As a Chicago native, I've been constantly spoiled by living in one of the greatest food cities. Since moving away to college, I've been reminiscing about my favorite places. Unfortunately, dining hall food just does not compare. So, if you're lucky enough to have 24 hours in Chicago, these are the restaurants you must visit.
Toast is a 10-minute walk from the house I grew up in. It is a staple, but so much more than that. If you're going on the weekend, make sure to get there on the early side. The waits prove how good this place is.
My go-to breakfast is the Tijuana omelet and the whole wheat chocolate chip pancakes. Yes, order both of them. It's worth it.The Tijuana omelet is oozing with tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, chihuahua cheese, and cilantro. It's served with potatoes and your choice of toast. As the name of the restaurant says, this is the place to get toast. I always get the multigrain. It's so good that I forget it's multigrain.
The pancakes are the same deal: so good that I forget that they are whole wheat. They're fluffy, but still have a rich flavor. Plus, a few (or many) chocolate chips never hurt anybody. If you're feeling adventurous, order the s'mores pancakes off of the kids menu.
Lunch: HUB 51
HUB 51's menu ranges from burgers to tacos to sushi. Make sure to come here with someone else so you can share all these yummy dishes.
To start, the nachos are the way to go. These aren't your average nachos. They are loaded with shredded chicken, Oaxaca and cheddar cheeses, jalapeños, salsa, guacamole, and cilantro.
The next course to order is the Tuna Thai Basil sushi roll. It's full of tuna and avocado, then topped with wasabi cream and basil.If you can handle more food, get the burger. All of the burgers are fantastic, but I'm a fan of the good ol' cheeseburger. It's served with paprika and chili seasoned fries. They're as good as they sound.
Even if you're stuffed at this point, you have to get the carrot cake. HUB 51's cake is the purest form of carrot cake: no raisins or nuts, just a boatload of whipped cream cheese frosting and moist cake.
Snack: Big Star
I've decided that tacos are the ultimate snack. At Big Star, you can order them per piece. My absolute favorite is the Al Pastor: tender pork, grilled pineapple, onion, and cilantro. If you're hungry for more, get an order of guacamole with hot and salty tortilla chips.
Dinner: Osteria La Madia
I know, talking about Chicago, you're expecting something on deep-dish. Confession: I like thin-crust better. Osteria La Madia will not let you down. One of my favorite dinners is top-notch salad and pizza. There's something for everyone here. Osteria La Madia has a wide selection of appetizers, salads, pastas, and of course, pizza.
The Little Gem Greens Salad has crispy pancetta, tomatoes, and a mustard dressing that will change your feelings about salad. And now, the best part. The triple pepperoni pizza with white truffle oil. Thin slices of high-quality pepperoni, just the right amount of cheese, a drop of truffle oil, and some basil to top it off.
Dessert: Stan's Donuts
Who doesn't love a good doughnut? Stan's has the best old-fashioned doughnut I've ever had. My other favorites include the apple fritter, the glazed old-fashioned, and the Nutella pocket. Oh, and did I mention the doughnuts go very nicely with one of their milkshakes?
Hopefully you have longer than 24 hours in Chicago. It would take weeks to go to all of the best restaurants. But if you go to these restaurants, you will surely be convinced to come back for more.