Chefs took center stage last night to celebrate the 2016 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards, which are two years into a three-year stint at Chicago’s Lyric Opera. Hometown pride was on full display, with Chicago’s high-concept culinary temple Alinea taking home the Outstanding Restaurant award. Mayor Rahm Emanuel helped kick off the evening, kidding, “Chicago is known for cuisine and the way we count ballots, so you might as well all go home — we won.”
Chefs’ Picks tracks down what the pros are eating and cooking from coast to coast.
Chicago gets a lot of love for its pizza, but Chicagoans also love their burgers — charred or griddled, with classic or creative toppings. Here are some of the pros’ favorite places to get one. Read more
Chicago has many top-notch high-end restaurants. But the Windy City dining scene isn’t built on opulence alone. For every caviar-filled mother-of-pearl spoon or seared lobe of foie gras on offer, there’s probably a hundred superlative (under $10) cheap eats just as satisfying. Here’s a guide to a few of the best.
Check out the full gallery for the best cheap Chicago eats.
Secret Chicken Sandwich at Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken
Not much is better than fried chicken or doughnuts, except of course when you combine the two for a fried chicken doughnut sandwich ($6.96; pictured above). That’s just what the geniuses behind killer maple-bacon-topped crullers and pistachio-crusted, Meyer-lemon-glazed cake doughnuts did. It’s not on the menu, but if you ask for the secret fried chicken doughnut sandwich, you’ll get a buttermilk-and-pickle-brined, flaky fried chicken breast slathered with lustrous housemade aioli on a sugar-crusted, old-fashioned doughnut, the very epitome of drunk food. It’s so tasty, though, you don’t have to be remotely soused to enjoy it.
Chicago pride was on display last night at the 25th James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards, which have temporarily migrated from New York for a three-year run at the Windy City’s Lyric Opera. The ceremony’s host, Food Network’s own Alton Brown, may be a Southerner, but he was joined on stage by gala co-chairs Grant Achatz, Rick Bayless and Paul Kahan, three of Chicago’s greatest chefs. Rich Melman, founder of prolific Chicago-based restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award with a speech packed with pride for his hometown. Mayor Rahm Emanuel applauded the city’s food scene on the red carpet and in remarks on stage. When Food Network asked the mayor if he had any favorite places to travel outside of Chicago for great food, he didn’t miss a beat in retorting, “Yeah, Chicago!” And every time Chicago took home an award, the opera house boomed with cheers. Read more
After 24 years in New York City, this year’s prestigious James Beard Foundation Restaurant & Chef Awards — often dubbed “the Oscars of food” — are moving west, to Chicago. More than 2,500 of the country’s top chefs, restaurateurs and food-media people will descend upon the Windy City this weekend, and FoodNetwork.com editors will be there to fill you in on all the action. But the proud, food-obsessed host city has plans that extend well beyond Monday night’s awards ceremony and gala, hosted by our own Alton Brown. Whether or not you’ve got a ticket to the coveted awards, here are some fun ways to celebrate Chicago’s impressive dining scene — all are open to the public, and some are even free.
Need Chicago restaurant recommendations? Check out Food Network’s Newcomer’s Chicago Eating Tour to get our picks for the best burger, pizza, new restaurant and more can’t-miss eats.
If you’re attending Food Network in Concert this September 20, your dinner plates (and wine glasses) will be in the hands of the city’s greatest chefs. Surrounded by succulent barbecue, dreamy pasta and sushi like you’ve never seen it before (to name just a few), it’s safe to say you won’t have to worry about food on the night of the festival. But what about the rest of your trip? Here, Food Network stars and headliner Phillip Phillips share their dinner recommendations to continue your culinary adventure in Chicago.
Geoffrey Zakarian: Paul Kahan’s restaurants Avec and Blackbird, and Stephanie Izard’s Girl and the Goat.
Anne Burrell: The Purple Pig, BellyQ, and I always have to go for a piece of BIG MEAT, so I like to go to Gibsons!
When people hear “Chicago,” they think deep-dish pizza. But when we asked chefs for their favorite places to go for lunch in the area, the infamous crust did not make the cut — Mexican food and banh mi sandwiches did. Find their recommendations below, keeping in mind that Jeff Mauro is a trustworthy local. Whether you’re heading to Food Network in Concert this September or are a Chicagoan yourself, this list will come in handy when you’re on the hunt for an afternoon bite in the Windy City.
Geoffrey Zakarian: Frontera Grill — Rick Bayless’ place.
Anne Burrell: The Tavern on Rush is always fun to sit outside and people-watch, and Kuma’s Corner (pictured above) has even better burgers.
On Sept. 20, Food Network is throwing the ultimate end-of-summer bash: an outdoor food and music festival in Chicago. With today’s top chefs and big musical artists like John Mayer and Phillip Phillips, it’s sure to be a delicious experience worth the travel.
The event officially starts at 11:30am with lunch, so concertgoers will be on their own for breakfast, which isn’t a bad thing at all considering the countless great restaurants in the area. To narrow down the best options, we enlisted the help of Food Network chefs. From old-school diners to five-star hotels, here are Chicago’s best breakfast spots. (Just try to save some of your appetite for all of the gourmet hot dogs, award-winning burgers and other mouthwatering eats at the festival.)
Geoffrey Zakarian: The Drake Hotel
Anne Burrell: I love going to The Palace Grill [Sandwich Shop]. They have the best breakfast, and the owner, George, has even better jokes!