Thursday, August 13

Recent Foodie Finds

I'm back from vacay with another installment of my recent foodie finds! I was on a burger and hot dog kick for a bit, as you'll see below!

New York Wing Factory

New York Wing Factory opened in late July on a popular strip of Lincoln Ave. in Lincoln Park. The East coast transplant is known for its wings and craft beer, however, the Chicago location features more of a chef-driven menu. The Chicago menu features a large selection of upscale comfort food including mac & cheese with Bechamel, cream, Gruyere, cheddar and a Parmesan-panko crust, Bavarian Pretzels with house ground mustard and beer cheddar spread, a classic burger with American cheese and Factory sauce, and grilled cheese with herb cream cheese, cheddar, pickled red onion, roasted jalapeño, artichoke and truffled mushroom.

New York Wing Factory
Classic Burger
New York Wing Factory
Grilled Cheese
I stopped by for the media preview and was impressed with the wide variety of menu items. From deviled eggs and smoked salmon, to boneless and bone-in wings, ribs and burgers, we tried it all.

New York Wing Factory
Deviled Eggs
New York Wing Factory
Smoked Salmon
New York Wing Factory
Bacon Cured Baby Back Ribs
Factory wings are offered both traditional or boneless, each battered in a secret mix of flour and spice, fried twice to be extra crispy, and then individually painted with soy garlic or spicy soy garlic sauce. Regular wings also are available with a selection of housemade sauces - salt & pepper, hickory BBQ, soy garlic, medium, spicy soy garlic, hot, jalapeno BBQ, or angry sauce.

New York Wing Factory
Factory Boneless Wings
New York Wing Factory
Bone-In Wings
New York Wing Factory
Buffalo Wings
While I did like the crispy texture of the wings, I wasn't completely sold. In fact, I much preferred the appetizers and dessert which was one of my favorites of the night. I know what you're thinking. dessert at a wing spot? Yes! The mocha banana pudding was amazing and we enjoyed it paired with banana bread beer!

New York Wing Factory
Mocha Banana Bread Pudding

RedEye’s third annual Battle of the Burger presented by Amstel Light took place at the Chicago History Museum a few weeks ago. Initially 100 bars and restaurants were selected and RedEye readers narrowed that number down to 17, all of which competed to be crowned the best burger. I had the difficult task of taste testing said burgers and let me say, the competition was fierce! Restaurants included Bad Apple, Standard Bar & Grill, Rockit Burger Bar, Good Stuff Eatery, Lottie's Pub and many more!

Battle of the Burger
Battle of the Burger
My faves of the night? Davanti Enoteca's salami burger with provolone, picked sweet onions and cucumber yogurt sauce, and Whisk's burger with chihuahua cheese, chipotle mayo, guacamole, and tortilla strips. 

Battle of the Burger
Davanti Enoteca
Battle of the Burger
Whisk
Battle of the Burger
Battle of the Burger
Battle of the Burger
Battle of the Burger
Battle of the Burger
Last Year's Winner: Standard Br & Grill's Mac & Cheese Burger
Battle of the Burger
Last Year's Winner: Standard Br & Grill's Mac & Cheese Burger
Battle of the Burger
Battle of the Burger
One highlight of the evening was meeting and chatting with Jeff Mauro, host of The Food Network's "Sandwich King" and "The Kitchen", who also played emcee for the night!

Battle of the Burger
With Jeff Mauro
Battle of the Burger
Jeff Mauro
So what was the winning burger? Leadbelly's burger with roasted tomato, goat cheese, arugula and truffle oil!

Battle of the Burger
Battle of the Burger

One of my Chicago bucket list items was paying a visit to Calumet Fisheries, a roadside seafood shack popularized by Anthony Bourdain on his show, "No Reservations." This place is a hike but I promise it's well worth a visit.  The restaurant specializes in smoked fish from its on-site smoker, as well as fried fish and shellfish. This is not a place you'd expect to find near Chicago, making it that more special.

Calumet Fisheries
Calumet Fisheries
Calumet Fisheries
Smoked Fish
Calumet Fisheries
Calumet Fisheries
Calumet Fisheries
Smelt & Frog Legs
I loved that you could walk up to the smoker and see the fish hanging there. I also loved the Bourdain and James Beard caricatures on the side.

Calumet Fisheries
Calumet Fisheries
Calumet Fisheries
Smoker
Calumet Fisheries
Chopping Wood for the Smoker
My co-taste tester Emily and I split smoked trout, fried oysters and fried shrimp. Our kind neighbors also shared their smoked shrimp with us which ended up being my favorite (along with the smoked trout). Unfortunately, they were sold out of their signature smoked salmon but the trout was pretty tasty. I also loved the breading on the shrimp and oysters. It wasn't too overpowering and tasted like it had some cornmeal in it. They also give you house made hot sauce and cocktail sauce which I was advised to add to the shrimp and oyster containers before shaking.

Calumet Fisheries
Calumet Fisheries
Calumet Fisheries
Smoked Trout
Calumet Fisheries
Fried Shrimp
Calumet Fisheries
Fried Oysters
We had quite the seafood feast, all while taking in the beautiful Chicago Skyway :) If you're a seafood lover and you haven't been to Calumet Fisheries, what are you waiting for?!

Calumet Fisheries
Calumet Fisheries
Hot Doug's at Wrigley Field

As I stated earlier, I was on a burger and hot dog kick a little while ago. The BF insisted we go to Wrigley Field to try the new Hot Doug's offerings sold in the bleachers (This is why I love him. Screw sports, let's go to Wrigley for the FOOD). After the Hot Doug's closure, Doug Sohn partnered with Wrigley Field to offer three varieties of his hot dog creations named after former Cubs players that will rotate throughout the season. The $9 hot dogs currently are only offered in the bleachers in the new Platform 14 named after Cubs great Ernie Banks located behind the centerfield scoreboard.

Hot Doug's at Wrigley
Hot Doug's at Wrigley
The three hot dogs currently offered include the Champ Summers with spicy Vienna Beef Polish sausage with Goose Island beer mustard and fried onions, the Pete LaCock with rib-eye steak sausage, horseradish cream, and blue cheese, and the Bill Bonham with atomic pork sausage, cherry marmalade and smoked gouda.  We tried the Bill Bonham and Champ Summers. The verdict? Quite tasty but no true comparison to the real deal, especially with just two toppings on each. Yes $9 is steep but it is Wrigley. Would I buy them again? Probably not, but if you never made it to the original Hot Doug's it's worth trying.

Hot Doug's at Wrigley
The Bill Bonham and Champ Summers
Hot Doug's at Wrigley
The Champ Summers
Hot Doug's at Wrigley
The Bill Bonham
Wrigley Field
Ahh, the Friendly Confines!

Staying on the topic of hot dogs and Chicago bucket lists, I finally made it to legendary hot dog stand Gene & Jude's in River Grove. My friend Meredith just moved to Austin and requested we pay a visit for one of her last meals in Chicago. The hot dog stand has been around since 1946 and was even voted the number one hot dog in America by Rachael Ray (I'm not sure what makes her a hot dog authority but let's roll with it). What makes the hot dogs so special? They come topped with mustard, onions, neon green relish, sport peppers and freshly cut fries. And you can forget ketchup. Don't even ask for it. 

Gene & Jude's
Gene & Jude's
The menu is super limited to hot dogs and tamales but really, you're going in there for that hot dog.

Gene & Jude's
The Simple Menu
I ordered mine fully loaded and it was glorious.

Gene & Jude's
Hot Dog & Fries
Wait a minute for the fries to cool, unwrap your dog and eat it in the paper like a burrito. All while standing in the parking lot or sitting in your car. It's an experience, and a delicious one at that!

Gene & Jude's
Hot Dog & Fries
Note: my meals at New York Wing Factory and Battle of the Burger were complimentary; however, the opinions expressed herein are my own.

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