- Pies from Hoosier Mama = DESTROOOYED.
I spent a dishearteningly long time trying to write a short intro to this post—deleting a sentence, staring at my monitor, writing another sentence, staring at my monitor, deleting those sentences, making a sad face at my monitor because I didn't like any of those changes I had just done, staring at my monitor, then repeating all of that two more times—but ultimately this is all that matters:
I ate a lot during my trip to Chicago and Wisconsin. A lot lot. ...A...craaaap...ton...lot.
Okay, more info. I went to Chicago for four days with Ed and Carey, which involved one day in Madison and Milwaukee. With the help of Nick Kindelsperger and Daniel Zemans, among other Serious Eats friends, we hit 40 places—or an average of 10 places a day. It sounds like a lot, but it's just keeping the pace we set with my previous trips. However, this trip being the longest one also made it the most moan-ful by the time the fourth day rolled around. Or by the time we were...rolling around on the fourth day. Either way. There's a good reason to only take one to three day trips for the purposes of book research: Four days is just one too many when you're stuffing yourself constantly, with nary a fresh vegetable or fruit in sight.
But we got plenty of fried things! Oh yeah! You will see. I'll write little descriptions of what we ate, and what was particularly awesome.
Many thanks to Dan and Nick for driving us around in Chicago, and Ed's friend Holly for driving us around in Madison. Also, thanks to Rose for letting me stay in her apartment all weekend. YAY FRIENDS (HIGH FIVE)!
Day 1: Chicago
- Ina's: Breakfast. Their "Heavenly Hots" pancakes are among the best pancake-y substances I've ever dissolved in my mouth.
- JP Graziano: Italian subs.
- Xoco: Sandwiches, churros, soft serve. Rick Bayless knows how to make awesome sandwiches. Wish we could get this sandwich magic in NYC.
- Franks 'n' Dawgs: Gourmet hot dogs.
- Cemitas Puebla: Lots of sandwiches.
- Kuma's: Burgers, mac and cheese. They're famous for their burgers, but they weren't book-worthy.
- Red Hot Ranch: Hot dogs, fried, fried shrimp. This place knows their way around the deep fryer. MY KIND OF PLACE.
- Borinquen: Jibaritos.
- Hot Chocolate: Hot chocolate, desserts. Really glad I got to end the night on sugar.
Day 2: More Chicago
- Ann Sather: Carey popped in here for a min to grab a cinnamon bun and pecan roll.
- M. Henry: Breakfast. More awesome pancakes!
- Tre Kroner: More breakfast. Sausages were particularly good.
- Susie's Drive Thru: Shakes, corn dog, hot dogs.
- Honey 1: Ribs, rib tips, fries. Ribs = yay.
- Old Fashioned Donuts: Apple fritter, glazed doughnuts. Apple fritter = crispy fat bomb = yay.
- Top Notch Beefburgers: Burgers, shakes. Shakes weren't so great, but the burgers lived up to the name. The Patty Melt tasted like it was dunked in butter. In a good way.
- Harold's Chicken Shack: Fried chicken. The location we went to wasn't so great.
- Calumet Fisheries: Fried smelts, fried shrimp, smoked shrimp, some sort of smoked fish. The smoked shrimp was the best, although I really liked the fried smelts too because...I like fried things. This place is on the edge of Chicago, close to the border of Indiana and right by the Calumet River. We got to see the bridge raised over the river, a somewhat surreal sight.
- Lem's Bar B Q: Ribs, rib tips. A bit tough, not as good as Honey 1.
- Brown Sugar Bakery: We spotted this down the street from Lem's so we popped in and bought a few slices of cake. GINORMOUS SLICES.
- Izola's: Fried chicken. Some of the best we've ever had.
- Uncle John's Barbecue: Ribs, ribs tips.
Day 3, Morning: Madison
- Batch Bakehouse: Bread, pastries, cookies, etc. Adorable bakery.
- Madison Farmers Market: It's pretty huge. Like whoaaa. Aside from the tons of produce and cheese, you must check out the cheese bread stand. Soft smooshy bread embedded with chunks of gooey salty cheese. Want. More. Forever.
- The Old Fashioned: Burger, fried cheese curds. OH BOY DO I LOVE CHEESE CURDS.
- Graze: Burger, fries. Both good.
- Michael's Frozen Custard: Frozen custard, pumpkin shake.
Day 3, Afternoon/Night: Milwaukee
- Jake's Deli: Pastrami sandwich, corned beef sandwich. OH MY GOD, CORNED BEEF, I LOVE YOU. I want that sandwich forever.
- Solly's: Butter burger, shakes. The butter burger is...well, a burger topped with butter. A rather obscene amount. You think it'd be delicious—and it is, for the first three bites or so—and then you realize you're eating a burger sitting in a pool of melted butter and you're not sure if it's delicious anymore.
- Kopps: Frozen custard. Thick. Creamy. Cold. Wish we had something like Kopp's in NYC.
- Northpoint: Burger, frozen custard, fried cheese curds. Sort of Shake Shack-y—it's a stand by the Lake—but they have FRIED CHEESE CURDS!!! OH MY GOD, crunchy gooey cheese nubs bursting with salty juicy cheese...juice. Now one of my most favorite fried substances in the world.
- Maria's Pizza: Pizza. Super thin cracker-like crust pizza topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and fat sausage nubs. If I hadn't been so full I would've enjoyed it more. The environment is...unmatched by any other restaurant I've ever eaten at.
- Leon's Frozen Custard: Fun old school frozen custard stand.
Day 4: Chicago Again
- Hoosier Mama: PIES. GLORIOUS PIES. 13 pies in all. My favorite was actually a savory pie filled with corn and creamy something and tomato. Oh my. But the sweet pies were all awesome, of course.
- Johnnie's Beef: Italian beef sandwich. Not as good as it usually is, it seems. A bit on the dry side. We also tried some Supreme Tamales that tasted like a mushy, fake taco. ...Yeah, I don't really know what that means. Don't order it.
- Gene & Jude's: Hot dogs, fries. We asked for the fries well done and they were fantastic. Super crispy and salty.
- Wiener and Still Champion: Fried bacon, corn dog, fries, fried gyro, burger...yeah. This place is really into their fried stuff.
- Edzo's: Burgers, fries, shakes. A whole lot of burgers. Thumbs up for everything.
- Al's Italian Beef: Italian beef sandwich. Better than Johnnie's.
- Black Dog Gelato: This wasn't part of any itinerary; we had just gone by the Publican to try their pork rinds, but they were closed for a private event. Not wanting to end the day with beef, Dan suggested we go to Black Dog for gelato. The pistachio tasted like almond (aka, thumbs down), but the more creative flavors were good.