I kept hearing that other writers had been to this Turkish place called Meat Moot way south on Harlem in Burbank, but no one put it in print until Mike Sula last week. Now Nick Kindelsperger writes about it:

Hasan Musleh, owner of the Burbank outlet, was honest about the Lone Star State’s influence. “It’s actually inspired by Texas-style, but we tweaked it with our spices,” Musleh said.

So what does Texas-style barbecue via the Middle East taste like? Certainly, unlike any smoked meat joint in the state.

Meat Moot is halal-certified, so you won’t find any pork, but you will find a range of beef, including the king of Texas-style barbecue, brisket. But you’ll also find gargantuan beef ribs and beef shank, along with plenty of lamb (shank, neck, ribs and shoulder). Like in Texas, all the meat is weighed and sliced to order, and then placed on a platter.

Meanwhile, Nick goes to another farflung exotic destination—northwest Indiana—for Texas-style barbecue at Lucy’s BBQ:

Enter Brewfest, a pour-your-own-beer bar in Highland, Indiana, and a haze of smoke rushes out the door and wraps around your nose. It’s not the stale and acrid stench of cigarette smoke (remember when people used to smoke in bars?) but the sweet and enveloping aroma of barbecue.

That’s thanks to Nick Kleutsch, who operates Lucy’s BBQ inside the bar on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. While certainly not the only barbecue operation in northwest Indiana, Lucy’s undoubtedly serves the best Texas-style barbecue in the area. (And yes, this means that the suburban invasion of Texas-style barbecue shows no sign of stopping.)


I made corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day, and so did a lot of people, but Steve Dolinsky visits The Gage, where they try to expand your Irish horizons:

Start off with a riff on Finnan Haddie – otherwise known as the smoked haddock cake.

“You could almost think of it like a crab cake, it’s just made with smoked haddock instead,” [beverage director Torrence O’Haire] said.

Resting on a dill créme fraiche tartar sauce, it’s crowned with a small shredded salad. Haddock also stars in the Dublin Bay seafood chowder, which begins with monkfish and shrimp as well.


A new Filipino restaurant on Western, Boonie’s, has been on my list to check out for a few weeks, but here’s Michael Nagrant going fizzy for sisig there:

I’m talking about sisig, chopped crisp and soft pork belly swimming in a river of freshly breached yolk and a swizzle of “secret sauce” sputtering on a cast iron plate with Pavlovian fajita-sizzle. This is not Chili’s where the meat has been steamed and put on a hot plate for the waitress to do a little show.

This is top shelf bacon and eggs drippy with spurting calamansi juice made by Jesus himself to eat from the top of his sandal-clad-only body. I have always loved sisig as a hangover helper, a liquor-sopper of sorts, but this version is balanced like a Livvy Dunne beam routine.

I don’t know what that last reference means either, but the pictures alone make me hungry.


Titus Ruscitti being who he is, I had to check if he meant the Georgia one of B-52’s and R.E.M. fame, or the one of Socrates and the Parthenon. Turns out to be the latter:

As far as the food I was surprised by how well Greek food translates across the world. The Greek food I’ve had in the United States or in places like Canada was pretty on par with that I had in Athens and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s just a more simple cuisine than most that relies on quality ingredients and freshness more than most. Like any European city of its magnitude Athens has a fantastic public market. My hotel was right around the corner from the Central Market and I enjoyed walking around the area each morning and watching all the vendors get ready for the day ahead. My only complaint of Athens is the smoking. Everyone and I mean everyone was a smoker or so it seemed. But I’m not here to tell people how to live. Just how to eat and we’re doing that in Athens Greece.


Resy has a piece on Julia Zhu, a Chinese woman, former newsanchor and banker who launched Bar Roma in Andersonville—with her then-boyfriend Howard Davis, as in the D in KDK with Jerry Kleiner, as in the hottest restaurants of the 1980s, including Gioco, where they found chef Alfred Ramos:

Howard knew that meatballs were very popular in New York. So the four of us went to New York for a week and went to every single place with meatballs. We decided that our restaurant’s concept would be meatballs and Italian food — but to make it more focused, we concentrated on one region. Just like if it were Cantonese Chinese cuisine, we decided on Roman Italian cuisine.

We found a space and were able to get a loan for it. And when we opened, it was an instant success. I remember having a soft opening on a freezing snowy night and we had 76 covers — all walk-ins. At first, I was a little hesitant as a Chinese woman opening an Italian restaurant. I wasn’t sure if the neighborhood would welcome me, but they embraced my business.

Not many places left have as much old time Chicago feel as Stanley’s Tavern on the south side, Whiskey Row in Back of the Yards to be precise. It lost a little with the passing of 95-year-old matriarch/cook Wanda Kurek in 2019, but as Wendy Altschuler explains in NewCity:

The eatery is tidy and smells of floor cleaner. I’m struck right away by the beauty of the large mahogany bar with a Union inlay, lined with red-cushioned diner stools. A handful of metal tables dot the middle. There’s a copy of a black-and-white photograph from 1906 of Whiskey Row’s block of saloons on Ashland Avenue leaning against the wall.

Walt, the late Wanda’s nephew, shows me the antique O’Keefe & Merritt stove in the back kitchen that looks like it requires some tricky steps to get it to operate safely. The meals here are homemade, there’s no doubt about it. Walt tells me that the food served is the same food his family eats. Stanley’s wouldn’t serve something that they wouldn’t eat themselves.


Eater already published an obit for Mr. Beef owner Joe Zucchero, but editor Ashok Selvam tweeted that a chat with Joe’s son, Chris Zucchero, yielded more stories, and he dives into the history of Italian beef:

The younger Zucchero does recall one story about his father’s beef stand and a famous chef that still warms his heart. Zucchero says the legendary Chicago chef Charlie Trotter was a regular at Mr. Beef, making the trek from his Lincoln Park restaurant to River North. With that in mind, Zucchero remembers a customer, a tourist, who told him about her visit to Trotter’s restaurant when she thanked the chef for a meal that featured “real Chicago food.”

The mercurial Trotter was supposedly outraged by the compliment. He left the table and quickly scribbled Mr. Beef’s address on a note: “That’s where you want to go for real Chicago food,” Trotter allegedly told the diner.


More publicity for David Hammond and Monica Eng’s book about Chicago foods, Made in Chicago; on WGN Radio’s Johnnie and Steve Show, Monica tried malort for the first time. They’ve got a local book tour planned as well; go here to see the planned events.


A few years ago I wrote about a place offering Honduran baleadas—similar to tacos or burritos, but with some notable differences. It was in Belmont Cragin, and it’s gone and replaced by a Venezuelan place, but Sandwich Tribunal ate baleadas at another place not far away, which of course prompts him to figure out how to make his own (with slightly different spelling):

I ordered a “Baliada Regular,” the simplest preparation with beans, cheese, and crema, and “Baliada con todo,” the most complicated, which contained beans, crema, cheese, avocado, scrambled eggs, and chunks of grilled steak much like those found in a carne asada taco.

The baleadas arrived on a single plate, each consisting of a single large flour tortilla folded over its fillings. These tortillas clearly did not come out of a package–they were thick, pliable, chewy, clearly handmade, still hot from the griddle when they were filled and put in front of me.


J. Kenji Lopez-Alt decided that maybe there’s something to Chicago tavern cut pizza after all, and so he naturally spent months and various research trips puzzling it out, the result being this NY Times piece. I admire that he figures out how to make one to his own satisfaction, fermenting the crust and curing the dough (so rolled-out crusts can be stacked for future use), and I had a feeling he had linked my piece on Chicago’s Faulds ovens when I saw it zoom to the top of my most-read posts. So it’s a well-thought-out piece, well worth a read—though the social media comments that suggest that Chicagoans had no idea what pizza was until the sainted Times deigned to explain it to us deserve a loud donkey-bray, and I have to say, as someone who lives where tavern cut is within five minutes in any direction, it’s kind of the last style I’d make at home in an effort to outshine the professionals. I make NY grandma-style at home…

But you’ll learn a few things reading it. Friend of Fooditor Kenny Z takes a contrary view, as does, somewhat, the followup comment by Friend of Fooditor Dan Zemans.

P.S. Welcome to all the new subscribers who must have followed Kenji’s Faulds oven link! God bless the sainted NYT!


And speaking of pizza… One of my favorite of my own stories—no, I promise I’m not just tweeting praise for my own work, something no one else in Chicago food writing ever does—is this one, about the Chicago history-rich Chester’s Tavern and Orsi’s Pizza in Summit, a story which includes mobsters played by Joe Pesci, the real Evel Knievel, an owner who gunned down a robber and a mobile home park developer who blew up. Sadly, it appeared to close somewhere around 2020. But every once in a while I would check to see if there was any word on the space, and this time—jackpot! From whatever you call the Google version of a Yelp page:

Now open and newly renovated Chesters Tavern. After nearly a 2 years hiatus we were finally able to open. Originally we were going to do a small renovation, and open back up pretty quickly. However, as you may know, the place needed serious work. After about 6 months into the project, we decided to do a full rehab on the building. Fun fact, the only original item remaining is the deck pizza oven which is over 30 years old and still creating that original Chicago style tavern pizza. Come in and see the “new Chesters Tavern” and try the pizza.

To judge by the pictures, the divey charm of the old place has been renovated away, but the important thing is that the oven (make unknown; it’s not a Faulds) was saved, and the pizza still looks like classic Chicago thin crust. As I called it in 2016, “one of the best classic tavern cut pizzas in the city. I don’t mean that casually, like one of the 50 best—I mean like, it might be the best. Or second or third or fourth, at lowest.”


An event for End Factory Farming/Crate Free USA will be vegan in itself, but the publicity for it seems to be pro-small farmer, including small meat farmer:

Attend the Chicago screening of “Meat Me Halfway,” with producer & Reducetarian co-founder, Brian Kateman, plus live Q&A and vegan food!

Film immediately followed by a discussion panel and Q&A with:
• Brian Kateman: Producer & co-founder, The Reducetarian Foundation
• Jess Chipkin: Founder, Crate Free USA
• Cliff McConville: Owner, All Grass Farms

It’s March 29 at Ravenswood Loft. Get more details and tickets here.


Interesting story at Eater about how the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank affected a Chicago food business:

Fry the Coop, a fried chicken sandwich shop with seven locations, could not pay its 227 workers as scheduled on Friday, March 10, according to the chain’s owner. While the restaurant does not bank with Santa Clara, California-based Silicon Valley, its payroll company — Ohio-based Patriot Software — does.

“We’re in Chicago,” says Fry the Coop founder Joe Fontana. “How does a payroll company from Ohio bank with a company in San Francisco? It’s crazy.”

It’s interesting, and distressing, that other people’s financial shenanigans can affect people who’ve done nothing. Oh wait, that’s all of us, since the shady silicon valley outfit has been bailed out with our tax dollars. Anyway, here’s an especially interesting note at the end of the article:

Disclosure: Vox Media, which owns Eater, banked with SVB before its closure.

Here’s Vox explaining the Silicon Valley Bank situation… and making no disclosure that they are among its customers, or that they are likely to benefit from the policy prescriptions they advocate in the article.


Last Saturday, I was seriously thinking of going to Meat Moot, but I kind of also had a craving for a full exit from town, to a suburb where there’s at least a little farmland between it and me. Small town plus big meats? The place that occurred to me was Plainfield, out near Naperville and Bolingbrook. I didn’t really get the farmland, but what I did get was an actual town with a main street, so good enough. For big meat we hit a barbecue place called Station One Smokehouse, smoking in the Texas style, but many different kinds of meats, brisket, pork belly, pastrami, hot links, a considerable menu, all satisfying enough of its type. Walking around the town afterwards, we found a nice little butcher shop selling the meat of one particular farm, Hufendick Farm Market, and bough some brats and a tri-tip; and popped into an Italian market, where we had some gelato. (In summer, it appears the ice cream/gelato choices in Plainfield are considerable.) Anyway, enough diversion in a place I’d never been before for a Saturday afternoon, plus an Ikea to hit on the way home. Good trip!

I was invited to a special dinner at Avec, benefiting culinary students through C-CAP, the program I wrote about here. Six younger cooks were responsible for the meal, including Dylan Patel, the new-ish chef of Avec; since Perry Hendrix took Avec over about a decade ago, it’s leaned more middle eastern, and (despite the above statements about big meats) perhaps my favorite thing that night was a dish by Patel’s colleague Rey Quinones of roasted turnips with labneh. (No one has ever said “my favorite thing was the turnips,” but I did and do!) Other standouts include cod in vin jaune sauce (buttery “yellow” wine sauce) with chopped hedgehog mushrooms, by Tayler Ploshehanski of Wherewithall, and an ingenious dessert, by Felicia Mayden who’s been on Food Network’s Best Baker in America, which ingeniously turned banana pudding flavors into the form of a Paris-Brest. Add in an assortment of wines, including several from Michigan which were quite good, courtesy of One Off’s Eduard Seitan, and it was an exceptional meal—though also in itself a one off; I doubt any of this will turn up in exactly this form on a menu any time soon. But Avec, always a treasure, doing relatively simple dishes with unexpected sophistication. Well worth getting back to it some time, whatever’s on the menu.