A new Chicago guide for food lovers

RecipesLifestyle and LeisureCookingDining and DrinkingRestaurantsRick BaylessMaxwell Street

Jennifer Olvera serves up the skinny on all things edible, sippable and growable in her new book, “Food Lovers’ Guide to Chicago” (Globe Pequot, $15.95).

The book contains pithy restaurant reviews, a food festival calendar, tippling tips, market guides and even recipes from such prominent Chicago chefs as Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and Xoco, Paul Kahan of Avec, Blackbird and The Publican, and Stephanie Izard of Girl & The Goat.

Olvera, a Brookfield resident, is a longtime food writer, recipe tester and developer. The idea of the book came from a desire to inspire others to check out new foods, new venues and new neighborhoods.

"I think a lot of the existing guidebooks hit the obvious places," she says. "They enforce the stereotype of Chicago having these certain foods. I think it can be a disservice. There’s so much other exciting stuff people don’t hear about."

“There’s so much buzz about the major chefs doing things in the city and that’s good,’’ she adds. “But it’s really cool to know all these less-visited places are doing really cool stuff, too. Pick one a week or visit two a month.”

To that end, she’s even pulled together a list of Chicago eats far more unusual than the expected hot dogs, deep-dish pizza and Italian beef. Here are three of her choices and where to get them:

The Mother-in-Law sandwich, Ramova Grill, 3510 S. Halsted St., 773-847-9058. "A corn tamale tucked into a hot dog bun and blanketed with chili."

Maxwell Street Polish, Jim’s Original, 1250 S. Union Ave. (and other locations) 312-733-7820. "A grilled or fried sausage, smothered in grilled onions, squeezed with yellow mustard, topped with sports peppers, placed on a bun."

The Jibarito, Borinquen Restaurant, 1720 N. California Ave. (and other locations) 773-227-6038. "Garlicky steak (or other meat), cheese and lettuce sandwich, cradled by smashed plantains rather than bread."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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