From macaroni and cheese to gourmet donuts, comfort food restaurants are becoming more popular in Chicago as diners are looking for a lot more than pizza and steak. It’s especially soothing on a cold winter’s day to sit down and be served what feels like mom’s Sunday dinner.
The Local Chicago
You are bound to feel right at home at The Local Chicago, where weekly specials include a “Thanksgiving Dinner” every Thursday and meatballs and spaghetti every Monday. The Dr. Pepper Ribs are great and the meatloaf (with apple-tomato jam and wild mushroom jus served with mashed potatoes) will fill you up. Try to find some room, though, for the warm chocolate chip cookies.
You’ll only find 2 Sparrows open for breakfast and lunch, but that’s more than enough to satisfy. The menu changes to accommodate fresh local ingredients. It’s filled with old fashioned items with a twist, such as Biscuits & Gravy, made with a lamb sausage gravy, or grits served with shrimp. Don’t miss their homemade “Pop Tarts,” which come in unusual flavors such as Foie Gras & Cherry. Wash it all down with a Bloody Norseman, made with Chicago’s North Shore Aquavit, house made bloody Mary mix and lime, then topped with beef jerky and a pickle.
Start off at City Tavern with a cheese plate and the house-made potato chips, which will rival the best you’ve ever had. While the menu does change, you’ll always find plenty of comfort foods, such as chicken pot pie and short ribs. Don’t miss the fried chicken here. It’s coated with honey and maple syrup and then dipped in vinegar before frying to give it a combination of sweet and salty. As for dessert, what could be better than warm apple pie with cheddar cheese or homemade fig newtons?
Howells & Hood
You make come to Howells & Hood for the largest draft beer selection in Chicago (114 on tap), but plan the trip around a meal. The charcuterie plates are created in house for the freshest ingredients and the lamb meatballs (with made-from-scratch Meyer lemon ricotta) are wonderful, but the macaroni and cheese is blended to perfection. The only thing it rivals is the peanut butter Snickers Pie.
Firecakes Donuts and Glazed & Infused
The pastry world has cut down on the cupcakes and increased the gourmet donuts and this is evident in two of Chicago’s best. Firecakes Donuts uses natural ingredients, including pure Tahitian vanilla and imported cocoa from France to make hits such as the Triple Chocolate Cake and the Coconut Cream. At Glazed & Infused, fresh fruits are pureed for Peanut Butter & Jelly and Luscious Lemon, but the Maple Bacon Long John is a customer favorite.