Friday, September 22, 2017

A Taste of Chicago: Our Favorite Casual Restaurants

"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating." ~ Luciano Pavarotti

Eating well is definitely a perk of visiting The Windy City. From famous Chicago-style pizza to world-class fine dining, it seems the options for taking a bite out of this metropolis are nearly endless. During our recent visit, we got a taste of the local food scene. Here are our recommendations for casual fare in Downtown Chicago.

Source: Nando's Peri-Peri
Small Bites On the day we arrived, we settled into our hotel by early afternoon and were eager to get out and explore the surrounding area. Joe had a favorite pizza spot in mind for a late dinner, but after a couple of hours on the town, we were ready to pause for some refreshments to hold us until supper. On a previous visit, he had stumbled upon Nando's Peri-Peri, a new-to-us Afro-Portuguese chain serving spicy chicken with signature sauces. Hummus drizzled with a house infused oil and served alongside crisp vegetables and warm pitas offered a satisfying accompaniment to a platter of flame-grilled wings sampled with the eatery's signature sauces.

Source: Lou Malnati's Pizzaria
Chicago Deep Dish Of course, we could not begin our culinary tour without piping-hot slices of the city's famous pizza. This classic usually features a deep-dish crust with tall edges perfect for holding a thick layer of toppings. Joe has sampled several different local restaurants over the years, but his favorite is Lou Malnati's Pizzaria, a local chain that boasts the oldest name in Chicago pizza. Their made-from-scratch pies are known for quality tomatoes and mozzarella, but for Joe it's the special-recipe butter crust that earns top honors. Son Christian was a big fan, as well!

Source: A Little Loveliness
Bistro du Jour A number of caf├ęs beckon along Michigan Avenue. With their flower-edged patios and tempting menus, several piqued my interest. Le Pain Quotidien was my choice for lunch on our final afternoon in Chicago. This bakery-restaurant group, founded in Brussels, serves simple boulangerie fare, along with an array of fresh breads, desserts and coffee drinks. My Grilled Chicken Cobb was a refreshing green salad topped with avocado, bacon, hard-boiled egg, and Fourme d'Ambert. Drizzles of smoked tea vinaigrette added the finishing touch to this refreshing entree.

Mouthwatering displays at Le Pain Quotidien drew me to this charming eatery. In my next post, experience teatime at an iconic Chicago destination -- and see if you won the giveaway of our new Hoffman Media book Teatime Parties. If you haven't entered, leave a comment on that post to get your name in the teacup!

"The best food is in Chicago. There are great restaurants everywhere, from fancy places to burger joints." ~ Steve Carell

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