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Best cheap fancy lunch

Sikia Restaurant washburneculinary.com/facilities/sikia In an industrial part of Englewood populated largely by empty lots, factory buildings, and fast-food restaurants is the 77-year-old Washburne Culinary Institute—and inside of that is Sikia Restaurant, where Washburne students prepare and serve food in a room full of white tablecloths, tasteful artwork, and soothing music. Sadly, the $7 three-course meal […]

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Best $3 lunch

The sandwiches at Xi’an Cuisine xiancuisinechicago.com I read a quotation once to the effect that people who eat sandwiches have given up on life. I don’t agree with this. In fact, I think in many ways we’re experiencing a sandwich renaissance in Chicago, where any bored office worker can hop on the Red Line, get […]

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Best use of food waste

Nance Klehm, the Ground Rules spontaneousvegetation.net/the-ground-rules During the last year and a half, ecological systems designer, landscaper, horticultural consultant, permacultural grower, and forager Nance Klehm has undertaken an ambitious composting and bioremediation project called the Ground Rules. Each week her group collects some 1,000 gallons’ worth of food waste from local businesses like Owen & […]

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Best new cookbook from Chicago

The Big Jones Cookbook store.bigjoneschicago.com A category like this has more candidates than you might expect, and it’s no slam on people from Mindy Segal to Anupy Singla to say that there’s one obvious winner here: Paul Fehribach’s The Big Jones Cookbook. Organized by regions of the south, it’s a cookbook built on cookbooks, as […]

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Best sausage that brings the funk

Soppressata from ’Nduja Artisans ndujaartisans.com Ever since it burst onto the scene with its spicy, spreadable Calabrian meat butter, salumi start-up ’Nduja Artisans has been expanding its production line with heritage meats like Wagyu salame di manzo, Wagyu bresaola, Berkshire hot coppa, and a black-label ’nduja made from Mangalitsas and Ossabaws. But it’s the new […]

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Best comeback(s) from disaster

5 Loaves Eatery 5loaveschicago.com The kind of place every neighborhood wants, 5 Loaves Eatery is a brightly painted, friendly breakfast spot making delicious soul-food staples like chicken and waffles and shrimp and grits. And food with soul it is: the name comes from the five loaves that Jesus multiplied in Matthew, and the owners give […]

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Best Hot Doug’s stand-in

Hot “G” Dog hotgdog.com During Hot Doug’s waning days last summer and fall, when lovers of encased meats mourned by waiting in nine-hour lines, it was hard to tell which aspect of the Hot Doug’s experience they would miss more, the specialty sausages and duck-fat fries or Doug Sohn’s genial presence. But now at least […]

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Best vegan deep-dish

Kitchen 17 kitchen17.com Deep-dish pizza is a pretty unlikely candidate for a vegan imitation. Can you guess why? Because a single traditional slice typically features a threatening cliff of mozzarella—never mind the chunks of sausage and pepperoni struggling against the grease that seeps out from beneath the layer of marinara on top. But the unpretentious, […]

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Best soup dumplings

Guan tang jiao zi at Qing Xiang Yuan Dumpling An alternative to the difficult-to-make and notoriously unreliable buns known as xiao long bao, guan tang jiao zi, another version of soup-filled dumplings, are pot-sticker-size bundles of love inside of which the meat filling has been mixed with water, effectually creating stock when the dumpling are […]