The First Annual Old Town Eating Awards

Francesca Burik & Gavin Hilder Guest Writers Although neither of us–like many of you–live within the boundaries of Old Town, we consider the neighborhood to be a major part of both who we are as individuals, and the Latin community. We know that we are extremely fortunate to have a wonderful cafeteria within our school: Quest is the best. Yet, for self proclaimed foodies like us we love to try new places and venture beyond our typical routines. We love to go out with friends for lunch or a quick dinner after school or a sporting event; luckily for us, there is a world of restaurants right outside of our classroom windows. The following list of restaurants aims to take various Old Town restaurants and place them into ten different “best of the best” categories. Although the greatest overall factor that we took into account while making this list was taste and appeal, we also paid attention to other factors, such as service, ambiance, and affordability. We hope that you try some of the places for yourself, and then let us know whether or not you think we got it right. Sushi Kamehachi * 1531 N. Wells Street 312.664.3663 Kamehachi, an Old Town establishment since 1967, offers authentic Japanese with an upscale twist. They offer an extensive sushi menu ranging from classics like the California roll to unique Kamehachi Makis like the White Heat  (escolar, wasabi tobiko, avocado, jalapeno, cilantro, red chili pepper paste, and a citrus soy). In addition to Maki rolls, they serve Nigiri, Sashimi, and unique Rice Bowls with sushi. Although their sushi is quite pricey, it is definitely worth the few extra bucks for the unbeatable freshness and originality. We also recommend either starting with a Miso soup and having sushi has your main course, or starting with a sushi roll and ordering an authentic Japanese noodle dish, such as tempura udon or yaki soba, as an entree. No matter which route you take, the food is destined to be a hit.   Tiparos * 1520 N. Clark Street 312.712.9900 Owned by Latin’s own Deepipat family, this is a Latin School institution. Whether you are craving some comfort Thai food after a long school day or are looking for a convenient bite before a school play, Tiparos is your spot.   Mizu 315 W. North Ave 312.951.8883 While Mizu may be a bit far west for a lunch break in the middle of the day, it is surely worth the walk during a double free. The cozy atmosphere and lengthy sushi bar give the restaurant an authentic vibe. Mizu offers some very creative rolls including their Spicy White Rainbow Roll, a spicy twist on a classic California roll. All of the sushi items are great, but if you are not a sushi fan, fear not, the chicken teriyaki is top notch. If you live in the Old Town neighborhood, Mizu also delivers! Noodles   Flat Top 319 West North Ave. 312.787.7676 Although Tiparos is right across the street from school and Flat Top is a decent walk away, Flat Top has the best noodles in Old Town by far. It goes beyond a typical restaurant to offer a unique dining experience that consists of one filling up their own bowl of ingredients that is then stir-fried by customers of their chefs and returned by a waiter to the patron’s table. They offer the option of either rice (brown or white) or noodles (usually three different kinds) and a wide array of vegetables. After that, they have a ton of different sauces to ladle over your bowl; we recommend mixing and matching different sauces. Then you can pick out a protein and add a “stick” to your bowl if you want. The “sticks” offer different ways to customize your bowl; for example, one stick will get you a japanese pancake-esque thing placed on top while another will turn your meal into lettuce wraps or even a soup dish. You have the option to buy one bowl or an unlimited number of bowls for only a dollar extra. Furthermore, if you are a student and present your school i.d., you can receive a discount. Overall, it is a fun experience that packs flavor and freshness into every bite.     Peking Chinese 129 West North Ave. 312.951.7207 Yes, yes the rumors are true; this North Ave. dive did get shut down earlier this year by Chicago Health & Sanitation. Yet, for the adventurous of stomach, Peking Chinese is up and running again, and despite this scare, many Latin students swear by their sesame chicken. Now, if you are looking for a healthy and wholesome meal, this may not be the spot for you, as most of the items are rather greasy. However, if you really are craving some Chinese fare, this joint has just about any dish one could think of. Dessert   Twisted Sister Bakery 1543 N. Wells Street 312.932.1128 This second floor bakery can be easy to miss if you don’t know where to look. Once inside this small but delicious smelling shop, you will be easily overwhelmed with tasty looking treats everywhere. Twisted Sister Bakery offers all of the stand-by cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and bars anyone would want out of a bakery, however, they also offer several unique and scrumptious treats. Some personal favorites include the Nutter Butter cookie (I mean how can you go wrong with that) and the Potato Chip cookie, which may sound weird but I promise it’s fabulous!     Kilwin’s * 1405 N. Wells Street 312.654.1962 This Mackinac Island native shop specializes in fudge and ice cream. Neither the fudge nor the ice cream disappoints. The fudge and chocolate selection is located in the front of the large store, and you can find dozens of tempting chocolates including their bestselling “Tuttles” (which are made out of pecans, fresh caramel, and Kilwin’s chocolate. Yum!) In the front you can also find items such as homemade toffee, peanut brittle, and chocolate covered anything (nuts, pretzels, almonds, etc.). Don’t go too crazy though before you hit the back section of the store where the ice cream cases are located. The ice cream selection is out of this world and is absolutely perfect for a summer treat!     Delightful Pastry 1710 N. Wells Street 312.255.0724 This Chicago bakery has several locations, one is even located in the Chicago French Market! Clearly, these bakers know what they are doing. The best time to go to Delightful Pastry is during the morning hours in order to snag some of the delicious breakfast pastries and breads. If a chocolate croissant will not give you the energy needed, don’t worry, they also offer café items like cinnamon brioche french toast. Gluten free? Not a problem, these guys have a great gluten free selection, so there is a little treat for all!     The Fudge Pot 1532 N. Wells Street 312.943.1777 This chocolate shop is an authentic Chicago establishment that has been in Old Town forever. We don’t necessarily recommend it for everyday consumption since it is so expensive, but their chocolate statues and sculptures are very cute and make for great gifts or prom askings. Breakfast   Elly’s * 312.643.2300 I think that it is pretty obvious and almost a given that Elly’s won this category; after all, it almost a part of Latin. Everyday, numerous Latin students pack the walls of this fun and warm modern pancake house. It not only offers copious amounts of crepes and pancakes and waffles, but also a great array of fresh eggs and omelettes. You can never go wrong with ordering anything off of their menu. And it is always nice to get the thousands of sides that come with every dish. Personally, we try to eat some of their more original items such as the Potato Benedict which replaces the English muffin on a standard Eggs Benedict with potato pancakes. Potato pancakes oozing with hollandaise sauce and topped with crispy bacon? It doesn’t get much better than that. We also recommend the Elly’s Health Club (two poached eggs, english muffin, cottage cheese, fresh fruit and small juice) or the Spartan omelette (an egg white omelette) if you are looking for some healthier, less sugary options. Lastly, nothing can beat their undeniable friendliness and impeccable service.   Nookies 1746 N. Wells Street 312.337.2454 This beloved Chicago chain is to be avoided at all costs on Saturday and Sunday mornings during the brunch hours, unless of course you would enjoy to wait 40 plus minutes. However, during the week, there is normally no wait at their Old Town location. They serve all American comfort food for breakfast, brunch, and lunch and they have a plethora of options so everyone in your party will be satisfied. No, the food is not out of this world, but everyone needs a solid grilled cheese and tomato soup combo every now and then, and Nookies is just the place to go. Insider tip: the hot chocolate is amazing.   Old Town Social 455 W. North Ave 312.266.2277 Don’t be turned off because of the distance. When you have enough time, perhaps on weekends for brunch with the family or with friends, Old Town Social is a must try. The brunch menu is super trendy and delicious and they even have an in house charcuterie that makes delicious cured meats. Also, the doughnuts are pretty much amazing. The atmosphere is very cozy and fun, and the food is equally as impressive.     Einstein Bros Bagels – Honorable Mention 1549 N Wells St 312.664.4777 You got to love Einstein’s and all of the freshly baked bagels that they serve up daily. Plus, their shmears are ridiculously delicious. It is a great place to go to if it’s an 8:25 day or if you have an early morning free and are looking for a more satisfying and filling breakfast for a fraction of the price of eating pancakes or eggs. Additionally, they have added a whole new line of healthy options that contain way less calories than a standard bagel; not that there is anything wrong with a normal bagel, we love them–and Einstein’s does them right. Snack   Potash * 1525 N. Clark Street 312.337.5495 Sick of the cafeteria? Need a snack before practice? All Latin students know the drill, Potash is embedded in the Latin culture, gotta love it. Yes, it is a bit expensive but we still love our Potash goods. Some student favorites include the pre-made mac and cheese and the make your own sandwich option in the deli.   Starbucks-honorable mention Across the Street 312.337.6481 It’s Starbucks. No comment necessary. But actually, Starbucks offers amazing coffee and delectable treats that are easy to eat on the go or on the bus ride to an away sports event. Plus, who doesn’t love our Latin Starbucks baristas?   Walgreens 1601 N. Wells Street We only put Walgreens on this list for two reasons: it is cheap and it has ICEEs. Ever since the cafeteria got rid of the two slushie / smoothie machines that they had, we have been craving that daily sugar high and Walgreens offers the perfect solution. Yogurt   Pinkberry 1533 N. Wells Street 312.280.7577 This West Hollywood institution finally made it to Chicago after much anticipation. As the fro-yo craze continues to sweep the nation, Pinkberry is at the top of its game. Although this Wells street location might be a bit of hike from school, it’s worth the walk! Insider tip: hit up Pinkberry in the winter when the seasonal flavor is Peanut Butter, a fan fave.   Twist N’ Twirl * 111 W. North Ave. 312.988.9478 Latin’s neighbor and resident fro-yo shop offers many sweet flavors of yogurt including cinnamon roll, peanut butter, and our personal fav, cake batter. The self-serve toppings are also impressive and the cookie dough chunks are always a favorite. Be careful not to overload on toppings though, because you are charged by the ounce! Also, the hours are constantly changing so make sure they are open before you head over. Italian Topo Gigio * 1516 N. Wells Street 312.266.9355 This neighborhood favorite offers all of our favorite Italian options, and they are all done remarkably well. You pretty much can’t go wrong here; from the chicken parm. to the Caprese salad, Topo Gigio knows how to make a mean Italian dinner. This spot is definitely one of the fancier Wells Street joints, so save it for a nicer occasion or family dinner!   Dinotto Ristorante 215 W. North Ave. 312.202. 0302 This low-key, romantic Italian restaurant is a great quick date night spot. The food is certainly not the best Italian food we have every indulged in, but it is not half bad either. We recommend you give this place a shot in the summer, when their great outdoor garden is open. Trattorria Roma 1535 N. Wells Street 312.664.7907 This casual Italian trattorria is probably our least favorite Old Town Italian on the list. It’s not exceptionally bad, but the dishes run low on flavor, and the ambiance is a bit lackluster for the price. We recommend you run across the street to Topo Gigio or Dinotto before you try Trattoria Roma. Fancy Meal   Adobo Grill 1610 N. Wells Street 312.266.7999 When you are craving some spunky Mexican flavors, this old town classic is your go-to. The Mexican fare at this restaurant is so fresh and authentic, you will feel like you just escaped to Mexico for the evening after dining here. Also, the ambiance is perfect for any fun Friday night! A note to the wise: order the guac.; it is made table-side and is super cool to watch, not to mention delicious!   Bistrot Margot 1437 N. Wells Street 312.587.3660 Although this is not our favorite restaurant, it is still a fine establishment that serves up authentic French food. So, if you are looking for anything French, this is definitely the place in Old Town to go to. Additionally, they offer Petits Plats Du Jour (Small Plates of the Day) for 10 dollars, which are the perfect size to pair with a nice caesar salad.   O’Brien’s 1528 N. Wells Street 312.787.3131 This is a great spot to go for a slightly more upscale meal without having to be dressed nicely or spend too much money. They boast a large menu that will be sure to satisfy any craving, with items ranging from calamari to Angus hamburgers to fish n’ chips.]]>