I visited Chicago spontaneously for a couple of days this week because my two best friends happened to be there at the same time, and I only live a couple hours away. It was super fun to see them; we just graduated from college, so seeing college friends feels really special and exciting these days. While there, I ate a LOT of amazing food. Here are some of the places I went/what I ate/what I thought!
Qing Xiang Yuan Dumpling – Chinatown
The menu for this restaurant was populated almost entirely by dumplings. An amazing place. We got the chicken + mushroom, pork + pickled Chinese cabbage, and beef + onion. I liked the pork the most; my friends liked the beef. They were steamed and juicy; very straightforward dumplings. SO GOOD!!!!
Minghin Cuisine – Chinatown
We bopped over to this place after the dumpling restaurant (and got boba in between) because they had LATE NIGHT DIM SUM! We were already pretty full but still got an order of bbq pork buns, deep fried pork dumplings, and shrimp dumplings with chives. The pork buns were delicious and sweet. The deep fried pork dumplings were very puffy and hollow, with little filling, but were definitely tasty. The shrimp dumplings had a super gelatinous casing, and were pretty good, although not as good as the other two dishes. Late night dim sum is exciting though, even if the shrimp dumplings didn’t knock it out of the park.
Pierogi Street – Clark and Monroe (the pierogis are the image– they look gross because I’m bad at food photography, not because they are gross)
This is a food truck; it hits up multiple locations (according to foodtruckfinder.com), but I had it on Clark St. I love pierogis (noticing a theme? savory filling encased in carbs? my favorite foods?), and I haven’t had any in a while, so I was PUMPED to see this truck. I got mushroom + sauerkraut and cheddar + potato, topped with sour cream and peppery caramelized onions. Both were delicious, although I preferred the cheddar + potato variety. They were kinda expensive, but I don’t really have any sense of pricing in Chicago (I’ve only lived in much smaller towns), so it might have been totally reasonable. There were lots of other people in line for the pierogis, so I definitely wasn’t getting ripped off.
Moe’s Cantina – River North
This place was cray cray! The walls facing the street were totally open, and the waitresses were all wearing cowboy boots. Wild. I went here for dinner; we each got drinks. I tried the Dragonfruit Vojito (vodka mojito lol) which was not very good, but my friends got the white wine sangria and the El Sueño (a coconutty cocktail), both of which were very delicious. For food, we got their guacamole which was yummy. I got the goat cheese + rajas tacos; they were SO GOOD. They were just goat cheese, chihuahua cheese, and roasted poblano peppers on corn tortillas. I added some lettuce to mine because one of my friends had a bunch of shredded romaine on her plate that she wasn’t eating and I love shredded lettuce. Definitely delicious. This place also felt expensive, but I think it’s a small town girl goes to the big city thing.
Firecakes Donuts – River North
I know donuts are kind of overrated but these were really delicious! Like they would not change a donut hater’s mind about donuts, but if you’re into donuts, these were solid. I got a “classic jelly” which was filled with an ambiguous berry jelly and covered in sugar. The filling was perfect; plenty of sugar and no seeds, but you could tell it was made with fruit (as opposed to the bright red, corn syrupy filling that some jelly donuts have). They had a lot of flavors that looked good; orange poppy seed and pistachio also stuck out to me (but I’m a jelly donut gurl 4 life sry!).
Saucy Porka – The Loop
This is an Asian-Latino fusion restaurant which are my two favorite broad categories of food, so that was exciting! It also didn’t make me uncomfortable because it is small and Latinx-owned, so it isn’t white people exploiting “exotic” and “ethnic” cuisines for the big buck$$$$. They have bao tacos (aka bacos aka they use the little bao buns and fill them with stuff like a taco), banh mi, rice bowls, tostones, egg rolls, and more. I got the soy ginger tofu bacos and vegetable egg rolls. I love the texture of bao buns, and the tofu was really yummy. Nice and crispy with lots of really flavorful sauce. The egg rolls were also great, but I feel like the bacos stood out more to me cuz they’re so ~creative~.
Big cities intimidate me, but the food choices are so amazing! I was very lucky and only had great food experiences the couple of days I was in Chicago. I highly recommend all of these places. I hope you get to go!!!! Ciao bishes!