Chicago Foodie Hotspots: Yay or Nay

Chicago has a lot to offer. It's got a nice theater district, great live music scenes and the neighborhoods pretty much segregate every type of personality; the quiet types, the family way, artists, money makers, foodies, fashionistas- it's all there. The ups and downs, tourists and locals colliding and all the bookstores.

What Chicago offers in bulk is food for every whim. You want Doughnuts at 8pm? Sure. Cheese coated cheese? Been there. A sundae with glitter, gold coins and a unicorn on top promising security and wishes? Probably! Basically everything this fat girl loves. Not to mention a giant pair of pizza wings at Pizza Parlor on Dearborn making a foodless food photo even more fun and nobody will judge you for making them wait to dig in.

 On top of my past posts about some Foodie Chicago stuff here read on to find out some honest thoughts I have had on some of the "places everyone should visit" in Chicago according to Insta and Pinterest for the foodies and the cheap.

Stan's Donuts, Gooey Yay: Visited with my buddy Hanna on her insistence, but, truth be told, nobody has to put much "insistence" in their plea for me to go and eat doughnuts. We went very near closing time so not much was left on the shelves but I did manage to purchase the last remaining Biscoff Pocket (filled style) flavor and it was worth waiting 35 years for, I tell you! It's a small chain founded in 2014 and you won't officially find it anywhere else (the shop started in LA but friendship lead it to Chicago 50 years later, I hear). So if you find yourself near a Stan's you MUST go inside to at least take in some ambience or grab a coffee. I can't find an exact price but I believe my doughnut was $4. Worth it.

Beat Kitchen, Cheese Yay: Not only a great bar and music venue (Showoff, LOUDEST crowd of 2019) but an excellent source of quesadilla! If you read my last Chicago food post then you'd know that I am the cholesterol queen and will get a cheese quesadilla almost anywhere. BK easily had one of the best 'dillas I've had on the road. It came out on a purple tortilla with house made kicky salsa and sour cream. What's not to like?

BomboBar, Low Medium Nay: I was told on a few accounts to come to Bombo and try a few flavors. They make fresh and hot Italian style doughnuts covered in sugar. The kicker here is that they let you fill it yourself via small squirt bottles of select flavors and creams and jellies. It sounds so fun, right? It was! Except it took 30 minutes for four doughnuts to be made, and as it was February AND you have to wait on their patio the whole time, it didn't seem worth the wait. But as I was saying, the first one you try is good- as long as it's within the first hour or so of purchasing. These doughnuts are pretty thin in texture and size so they almost immediately start to dry out. I found out the hard way that the reason for the do-it-yourself inserts are because you need to drop that chiz all over those fried rings just to be able to choke it down after a few hours. They turn exceptionally dry and even a quick zap in the microwave doesn't save them. But, that first one is still fun. So I give is a medium nay instead of a don't even bother because I'm guessing if you eat one fresh on the patio as soon as you get it is will be quite delish. But, like Rainbow Bagel, it seems more for the Gram than actual good food. Plus four donuts was something like $17 for basically hockey pucks.

Yolk West Loop, Expensive Yay: One of my best gals and I stopped by here because, well, we were hungry and feeling like a fancy brunch might do the trick. It did! It was a little more expensive than I would have liked, but trendy hip places have hip prices. I got very berry crepes that I could not finish but wanted to. I also got an expensive strawberry orange juice- I believe it was $6 for juice. But kinda worth it? I say it like that because it was very good juice,  however I can't say that I'd pay that much again. The restaurant was very pleasant, clean, bright and they gave me a sticker. Everybody was very cordial- like they actually enjoy working there so that made for a beautiful and filling brunch.

Gino's East, Nay AF: It's been a while since coming here, but that's on purpose. One of my first times to Chicago I was told to come here. Got here, a friend also said we HAD to try it because it was the best. Okay, so we did. It. Was. Terrible. Not only was the legit the busiest restaurant I have ever been in in my life (which is a weird reflection) but the food was awful. We got two pizzas and garlic knots and everything was dry. I already do not care for Chicago's idea of deep dish pizza, but this shit was barely edible. It's basically a frisbee with flavorless cheese and and overabundance of sauce on top soaking through. It's always soggy inside but SO dry on the outside that it basically turns to sand. I also don't understand how Gino's was the best Chicago has to offer for pizza. Even to this day I see it all over as the ONE pizza place to try in the city. I think all together  Mel, Matt and I spent 2.5 hours there mostly just waiting for our orders to be taken, then waiting for food, then waiting for the bill. It was not worth it and absolutely the worst thing I've ever eaten in Chicago. And I swallowed a fly at Navy Pier.

Beatnik, Nay-er again (get it?): I went here with some blogger pals on their insistence after an event
together. We just wanted to go for a tipple and a chat. The inside is absolutely beautiful. It's a mix of Moroccan inspired decor with what, Israeli pairings? Turkish? Grandma? Anyhow, it's gorgeous in an overwhelmingly clutterer way. It's a lot to take in. I wasn't in the mood to pay $12 for a glass of bubbly that I could buy at the store for $10 a bottle so I opted for a more wallet friendly late night tea at a mere yet overpriced $5.50. It was all oddball flavor combinations like bergamot black tea with poppy and sesame oil. Fuckin what? Let me once again talk about how I'm not hip because on a list of like 9 tea flavors I could not find a single one that sounded appealing. But as Bettina and Rachel had already ordered I panicked and chose the one most friendly sounding with citrus and ginger. It was truly terrible. I choked down all I could because I was paying for it but honestly it tasted like oversteeped black tea stirred with muddy sticks and black licorice. It reminded me of the health tea Chris Traeger made for he and Ann and they discussed how hard to drink it is. It was the cheapest thing on the menu. Plus tax and tip. Oi. I stole this photo from the website just to show how eclectic and busy the visuals are. If you're a hipster you will love it here and come often to take pictures of food and pose for photographs like an ass influencer. But if you're unhip like me, it's also worth a trip inside to look around and then ask for directions on how to not be here right now because if the FLAVORED WATER was this terrible I can only imagine how irregular the rest of the "food" is. "Our finest cardboard box top foie gras with sage and musty shoelace sauce topped with aged parmesan and a fine mist of children's tears serves on an art student's portfolio of owl paintings and sponges". Yum. This while place kind of pissed me off. I could riff on it all day because I'm just that much of a snarky asshole. Tom Haverford wouldn't even like it.

Public House, Repeat Yay Probably: Hanna, same gal from earlier, took
me to Public House as well. She totally understands me as a fat kid! Well, upon about 45 seconds of research I knew that I wanted to try one of their mega milkshakes. And as I had mentioned previously, their mac and cheese was mind blowing. It was gooey in all the right ways and toasted to perfection and I only wish I had some right now. Hanna got a soft pretzel which was also quite good with its cheese and mustard sauces. Since it was nearing Valentine's there was a romantic themed milkshake added to the menu- a strawberry ice cream milkshake with the new Rose' hard cider mixed in. It was not good. The cider and ice cream did not pair well in flavor or texture. It was like an extra foamy whipped cream with a chalky aftertaste. HOWEVER the fixins adorning the milkshake were scrumptious. Atop the glass was a slice of cake (obviously) sitting on top of frosting coating the glass with pearls of chocolate coated crispy rice balls (and sprinkles that I pushed off) with shortbread sugar cookies and other goodies. This was an expensive meal- $11 for Mac and $15 for the shake but it was worth the trip. Next time I will opt for no booze in the shake despite it costing the same with or without. (Which is the only reason I left it in in the first place. I HATE when restaurants refuse to lessen the price if you choose to take the meat or booze out of an order because that's HALF the reason it's so expensive in the first place!) See for yourself. Then tell me you wouldn't make a second trip here.

I could go on and on about food in Chicago because I don't think I've ever eaten at the same place twice. I'll definitely go to Stan's again and again but that's an easy move to make because it's just a pit stop on my way back to Public House. I did really like El Hefe and planned to go again but heard some disturbing news about them not caring about their guests and now I don't think I could revisit. But that's their cross to bear, not ours. I'm always open to suggestions and opinions, so let me know below if you have anything to add! Or, if you'd like, I can just tell you the special of the day is at Beatnik. Try me.

Stay safe out there, kids. Be kind by staying home. Nobody wants bullshit.


  1. Born, raised, and currently living in Chicago, and I’ve never heard of any of these places, haha. Although, I don’t frequent downtown. But I want to try Stan’s and Public House now for sure!
    Gino’s East and Giordano’s are both trash. Even though you’re not a fan of deep dish, the place to get it is Lou Malnatis! :)

    1. Is lose also a regular Italian restaurant that has a small Banquet Hall inside? I went to a punk rock show at maybe the Concord and we went to get pizza at a restaurant a couple of doors down from the venue. I definitely recommend stands as often as possible but Public House is more of a special occasion place. I got the milkshake and the macaroni and after tip it was about $30.

  2. This was a fun read, as I'm from the area but now living in California. Have not been to any of these restaurants, and it's good to know which ones to avoid now!


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