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.
Recommended for Homestyle because: A legendary Chicago restaurant, Twin Anchors serves consistently good homestyle food.
Jamie's expert tip: Check out the memorabilia-covered walls and you'll see that Frank Sinatra was a frequent diner here, and the movie's been the focus of a few movie scenes and TV shows.
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.
Recommended for Homestyle because: From the bread to the pasta, the food is consistently delicious at this longtime favorite.
Megy's expert tip: The portions are huge. Unless you have a monster appetite, consider sharing.
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.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Ann Sather's offers Swedish and American breakfast favorites, including its famous cinnamon rolls which also are available for takeout.
Megy's expert tip: Order the cinnamon rolls for which it's well-known for good reason.
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.
Recommended for Homestyle because: The Food Network stars serve up killer Bloody Mary flights and chicken and waffles at their namesake restaurant.
Megy's expert tip: Ask to join the Big Jones Bourbon Society.
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.
Recommended for Homestyle because: The Sunday buffet includes a range of soul food that will make you want to try one of everything.
Megy's expert tip: If you're coming for the Sunday buffet, try to get there as early as possible; the rush hits around 1pm.
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.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Chef Art Smith, who used to cook for Oprah Winfrey, is a master of southern food, served here in a modern yet cozy atmosphere.
Jamie's expert tip: Don't want to stuff yourself? Order a BBQ Flight as an appetizer. The sampler includes the BBQ brisket, pork and chicken.
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.
Recommended for Homestyle because: More than just great Cajun and Creole dishes this north of Louisiana, it's also a dining experience.
Megy's expert tip: Call in advance and order the skillet cornbread, which takes 20 minutes to cook because it's freshly baked to order. You'll be glad you did.
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.
Recommended for Homestyle because: In addition to the honey butter fried chicken, the restaurant serves chicken strips.
Megy's expert tip: Squeeze yourself inside the restaurant to wait in line so you can order drinks at the bar.
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.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Wishbone on Washington is popular among locals for its Southern-style soul food.
Megy's expert tip: Order the shrimp and grits.