People had other things to think about this week, so it’s a relatively short edition of Buzz List…


Nobody needs more commentary on the national election (finally called as I was writing this), so I’m just going to mark it with two pictures from Twitter showing Chicago celebrating—one by Courtney Kueppers, and one by Eric Allix Rogers.

But two local votes are of note. One, the Fair Tax thing, which went down to defeat despite a fortune spent on ads (at least online, I saw them everywhere). This is by no means an original thought, but it was mine before I read it everywhere: whatever the logic of graduated taxes sticking the rich for a bigger share (generally a good idea, but I assume that the super-rich will have many ways to get around a state tax if it squeezes them more than they care to be squeezed), a lot of people simply don’t trust Illinois government with one more g-d penny they aren’t already taking. When you’ve cleaned up the Madigan machine corruption, when you’re looking seriously at the pension debt crisis, then we can talk other new taxes, seemed to be the message.

Second: near me, though it wasn’t on my ballot, was the referendum which aimed to end the 4 am license that gave Tai’s Til 4 its name. Neighbors wanted to shut down the Lakeview bar; well, it’s been there forever and its hours are in its name, so it’s not like it snuck up on them, and besides, this isn’t the time to be killing any more bars. It was defeated.

And in other news of politicking… the city, after leaving bars and restaurants to twist slowly in the wind, has announced $10,000 grants to help keep them going… a couple of weeks, probably. The Sun-Times tells more.


Last week I mentioned that Alpana Singh had some words for the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas—in reference to recent stories about sexual harassment and discrimination in the organization that certifies wine professionals. One thing she noted then was that here she was, one of the few celebrity somms in America—and they didn’t even follow her on Instagram, so would they even notice what she said?

Well, whether they did or not, this week she renounced the title of Master Sommelier:

I am deeply devastated to learn of the hundreds of women, BIPOC and members of the LGBTQIA community who have been harmed by the members of this organization. I deeply regret that in the pursuit of my own comfort, I never asked questions into how the organization operated while continuing to leverage the title for monetary and personal gain. While I can’t go back and undo the harm that has already been done, I am willing to do the work to right the wrongs. The problem is, I can’t be an ally and have it both ways. You can’t say you stand with Women, BIPOC and members of the LGBTQIA community but stay with the source of so much of their pain.

She was blunter yet on Instagram:

For those wondering why I didn’t choose to stay and help rebuild @mastersommeliers_americas to make it better, that was my intention until I started asking questions… one point hit me especially hard. A Black wine professional told my colleague, “It’s like you’re trying to save a confederate statue or hold a wedding on a plantation, the symbols and sites of so much violence and pain.” The question shouldn’t be can this thing be salvaged but rather does it even deserve to be? The systemic issues of racism, sexism, classism, homophobia and elitism are embedded into the DNA of this organization and nothing good can be rebuilt from its foundation.

The Tribune also had a piece on her moves this week.

Buzz 2


Steve Dolinsky checks out the quesabirria boom as made on a pair of trucks on the south side called Taco Boom:

Jaime Alcantar is a whiz in the kitchen. The native of Morelia, Mexico, in the state of Michoacan, creates the menus at both of his Taco Boom trucks, one at 79th and Lawndale, the other in a parking lot near 47th and Cicero. The bright green truck is a beacon of sorts for fans who flock here with one goal in mind — the quesabirria taco, essentially birria de res, which is slow-cooked beef tucked into a pair of tortillas.

He also visits a new cookie shop in Logan Square, Sweet Shot Cookies, which injects fresh baked cookies with other flavors.


Titus Ruscitti has a recap of things to eat these days in the Bridgeview area, home of Chicago’s best middle eastern food scene, including Oozi Corner (which Fooditor wrote about here), Reef Kabob (in the former Al-Sufara Grill space) and more.


Heritage Restaurant and Caviar Bar was one of the first restaurants I ordered from when lockdown began—see here—and Ashok Selvam has a good piece on how they’ve weathered the lockdown era. Most recently, they planned a tasting menu experience for a limited number of people, only to see Governor Pritzker shoot it down:

[Owner Guy] Meikle had called the basement dining experience “the Study,” with a maximum of 10 people in the room. After the state took indoor dining off the table, Meikle asked some of this loyal customers if they were interested in an at-home party. Going to a customer’s home will increase the price he’ll charge, but it’s another way to keep workers employed. Meikle says a few took him up on the offer and he’s hopeful other customers will, too.


Well, it will be in Berwyn, where the mayoral primary is coming up February 23—and running this year is someone I’ve written about multiple times over the years, Big Guys Sausage Stand owner Brendan O’Connor. Find out more at his campaign site Your Berwyn.


Hecky’s Barbecue owner Hecky Powell died of COVID earlier this year, but his family has been refurbishing the venerable Evanston barbecue spot and announced on Facebook plans to reopen November 6—which would have been Hecky’s 72nd birthday.


One Off Hospitality wins the Innovation in COVID-Era Takeout prize this week, with a four-week Supper Club Subscription featuring dinner from a different restaurant every week (Avec, Big Star, The Publican and… Paul Kahan just whips something up). They had me at four whole nights where I don’t have to decide what to make or get! (Avec’s takeout, which my kids got for Father’s Day and cooked themselves, was one of the best name restaurant takeouts we did this summer, so it was an easy sell.) You can get it Fridays in Northbrook, or Saturdays at Big Star in Wrigleyville; go here (but you have to order by Monday night).

It’s a big couple of weeks for deli in Chicago—pop-up fave Jeff & Jude’s opened for real on Friday, while another artisanal deli startup, Rye Deli and Drink, founded by certified sommeliers, will launch in the West Loop on Thursday, November 19.

Diamondhead BBQ is a Hawaiian foods concept operating out of West Town sushi standout Arami, with items like a Hawaiian-tinged pulled pork sandwich, Japanese fried chicken and ono tuna poke. Order via the usual suspects.

Local Foods has finally reopened, after being online-order-only for many months when other stores were open. I ordered online from them several times, but there’s no substitute for wandering the grocery store in search of inspiration as well as produce. CEO Dave Rand announced it here.

Recess in the West Loop presents an open-air market called Share Your Harvest, running Thursdays through Sundays, beginning this week. It’s described as “an immersive outdoor experience celebrating the community and supporting local businesses through these difficult times, while safely abiding [by] all new regulations on Recess’s expansive patio — the largest in the city.” Go here for tickets.

London House downtown has dubbed its holiday patio “Rudolph’s Rooftop… a whimsical winter wonderland of unmatched panoramic city views while surrounded with imaginative holiday décor and festive photo ops.”

Cluck It is a new Nashville chicken offering, out of a ghost kitchen in the South Loop. Here’s the menu.

This one’s a drive—but remember when Fooditor talked to Amy Mills of 17th Street Barbecue in southern Illinois, and she talked about turning an old car dealership in Murphysboro into a factory for barbecue sauce and other food goods, as well as a cafe? Well, The Factory at 17th Street is now ready to open next month, with the remains of another car dealership next door transformed into an open-air venue that will offer al fresco dining, three fire pits and games. It’d make a nice winter getaway (while staying within the confines of Illinois, and thus not having to quarantine when you get back).

Friend of Fooditor Ka-Leung Ngai points to an opening in Winnetka—a cafe and event space called Towne & Oak, from chef-owner Elaina Vazquez (TRU, Avenues, Robuchon in Vegas, etc.) For now, they’re doing takeout.


Gaijin announced that they will be closed as of November 8 until sometime in early 2021. They’ve been active in coming up with various forms of takeout, patio dining, etc., going well beyond their relatively simple opening menu of a few kinds of okonomiyaki, but it doesn’t seem like it was enough to sustain the business without indoor seating—as they said on Instagram,It is absolutely our intention to reopen in early 2021, assuming things have improved and we can once again resume regular indoor service. We will look forward to those days with much hope and anticipation.”

The ban on indoor dining has also led Boka Group to shutter three of their restaurants temporarily—Bellemore, Cira (in the Hoxton Hotel) and Swift & Sons Tavern (in the Zachary Hotel in Wrigleyville). That’s even as they just launched a new side venture for Gene Kato of Momotaro—Sakusaku, tonkatsu and other Japanese comfort foods, and also announced a private dining series at Momotaro.

And Danny’s Tavern, a Bucktown tavern whose closing prompted much nostalgia online. Never went there myself…


Just a couple of quick notes. Got pizza at Pizza Lobo—despite being a new pizza place (from Dan Snowden, ex of Bad Hunter), it is not Detroit square pizza, but a thin, tossed, semi-Neapolitan. Had a nice margherita, and a really good white pizza with fennel on it, as well as a very good panzanella salad—almost as if Snowden knows something about vegetables! I’ll be back.

One thing, though—their site suggests ordering it through a certain delivery service, but damn, those guys added so much to the price, even before tip, it was basically half again as much to get it delivered. How the hell did we get to a point where it’s over $20 to get a couple of pizzas delivered to you—and then I notice some super-fine print about how they may charge the restaurant up to 30% of the price, too. At that point the delivery guys (and Cook County) would be getting more of it than the guys who made the pizza would. So I drove there, found parking right in front, and picked it up at the window. I saved money, the restaurant kept all of the money, screw those other guys….

Much more reasonably priced for delivery were tamales from Santa Masa Tamaleria, which I finally got around to ordering in time before they were sold out. I kind of think tamales run a scale from B+ to C+, they’re a comfy food, not one for snooty critical gradations—but I really liked these, top honors going to the rafa con queso (peppers with cheese) but I was very happy for the red (chicken) and green (pork) tamales as well. As for the Italian beef tamale… well, it sure tasted like an Italian beef stuffed into corn meal.