100 foods to eat before you die … and where to find them in Chicago: Root Beer Float to Spaetzle

100 foods to eat before you die … and where to find them in Chicago: Root Beer Float to Spaetzle
Lentils and spätzle. (Photo by Klaus Jähne via Wikimedia Commons)

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:

81. Root Beer Float: It's hard to believe that I once dislike root beer. Now, it's one of my favorite drinks. And when mixed with ice cream? Heaven. One of the places in Chicago you can head to for a root beer float is Goose Island, 3535 North Clark St. or 1800 North Clybourn.

82. S'mores: This delightful campfire treat is served at a few Chicago restaurants, but at Cosi, which has multiple locations throughout Chicago, you can make your own using a tabletop fire pit.

83. Sauerkraut: Who would have ever thought something that translates to "sour cabbage" would become such a popular dish throughout the world? And if you're looking for it to shine in a dish, I've read good things about the sauerkraut-filled pierogi at Smak-Tak!, 5961 North Elston Ave.

84. Sea Urchin: In other news in "who would have ever thought ...", spiky Nerf balls have become a trendy item at restaurants. One such restaurant is Davanti Enoteca, 1359 W. Taylor St., where the $13 Riccio di Mare e Granchio is composed of linguini, sea urchin and crab.

85. Shark: There's a fair chance that HB4119 will pass through the Illinois Senate and shark fin soup will be effectively banned in Illinois. Good. Shark finning is a horrible practice. Instead, head to Shark's Fish & Chicken, 420 South Clark St., and find something nice and fried to eat.

86. Snail: I sent you to Frog N Snail, 3124 N Broadway St., for frogs' legs. I'm sending you back there for snails. (That's what naming a restaurant well gets you.)

87. Snake: I've heard rattlesnake tastes like chicken, but rattlesnake meat is not exactly easy to find in Chicago. Surprisingly enough, though, noted hot dog vendor, Hot Doug's, 3324 N. California, is going to come through for us once again. One of its specials is the Chardonnay and Jalapeno Rattlesnake Sausage with Roasted Pepper Aioli and Pere Joseph Cheese for $8.

88. Soft-Shell Crab: I tried soft-shell crab recently during a trip to Daytona Beach, Fla., and thought it was pretty good. For Chicago restaurant recommendations, we'll turn to Chicago Tribune restaurant critic Phil Vettel, who wrote about this very subject in 2011. At BIG & little's, 860 North Orleans St., Vetter writes that "soft-shells don't come much better, or any less expensive, than this counter-service restaurant's superb soft-shell crab po'boy ($9)."

89. Som Tam: OK, so this is essentially a papaya salad. Tac Quick, 3930 N. Sheridan, was named by Chicago Magazine in 2011 as having the best som tam.

90. Spaetzle: As a fan of both Italian and Asian noodles, I'm a little surprised I've never tried these central European noodles before. We'll turn to Chicagoist, which re-visited spaetzle in late 2011. Tthe spaetzle at Chicago Brauhaus, 4732 N. Lincoln Ave., sounds right up my alley.

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• Joe Grace is a writer and longtime journalist who lives in Chicago. Write to him at joewriter81@gmail.com. He has tried root beer floats, s'mores and soft-shell crab. If you haven't yet, please like Going for Gusto on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

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