Lagniappe Creole Cajun Joynt
Mary Madison’s joint in Auburn Gresham is one of those places where every single thing on the menu is extraordinary and slightly magical, where the swampy brown etouffee is smoky and indulgent and where the fried green tomatoes are toothsome and tangy. Some people have mistaken the long wait for food here as a service misstep, but the truth is Madison cooks everything from scratch, sautéing off the trinity at the drop of the order, much like you and your momma cook, only ten times better.
1525 W. 79th
Heaven on Seven
111 N. Wabash
Audience Comment: “But for the record, as a daughter of the region, I have yet to find anything truly accurate.”
Best of Chicago 2008
The Pier at the 63rd Street Beach
South Lake Shore Drive may be in tatters for the next two years, but braving the drive for the best view of Chicago’s skyline is more than worth it. The already-renovated beach just east of Jackson Park looks just like it did 100 years ago. The sand is white and wide, the beach house is stately and the pier gloriously extends a quarter of a mile across the surf. Twilight is spectacular, but dawn is sublime. The rising sun paints the downtown buildings in rose.
Best of Chicago 2002
Only one food offering at the Taste has a sublime transformative power, reducing tasters to their gnashing, grunting, pre-technological, cave-dwelling Pleistocene inner-selves. Helen’s barbecued turkey leg is a tender piece of bird the size of a toaster slathered in tangy, delectable sauce, and it’s beyond finger food. This is drag it to a corner, beat away rivals, press it to your face food. Get it in your eyes, let turkey-spray congeal in your hair. Collect drippings in your clothes and smell caveman-sexy on the El. When you’re finished you feel like hunting, and not in some Nancy-boy Ted Nugent way, either, but with your hairy caveman-hands and a big club. A few Taste patrons (mostly Gold Coast gentry and suburban mall bunnies) will order the leg but attempt to preserve their appearance. This ends badly. You won’t conquer the leg with traditional utensils or a delicate grip. If your look is so tight, so meticulously cultivated that you can’t handle being covered in a fine layer of barbecue sauce and animal fat, you’re doomed. Napkins alone won’t protect you —a HAZMAT suit and lead gloves are recommended, wuss.
1732 East 79th
Helen’s restaurant is closed. Since Helen’s closing, Manny’s Deli has provided turkey legs for the Taste of Chicago.
Audience choice: None
Who eats at Taste of Chicago? Go for the music.
Best of Chicago 2002