Being a Chicagoan, I preeeetty much have deep dish pizza sauce running through my veins. (Lou Malnatis, not Giordano’s…v important to note). However, Chicago is full of food gems besides the ‘za, hot dogs, and popcorn, that I think you should know about-which is why I’ve set out to do this Chicago Noms Guide. I’ve decided to tackle one neighborhood at a time, and go home each day with a stomach ache. There will be healthy and not-so-healthy options included, because one should never discriminate against GOOD FOOD. So without further ado, here is the best of the best from the first ‘hood: Lincoln Park.
Stan’s Donuts & Coffee
Originally started out in LA, Stan’s is a no-brainer if you’re into the donut scene. My boyfriend, Patrick, doesn’t like donuts *gasp* and if he weren’t so great, it just might be a deal breaker for me.
Being that the N Clark St location was the first stop on my food tour journey, my bff and I decided to go balls to the walls and get a half-dozen. I couldn’t damn well recommend a donut shop if I hadn’t tried at least 6 of their flavors…am I right? Next time, 12 is the move.
Among the ones we tried, our absolute favs were the old-fashioned varieties- original and chocolate. Simplicity really is everything. BUT! There was not a single one out of the six that I wouldn’t recommend, along with the Peanut Butter Banana Pocket, which is not pictured. Stan’s is also equipped with gluten-less options, and if donuts really aren’t your thing (ugh…you people) they have bagels, gelato, and Intelligentsia coffee. There are currently 6 locations in Chicago, so if you aren’t in the Lincoln Park area, fear not.
Summer House Santa Monica
For lunch, we headed to Summer House Santa Monica on Halsted Street. Highly recommend hitting this chill, open-air spot while the weather is still nice in Chi-city. The vibe definitely isn’t the same during the winter months. SH’s beach house-inspired decor and relaxed atmosphere is everything; you can almost feel the ocean breeze.
Since the place is always packed, make it a point to call ahead and make a res. As a procrastinator by nature, I failed to do so, but we lucked out with seats at the bar while waiting for a table. We ordered the Palm Fizz, a mix of aromatized wine, apple, lemon, prosecco, and rosemary. It was refreshing and delish, not to mention s’photogenic. If you’re not legal or it’s not 5 o’clock somewhere, SH also has “Zero Proof Cocktails” and the cucumber cooler is a must.
For food (this is what you came for), I opted for the California Caesar Salad and the English Muffin Burger. Next time, I’d pass on the salad and go for the roasted cauliflower, which was recommended by our lovely waitress. Other recs include the Local Mixed Greens, Ahi Tuna Tostadas, and Surfer-Style Tacos. You really can’t go wrong with this Cali-inspired menu.
For dessert, (bc there’s always room) we went to the sweets counter at the front of the restaurant. Didn’t take long for me to select the biggest cookie I’ve ever seen and claim it as my own. Sea Salt Choc Chip FTW. There are endless options here, and a solid business decision to place it at the front of the restaurant, might I add. See it when ya go in, think about it until you leave and inevitably buy something.
Other Recommendations in the LP area:
Chicago Pizza And Oven Grinder Co. – K. So I know I mentioned not mentioning pizza, but I couldn’t resist. This underground, dive-type place has appeared on Food Network and is famous for its pot pie-style pizza. Look it up. I had an out-of-body experience the first time I ate here. Mediterranean Flatbread is also a go. Order as an appetizer on a day where carbs don’t count.
Bobtail Ice Cream Company – An old-school ice cream parlor with homemade flavors. All of them are fantastic, but if peach is available (seasonal) – get it. Their signature creations are also nom-worthy, most of which are appropriately named after Chicago things, like the Lakeview Barhopper. If ya like ice cream, you’ll like Bobtail.
Admittedly, most of the items on the Lincoln Park list do not scream “health”, but, as Gandhi once said…YOLO.
PART 2 of my Chicago Noms Guide can be found in collaboration with Pyknic here. I’m so proud to have worked with such an awesome foodie fashion brand.
No tellin where my taste buds will lead me next. Comment below your favorite places to eat in Chicago! They may be added to the list.
“When your best friend asks you to go on a food tour in the city…you don’t say no.”
– RL quote from bff @gennygl