Food and Drink

Reunion brings stellar Southern to Navy Pier

Fried chicken salad and biscuits
Fried chicken over kale salad with goat cheese biscuits at Chef Art Smith's Reunion. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

I recently checked out Chef Art Smith's new Reunion at Navy Pier.

  • Taking over the old Bubba Gump spot, the restaurant marks Smith's return to Chicago and spotlights his gift for Southern cooking.

The highlights: I loved Reunion's tender biscuits and juicy fried chicken, which I special-ordered atop a kale and Brussels sprouts salad ($19) to be healthy.

Food Fight: Wrigley Field

Photo of various foods on a table
Some ballpark food to fight over. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios Chicago

Our trip inspired a Wrigley-themed Food Fight, where we each tried to find the best bite in the park.

  • Since the renovation, the concessions here have improved dramatically beyond the days of hot dogs and helmet nachos.

José Andrés lets loose, slings sangria

Photo of two people taking a selfie.
Monica and chef José Andrés at his Jaleo restaurant in downtown Chicago this summer. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

👋 Hey, it's Monica. Earlier this summer, I met up with chef José Andrés at his River North Jaleo restaurant before he hosted a Capital One cooking demonstration.

Why it matters: The Spanish-born chef and subject of Ron Howard's new "We Feed People" documentary is better known for bringing food to crisis zones with his World Central Kitchen than for having fun.

The best outdoor dining spots in Chicago

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The patio at Mima's Taste of Cuba. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Our Food Fight last week was over the best outdoor patios in our area.

Paul Virant's Gaijin offers delicious shirokuma dessert

Photo of a dessert shaped like a teddy bear head.
I eat only adorable desserts. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

👋 Hi, it's Justin! If you're a fan of desserts that are tasty and cute, head to Lake Street for dinner at Paul Virant's Gaijin.

  • The Japanese restaurant specializes in okonomiyaki, an Osaka-style cabbage pancake cooked on a griddle.

How locals get on the shelves at Mariano's

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Jamhal Johnson and Damon Patton pitch Moor's Beer to Mariano's executives. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

Every quarter, Mariano's top bosses travel downtown from their suburban headquarters to listen to pitches from local businesses trying to get on their shelves.

Why it matters: Mariano's serves hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans and is a gateway for consumers to buy from neighborhood businesses.

Lonesome Rose's Chaco Taco offers an artisan replacement

Photo of a taco-shaped ice cream treat.
Chicagoans jonesing for the soon-to-be-discontinued Choco Taco can get their fix with the Chaco Taco at Lonesome Rose. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

👋 Hey, it's Monica. Hours after Klondike announced its discontinuation of the Choco Taco this week, I got a tip about something close — the Chaco Taco ($8) at Lonesome Rose in Logan Square.

What happened: Still in a haze over the death of my rabbit, I motored to the restaurant intent on ordering the taco to go. That is, until I realized it would be soup before I got home.

Introducing jail dip, an intriguing gas station dish

Photo of cheesy dip.
Jail dip from the Citgo station at 5107 W. Madison St. Photos: Monica Eng/Axios

👋 Hey, it's Monica. An intriguing new dish has debuted in the cooler of a West Side Citgo station.

  • Called jail dip, it's built like a seven-layer dip, but with ingredients commonly found in correctional facility commissaries.
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