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Hungry Magazine - All Things Tasty
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Feature Archive 'Restaurant Reviews'

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« Previous Entries

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Newer Entries »
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09.24.08

Havana Hideaway

Restaurant Reviews


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cuban sandwich

A few weeks ago, some folks suggested I was an elitist jerk potentially in need of a hooker to loosen up. Most of this vitriol was from readers who took umbrage with my negative review of Yats, the Cajun Creole spot in the West Loop. In response to this hellfire, I went back and checked the last few years of my columns, and the data suggests I’ve spent more time lauding ethnic storefronts and casual spots over high-end fine cuisine. There was no need to call Eliot Spitzer to acquire the Emperors Club VIP hotline. More »

09.08.08

Inside the Urban Belly

Restaurant Reviews


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ramen

Urban Belly, Chef Bill Kim’s new Avondale noodle and dumpling house, is decent Asian food for unadventurous pseudo-foodies and hipsters with money to burn. Of course, you wouldn’t know it, as most of the local-eater-and-journalist set are drooling in their noodles and falling over their Twitter and blog-software interfaces and Yelp postings anointing it as the Second Coming. More »

08.26.08

Holy Mole

Restaurant Reviews


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sope

Geno Bahena is like the boy who cried wolf, or, more particularly, the chef who cried “mole.” Every time Bahena, the executive chef of the new Logan Square regional Mexican spot Real Tenochtitlan, opens a new restaurant, he calls up the food-gossip mafia and regales them with tales of his famous mole sauce. Then he swears up and down that his latest venture is his greatest and that he’ll stick around forever. Then he disappears. More »

08.19.08

Yats All Folks

Restaurant Reviews


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Liberace

Normally, when I write a restaurant review, I try to avoid indulging in blow-by-blow course descriptions, poor adjectives and Architectural Digest-style décor treatises, a feat I like to call the “Pat Bruno.” Instead, I try to look for the story behind the restaurant, personal memoir spurred by dining at the establishment or a cultural context in which to put the food. But I was so appalled by the experience and the food at YATS Cajun-Creole Cuisine, a new Chicago location of a popular quick-service Indianapolis-based restaurant, I’m having a hard time avoiding a hyperbolic damning diatribe. Eating there last week was the worst dining experience—and that includes trips to the now-shuttered Bennigans—of my career as a food writer. More »

08.12.08

Journey to the Journeyman

Restaurant Reviews


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char

Living in a city with 6,000+ restaurants, why would you ever drive 150 miles to eat in a city with a population of 1,500? For me, it’s a kind of a Hillary Clinton type thing. She was right, it does take a village to raise a child. Unfortunately for my wife and I, parents of a 16 month old boy who believes soil is a basic food group, we left the village back in our home state of Michigan when we moved to Chicago. So when we need a break from the exhaustive process of keeping our son’s mouth free of dirt and other things you find on the average floor, we gotta go to the village. More »

07.28.08

Down in the Drawing Room

Restaurant Reviews


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Drawing Room

At 8:30pm on a Friday night, The Drawing Room at Le Passage is kind of a lonely hearts club. There’s a six-top of cargo-shorts-wearing sunburned dudes slurping down Coronas. There’s a bony bald-headed Nosferatu-like guy in a smart-looking suit making his way through some food. In the opposite corner, an employee, head-to-toe in black sporting a taut ponytail, a “Marked for Death”-era Steven Seagal look-alike, warily scans the room. Finally, there’s a lanky, lonely old dude, who with his slicked-back gray hair, Harry Caray face-engulfing black-rimmed glasses, turquoise nylon windbreaker and Daisy-Duke-length boating shorts looks like a Viagra Triangle Aristotle Onassis. More »

07.25.08

All Good Things Come On Bread

Restaurant Reviews


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Imagine a tree-lined street dotted with rustic brick houses and brimming with songbirds. Freeze-frame this mental snapshot and wax nostalgic for those time-worn, jovial American neighborhoods: neighborhoods where pies cooled in the windowsill, children played hopscotch in the driveway, and mom laid out picnics filled with comfort food. Now that I’ve got you longing for the day and age of To Kill a Mockingbird’s Southern charm, take that image and transplant it to Chicago 2008. Add a few high-rises in the distance, the background thunder of the El, and some mildly heavy street traffic and you’ve got the closest thing to a “Scout Finch” neighborhood the city has to offer. The picture isn’t complete though without, the edible treasure chest that is Panes in Lakeview’s Sheffield corridor. More »

06.30.08

Just Ducky

Restaurant Reviews


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When you see a gaggle of glistening glazed ducks hanging sentry over hotel pans full of steaming tripe and bell jars filled with fried chicken skin, you know you’ve found a good Chinese BBQ spot. Actually, I know I’m probably in the minority on this one. It’s more likely most folks, who’ve come to believe their meat is born in Cryovac plastic or waxed-butcher-paper-wrapped bundles, would more likely see this scene at Sun Wah BBQ as an outtake from a Wes Craven horror flick. More »

05.26.08

Dippin’ in the L20

Restaurant Reviews


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Pour my beer in a Solo cup and give me a spit-roasted pork taco and I’m a happy man. It’s not that I don’t appreciate luxury dining, but the balance between food and other details at the high end has increasingly tipped toward silly. Given the current climate, it’s probably only a matter of time before someone offers high colonics in lieu of a post-meal digestif. More »

05.20.08

Unswayed

Restaurant Reviews


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Angela Hepler-Lee is like the new Jerry Kleiner. Years after the Marche and Red Light impresario staked his claim to Randolph Street, Hepler-Lee, who opened Sushi Wabi, De Cero and now a new mod small-plates Indian spot, Veerasway, is taking it back piece-by-upscale-ethnic-piece. More »

05.06.08

Tapped Out?

Restaurant Reviews


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Saying that the 77-year-old red-sauce joint Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap has seen a lot is like saying Magellan took a short boat trip. When the tap opened in 1931, Halsted was paved with brick and Taylor Street was the port of entry for Italian immigrants. Italian beef may have been drenched in gravy and sandwiched between two pieces of Gonnella bread, but only in those immigrants’ kitchens, as Al’s Italian Beef didn’t open until 1938. More »

04.28.08

Dancing With Tripe

Restaurant Reviews


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All I really know about Romania I learned from Nadia Comaneci, Dracula and those late-eighties/early-nineties commercials depicting squalid orphanages. And I might have kept on thinking that the country was populated exclusively by agile beauties, blood-sucking monsters and doleful children if my favorite burger spot, Kuma’s Corner, didn’t have a two-hour back-up last Friday. More »

04.14.08

Cinful

Restaurant Reviews


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“You know Jerry Springer? I’ve inhaled with him more than a few times,” says Ed, a displaced Cincinnati architect nursing a glass of red wine at the end of the bar. On my left, a barrel-chested buzz-cut man, another former Queen City native, a national guardsman about to be deployed to Afghanistan, reminisces about lazy afternoons watching Pete Rose and the Big Red Machine at Riverfront stadium. The transplanted faithful are out in force on the first Saturday night of Lincoln Square’s new Cincinnati-style chili parlor and lounge, Cinner’s. More »

04.09.08

First Bite: Big Jones

Bites: News and Miscellany, Restaurant Reviews


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Andersonville is hot. The strip of Clark north of Lawrence and its surrounding blocks are home to Chicago’s best beer bar, Hopleaf, Chicago’s best pastry shop, Pasticceria Natalina, and of course its most beloved if not quite best cinnamon roll at Ann Sather. In the last few months the strip has also seen the birth of La Cocina de Frida, Great Lake pizza, and now Big Jones, a spot for coastal southern cooking out to prove that the south is haute. More »

03.19.08

First Bite: Take Me Out

Bites: News and Miscellany, Restaurant Reviews


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Panda Express better watch its back, because Take Me Out is about to steel its hoard of bamboo. While Take Me Out has a very limited menu built upon the famous chicken wings from Great Seas Chinese (3254 W. Lawrence), called “Little Hotties” here, everything they offer is spot on. More »

03.15.08

First Bite: Rosscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles

Bites: News and Miscellany, Restaurant Reviews


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It’s not often you wait two and a half hours to eat for ten minutes. The persistent mass of humanity waiting patiently in the lobby on opening day at Rosscoe’s Chicken and Waffles made the weekend brunch crowds at Wishbone and Bongo Room look like fun. Based on crazy demand (the line rarely thinned out in the three hours we we’re at the restaurant), we’d venture, at least for today, that Rosscoe’s was probably hotter than Schwa or Alinea. More »

03.14.08

First Bite: Rockstar Dogs

Restaurant Reviews


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Rockstar Dogs, which finally opened this afternoon after a license delay, is the culinary version of a vodka ad or maybe more appropriately the Hard Rock Cafe. A lot of money got spent trying to inject personality in to what is otherwise a mediocre overpriced commodity. More »

03.04.08

A Return to the Yucatan

Restaurant Reviews


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Last year, Xni-Pec restaurant might have been the best thing to happen to Cicero since Betty Loren Maltese got locked up. Putting a regional Yucatecan restaurant in the same category as the incarceration of a multi-million-dollar embezzler might seem like hyperbole. But for most, the Yucatan is Cancun, which means most people’s conception of Yucatecan cuisine is Senor Frogs or Carlos ’n Charlies. Any restaurant that challenged such notions had to be exceptional. More »

02.19.08

The Trouble With Takashi

Restaurant Reviews


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It’s probably not a good sign when your restaurant’s banquettes look like they’re covered with spermatozoa. I know the interior designer for Takashi (1952 North Damen) thought the fabric pattern they chose, thousands of long, subtle, flaggelating lines punctuated by random ovals, seemed modern, harmless and organic, but unfortunately, it’s too organic. During my entire meal I had flashbacks of Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” and eighth grade “PBS NOVA” health videos. More »

01.22.08

First Bite: Crisp

Restaurant Reviews


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As the window on this Lakeview storefront says, “The Bird is the Word”. Though this mod storefront serves a wide spectrum of Americanized Korean favorites from Buddha bowls (aka BiBimBop) to Korean burritos (aka ssam) to deep fried fish, it’s the chicken that matters. More »


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