Chicago Gourmet lands in Millennium Park on September 23, bringing with it an A-list chef lineup for a weekend of cooking demonstrations, seminars, and decadent parties. And while plenty of Chicago’s own will represent some of the city’s finest food and wine destinations, a handful of visiting talent will make the trek in to experience all of those spots and others that the Windy City has to offer. Here are just a few of the places those out-of-town chefs eat and drink when they visit Chicago.
For a blowout dinner: Spiaggia “The tasting menu at chef Tony Mantuano’s Spiaggia is hard to beat when I'm planning to go all out.” 980 N. Michigan Ave., 312-280-2750
For brunch: Yolk and Eleven City Diner “These South Loop spots are my top picks for this category. The ambiance at Yolk is so sunny and exactly the kind of cheeriness you’d want to be surrounded by at brunch. At Eleven City Diner, my kids and I love the specialties from the soda fountain—it’s such a throwback.” Yolk - 1120 S. Michigan Ave., 312-789-9655; Eleven City Diner - 1112 S. Wabash Ave., 312-212-1112
For hot dogs: The Wiener Circle “This place is a Chicago legend. I go for their char dogs with a side of the unique brand of performance art that’s only available there.” 2622 N. Clark St., 773-477-7444
For doughnuts: Glazed and Infused “These doughnuts are amazing. Each bite is different, and the consistency of their offerings is like no other.” Multiple locations
For brunch: Blue Door Kitchen & Garden “Talk about one of my favorite places to have brunch. It’s approachable and delicious, and the talent of chef Rey Villalobos comes to life. Lunch and dinner are highly recommended, as well.” 52 W. Elm St., 312-573-4000
For rigatoni Bolognese: Nico Osteria “Well, when everything is done low and slow, from scratch, and with the best ingredients, you get the best results. And let's not forget the amazing service. Well done!” 1015 N. Rush St., 312-994-7100
For tacos: Birrieria Reyes De Ocotlan Restaurant “This spot is also a favorite of our chef brother Rick Bayless. I agree, Rick—it is by far the best in the city! I always go for cabeza, a mixture of cheek and other meat from the head of a cow. It’s beautiful. Also, the lengua, which is chopped beef tongue, and, of course, the birria, which is a taco of shredded goat meat. They also make great homemade tortillas and salsa verde.” 1322 W. 18th St.
For hot dogs: Jim’s Original “Chicago would not be Chicago without hot dogs! And talk about a guilty pleasure. The best for me would be Jim’s Original. It’s old-school and one great dog. It's a 24/7 hot dog stand that started in 1939 and is still going strong. You can taste a bit of history in the original Maxwell Street Polish sausage.” 1250 S. Union Ave., 312-733-7820
Best Cocktails: The Aviary “The Aviary brings cocktails to another level. The best thing to do here is to go for the prix-fixe menu—you get three cocktails from their menu of 11 drinks. The ones I enjoyed most were the Yuzu, with dandelion, white pepper, and chamomile gin; the Lambrucha, with tea, ginger, lambic, and bourbon; and the School Lunch, with curry, peanut, chocolate, and rum.” 955 W. Fulton Market, 312-226-0868