Freezing through a quick Maxwel St. run, I commented to the Condiment Queen, "you should be proud of yourself." She asked, "for what". I said, "your accomplishment." She said, "what accomplishment?" I said, "staying up all night and eating like a pig."
She actually started her eating way before the official festivities, at about 6 PM with a rather dry and tasteless tuna pita pocket from Eat a Pita (159 W. Division). "Used to be better she said."
We hooked up with Aaron D and OurPalWill at our designated time and meeting place and headed to that bastion of smoke and sauce, Lem's. We walked into Lem's (311 E. 75th) five minutes before everyone else, so managed to quickly and easily walk away with 2 slabs of ribs and an order of rib tips. After fretting for a few days about tons of plans, the ease in which we walked away from Lem's cured me.
The first four nearly devoured all these ribs, ribs OurPalWill believes the best in America. Over time, the Residents, the UoC VIP and wife, DJ4J, and an almost missed, ReneG, joined the ribbing at Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap, general chowhound HQ for eating athon-Q (1172 E. 55th). ReneG added to the early food with some excellent jerk chicken from Tropic Island (1929 E. 79th). Fine, fine start.
Athons typically have a Q course (now done) and a fried shrimp course. This allnightathon got served shrimps, hush puppies and smelts at Southside Shrimp House (335 W. 31st), in Bridgeport. Some liked the lighter breading compared to Goose Island Shrimp, all thought the sauce less than Goose Island's pink, and all also thought the fried lobster, ordered but not heard, would have been a welcome addition.
One of the biggest Chicago all night eating traditions remains the Maxwell St. Polish, and its cousin, the bone-in pork chop sandwich. We made an early in the night visit to Jim's Grill (700 W. O'Brien-near Roosevelt) for these onion laddled goodies. For the sake of chow-science, Aaron also picked up a polish from the competing 24 stand next door. All agreed that the alternative polish had a different and less welcoming flavor. No one bought a copy of Kill Bill being hawked near us. Seth Z joined.
We all found parking spaces in Chinatown and hit Triple Crown (211 W. 22nd Place) for its late night menu, surely the best bargain of the night. Andy O'Neil joined. We filled the table with plates from the late night menu, all less than $7. Knowing the amount of grease and stuff to be consumed still, we got a fair amount of vegetables, all well prepared--yellow chives, yu choy, pea shoots. Another round of smelts was obtained, and these were superior. On the other hand, the heavily Trio influenced dish of slightly frozen ham hock appealed to only one nameless eater. After dinner we lost ReneG and and someone victimized by a bit too much aquavit the night before.
Why there is no doubt that ReneG is the master of the chow science. When we mentioned dessert forthcoming at Huck Finn donuts, he immedietely knew of one of its uniqe specialities, the donut delight, an ice cream sundae on a base of donut. I am not sure even ReneG can conceptualize, however, the Texas sized donut delight served to our Texas born Resident. But then again, who would not want to eat a donut, 4 inches in diameter, basing, 2 large scoops of ice cream and over-flowing with whipped cream after the nibbles we previously had? Not all the donuts offered at Huck Finn (3414 S. Archer) worked, but all the dounts under ice cream worked real well. Who knew!
The Residents, putting in stellar performances, had to return to the sick and ill after Huck Finn. They commented for all future allnightathoners, that being a medical resident was excellent training for all night eating. We picked up Shannon Clark for late night cabbie Pakistani fare.
Baba (Chicago and Orlean's), like a lot of these places seems a bit intimidating at first, but that is a complete ruse. The man at the counter helped us willingly, and we were greatly assisted by small plates showing what the day's specials looked like. We ordered a range, best I thought was a multi-spiced lamb with spinach. Everything at Baba, however, was pretty darn good. The UofC VIP also fell victim to two hard nights in a row and he left with Andy O'Neil.
All roads lead to Uptown, the Green Mill (4802 N. Broadway) brags, and we followed those roads. I, however, made one of my great mistakes of the night. I mis-read the time the way the clock "falls back". Instead of getting to the Green Mill at a thrify 2:30 AM, we got there at a cover charge still 1:30. Well, thrify we remained, hoofing it over to a nearby 24 Mexican eatery. Before the Mexican place, I made another big mistake. We lost Aaron who stayed as late as he could.
A Mexican music concert ended at the nearby Aragon Ballroom just as we were passing it. I saw a couple stationed behind a range of coolers selling things. Instead of demanding we stop right there, to sample, I waited until we had found a parking space. By the time we got to this vendor, it had sold out everything it had. We were left with the vapors of interesting chow not taken. The 24 Hour Quixote (Clark and Lawrence) hardly made up for my mistake, and in fact took about 45 minutes for one stinkin' taco al pastor.
I am not sure, in our eating stupor how much of the Capone era aura we took in at the Green Mill. I told Ms. VI I only ate two marishino cherries, but she was bold enough to remind me that they came with two oversized Manhattan's.
Mistakes, the night was full of mistakes. In retrospect we should have hit the hookahs and belly dancers at Nefrettit (3737 W. Lawrence) before Green Mill because we arrived to this place in a torrent of dollar bills across its floor and an exiting crowd. Although its sign said 24 hours, we were shooed away. The nearby Hourglass (3658 W. Lawrence) also shut us out of soju and Korean fried chicken. We settled for the Two Way Grill (Elston near Pulaski and Montrose). Before arriving at Two Way, Shannon C steered us to big vats of Thai iced coffe at River Kwai II (1650 W. Belmont). Two Way, by the way, offered some excellent and peppery biscuts and gravy. A fine example of the Chicago all night grill.
We battled on to Chicago's oldest restaurant, Daley's (809 E. 63rd) where we got about the best service I have ever had in a restaurant and some very, very good pancakes.
I gave the official Mayoral dispension and Seth and DJ4J considered themselves allnighted. OurPalWill did the same after dropping Shannon, Ms. VI and myself at Maxwell Street. At hopping 7 AM, we met the ever dapper, ever hatted Hat Hammond for a rico huarache bandera style and steaming cups of champurado. We left shortly after 8 AM.
Note for all those needing to eat and drink late in Chicago:
Lem's stay's open until 2 AM every day except Saturday, Saturday until 4 AM
Tropic Island closes at 12 on Saturday nights, but only 10 PM other nights--warning!
Southside Shrimp serves late on Friday, 2 AM and Saturday, 1 AM.
Jim's Orignal serves all the time
Triple Crown offers the late night menu after 10 PM and serves until 2 AM on Saturdays. Otherwise it closes at midnight.
Huck Finn is 24 hours
Baba's Place is 24 hours
Don Quixote is 24 hours
Green Mill serves until 4 AM all days except Saturday when Chicago law gives all bars an extra hour; thus they serve until 5 AM
Nefrettiti advertises 24 hours but seems to close down between sets to sweep up.
River Kwai, the Brigadoon of Chicago eateries, only begins serving food at some mysterious late night hour and stays open, I supposed to everyone who needs caffiene and noodles gets served.
Two Way sells all the time but only offers biscuts and gravy from 11 PM until 11 AM.
Daley's opens at 5 AM but closes at 8.
Maxwell St. opens at 7 AM, most but not all food vendors were going strong.