosts with popularizing Filipino food to be particularly frustrating: “I’m like, ‘Come on, give some credit to the Filipinos for the work we have done.'”

But of course, who are the first two experts she namechecks, even as she’s ostensibly condemning them? Yep, Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern (shockingly David Chang is nowhere to be found, which seems a violation of basic Food and Wine principles). Even doing it wrong, they must be cited as the only voices that matter in deciding if somebody’s cuisine matters.

In the end, though Kasama is among those mentioned (no sign of other Chicago spots—no Bayan Ko, no Cebu, no Isla), it’s a piece in Food and Wine, so the hero must be New York City:

When [Amy] Besa and her husband, chef Romy Dorotan, opened their first restaurant, Cendrillon, in 1995, in the Soho neighborhood of New York City, it was one of the first signs of a more promising future for the cuisine. The name Cendrillon is a reference to a ballet about Cinderella. “We have always felt Filipino food is the Cinderella of Asian food,” says Besa. “It’s one of the last to be recognized. So we connected with the name.”

Many Filipino chefs today credit Cendrillon with being the birthplace of modern Filipino American cooking in the United States. Cendrillon wasn’t a casual spot where you pointed at dishes in steam pans. Dorotan put innovative and boundary-pushing Filipino dishes on the menu, like quail and rabbit adobo and a ginger and lemongrass crème brûlée. It was also home to a serious wine list, and the menu wasn’t exactly cheap. It gained a number of fans and a rave review from Ruth Reichl, then the New York Times restaurant critic, who wrote that no matter what you think of the food, “you cannot fail to be intrigued.”

Sounds kind of like Chicago’s Rambutan, which opened around the same time—not that Food and Wine ever noticed.

10. HOT DOG!

A piece on Chicago hot dogs in the New York Times—I groaned at the prospect. What wrong things would I learn this time about my city? Would the author leave River North? What subspecies of neanderthal would Chicagoans be rated for eating tube meats and eschewing ketchup? Surprisingly, Eric Kim’s piece is entirely decent, visiting some off the beaten path places to capture a pretty good picture of hot dog culture in the Second City, as it is known to locals who worry incessantly about things like whether you meet smarter people in New York or Chicago.


Want to know more about The Bear (which just got a second season)? Chewing’s Monica Eng and Louisa Chu talk to Carmy himself, Jeremy Allen White. (Hey, I know everybody thinks the restaurant in the show is basically Mr. Beef, but doesn’t his character’s name suggest some inspiration from this one, still around, or this long-gone one?)

At Crain’s David Manilow talks to a longtime server, Jess Bybee, about how to be a better guest, and thus have a better experience out of what she calls “the delicate ballet of service.”

And Nick Kindelsperger talks growing up in a small town but adjusting to the big city, at the City Dweller podcast.

12. DUCK!

If you cook fancy stuff, you’ve probably heard of D’Artganan Foods, supplier of foie gras and other high end ingredients. Here’s a story about their history at Graydon Carter’s online New Yorker wannabe, Air Mail.


Is a hot dog a sandwich? Hard to say, but the Persian fast food item sosis bandari certainly is, according to Sandwich Tribunal:

The Farsi word “sosis” of course comes from the same root as the English “sausage” and in Iran is generally used to refer to cheaper hot dog-style forcemeat sausages, made with halal beef or chicken but never pork. “Bandari” is based on the word “bandar,” or port, so sosis bandari translates as port-style sausage.

Then comes the curry…


RIP Dominic Tougne, 56, who ran Chez Moi and French Quiche in Lincoln Park and La Voute in Homewood, but was mainly known as the chef for many years of Bistro 110, a Levy restaurant near Water Tower which was one of the most popular French restaurants of the 80s and 90s. Born in Alsace, he cooked under chefs including Joel Robuchon and Jacques Senechal before coming to America; he ran Bistro 110 from 1996 until it closed in 2011. His only Fooditor appearance was being game for humor in this 2016 April Fool’s piece parodying Eater, in which as part of “Toast Month” I tell the  story of how he supposedly invented French toast. Here’s a piece from a French cuisine site in which he talks about his training in France:

Before hospitality school, I did an internship in the suburbs of Paris, in Nerville la Forêt in a restaurant called Les Quatre Saisons. For a fortnight, I cleaned the tile joints on all-fours with a toothbrush. One day the boss told me, “We are going to promote you to the rank of officer,” which gave me the right to hull strawberries! (Laughs) I’m kidding today, but we were taught the gestures. Today, those who do not have this notion would throw away a third of the strawberry. You have to respect the product and the producer. We do not waste.

Here’s another memoir about being in his kitchen.

(H/t Bernard Guinand, Veronica LePinske)