by Lisa Shames - 25 Reviews - 9 List
While soul food knows no season, we find ourselves especially craving rib-sticking dishes like crispy fried chicken, creamy macaroni and cheese and cornbread when the temps start to dip. Though the authentic soul food restaurants located on Chicago's South Side take cues from the cuisine of the South, they are thankfully much more conveniently located. (Photo: Army & Lou's.)
Updated: October 30, 2009
The menu is lengthy at this circa-1950s restaurant, so we'll make it easy for you: Head straight for the Southern specialties, and come hungry. Portions of the made-from-scratch dishes, like fried chicken and smothered pork chops, are ample and come with a choice of sides (we recommend the macaroni and cheese) and corn muffins. As for the wet nap that comes with the check, odds are good that you'll need it.
Louisiana may be miles away, but it feels a lot closer at this storefront restaurant featuring the down-home cooking of the Big Easy. All the classics are represented, including hearty portions of jambalaya, etouffee, gumbo and boudin--Cajun sausage stuffed with dirty rice. Come on Saturday and add fresh beignets to the mix. Let the good times roll, indeed.
With no seating and no bathrooms, calling this place a "restaurant" might sound like a stretch. That is, until you try the incredible salmon, trout and shrimp, all smoked on the premises. Ditto for the fried shrimp and clam strips. Family-owned and operated since 1948, this joint got the seal of approval from Anthony Bourdain, if you keep track of those kinds of things.
With its exposed brick walls, cushy booths and modern light fixtures, this Bronzeville restaurant may be fancier than most, but that doesn't mean its food is any less comforting. Case in point: crunchy, Southern-fried chicken with gravy paired with buttermilk waffles. Waffle wafflers can opt for more basic soul food offerings, like catfish with sides of collard greens and yams.
A neighborhood fixture since the 1950s, Izola's is legendary for its home cooking and friendly service; sit at the counter to get even more up close and personal with the staff. Open for three square meals a day--and 24 hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday--there are plenty of options from which to choose, but it's the perfectly fried catfish, candied sweet potatoes and buttery corn muffins that make us say, "Home sweet home."