Travel

Chicago Specialty

Establishment neighborhood
Chef Made (Closed)
The first thing that makes Chef Made stand apart is their gorgeous food photography, but the food itself is just as good. Recipe-wise, they excel at inventive spins on classic dishes, like ginger chicken noodle soup with lime and chili, turkey meatballs and lemony rice, and an edamame bowl with miso brown rice cakes. They also offer really good drinks, like cold-brew Intelligentsia coffee and homemade jasmine milk tea. The whole operation is one for one: For each meal purchased, Chef Made donates a meal to someone in need through a local food bank.
Farmer’s Fridge
Farmer’s Fridge is famous for gorgeous, layered jar salads with dressing and solids on the bottom; flip them upside down and they become the perfect healthy meal. In honor of the New Year and the wave of healthy eating resolutions that come with it, they’ve teamed up with another Chicago favorite, Real Good Juice, to create a two-day cleanse that can be delivered to your door. The cleanse features solid food and juice (there are omnivore and vegetarian versions), and can be scheduled for delivery or pickup anytime.
Blue Door Farm Stand
2010 N. Halsted St., Lincoln Park
Part neighborhood café, part grocery, this Lincoln Park favorite is the definition of farm-to-table: All seasonal ingredients for the café and fresh produce for the market either come from the Blue Door farm, which is situated on what used to be Oprah’s property, or a number of other local purveyors. The eat-in menu has six grilled cheese varieties and a selection of craft beers while the small dry-goods section offers house-made pantry stockers and giftables from Chicago Candle Co., and goop-approved Murchison-Hume.
Doughnut Vault
111 N. Canal St., West Loop
Doughnuts have been enjoying a pretty awesome resurgence, and nowhere is that more evident than this family of bakeries, where out-the-door lines are a daily occurrence. Flavors run the gamut from buttermilk to gingerbread stack, but the award winning glazed is the long-standing favorite. For diehards, it might be worth it to hop from shop to shop, as the menus and daily specials vary. Keep in mind that all three can shut down unexpectedly if stock runs out, so check twitter if you're planning a visit for later in the day. (The other standing location is in River North.)
Doughnut Vault
401 N. Franklin St., River North
Doughnuts have been enjoying a pretty awesome resurgence, and nowhere is that more evident than this family of bakeries, where out-the-door lines are a daily occurrence. Flavors run the gamut from buttermilk to gingerbread stack, but the award winning glazed is the long-standing favorite. For diehards, it might be worth it to hop from shop, to shop, to truck as the menus and daily specials vary. The truck, for example, serves strictly old fashioneds (check twitter to find out where it’s parked). Keep in mind that all three can shut down unexpectedly if stock runs out. (The other standing location is in West Loop.)
Real Good Juice Co.
1647 N. Wells St., Old Town
This Old Town juicery goes to great lengths to make their cold pressed juices (and smoothies, yogurts, salads, snacks…) live up to its name. A dedicated juice chef takes care of sourcing (all local, always organic), and the hilariously punny names make remembering your favorite blends easy (Juice Springsteen, Punky Juice-ster, Juice-tin Bieber—you get the idea). Plus, the space itself—all white save for the occasional bursts of neon—is nice for a mid-day breather.
Eataly Chicago
The Shops at North Bridge, 43 E. Ohio St., Magnificent Mile
Just like the NYC outpost, and the dozen or so locations all over Italy (as well as recent offshoots in Japan, Dubai, and Istanbul)—Eataly Chicago is a foodie wonderland. The sprawling space is packed with imported sauces, beers, sweets, and so much more. There’s even a selection of housewares and books. Stalls offering house-made breads, pastas, and cheeses are scattered throughout—we recommend doing a lap to get the lay of the land first before committing to any one spot. For more formal dining there are several restaurants that are pretty efficient about taking walk-ins. No big surprise, but they have great gelato.
Eli’s Cheesecake
6701 W. Forest Preserve Dr., Dunning
This is where real Chicagoans go for Chicago-style cheesecake—less dense than NY-style with a moist, butter-cookie crust. There’s a miles-long list of inventive flavors—white chocolate raspberry, hot chocolate, blackberry sour cream—but the original is still tops. Coincidentally, Eli’s is also famous for having the best tofu-based vegan cheesecake in the country, which according to lore, the owners developed after GP suggested there was a hole in the market for vegan cheesecake that didn't taste like cardboard.
Heritage Bicycles
2959 N. Lincoln Ave., Lakeview
We teamed up with Heritage as part of our Chicago pop. After all, this is the kind of family-run operation that can make all your bike-related dreams come true. Not only will they custom build one pretty much from scratch (Tassels? Glitter? No problem!), but they make great coffee, too. The original Lincoln Avenue outpost (owners Mike and Melissa Salvatore actually live upstairs) does both in addition to a sweet general store, while the newer Heritage Outpost in Uptown is devoted entirely to coffee. You'll find free Wifi, and a group of people working on laptops, at both locations.