Chicago’s Classic Restaurants
There are so many new restaurants opening in Chicago that one can’t possibly keep up and try them all. As people often race for the new hotspots, there are many long-time restaurants that often go unnoticed. These classics have been local Chicago institutions for many years and have great old-world ambiance and excellent food. I have decided to make it my mission to go back to or to try these special places for the first time.
Gene & Georgetti.
For a great traditional Chicago experience don’t miss Gene & Georgetti at 500 N. Franklin. This Chicago institution, which I recently went to for the first time, has been serving steaks and Italian specialties since 1941. Not a trendy spot frequented by the younger, hip crowd, the crowd is older and consists of many regulars. The attentive waiters wear traditional white jackets and long white aprons. You feel like you’ve walked back in time. It has a warm, clubby feel with great photographs and murals. They have a wonderful selection of steaks, chops, pastas, salads and seafood. The mussels marinara were really excellent!
I went to The Berghoff Restaurant for the first time when I was 11 years old. The Old World atmosphere is the best, as is its great German food. Try the sauerbraten like I did in 1963! At Christmastime, the decorations are always festive. Having been in the same location since 1887, it closed a few years ago for a short time, but was soon reopened by one of the family members. You will be so glad that it is still around!! 17 W. Adams St.
Club Lucky looks like an old neighborhood supper club with good Italian food and retro atmosphere. The Christmas decorations in December are outstanding. It is located at 1824 W. Wabansia in the heart of Bucktown.
Twin Anchors is located at 1655 N. Sedgwick. Since 1932, it is known for its great burgers and ribs. A favorite spot of Frank Sinatra’s, his music is still played. It is a perfect place to go on a cold Chicago night. Drinking a single malt Scotch while listening to Frank Sinatra, is the best.
Located in Old Town near Division and Wells, is Glunz Tavern, next to the House of Glunz, one of Chicago’s oldest wine merchants. Originally opened in 1888 by Louis Glunz, the popular neighborhood gathering spot sat vacant for more than 90 years following its closure just prior to Prohibition. It was reopened in 2012 by his family members. It is known for its selection of beer, wine and Europcapeean influenced cuisine. It has a casual, old-world atmosphere. 1202 N. Wells.
The Drake’s Palm Court.
A well-known Chicago institution is the famous Drake Hotel at 121 E. Walton. Here you can enjoy afternoon tea in the elegant Palm Court, which also features jazz and music on weekend nights.
Cape Cod Room.
Also at The Drake is the famous Cape Cod Room, known for its oyster bar and seafood. It opened in 1933 and was inducted into the Fine Dining Hall of Fame by Nation’s Restaurant News. Make sure to order the Bookbinder Soup, a classic made with red snapper and sherry. Before dinner head to the hotel’s famed Coq d’Or bar for a classic cocktail.
The Billy Goat Tavern.
Made famous by Saturday Night Live,” Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger! No Coke! Pepsi! No Fries! Chips!” The Billy Goat Tavern is located below 430 N. Michigan Ave. Walk down the stairs to the lower level and stop in for a burger in this fun, casual spot.
Shaw’s Crab House.
Not far from The Billy Goat Tavern, is Shaw’s Crab House at 21 E. Hubbard. It has been there for over thirty years and is a Chicago institution. I was just back in preparation for this article and loved the warm, atmosphere and great food. I chose and loved the Hot Appetizer Combination with a mini crab cake, crispy calamari, two butter poached oysters, a steamed king crab bite and half of a grilled Maine lobster tail. The addition of two oysters Rockefeller made for a perfect meal. Their Oyster Bar is fun as well and often has live music. They are open for lunch, dinner and brunch on Saturday and Sunday.
Shaw’s Crab House.
Next door to Shaw’s is Andy’s Jazz Club, which features two live jazz bands nightly in a traditional setting. Opened as a neighborhood bar in 1951 by Andy Rizzuto, it became very popular with many in the newspaper business who worked nearby. He operated until 1975 when it was sold to the current ownership group that later added jazz to the mix. Make sure to add this to your list of things to do this summer.
Andy’s Jazz Club.
The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, a former prohibition-era speakeasy, is now host to great jazz every night of the week. You will love the warm, atmosphere. It is believed to be the oldest continuously run jazz club in the US. Try to see Patricia Barber on Monday evenings if she is not touring. She has always been one of my favorites since she was a regular at the, now closed, Gold Star Sardine Bar. She is now starting her performances at 9 pm. The Green Mill is also home to the Uptown Poetry Slam. There is parking in the lot behind the club. 4802 N. Broadway.
Green Mill Cocktail Lounge.
Club Lago, at 331 W. Superior at Orleans, is a wonderful old-world Italian restaurant complete with red and white checked tablecloths. Since 1952, it has offered Chicagoans great Northern Italian specialties. Down the street at 678 N. Orleans, is the famed Green Door Tavern that has been there since 1921. It is known for its burgers, salads and sandwiches.
Green Door Tavern.
Located at 2424 S. Oakley, Bruna’s Ristorante this has been a popular spot for over 82 years. This makes it older than the Pump Room and Gene & Georgetti’s. I recently went back after my first visit over 30 years ago. I love the traditional atmosphere with its dim lighting and murals. The fried calamari were excellent as was the white fish entree and the tasty linguini frutti di mare with shrimp, scallops, clams and mussels.
These are just a few of my favorite Classic Chicago spots. I will report back to all of you as I find and explore more places. Just running out the door to Lou Mitchell’s for breakfast at 565 W. Jackson Blvd.
Robert H. Glaze/Curator/Globalphile.com http://globalphile.com/