Live Like a Local
Just three hours north of Indianapolis lies the Windy City, peppered with must-sees like the Magnificent Mile, Wrigley Field, Grant Park, Garrett’s Popcorn and world class chef, Rick Bayless. It’s a city filled with international delights and some of the most delicious food in the world.
Whether one journeys there for the day or an overnight stay, living like a local should be in the cards. While Downtown Chicago is always a popular option while visiting, neighborhoods surrounding the downtown area revel in old world architecture, dabble in cultural worlds near and afar and awaken gastronomic senses.
As an adjoining state, Indiana is woven into many elements in Chicago, especially within local artisan establishments. From Goose the Market to Gunthrop Farms, Upland Brewing Company to Traders Point Creamery, Indiana is well represented. Try your hand at living like a local with these three picks in two great neighborhoods—Andersonville and Lincoln Park.
Perennial Virant, a Paul Virant Restaurant, Lincoln Park
Attached to Hotel Lincoln, this gem has done more than create a buzz. The simplistic and timeless setting is by design. Shelves lined with preserved vegetables, fruits, vinegars and the aroma of food being prepared, tickle every sense. Paul Virant, 2013 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef, Great Lakes Finalist, is the creator and mastermind behind this restaurant along with Vie located in Western Springs, Illinois and his most recent restaurant, Vistro, located in Hinsdale, Illinois.
The restaurant’s namesake, Paul Virant has said, “The soul of my kitchen isn’t in my kitchen at all.” This is evident in the Perennial Virant’s basement where there are shelves upon shelves of pickled and preserved Midwest harvested vegetables, wine in the process of turning to house made vinegars and even a meat-curing chamber. The dishes are inspired by what’s in season, and being able to serve as much local produce as possible. A full butcher team is on staff to create the most mouth-watering and full flavored cuts of meat possible, and several times a week foragers bring their bounty to be inspected and potentially purchased for use within the restaurant’s artistic and delectable dishes.
Chef de Cuisine, Ed Sura, opened Perennial Virant in 2011. He and his staff know they have a food responsibility to the patrons, staff and community. Each day before they open, the staff sits down at 3:30pm to have a family-style meal before serving guests dinner. All waste is composted and provided to,City Farm, a nonprofit Chicago based organization turning vacant land into productive farmland. And the food provided is by “the right people doing the right thing”, according to Sura.
Staples on their menu include a rotating donut, such as the chocolate crème donut glazed with peanut butter and roasted peanuts, and a sweet and savory pear galette with grilled onion jam and Saxony cheese. House made sausage is on the menu, however, they share the love with Indiana’s own Gunthrop Farm’s chicken sausage topped with two eggs sunny side up over two scratch made melt-in-your-mouth biscuits. From time-to-time you will find Smoking Goose meats on the menu and Traders Point Creamery milk and yogurt. The latter is a standard in their grab-n-go offshoot, Elaine’s, located in the lobby of the Hotel.
Whatever the reason for visiting Chicago, Perennial Virant’s must be on any foodie’s list. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with brunch being served on Saturdays and Sundays. They are located at 1800 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago. For more information on this restaurant visit perennialchicago.com.
Farmhouse Chicago, Lincoln Park
Another foodie treat is the Farmhouse Chicago. It sits quietly in an old building on W. Chicago Ave in Lincoln Park and is considered a Midwestern craft tavern. The interior is welcoming and almost entirely designed from the salvage of a south side Chicago furniture factory. And, behind the bar is a 1930’s Bevador—a lazy Susan holding several hundred bottles of beer including Indiana’s own Alpha Klaus and War Mullet from Three Floyds Brewing Co. and Sweet Myrtle from Upland Brewing Co.
Owners, TJ Callahan and his wife Molly McCombe, own Brown Dog Farm, a 140-acre farm located in Wisconsin. Their passion for Midwest harvested food is evident. Their farm currently provides apples and black walnuts to the restaurant and they have recently planted an orchard of fruit bushes and trees along with having four beehives. Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana farm products are splattered all over the scratch made dishes and are featured on a chalk wall allowing patrons the opportunity to understand the localness of the food. Indiana is represented well with Bells Aquaculture, Forage and Foster, Hoosier Beef, Miller Amish Farm and Smoking Goose all having an almost permanent position on the seasonally changing menu.
The most popular dish by far is Farmhouse’s scratch made, beer battered Wisconsin cheese curds and spicy curd sauce with over nine tons served each year. If cheese curds don’t fit the bill, the second choice must be the stick and bindle, a board full of Midwestern artisan cheeses, charcuterie, pickled vegetables and crusty bread. The main harvest dishes include everything from Rainbow Trout, pasture raised burgers, handcut fries. , and a roasted, juicy whole Amish chicken stuffed with seasonal roasted vegetables such as carrots, turnips and squash served over a bed of black rice .All delectable and memorable by any tummy’s standards. And dessert—the Farmhouse will make a personalized savory apple pie à la mode; for something sweeter, the chess pie will bring joy to world.
The Farmhouse is a perfect stop for a libation, appetizer or a full meal and the atmosphere will make anyone admire the charm of barn dining. It is open for lunch and dinner and is located at 228 W. Chicago Ave, Chicago. For more information or to see their seasonal menu visit FarmhouseChicago.com.
The Guesthouse Hotel, Andersonville
After all the good food and recreation, a comfortable, yet chic hotel whose mission really is “Live Like a Local” is a choice not to miss. The Guesthouse Hotel, a Select Registry member, is located in the heart of Andersonville. Just a few blocks from the famous jazz bar, the Green Mill (where Al Capone had a standing table and is said to haunt to this day), is where this beautiful and anything but ordinary guesthouse lies.
The Guesthouse specializes in short- and long-term stays with one, two or three bedroom suites. All the suites resemble contemporary yet classically comfortable apartments complete with gourmet kitchens, luxurious linens, towels and robes. Down comforters adorn the queen and king beds making for an at-home-like sleeping environment, rather than a hotel stay. Each room has a private balcony with furniture and gas grills. Tall ceilings and airy colors make for a perfect combination for a stress-free stay.
The lobby is full of local one-of-a-kind art and boutique items. The artwork here and throughout the hallways is Chicago themed or by Chicago artists, many of the pieces are family pieces, which allows guest to feel like they are home away from home. A 24-hour boutique is available featuring local artists wares such as beautifully handcrafted purses, hats, gloves, cufflinks, jewelry, candles and other unique gifts.
Just adjacent to the lobby is the Exchange, a small market filled with local treats and snacks available for purchase. Stacked goodies such as Amy’s Candy Bar, Hillary’s Cookies, Lucila’s Alfajores, River Valley Farms salsas and sauces are just a few items worth mention. There’s also a library stocked with old books inherited from the owner’s parents, some of which were found in an old home purchased near Wrigley Field.
The four-story building includes a roof top open to guests. Plans for a future roof top garden are in being designed and constructed by the Indianapolis firm, Blue Marble Design. This will allow guest to soak up more greenspace and enjoy the Chicago skyline. To make a reservation or learn more about this crème de la crème in Andersonville, visit theGuesthouseHotel.com