Lincoln Square resident Chandra Ram is a trained chef and the editor of Plate magazine.
With her background as the editor of Chicago-based Plate magazine and a culinary school-trained chef, Chandra Ram knows a thing or two about dining in Chicago.
Between her job, her work planning the Celebrity Chef Ball for Meals on Wheels Chicago each year, and her involvement with the James Beard Foundation, Ram has unearthed tons of foodie finds in both her Lincoln Square neighborhood and throughout Chicago.
What is your favorite neighborhood bar, and do you have a go-to cocktail there? CHANDRA RAM: I'm a big fan of the Stalker at Tiny Lounge (4352 N. Leavitt St., 773-463-0396): celery juice, gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Delicious, and incredibly refreshing in a healthy-except-for-the-gin way. In the winter, [I like] the bourbon at The Red Lion (4749 N. Rockwell St., 773-654-1341).
How about for dining? CR: My husband and I are devoted to a couple of takeout guilty pleasures in the neighborhood: banh mi sandwiches from Nhu Lan’s [Bakery] (2612 W. Lawrence Ave., 773-878-9898), and the unbeatable nam khao sod from Rainbow Cuisine (4825 N. Western Ave., 773-754-7660).
Where do you grocery shop in your area? CR: I love food shopping at Gene’s [Sausage Shop & Delicatessen] (5330 W. Belmont Ave., 773-777-6322). They have organic meat, eggs from local farms, and a rooftop bar with Stiegl grapefruit beer—everything I look for in a grocery store.
What Chicago neighborhood has the best dining scene right now? CR: It's hard to get past Randolph Street, but I'm especially fond of the restaurants just north, from Vera (1023 W. Lake St., 312-243-9770), PQM (825 W. Fulton Market, 312-445-8977), and La Sirena Clandestina (954 W. Fulton Market, 312-226-5300) in Fulton Market, to Two (1132 W. Grand Ave., 312-624-8363) on Grand. Chicago chefs will create a restaurant neighborhood in the most unexpected places.
Are there any restaurants opening soon that you are excited to try? CR: I'm excited for Nico Osteria (1015 N. Rush St., 312-496-0012) to open; they've got an incredible team in the kitchen there.