100 foods to eat before you die ... and where to find them in Chicago: Eel to Frogs' Legs

100 foods to eat before you die ... and where to find them in Chicago: Eel to Frogs' Legs
Buttermilk-fried frog’s legs (Photo by Anna Knott appeared on Chicago Magazine website)

Once upon a time, somebody created "The Food List Challenge," a selection of 100 foods and drinks that the author believed everyone should try before they die.

I looked through the list recently and discovered there were many I had not tried – and some that I didn't even know where I could try them at. So, I decided to find out:

31. Eel: No, not Shedd Aquarium, though you can find this predatory fish at a number of markets through Chicago. If you're looking for it in a dish, however, you could try GT Fish & Oyster, 531 N. Wells St., which offers BBQ Eel with wasabi, potato and octopus salad for $13.

32. Eggs Benedict: You can find eggs Benedict at just about any breakfast place in Chicago, but if you're looking for something truly original, Serious Eats recommends the Short Rib Eggs Benedict at Sprout, 1417 W Fullerton Ave., the creation of "Top Chef" season 3 contestant Dale Levitski.

33. Fish Tacos: I'm sending you out of the city for this one for the best fish tacos I've ever had. Go west, and then go west some more until you arrive at Bien Trucha, 410 West State St., Geneva. Once there, order the $11  Pescado tacos – crispy beer battered tilapia, red cabbage, onion, tomato, lime and chipotle-morita aioli.

34. Foie Gras: Having never tried duck or goose liver, I'm not entirely sure what the fuss is about. But I know there are some people who rave about it, and who am I to judge some people? Despite its temporary ban a few years ago, foie gras is plentiful in Chicago's fine restaurants. But for those like me who have never tried it before, perhaps the best entry to foie gras can be found at hot-dog joint Hot Doug's, 3324 North California Ave., which – according to Serious Eats – was surprisingly the first restaurant fined after Chicago instituted its ban. Its Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Fleur de Sel goes for $10 and Serious Eats raved about it in its article. And if that's not enough, Hot Doug's also serves duck fat fries on Fridays and Saturdays.

35. Fresh Spring Rolls: Another easy dish to find, I would think that it would be almost impossible to find the "perfect" fresh spring roll in Chicago. One Yelp reviewer is willing to try, however, and if you're looking for tasty fresh spring rolls, I'd start with this reviewer's list of 14 restaurants.

36. Fried Catfish: While you can find fried catfish at a number of restaurants in Chicago, few have a name as fun as The Fish Keg, 2233 W Howard St. Try their Mississippi Catfish or Cajun Catfish for $10.

37. Fried Green Tomatoes: If you're looking for this southern favorite in Chicago, two of the most recommended places are Table Fifty-Two, 52 W. Elm St., which has Peanut Fried Green Tomatoes for $12, and The Southern, 1840 W. North Ave., which also has Fried Green Tomatoes for $12.

38. Fried Plantain – Sure, you could get fried plantains the normal way at a number of Chicago restaurants, but to really go out there you need to try the jibarito – which uses fried plantains instead of bread. And if you're looking for one, Chicagoist has a few ideas on where you can go, starting with Borinquen Chicago, 1720 N California Ave.

39. Frito Pie – While most often made at home, the chili, cheese and corn chips specialty can also be found in Chicago restaurants. One such restaurant is Silver Cloud Bar & Grill, 1700 N Damen Ave., which refers to the delicacy as "white trash nachos."

40. Frogs' Legs – If you have frog in the name of your restaurant, you better have these amphibian appendages. Neither Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House, 1024 North Rush St., or new restaurant Frog N Snail, 3124 N. Broadway, disappoint in this regard.



• Joe Grace is a writer and longtime journalist who lives in Chicago. Write to him at joewriter81@gmail.com. He has tried eggs Benedict, fish tacos, fresh spring rolls, fried plantain and frito pie. If you haven't yet, please like Going for Gusto on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Leave a comment