From Humboldt Park’s recent surge of vintage shops to Wicker Park’s mind-blowing culinary scene and Grant Park’s 25 Years of Lollapalooza extravaganza this month, the lakefront metropolis of Chicago has never felt so dynamic. See everything we're loving about the Windy City right now.
It goes without saying that Rachael Ray knows good food, but who knew she was also a closet indie rock fan? “We have over 2,000 vinyls!” the Food Network host recently told InStyle about her upstate N.Y. home, which she shares with her husband, John Cusimano, frontman of the alt-rock band The Cringe. In fact, for the past nine years, she’s been combining her two “greatest passions” with Feedback, an annual music festival spotlighting local chefs co-hosted by the couple and held during SXSW in Austin. Now, the event is heading to Chicago for the first time ever, with special Midwest-inspired recipes developed by Ray and a headlining performance by Grace Potter. The action kicks off this Saturday at Lincoln Park Zoo, but ahead of the weekend, we asked Ray to share her top six restaurant picks in the Windy Cindy. Scroll through below.
2. DUCK DUCK GOAT
“I’m a big fan of Stephanie Izzard’s food and flavor combinations that she serves. She’s been a repeat guest on my daytime show—with good reason!”
857 W. Fulton Market, duckduckgoatchicago.com.
“Lee Wolen does magical things with straightforward ingredients, especially vegetables. His dishes are super well-balanced. It’s one of those places where you just feel good when you leave. Don’t miss his carrots!”
1729 N. Halsted St., bokachicago.com.
“I have a profound respect for Carrie Nahabedian’s old-school approach to cooking. Also, the dining room of her restaurant is beautiful—you’ll want to take a lot of pictures. The ambiance is very Zen.”
500 N. Clark St., naha-chicago.com.
5. PERENNIAL VIRANT
“I’m an upstate New York girl—we pickle and can—so I appreciate how Paul Virant always has pickled and canned items on the menu. Even his simplest dishes, like chicken parmesan, blow me away. He uses fresh, seasonal ingredients, and they’re just perfectly delicious.”
1800 N. Lincoln Ave., perennialchicago.com.
6. Leña Brava
“There is nothing that Rick Bayless can’t do. He constantly raises the bar with his dishes, and manages to simultaneously educate people about all of the different regions of Mexico and Latin America in the process. His food is beautiful, too.”
900 W. Randolph St., rickbayless.com/restaurants/lena-brava.