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Best Montreal-style poutine in Chicago

Food & Drink, Ukrainian Village No Comments »

Small Bar

Poutine, a Quebecois dish consisting of medium-thick fries smothered in brown gravy and semi-melted cheese curds, is basically the French-Canadian version of drunkenly eating Mexican food at 3am. Poutine is quite ubiquitous in Canada—you can even get it at McDonalds—but in Chicago the good stuff is hard to come by. The most bona fide version (next to actually going to Quebec) is at Small Bar in Wicker Park. Their fries are saturated in sausage gravy and curds, but chef, if you’re reading: more cheese, please!

2049 West Division

Best of Chicago 2009

Best hamburger empire based in Chicago besides McDonalds

Andersonville, Food & Drink No Comments »

Hamburger Mary’s

Any place where baby strollers coexist with drag queens and Caesar salads are served with a hamburger on the side is okay in our book, but now that Hamburger Mary’s has expanded, yet again, to the Rec Room next door, they are brewing their own beer and expanding their programming in Mary’s Attic. Plus Ashley and Brandon, the twin brothers and owners of the Chicago location, just bought the national franchise rights with the owner of the West Hollywood location. Look for more Mary’s locations across the country, and world, to look at Chicago as a model for growth.

5400 North Clark

Best of Chicago 2009

Best of the Best: Navy Pier

City Life, East Side, Streeterville No Comments »

Navy Pier
Just because you have a McDonald’s doesn’t make you a McMall, and just because Boston had a super-sized waterfront amusement-for-pay complex first doesn’t make Navy Pier any less impressive. Is it a monstrosity? You bet. Yet there’s the Chicago Children’s Museum, an Imax theatre, Shakespeare, tons of food, a brilliant view of the skyline and the lake, and only seven or eight million visitors underfoot at any given time, um, any given year. So have some cotton candy, stick your tongue out at the bratty privileged children from five to fifty and just chill, dude.

600 East Grand at Lake Michigan (312)595-PIER

Best of Chicago 2002

Best of the Best: Harold’s Chicken Shack

Food & Drink No Comments »

Harold’s Chicken Shack
Until the late Harold P. Pierce opened his first joint back in June of 1950, the fried-chicken chains were ignoring Chicago’s black neighborhoods, leaving open a golden market opportunity for one of our unsung African-American entrepreneurs. Fortunately for Pierce, the big chains left Chicago’s South and West Sides alone for two more decades, allowing Harold’s to build into a franchise operation that today numbers fifty-plus locations, as well as newer outposts in places like Detroit. Harold’s offers a half-chicken dinner with fries, white bread and coleslaw for less than five bucks, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better bird anywhere. Long-time regulars get their whole dinner doused in Harold’s legendary hot sauce, but timid souls might opt for plain or the barbecue sauces. In spite of its success, Harold’s remains the very antithesis of the fast-food assembly line perfected by another local operation, McDonald’s. Except for the appetizing caricature of a king chasing a chicken with an ax, there is little that is standardized about these stores.

Best of Chicago 2002