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Authentic Chicago Eats?? Downtown & Hyde Park?

VivreManger | Nov 13, 200310:45 AM

I am going to Chicago for a quick family visit around Thanksgiving. In our family we celebrate two days of Thanksgiving so the opportunities to eat out are limited, but I am arriving Tuesday night and Wednesday is still clear.

Typically we do Chinese on one of those days, but I have to confess to a strong aversion to Chicago Chinatown. The vegetables are gloopy and the fish smelly. If the crowd insists upon upholding the Chinese tradition, is there any place that is better than the rest in Chinatown?

I don't mind Greektown, though I find the food not terribly imaginative. Seen one Greek restaurant, seen them all, though Santorini and Greek Islands are a bit better than the average.

Hyde Park is a culinary disaster-zone and the more rewarding areas might be too far to get to.

I have been thinking that some interesting ethnic Mexican might be worth trying. And I don't mean the high-end variety Frontera and Topo etc. On the other hand I am going to LA a few weeks later so maybe I should delay my Mexican gratification a bit longer.

A genuine doner kebab/gyro, marinated lamb sliced off the spit -- not that horrid Spam crap that Kronos peddles en masse -- is worth tracking down. Perhaps a genuine Chicago hot dog, bursting its red casing with oodles of steaming grease? Where is the best?

Having just done Sally's Apizza in New Haven, I don't want to go the other extreme to Chicago style deep-dish. I am still savoring the delicacy of Amalfitano crust.

Chicago does have some wonderful Eastern European food, not readily available elsewhere -- e.g. Slovak, Czech, etc. The places I remember however were somewhere out in Cicero and I doubt that time will allow us to get there.

And then for a real nostalgia experience, there is Phil Schmidt's in Indiana. How many restaurants still offer a cottage cheese and pickle-relish tray? Did it last time, still peeling the grease off my spare tire.

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