COMFORT FOOD IN COLD WEATHER AT CHICAGO’S BEST RESTAURANTS
Chicago is not a city known for its gentle winters, and during the current arctic chill and mountainous snowfall, food is where many of us seek comfort. And when the weather outside is frightful, the best kind of food to have is comfort food, the familiar favorites that many of us grew up eating, the dishes that warm our hearts, bodies, and souls.
Fortunately for those of us in the city and surrounding suburbs, there are several restaurants that specialize in comfort food favorites, the simple dishes that offer blessed relief, even if only during the time it takes to have dinner.
Here are five of Chicago’s best restaurants, all serving the kind of comfort food that wind and snow make you crave.
PB&J. Though the initials of this restaurant stand for Pizza, Beer and Jukebox, rather than every kid’s favorite comfort food sandwich, there are many comfort food options on the PB & J menu. You will feel nothing but comfort and taste nothing but deliciousness in PB&J’s Country Chicken Sandwich (cornflake-crusted fried chicken, chipotle aioli and creamy slaw) or the Loaded Baked Potato (sliced spud with bacon, Parmesan bechamel, mozzarella, white cheddar, and scallion), among many others. When the Hawk is howling off Lake Michigan, this is the kind of food you need to regain your equilibrium and head out to face the cold.
Savannah Luncheonette. Whatever part of the country you live in, the food of the American South is a continual source of comfort: simple fare, served without fanfare, satisfying to just about everyone on a very basic level. You can start with Parker House Rolls, the unpretentious, super simple and undeniably delicious breads that have been comforting Americans since they were first served in the 19th century. Follow that up with glorious chow like Deviled Eggs, Chicken Pot Pie or any one of the other traditional foods that have been giving us comfort in all kinds of weather for many years.
Piccolo Sogno. Though a white tablecloth Italian restaurant may not look it, Piccolo Sogno is the spot for some of the most comforting food of our lives. Think about it? The love we had for noodles when we were kids stays with us our whole lives, and Piccolo Sogno has some incredible noodle dishes. Says Chef Tony Priolo, ““You go to Italy for simple food, prepared by hand with local ingredients and served with local wines. That’s why people love eating in Italy, and we wanted to bring that experience to Chicago.” The simple, uncluttered dishes of Italy are what you’ll find at Piccolo Sogno, and bites of Priolo’s spaghetti, ravioli or gnocchi are what you need to stay warm, and feel wonderful, during a blustery winter.
Rye Deli & Drink. Opening in the middle of the pandemic, Rye Deli & Drink offers simple deli classics with a downhome Midwestern touch. The bagels are exceptional, and they’re made with locally grown grains, and the smoked pastrami and corned beef fill the mouth with lush flavors that might just make you forget that it’s snowing and sleeting outside. A must-try is the matzo ball soup, a carefully crafted broth with a pair of blue corn (!) matzo balls, and a salad-like helping of sliced radishes and other root vegetables; on a day when the temps are low, your spirits will rise when you take a sip of the spectacularly simple, yet artfully composed, soup.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken. Perhaps the ultimate in comfort food, fried chicken is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser and comfort-bringer. At Honey Butter Fried Chicken, they do a fantastic chicken, whether as the popular cut-up thighs and breasts or in sandwiches like “The Original” Fried Chicken Sandwich (with unbelievable candied jalapeno mayo), the Honey Buffalo Chicken with celery and carrot giardiniera, or the “Bubbe” Fried Chicken Sandwich with “everything spice” mayo and house-made dill pickles. There is probably no one who doesn’t enjoy a good fried chicken, and there are few better foods to enjoy when the weather is so…unenjoyable.