I’ve been spending a lot of time in Chinatown recently, looking for stories for Chinese New Year. Frankly, I hadn’t even thought to stop by Phoenix, the venerable 18 year-old restaurant hidden up on the 2nd floor of a dingy building across the street from the more dynamic Chinatown Square Mall. But the restaurant recently underwent a major facelift and renovation, shutting down for nearly seven weeks to remodel, and like its name, has been reborn with a confidence previously held by places like MingHin Cuisine, which is swallowing adjacent storefronts in the Mall across the street like the mighty Borg. Read More
You’ve probably seen the River Valley Ranch stand at a number of Farmer’s Markets in the area. You might have even seen their main store and growing facility, if you ever take Highway 50 west toward Lake Geneva. What I had thought to be a quaint little family business selling salsas and jars of mushrooms, is now getting into the restaurant and deli business with a new store along Wilson, where the old City Provisions used to be.
You may have heard about this New Orleans trip I’m organizing in the spring. 22 people are coming, but two of those people haven’t been chosen yet. That’s because we’re holding a contest to give those two tickets away. Here’s how you can win: Read More
By now, you’ve probably heard all about the pizza, pasta, carne and pesce at Eataly, the 63,000 square feet behemoth in River North. What you probably haven’t heard too much about is their beer. Yes, they have a brewery on site, but they are also importing some very special beer from Italy, including this week’s pick, the Super Baladin, which Michael Roper says is along the lines of a Belgian (as in very food-friendly) but with an Italian accent. If you can make it past the Nutella and gelato bar on your way upstairs, be sure to grab a few bottles (alternatively, pick up some at The Hopleaf). Cheers.
We’re off to Morocco this week, sort of. At least on West Irving Park Road. I guarantee you’ve probably whizzed by Shokran on the way to Smoque BBQ or at the very least, were probably focusing more on the exit/on ramp for the Kennedy Expressway than you were on the storefront here. It’s easy to miss. But do yourself a favor and stop in for the spice-laden tagines and the hearty bisteeya. The former are fragrant stews served in conical clay vessels; the latter, a sweet-savory mashup that’s harder than ever to find in Chicago. Thanks to Todd Rosenberg (@toddrphoto) for the fine videography work as always.
Walking out of Ming Hin a few weeks ago in the Chinatown Square mall, I caught sight of him. I hadn’t seen Liu Chang Ming in over a year, when he was smiling broadly for passersby at Hing Kee, just a few doors away. There, he could reliably be seen most days, right up front next to a large window and adjacent to a wok filled with boiling water, hand-stretching, pulling and shaping extra long noodles, destined for bowls of soup or platters of ground pork and chilies. And then, just like that, he was gone. Had he moved back to China? Been lured, perhaps, to a strip mall in Naperville? Apparently, he had been waiting for Sing’s Noodle to open up just across the way from Lao Sze Chuan.