Happy 75th birthday to perhaps Chicago’s most beloved restaurant, Superdawg.

WBBM has more,  as does Louisa Chu at the Trib.


Nick Kindelsperger just mentioned Umamicue, a barbecue popup currently resident at Spilt Milk, Fullerton and California, in his barbecue roundup last week. This week Louisa Chu visits them for a taste of Texas barbecue with Vietnamese sides from owner/pitmaster Charles Wong:

Umamicue’s decidedly Vietnamese American prime brisket banh mi has become Wong’s signature. Wong makes each sandwich to order, stuffing beautifully buttery beef into the defining bread that’s crisp outside and soft inside.

Crunchy pickled daikon and carrots nestle within swipes of housemade chile barbecue sauce and Kewpie mayonnaise. He finishes each offering with whisper thin slices of cucumber and jalapeno, and aromatic cilantro leaves, fluttering like gold leaf.

“We pull the stems away from the cilantro so you’re getting just the leaves,” Wong said. “And that to me is the perfect banh mi.”


Most Japanese restaurants in Chicago are associated with one thing, like sushi or ramen. Tengoku Aburiya seems to be a grab-bag of Japanese comfort food favorites, and this week Mike Sula tells us about the woman who made handmade soba noodles there:

Thirty people had paid for this “performance”; a demonstration of a rare craft that included a four-course meal culminating in a classic expression of [Mariko] Kallister’s labors: zaru soba, a tangle of chilled buckwheat noodles piled on a bamboo dish, with tempura vegetables and a soy-based dipping sauce to the side. The opportunity to eat fresh soba in Chicago is something akin to eating a unicorn—the event sold out within a day of its announcement.

“What makes soba fascinating is its simplicity, or minimalism,” says Kallister. “You add a lot of flavor when you make ramen—thick broth, chashu pork, spices, and lots of oily stuff. It is an ‘adding’ process. Soba, on the other hand, is a minimal process. Because of its simplicity, we are able to taste the freshness and natural umami of the ingredients, and the technique of the soba craftswoman.”


Steve Dolinsky visits three Korean places he likes for Asian-American Pacific Islander month. One is in Schaumburg:

For suburban diners, Koreana in the 1100 block of North Salem Drive, is a long-time favorite, nestled into a strip mall in suburban Schaumburg, with a loyal clientele that is boisterous and jovial.

“It’s mostly a barbecue restaurant. We have all kinds of special meats like the pork belly, (and) the non-marinated ribs,” Ellen Chang, one of the restaurant’s staffers, says.

The quality of the beef is critical, and you’ll get your money’s worth whether it’s grilled tableside or in stone bowls.

Others include Parachute and Woo Chon in the city.


Titus Ruscitti goes to Lahore Restaurant & Grill for late night Indian food, including fried chicken:

Lahore Restaurant & Grill is a nighttime dining dining destination in that they don’t open until 6p with a 2am closing time. It’s a busy spot on the weekends with groups of friends and families sharing large platters of chargah chicken paired with naan and sides. The seasoned chicken is marinated in a yogurt sauce and typically slit with a knife to infuse flavor. It leans crisp and spicy and semi dry from the spicing plus a double fry but that’s where a refreshing cilantro yogurt sauce and some limes come in.

He also visits a place for which you likely need no introduction, Virtue.


Normally I’d say having to get your emissions tested is a reason to go to the Jollibee in front of it—in fact you are far more likely to find the Skokie emissions testing place, hidden in the neighborhood, if you know to look for the Jollibee on Touhy—but Michael Nagrant found another place to get fried chicken after testing your emissions, a Choong Man chicken stand in the Lincolnwood mall:

It is not an indie, but a Korean chain starting to make inroads in America. The menu is basically like the montage in Forest Gump where Bubba itemizes all the ways you can cook shrimp, except in this case, it’s a list of all the things you can fry: shrimp, chicken, gizzards, mozzarella, sweet potatoes, fish, egg rolls, onions, and French fries. Everything here except the kimchi is hot oil bathed and honestly, why not?

The mahogany-skinned onion rings are fire. The chicken tho is the thing. It’s double battered with corn-flake-like crisp crenulations in the vein of a great batch of Popeye’s. There’s also a lilting smoky scent from a broiler finish in a charcoal-filled oven.


Dennis Lee tells you what to order at In-On-Thai, a fine place in Uptown for authentic Thai food. Example:

My friend James suggested we order the shrimp with tamarind sauce ($16), which Davida and I hadn’t even noticed on the menu until he pointed the dish out.

The shrimp come very lightly battered and fried, and the thin pool of tamarind sauce beneath them is sour and sweet, with that complex caramel quality that’s so distinct to tamarind. They’re topped with crispy fried shallots, and a spoonful of sticky rice with the sauce and shallot bits is a beautiful way to enjoy all of it, once the shrimp is gone.


I’m not a fan of Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder‘s pizza pot pie, a cheese and carb bomb that lives up to all the worst out-of-towner stereotypes about Chicago pizza—though you can’t call it a casserole because it already calls itself a pot pie. Anyway, that it has fans is undeniable, because it has enough of them that’s it worth fighting over after founder Albert Beaver died in 2015, a story told by the Wall Street Journal:

After Mr. Beaver died unexpectedly on Oct. 31, 2015, Ms. Bevacqua said she flew from her home in New York to Wisconsin to begin to untangle his estate. There, she discovered that his computer and all his files had been taken from his home.

“My heart plummeted,” said Ms. Bevacqua, who changed her surname from Beaver to her ancestral name in her youth. She immediately called Shabbir Chagpar, a former busser who ran the restaurant and her father’s business affairs and whom she had known since she was a girl.

She says he told her he had taken the files and computer because he was the rightful owner of the restaurant and the three-story building where it is located.

The siblings tried negotiating with Mr. Chagpar, but with hardly any documents to bolster their side, they took him to court in Illinois in 2018. Things got even more complicated when Mr. Beaver’s fourth ex-wife, Barbara Beaver, entered the picture, also making claims to the restaurant. Then last summer, Mr. Chagpar died of cancer—but not before transferring his claim to the restaurant’s building to another longtime employee, Catherine Gallanis.


The second part of Michael Nagrant’s recent appearances on Amuzed, which actually begins with talk about food and restaurants, is up. Although last week I was lambasting visitors for the Beard awards for having shallow views of how our city’s food scene is, Nagrant—and Muser—offer an interesting perspective on the theme of, we were something else 5 or 10 years ago and a bit less exciting now, which I don’t disagree with.

On The Dining Table, David Manilow talks to CH Distillery owner Tremaine Atkinson about the second coming of Chicago’s own Malört.


Congrats to Lamar Moore, taking the reins at Bronzeville Winery. And to longtime GT Prime #2 Jon Kirchner, who after 13 years with Giuseppe Tentori is moving on to Philadelphia. (I just saw him recently there, but mainly I know him because he did Key Ingredient some years ago.)

Rick Tramonto, a big name in 90s-2000s Chicago dining history (Trio, Tru, etc.) has joined Parker Hospitality, best known for Hampton Social. This probably answers some questions about the recent closing/chef departure of Nisos (Eater has more).

Cindy’s, overlooking Millennium Park, has a new chef in Chopped contestant Kaleena Bliss; Anthony Todd tells a little more.


The Opinionated About Dining lists occupy a niche in the international restaurant awards as a place where people who have the big bucks to dine at high end places all around the world can get their opinions out there—and though you’ll see plenty of Michelin and World’s 50 Best names on the regional lists, they generally are good at keeping it real with places they seem to really like, not just what’s trendy and of the moment. They also get points for having heard of more places in Chicago than Alinea. Anyway, the new North America list is out, and Smyth ranks highest among Chicago places at #6, followed by Oriole at #12, Alinea at #20, Ever at #62, Schwa at #93, Next at #98, Kumiko at #104, Kyoten at #142 and El Ideas at #145. More turn up on the Highly Recommended and Recommended lists; go here to see the full lists.


Peter George Poulos, though if you associated his business with a name, it’s his mom’s—Margie:

The third-generation owner of Margie’s Candies died last month, ushering in a new chapter for the beloved neighborhood institution.

Peter George Poulos died of cancer April 26, his family said. He was 86.

Poulos had run the old-fashioned ice cream and confectionary shop for decades, hand-dipping candy and joyfully helping customers just as his mother, Margie, had for years before him.

Now, Poulos’ son, George, is taking the reins as fourth-generation owner and operator, carrying on the family legacy.

That was Block Club; here’s the Sun-Times.


You may think the glamorous life of a food writer is just attending preview dinners for new restaurants. Well, sometimes it is, but not as much as you think—if you thought it was being offered free samples of every new CBD seltzer or meatless burger, you might be closer to reality. Nevertheless I had two dinner invites last week that sounded intriguing, and turned out to offer a view of how you pair things besides wine with food, to boot.

The first one was at the Waldorf-Astoria, formerly the Elysium where RIA and Balsan were back in the day. Waldorf-Astoria is a Hilton brand, and it was hosting a crew from Hilton properties in Mexico, including the Hilton Los Cabos and the Conrad Punta de Mita. So we had the chef from the former, Mauricio Lopez, Mexican but obviously familiar with world cuisine since he runs a Mediterranean restaurant and a Japanese one as well as a couple of Mexican ones, and Ana Martinez, who is a mezcal and tequila expert for the properties and paired agave spirits with each of the courses. Since I can at best manage about a 30 second conversation on mezcal, I invited David Hammond as my +1, figuring he could do much better than I can at speaking intelligently about agave stuff.

To be honest, I am not a big fan of high proof liquors (these reached 40%, even approaching 50% alcohol). You can say this one has hints of vanilla and that one has notes of licorice, but mainly I get notes of jet fuel, and if I hold it in my mouth and try to catch flavors swirling around my mouth, I’m liable to end up coughing. So I’m a wuss as we get close to 100 proof. But at least I could follow along and nod as Martinez talked up the different bottles she liked (I missed which liquor store she visited, but she said you can get many hard-to-find-in-Mexican mezcals in Chicago), and I was appreciative of the five course meal we were served—upscale hotel Mexican, if you want to name the cuisine, but some nice flavors and dishes, an aguachile thick enough to be soup with scallop crudo, or a slice of filet served with two moles, and ending with a chocolate tamal prepared by a dessert chef who I think is the chef’s aunt (I could be wrong). Anyway, I didn’t come away with a lot of info that Chicagoans can put to immediate use,  but if I’m ever in Cabo, I’d think about a posh dinner at the Hilton Los Cabos. But maybe stick to wine with my meal.

The next night I went to Hinoki Sushiko, the sushi place that’s on Willow near the now-closed-to-retail Local Foods. I don’t know a lot about its past history, but I know that Otto Phan of Kyoten was briefly involved with it (but gone by the time Eater wrote about him and it) and the only person I know who dined there early on found it pretty dire. I wasn’t even sure if it was still open until I was invited to an omakase dinner, on the second floor.

Well, now that I have completely unsold you on it, let me turn that around: as of May ’23, it’s excellent. At some point they figured it out and what we ate was very nice quality fish (plus a little wagyu at the end). Our first set of three pieces of fish suggested that things might be overdressed in the modern fashion, which seems to decorate every bite of fish like it’s an ice cream sundae; the first three were a bit heavy on the wasabi, but in fact the fish that followed was admirably restrained, lightly brushed with good soy sauce and only a few pieces were topped with so much as a dollop of caviar. The main way a number of them were dressed, in fact, was with smoke—some torched, others literally smoked a little. Anyway, throughout it was good quality fish, of a considerable range of types (though one set, all tuna, all came from different parts of the same fish).

I didn’t talk to chef/owner Gustavo Barahona, but we did have a lot of service from sake sommelier Zak Sherman. I looked him up later and his main previous gig was at the Weber Grill restaurant, which is not, I’m pretty sure, known for its sake list. So congrats to him for finding a way to learn in depth about sake (as well as wine; he was quite well informed on a couple of wine pairings along the way, like an excellent, buttery white Burgundy that went with the all-tuna course). It was one of the best sommelier experiences I can remember in a Chicago restaurant for some years, and I was convinced by the logic of his pairings, and how they complemented the particular fish we had at that moment. So if you’d written Hinoki off like I had, or it’s a new one entirely to you, I very much recommend their reasonably priced ($150-ish, plus pairings) omakase, or eating a la carte, as being up there with Jinsei Motto or whatever sushi place of the moment you admire.