There’s been weighty stuff in the last few issues, and long pieces by me, but this is a summer fun issue—lots of easy-to-like pieces about food you’ll want to eat. See you back with the heavy stuff next week!


I tried 3 Little Pigs Chi once—I had to order it, drive down to Chinatown, and meet owner Henry Cai outside a grocery store. It looks easier now that it has a ghost kitchen location in Humboldt Park—and a bigger menu of Chinese-American food which seems to hit Louisa Chu where she lives:

Cai makes what he calls untraditionally authentic Chinese American food at 3 Little Pigs, one of a few restaurants doing so in Chicago. Chef Stephanie Izard describes Duck Duck Goat similarly as reasonably authentic Chinese food, but she offers her take on regional dishes, such as lovely xiaolongbao with duck and goat filling. Chef Jason Vincent taps into American Chinese nostalgia at Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar, but his menu leans more Chinese than American with fiery red mapo tofu.

A beautiful 3LP fried rice, plus a playful salt-and-pepper fried chicken sandwich, establish 3 Little Pigs as a serious destination for deeply personal and highly delicious dishes translated with the rare fluency of a Chinatown kid.


Mike Sula on a new Trinidadian restaurant, D’s Roti & Trini Cuisine. Interestingly, owner Dawn Lewis works out of the same ghost kitchen as Cafe Trinidad, which had long been the only Trinidadian restaurant in Chicago (or Illinois):

Lewis makes between 50 and 60 roti a day by herself, and though she can now bang out a batch of dough in five minutes (not counting one to two hours of resting), it took some time to get there. “You have to wake up early in the morning and go kill two chickens,” which is her sly way of not revealing certain secrets she’s picked up. “One thing I’ll say, flour is a fickle thing. People think you have to knead-knead-knead the flour—and you don’t. You have to be gentle with it. And you have to have a clean heart and pure hands.”

Read it all here.


Remember when there was a bunch of press for an Indian place called Tikkawala? Then it was gone as soon as it came. It was related to Naansense, a chain which lasted longer in the Loop, but shut down with COVID. Now Naansense is back and trying to have some of the ambition that won Tikkawala praise:

Two years later, Naansense is trying again. Its brand-new Loop location reopened this week at 178 N. Franklin St. The menu will be much the same as before, though [co-owner Hiran] Patel has spent the past few years tweaking the recipes. “I really enhanced the bowls to be as amazing as they could be,” Patel said.


Titus Ruscitti pulls up an old, old LTHForum fave I haven’t been to in years: Renga Tei, on Touhy in Lincolnwood:

I first visited Renga Tei almost a decade ago. The reason for my visit was it was mentioned as a viable replacement for Sunshine Cafe, formerly of Edgewater. Sunshine Cafe was a classic spot that served Japanese comfort food. The type of place that can be tough to find these days with so many of them having shuttered (Sunshine Cafe closed in 2012). Renga Tei is one of the few that remain.

I like Renga Tei, but damn, I really miss Sunshine Cafe.


Aimee Levitt talks to the family—named Le Tourneau—of the late Bob Chinn about keeping his north shore seafood machine going:

“If I stop,” Bob Chinn, owner of Bob Chinn’s Crab House, one of the nation’s busiest and most profitable restaurants, told Forbes 10 years ago, “the restaurant will collapse in a few years.”…

Carly Le Tourneau now thinks Chinn was referring to more intangible qualities, like his ambition. “Nobody had that like he had,” she said. “I don’t think it was so much his physical presence, but if his passion and vision were to go, then the success of the restaurant would be over. But I think he was wrong. I think maybe he didn’t see what was right in front of him. Me, my mom, and my sister, we love this place just as much as he did.”


David Hammond looks at a Chicago-based line of alcohol-free spirits for mixing, Ritual Alternatives:

I posted a photo of Ritual Alternatives on Facebook and Instagram and I should not have been surprised to see that many of those who turned up their noses were also those who were most passionate about traditional spirits. One distinguished writer of books on bourbon wrote, “Did you lose a bet?,” and another buddy who leads cocktail seminars in Portland was forthright in his dismissal of even the name: “I would call it an alternative TO booze, not a booze alternative. Seems disrespectful to the devil’s nectar.”


This week for Steve Dolinsky, the highlighted AAPI country is the Philippines, and he goes to Kasama for pastries by day, fancy food by night.


This is a revised version of a Thrillist piece, and if you know Chicago barbecue I doubt you’ll discover anything you don’t already know, but still, not a bad idea for a piece: barbecue joints recommended by other people with barbecue joints, including Barry Sorkin, John Manion, and more.


“Love is a torta from 5 Rabanitos,” declares Erika L. Sanchez at Resy:

I recently returned to 5 Rabanitos with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. She lives in Pilsen and is also a Mexican chick in her late 30s who wears Doc Martens. We had met there several times before because the food slaps, and we feel welcome there. We can talk freely without all the funny looks, you know?

I’ve eaten there with many important people in my life because of the food and the vibe, one that encourages loud talking and joyous laughing. I’ve had many raunchy conversations at 5 Rabanitos, let me tell you. I go there when I have a gaping hole in my heart that can only be filled with a beautiful taco, when I want to talk shit to my little brother about his giant head over a bowl of pozole. And I love that it’s in the Mexican neighborhood of Pilsen; as much as the gentrifiers and developers want to shove my people out of there, we persist, loudly and boldly. 

I’ve been to 5 Rabanitos many times, but nearly always for tamales, guess I need a torta sometime.


Here’s a complex story from his Atlanta past that John Kessler has been working on for a while: Chef Ryan Hidinger, his wife Kara Hidinger, and his sister Jen Hidinger-Kendrick planned a restaurant called Staplehouse. It opened to great acclaim in 2015—but Smith had died of cancer the year before. Fundraising for his cancer treatments had led to a non-profit called Giving Kitchen, which aided people in the industry with health needs, and for a time the complimentary combination of hot Staplehouse and philanthropic Giving Kitchen worked—but then COVID came. Read it all at The Bitter Southerner.


Sandwich Tribunal had me at the headline, which just sounds like something you’re smelling and can’t wait to taste: “Pig and Fire: Ecuadoran Hornado de Chancho”:

In Ecuador, roasted pig is called hornado de chancho. Hornado comes from the Spanish word horno, meaning oven or kiln. Chancho is a slang word meaning pig. Far from a special occasion dish, hornado is a feature of everyday life throughout the Andean highlands forming the spine of Ecuador, available at stalls in every town’s market, competing vendors shouting for your attention, offering a taste to entice you to buy their pork. There are hornado stands in Quito, in Ambato, in Cuenca, and all the little towns between.

Hornado is usually served with mote (a simple dish of hominy), salad, llapingachos (a type of pan-fried mashed potato cake) or other potato dishes, avocados, plantain, tostados, etc. And the leftovers–if there are any, a dicey proposition with pork this good–are often made into a sandwich called Sanduche de Hornado or Sanduche de chancho.


I tried to go to Asian Cuisine Express, which despite its name is mainly a taco joint, a while back—but it turned out to be whatever day they’re closed. (I went instead to a favorite nearby on 31st street, Los Olivos.) But I finally got there last week. It’s an odd place—it actually is a Chinese restaurant, I think, there’s a printed menu with lots of Asian dishes, and all kinds of knicknacks, cheap makeup and Chinese bric-a-brac for sale. But then there’s also an enormous al pastor cone with flame shooting at it, and a guy sawing off bits of the char-crisped meat to put on tortillas. It feels like barely controlled chaos inside, but when you get your tacos, you are reassured by delectable, crispy meat, tossed into your bag with wedges of lime and little plastic bags tied shut with a jalapeno-green juice to pour on them. How is it? Very good, and maybe the most dramatic pastor set up in town. I’d love to know how this place, not so much a Chinese-Mexican hybrid as two separate restaurants existing in the same kitchen and with the same family running them, came to be.