Pass the plates around at these homestyle Chicago restaurants



Sometimes you need a break from healthy eating and you crave some good ol' homestyle cooking. Whether it's fried chicken, mac ‘n cheese or a big heaping cinnamon roll, you can find Chicago restaurants to satisfy you.

Chicagoans love their soul food, so Wishbone tops our list for its fun atmosphere and delicious food. Fans can’t get enough of BJ’s Market and Bakery catfish and peach cobbler. And a newcomer on the scene, Luella's Southern Kitchen, will wow you with dishes like their BBQ Brisket Mac and Cheese.

If you don't mind the wait, Honey Butter Fried Chicken has amazing chicken - but also a long line that snakes  around the block. Others prefer their friend chicken served with waffles from places like Stanley’s Kitchen & Tap.

Long-time staples like Ann Sather’s brings people out for homestyle breakfasts, including their famous cinnamon buns. And Big Jones has a big place in our heart for its modern take of Southern cuisine.



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Twin Anchors is a Chicago tradition that locals love to talk about. The baby back ribs are the main attraction and draw rave reviews from just about everyone who's ever tasted them. The bar is located in a historic building, and it's been open since 1932. The interior's nothing fancy, just white and black checkered floors, wood paneling, rounded leather booths, and red tables. But Hollywood directors love it: cenes from the Batman movie, "The Dark Night" and "Return to Me" were filmed in the restaurant, and Frank Sinatra used to frequent the joint. The restaurant has also been featured on numerous TV shows.


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Ready for some carbs? This chain is one of the best places in Chicago to get them. The heaping platters of pasta have made this bustling restaurant - which has several locations around the city and suburbs - a longtime favorite for those who crave homestyle Italian food. Fans rave about the calamari, chicken marsala, and of course, the many pasta dishes. There is usually a buy one, take-one home pasta promotion, so you get an entire meal to go! No matter what you choose off their large menu, one thing's for sure: you'll be taking home a doggie bag.


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Lake View
Ann Sather's


 

Ann Sather's offers Swedish and American breakfast favorites, including unrivaled cinnamon rolls that people speak of with solemn reverence. The Swedish pancakes are thin and full of flavorful lingonberries. Every meal comes with a soup or two side dishes. It gets quite crowded at breakfast, particularly on weekends. If possible, get a seat in the front room, which has high ceilings and a hearth that often has a roaring fire in the winter. This Lakeview location is just one of three spots you'll find an Ann Sather's and it's centrally located within a busy spot on Belmont Avenue better known for its quirky and alternative shops than its dining scene.


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Andersonville


 

Blame it on the weather, but Chicago is not populated by many Southerners. You'll meet plenty of folk from north of the Mason-Dixon Line, but rare is the Georgian, Carolinian or Louisianan. That leaves chef Paul Fehribach (only from as far south as Southern Indiana, by the way) to wave the regional flag on his own at Big Jones. He makes a strong case for modern Southern food, recreating heirloom recipes with local, mostly organic sources, resurrecting historic cocktails like the Sazerac, curing his own charcuterie and even serving up a 1933-inspired "boarding house lunch" of fried chicken and biscuits that should hold you through dinner. Close set tables ensure you'll make friends, Northerners, most likely.


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People come from all over the city and suburbs to this southside soul food gem. Perhaps the best time to visit is on Sunday, when you can eat from their buffet. It teams with foods like catfish, chicken, turkey, chicken, beef ribs, breaded shrimp, pork chops, mac and cheese and cornbread. AND desserts, including a much-loved peach cobbler. Some find the $16 price tag on the high side while others think it's a bargain for what you get. On other days diners can choose from full breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. If you're coming for the Sunday buffet, try to get there as early as possible; the rush hits around 1 p.m.


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Gold Coast


 

You could make a meal out of their bacon cheddar hush puppies. But then you'd miss out on all of the other delicious dishes Chef Art Smith has created, including excellent barbecued meats (served with a variety of sauces), succulent ribs seasoned with house-made rubs, and fried chicken that's moist and not greasy. The restaurant looks small, but it is long and deep, with modern Savannah-styled decor and attentive service. They have a nice selection of salads, so you can eat lightly if you'd like. And save room for a slice of Heath bar ice cream pie for dessert. Kids and take out menus are also available.


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Luella's Southern Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Photo by Jamie Bartosch


 

Phenomenal Southern and soul food dishes - like Shrimp and Grits, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken and waffles, and catfish tacos - are served in this small, restaurant along busy Lincoln Avenue. The restaurant is named for Chef Darnell Reed's great grandmother, and some of Reed's family members work at the restaurant. The service is friendly and the vibe is warm and homey, just like the food. One of the best dishes is the BBQ Brisket Mac and Cheese, topped with crunchy buttered bread crumbs. It's the kind of feel-good food that nurtures you. It's a good spot to go before or after a show at the Old Town School of Folk Music, which is across the street.


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Honey Butter Fried Chicken serves us exactly what its namesake suggests: fried chicken served with honey butter. The ambiance is friendly and inviting once you make it past the doors. The decor is urban without being industrial, vintage without being antique and the feel of the fried chicken restaurant space has a nod to its roots without being southern or country. Chefs Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp admit that a lot of love goes into preparing and serving their fried chicken. They start with fresh, hormone- and antibiotic-free, locally sourced Amish chicken and brine it in a mixture of salt, sugar, spices and citrus as part of the prep.


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Market District


 

Don't come here for health food! Come for Southern-style soul food, full of flavor and served in a casual, relaxed environment. The quirky, funky warehouse-style space (abstract paintings of chickens and eggs adorn the walls) offers breakfast on weekdays and a popular weekend brunch. Try fluffy biscuits, French toast, salmon cakes with hollandaise, or a house specialty called Red Eggs, which consists of two eggs on corn tortillas with black beans, cheese, hot sauce, sour cream, and salsa. Something for everyone, including vegetarians. Buy a cool t-shirt on your way out, possibly to a Chicago Bulls or Chicago Blackhawks game at the nearby United Center.


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Meet Jamie Bartosch

Jamie Bartosch is a lifelong Chicagoan who thinks her hometown is the greatest city in the world. She is an award-winning newspaper reporter, a freelance travel writer, and the mother of two great kids.

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