CITY GUIDES | Chicago

CITY GUIDES | Chicago

All the stuff you’re missing in the Windy City, according to Fat Rice chef Abraham Conlon.

May 22, 2019
CITY GUIDES | Chicago

CITY GUIDES | Chicago

All the stuff you’re missing in the Windy City, according to Fat Rice chef Abraham Conlon.

May 22, 2019
As told to Cassandra Landry | Art by ChefsFeed

Abraham Conlon, chef of Chicago’s exuberant award-winning Macanese joint, Fat Rice, isn’t a sit-on-your-heels type of person. He’s an all-out Food Person: Every meal’s an opportunity to map a little more of a city and find what’s good.

“I go where no one goes, for food that no one knows,” he offers as explanation. (Cryptic, but promising!) “I've explored basically every aspect of this city to find ingredients and places off the beaten path.”

A native of Lowell, Massachusetts, Conlon’s been in Chicago for twelve years. He’s done New York, he’s done California, he says, but at the end of the day, you can’t beat those neighborly Midwestern vibes. “People are just nice here.”

And we all know what they say about nice people: they make nicer than nice food. Here’s a few gems he’s uncovered along the way.

LATE NIGHT

Billy Sunday is one of the best bars in the country. It's not fluffy, it's not stuffy, it's not hipster. It's just real and it's a great experience. They have a vintage Amaro selection; if you've never had Jägermeister from the seventies or Hugh Hefner Playboy-era Fernet, that's where you go and they'll have it. It's just a really, really dope place.

Cab stands are the places I eat at mainly. It's super healthy, delicious, well-seasoned food that you can get up until sometimes two, three, sometimes four o'clock in the morning. There's Somali cab stands, Pakistani cab stands, [Kyrgyzstani] cab stands. You can find rice pilaf with beef and charcoal chicken kabobs, or you can get a beautiful, clear lamb soup with whole lamb chops for super cheap. Borscht, really nice beets with thick sour cream and dill. Steamed buns with meat, with maybe a little shaved carrot salad. Usually, there’s not much of a real menu: you walk in and it’s more like, what are you making?

I also absolutely love Rootstock. Great selection of wines by the glass. They've been famous for their burger for many years. They always have oysters. They always have great cheese boards. They always have great charcuterie, pasta, a steak, a salad. You can get real food until 1 AM with a casual atmosphere, and a great bottle of wine.

Rootstock
Hot Spot
Humboldt Park, Chicago
$$, Modern, American, Wine Bar, New American
5 Recommendations

NOT FOOD

I love going up to Montrose Beach for a beautiful, gorgeous view of the city. You can bring a little barbecue. You can run a path around the lake. You can bring a blanket and just chill out. Same thing with Promontory Point on the south side. That's a really rad place to go and clear your head—[though] I find most of my solace in Vietnamese grocery stores.

Lost Eras is like an antique store, thrift store, and a vintage costume store in one. Swords, taxidermy, you can really find something for everybody there, and you can buy a costume to dress up like a pirate or a clown or whatever you want to dress up as.

Chicago is big for the blues, and I like to go to Rosa's Lounge. It’s a low key bar where all the people that might play downtown hang out, almost like a clubhouse. Blues legends will just get up out of the crowd.

 

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