Things to Do This Winter in Chicago: 10 Slurpy Dishes We Love

BOWLED OVER: Belly Shack’s hot-and-sour, GT Fish & Oyster’s Clam Chowder, Soon Doo Boo Chigae at Tofu House, and more

Belly Shack’s take on hot-and-sour, gumbo ya-ya from Big Jones, Chez Joël’s French onion, clam chowder at GT Fish & Oyster and salt ramen at Santouka
Clockwise from left: Belly Shack’s take on hot-and-sour, gumbo ya-ya from Big Jones, Chez Joël’s French onion, clam chowder at GT Fish & Oyster and salt ramen at Santouka

 

HOT-AND-SOUR at BELLY SHACK
Mexican tortilla soup as interpreted by an alum of Charlie Trotter’s—Bill Kim—means tender hominy, ribbons of scrambled egg, and crunchy bean sprouts in a tangy and gently piquant broth that begins life as a Japanese dashi. 1912 N. Western Ave.; 773-252-1414

GUMBO YA-YA at BIG JONES
The line between a black roux and a burned one is fine indeed. Big Jones dances right up to the edge with its dark and stormy chicken and andouille gumbo. Go on Fridays, when seafood jumps into the pot. 5347 N. Clark St.; 773-275-5725

FRENCH ONION at CHEZ JOËL BISTRO
By now a menu cliché, the French onion soup at Chez Joël reminds you why it’s there in the first place: The crock is filled with deeply rich stock and oodles of meltingly soft onions and topped with a thick gratinée of Gruyère. 1119 W. Taylor St.; 312-226-6479

CLAM CHOWDER at GT FISH & OYSTER
Traditionalists may balk: Giuseppe Tentori’s clam chowder is smoky and complex, and it sports itty-bitty cubes of potato—not at all the stuff of your average New England fry shack. More for us, we say. 531 N. Wells St.; 312-929-3501

HOPPIN’ JOHN at HEAVEN ON SEVEN
Don’t let the tourist throngs keep you away from Heaven on Seven’s hoppin’ John, loaded with black-eyed peas so creamy and ethereal you’ll barely need to chew. 111 N. Wabash Ave., 7th floor, 312-263-6443; and two other locations

GOULASH at LASCHET’S INN
We really can’t speak for the popular sauerbraten or the spätzle at this low-key German tavern in North Center, because by the time we’ve polished off a bowl of the spicy goulash with tender chunks of beef, we just want to finish our beers and take a nap. 2119 W. Irving Park Rd.; 773-478-7915

SALT RAMEN at SANTOUKA
Ramen seems finally to have caught on in Chicago, yet a place that has been around for ages is still our favorite: Santouka, a kiosk at a food court in a Japanese grocery store. People get worked up over the spicy miso; we go for the rich white broth of the salt ramen. 100 E. Algonquin Rd., Arlington Heights; 847-357-0286

RED BORSCHT at SMAK-TAK
For fans of the eastern European beet soup, we can’t think of a better meal than the ruby-red borscht at Smak-Tak—light, crystalline, and balanced—next to a full order of sauerkraut and mushroom pierogi. 5961 N. Elston Ave.; 773-763-1123

SOON DOO BOO CHIGAE at SO GONG DONG TOFU HOUSE
Bibim bap sizzling in a hot stone pot is required eating in winter, as is soon doo boo chigae—spicy tofu soup volcanically bubbling away. Of the myriad destinations for authentic Korean fare, So Gong Dong specializes in the tofu-laden dish and offers several novel varieties. 3307 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.; 773-539-8377

LENTIL at TASTE OF LEBANON
Lentil soup can be light: The lovely one at West Town’s Chickpea (2018 W. Chicago Ave.; 773-384-9930) comes to mind. But when the snow hits, you’ll want to hunker down with the version—peppery and heartily thick—from this shack of a restaurant on the North Side. 1509 W. Foster Ave.; 773-334-1600
 

One for the Kids

MATZO BALL SOUP at THE BAGEL
An incomparably fluffy and flavorful matzo ball bathes in crystal clear chicken broth—and no pesky vegetables to dodge. 3107 N. Broadway, 773-477-0300; 50 Old Orchard Ctr., Skokie, 847-677-0100

 

Photography: (hot-and-sour, gumbo ya-ya, clam chowder) Kim Thornton; (French onion soup) Anna Knott; (salt ramen) Todd Urban

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