Not so Chi when it comes to the Food (Chicago, IL)

It would only be natural to start any food post about Chicago with deep dish pizza, so we will.  However, there’s not too much commentary to go along with the pictures of it, and that’s not because we have anything against it, but in all honesty, that wasn’t our focus on this trip.  We knew we would go for one meal since it is a Chicago institution, but maybe on another trip, we’ll dedicate a whole post to a deep dish pizza crawl.

For our lone meal of pizza, we went to Lou Malnati’s River North location.  Our meal was house salads, and then we shared the Classic.  The highlight for us was the flaky, buttery crust.  I’m normally not a crust person, but I couldn’t resist this one.  We left overly-stuffed and thankful that we had a bit of a walk back to the hotel.

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The 2nd day of our trip was our only full day in town so we tried to make the most of it.  Our plan was to start with donuts, but our late start resulted in the place selling out of the one donut we really wanted to try.  It’s all good though as it meant more room for other things.  So with empty stomachs we headed off for our first bites of the day.

Our first stop was Cemitas Puebla in Fulton Market.  Based on our research, the must have menu item is the Cemita Atomica, and it did not disappoint.  For me, this is up there in my top 2 sandwiches that I’ve ever had.  The sandwich comes with a grilled pork loin, a breaded pork loin and ham, so I nicknamed it the “Pig Did Not Die in Vain” sandwich.  Each of the 3 meats have a distinct flavor, that when combined in a single bite lead to an amazing amalgamation of flavor.  No single one outshines the other as they just blend together nicely.

The sandwich comes with cheese and a sauce as well that help enhance the flavors of the meat.  As for the bun, it’s homemade and the perfect casing for the filling.  It’s got a nice crunchy outside and soft inside that holds everything in place so that every bite is how a sandwich is meant to be – bread plus meat plus cheese and sauce.

Cemitas Puebla is located at 817 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607.  They also have another location at 3129 West Armitage, Chicago, IL 60647.

Right next to Cemitas Puebla is Publican Quality Meats.  At several restaurants in the area, you will see meats with a PQM before it.  This is what the PQM stands for.  They are a butcher, bakery, cafe, and gourmet market.  When we passed it on our way to Cemitas Puebla, Sonia’s eyes lit up when we looked in the window, so we knew we would be stopping in on our way back.  Even if you don’t need to get anything from there or aren’t hungry, you should still stop in.  You’ll see why several restaurants use them.

For us, we did order from the cafe.  The line for seating was and being short on time, we opted to order a sandwich to go.  We went with The Big Dipper, which was wagyu beef with a sweet and spicy sauce.  If you can’t take too much spice, then the sandwich will come off with a lot of heat.  Sonia, who can do spicy better than me, thought it had a good spice to it, but it was not too spicy.

The wagyu beef itself was nice and tender.  Each bite came apart nicely so that you weren’t forced to yank the sandwich apart with each bite.  It comes with a pea shoot and carrot slaw that accentuates the spiciness of the sandwich.

Publican Quality Meats is located at 825 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607.

There are plenty of restaurants in the area, but after having split 2 sandwiches, we couldn’t eat anymore.  Would definitely like to go back though and try some of the other places that we missed this trip.

For dinner that night, we chose a restaurant closer to the area where we were staying since we had tickets for the Alton Brown show that night.  Dinner was at Prime & Provisions, which we picked based on some of the write-ups naming it a top new restaurant for 2015.

When we got to the restaurant, it was already fairly busy, so glad that we made a reservation.  We were seated and greeted promptly with water and our waiter, Garin.  Before I get into the food itself, I want to note the service.  Garin was attentive and helpful in navigating the menu.  He was quick to tell us any house recommendations as well as explain how they cook and serve certain steaks.  One thing I really liked about him though, was that on certain questions where he wasn’t sure of the answer, he was quick to get us the answer.  Definitely helps when going to a place for the first time.  When ordering, he was quick with pairing suggestions and even made sure Sonia’s wine order would complement the food.

As soon as we received our starter, the manager, Rai also came by our table to introduce himself.  He was just as knowledgeable as the servers when it came to the food and came to speak with us after each plate was brought.  I don’t know if I’ve ever had a manager be so attentive, and it was appreciated.  Thanks to Garin and Rai this was some of the best service we’ve had in a long time.

Now to the food.  We started with the House- Flared Thick-Cut Bacon.  If you haven’t figured out from our blog yet, we are bacon-aholics.  So there was never any doubt which starter we were going with.  The bacon here is served with a dark chocolate and maple syrup which balances out the pepper on the bacon.  It looked like a big enough potion for 2 people, but I was wanting some more of it once we finished.

Prime & Provisions - House Flared Thick Cut Bacon

For our entrees, we both went with steaks, but I was eyeing the Boar Chop as well.  Sonia went with the Petit-Cut Filet Mignon, and I had the N.Y. Strip.  When the steaks came, our first impressions were that they looked overcooked.  When we cut into them though, they were as ordered all the way through.  The steaks come with a roasted head of garlic on the plate as well as a small container of seasonings that you can add to your steak as desired.  I am a fan of steakhouses that let the meat speak for itself.  Core to any meal is the cooking itself, and if you can’t get that right, then no amount of seasoning or sauce can help.

Prime & Provisions - Petite Cut Filet MignonPrime & Provisions - NY Strip

We ordered a couple of sides as well – Sautéed Wild Mushrooms and Potatoes Au Gratin.  While the potatoes were okay, we highly recommend the sautéed mushrooms.

Prime & Provisions - Sauteed Wild Mushrooms

Prime & Provisions is located at 222 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL 60610.

For our last day, we went to Little Goat Diner, which for me was the one must for this trip.  I have been a fan of Stephanie Izard since I saw her on Top Chef.  There’s a reason she won Fan Favorite for her season.  So for this trip, I knew I wanted to go to one of her restaurants.  Luckily for us, we got a reservation for 10:00 am.

By the time we got to the restaurant, it was packed, a we were starving.  We both ordered mochas and split an Ooey Gooey Cinnabun.  The mochas were good, but the cinnabun came to our table a little cooler than we expected.  It was still good, but we were expecting the cinnabun to be served warm.  Not sure if the volume of people played into this since it was Mother’s Day, but we were wondering if the time frame from kitchen to table was off that day.

Little Goat Diner - Ooey Gooey Cinnabun

As for the meals, I ordered the Bull’s Eye French Toast and loved it.  The french toast had a nice crisp to the outside with the bread itself thick enough to absorb the syrup but not too thick so that you don’t taste all bread.  The chicken itself was cooked perfectly.  The inside wasn’t dry at all and the breading stayed nice and crispy with the syrup.  The surprise for me was that it comes with eggs in the center of the toast.


Sonia ordered the Breakfast Spaghetti ‘N Clams ‘N Crab.  Unfortunately, when it came to the table, she noticed that the egg whites were still runny.  It’s a personal preference for her to have her egg whites less runny so she spoke with our server, who let her order another dish.

She opted for the Kimchee & Bacon & Eggs & Pancakes Asian Style Breakfast Tasty Thing.  This dish is definitely not something you’ll find at other places.  It is an interesting and creative mix of flavors that result in a unique breakfast dish.  Sonia was much happier with this choice.


While we stuck with the breakfast items this time, we plan to go back and try some of the non-breakfast foods.  Little Goat is located at 820 W. Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607.

The biggest surprise though for this trip may have been the Spent Grain Brownie at the Lagunitas Brewery Tap Room.  Definitely recommend heading out there if you can for this dessert.

Lagunitas - Spent Grain Brownie

The Lagunitas Brewery Tap Room is located at 2607 W. 17th Street, Chicago, IL 60608.


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