Food & Drink

Chicago's ultimate South Side eating guide

Published On 02/10/2014 Published On 02/10/2014
Titus Ruscitti
Mike Gebert
Titus Ruscitti
Mike Gebert
Peter Engler
Mike Gebert
Titus Ruscitti
Mike Gebert
Mike Gebert
Titus Ruscitti
Mike Gebert
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1. Birrieria Zaragoza 4852 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60632 (South Chicago)

This cozy South Side counter-serve is owned by a friendly family that's bringing Chicago a beloved regional specialty from Jalisco, Mexico: spicy, braised goat, or "birria." The grass-fed, locally sourced goat is the one and only meat you'll find in this unfussy, orange-accented space, where it's served in tacos, quesadillas, and by-the-pound. The move is to order a large plate of birria, swimming in a tomato-based consomme and served with freshly made tortillas and hot fire-roasted salsa on the side.

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2. Zacatacos 3949 W 71st St, Chicago, IL 60629 (South Chicago)

This West Lawn spot has authentic Mexican grub, with an old-school vibe.

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3. Chicago's Home Of Chicken & Waffles 3947 S King Dr, Chicago, IL 60653 (South Chicago)

The South Side locale of this Chicago hotspot is doling out just-as-delicious Southern breakfast foods at all hours -- head here on a drive home and get the mac and cheese.

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4. Lem's BBQ House 311 E 75th St, Chicago, IL 60619 (South Chicago)

Lem's has racked up throngs of fans since it opened in 1954 thanks to its juicy BBQ ribs, which are served out of a retro roadside stand complete with a tall, neon-lit sign. This South Side institution still tops its meats -- from hot links and rib tips to chicken and shrimp -- with the original spicy BBQ sauce that late owner Myles Lemons created back in the 1940s. Prepare for large portions at small prices, and to take your order with you -- this tiny counter doesn't have seating.

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5. Pizza Castle 3256 W 55th St, Chicago, IL 60632 (South Chicago)

This South Side 'za joint's got it all -- from thin crust to house-made sausage toppings, one can't go wrong at all.

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6. Al-Bawadi 7216 W 87th St, Bridgeview, IL 60455 (South Chicago)

This Middle Eastern spot's got insanely rich and deliciously homemade hummus, countless other dips, and juicy shawarma.

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7. Don's Drive Inn Restaurant 7748 S Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60652 (South Chicago)

What's better than a fast food burger and hot dot joint on the side of the road in the middle of the Summer in South Side Chicago? Nothing?? That's what we thought, too.

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8. Garifuna Flava 2516 W 63rd St, Chicago, IL 60629 (South Chicago)

This "taste of Belize" joint is exactly that. With delicious things like conch fritters, jerk chicken soups, and authentic desserts (pound cake!!), nothing bad can happen here.

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9. Pop's Italian Beef & Sausage 10337 S Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60655 (South Chicago)

This roadside Italian hub is doling out some out-of-this-world sandwiches, fries, and shakes.

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10. Calabria Imports 1905 W 103rd St, Chicago, IL 60643 (South Chicago)

This Italian deli/restaurant/sandwich shop has got it goin' ON. Seriously. Get any assortment of meats on their fresh bread, take home some made-right-there lasagna, and rejoice.

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11. Jimmy Jamm's Sweet Potato Pies 1844 W 95th St, Chicago, IL 60643 (South Chicago)

You like ice cream, right? You like baked goods, right? RIGHT?? Good thing -- you're in luck. This bakery/frozen yogurt spot is delicious, with an innovative concoction like sweet potato ice cream bringing ALL the people to the yard.

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12. Mini Hut 6659 W Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60638

Hidden on a one-way side street past Midway in a location that would make a pool hall feel classy, this is the Southwest side’s antidote to everything trendy about fried chicken: just perfect bird, extendedly marinated and slow-fried for 20 minutes, with a famously rich, buttery breading. The frill-less décor -- a tiny weather-beaten canopy outside, stark walls and low ceilings inside -- proves to be the ultimate Chicago restaurant bluff.

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13. Calumet Fisheries 3259 E 95th St, Chicago, IL 60617 (Calumet Heights)

It's no wonder Calumet Fisheries, on the far south side of Chicago, was featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. Open since the 1940s, the family-owned seafood shack is one of the only smokehouses left in Chicago that smokes fish naturally over a wood fire. It offers an endless variety of smoked fish -- from salmon, sturgeon, and white fish to trout, catfish, and shrimp. Not to mention, its fried stuff is pretty good too.

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