Because we live and die by the words "extra cheese", we decided to see who does it the best, by scouring Chicago for the city's most cheese-centric dishes. From stuffed burgers to flaming pots of cheese, we're declaring these the 12 cheesiest in Chicago, and we did it without making any cheesy (!) jokes (alright, that's the last one).
The Restaurant: Del Seoul in Lincoln Park (click here for address and deets)
The Dish: Kimchi Fries
Question: what's better than French fries topped with melted cheddar and Jack cheese? Answer: usually nothing, but in this rare case, it's Del Seoul's cheese fries with sauteed kimchi, onions, and... pork belly. Yup.
The Restaurant: Big Star in Wicker Park (click here for address and deets)
The Dish: Queso Fundido Dip
Melted Chihuahua cheese + Rajas poblano + House-made chorizo = So much yes.
The Restaurant: The Anthem in Ukrainian Village (click here for address and deets)
The Dish: Jucy Lucy
"Jucy Lucy", the nickname of the girl you met at that strange biker bar? Probably not good. "Jucy Lucy", the caramelized onion-topped burger stuffed with Velveeta? Definitely good.
The Restaurant: The Bad Apple in North Center (click here for address and deets)
The Dish: Fried Cheese Curds
Bad Apple, good cheese curds. They're beer-battered with a homemade buttermilk-ranch dipping sauce.
The Restaurant: Greek Islands in West Loop (click here for address and deets)
The Dish: Flaming Saganaki
This appetizer would make Balki Bartokomous weep with joy -- order it, and a waiter will bring you a brick of Greek cheese, light it on fire, and then douse it out with lemon juice, as everyone yells "opa!"
The Restaurant: Giordano's (click here for address and deets)
The Dish: Deep Dish Pizza
Gotta respect a franchise that mows through 3mm pounds of cheese per year. Also, a pie that feels like it uses about a million of those. Just carve through an inch of mozzarella topped with sauce and grated Parmesan, and you'll see what we're talking about.
The Restaurant: Nuevo Leon in Pilsen (click here for address and deets)
The Dish: Enchiladas Suizas
This family owned Pilsen staple provides house-made white tortillas for chicken enchiladas that're covered in tomatillo, green sauce, and about a Rio Grande-worth of Chihuahua cheese.
The Restaurant: Fat Willy's Rib Shack in Logan Square (click here for address and deets)
The Dish: Baked Four-Cheese Macaroni
The BBQ joint's mac recipe includes the Four Horsemen of the Cheesepocalypse: Romano, Fontina, cheddar, and Parmesan.
The Restaurant: Geja's Cafe in Lincoln Park (click here for address and deets)
The Dish: Cheese Fondue
Relive the romance of the '70s with an old-fashioned
key party fondue dinner, where a tableside pot is filled with Gruyere, blended with white wine, cherry brandy, and spices, and served with fruit & bread (French, pumpernickel, and pretzel) for dipping.
The Restaurant: Bar Pastoral in Lakeview (click here for address and deets)
The Dish: Cheese Plate
This bistro has an elite assortment of small-production cheeses, ranging from soft goat to cheese from cows with a flavor profile of popcorn, hay, and sausage. If cheese from a cow that tastes like it's been eating other barnyard animals doesn't move your meter, what will?
The Restaurant: Longman & Eagle in Logan Square (click here for address and deets)
The Dish: Warm Cheese Gougere
These unassuming pastries look innocent enough, that is... until you bite into one and unleash a stream of Gruyere Mornay sauce.
Sean Cooley is Thrillist's Chicago Editor, and he really hopes you don’t have to battle all the animals you've eaten in your life to get into Heaven. Follow him @SeanCooley.
1. Nuevo Leon Restaurant1515 W 18th St, Chicago
2. Cheesie's Pub & Grub958 W Belmont Ave, Chicago
3. Giordano's223 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago
4. Greek Islands200 S Halsted St, Chicago
5. Del Seoul2568 N Clark St, Chicago
6. The Anthem1725 W DIvision St, Chicago
7. The Bad Apple4300 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
8. Big Star1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago
9. Geja's Cafe340 W Armitage Ave, Chicago
10. Fat Willy's Rib Shack2416 W Schubert Ave, Chicago
11. Longman & Eagle2657 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago
12. Bar Pastoral53 E Lake St, Chicago
Nuevo Leon is legit, authentic Mexican that has a stellar menu and impressive service.
Available in massive 12" iterations plus smaller chump-ready sizes, Cheesie's riffs on grilled cheeses include the Mac (American & Merkts w/ actual mac & cheese), and the bacon/ cheddar/ cream cheese Jalapeno Popper.
Giordano's is a Chicago-area staple pizzeria, serving up deep-dish pies inspired by Northern Italian recipes.
This Greek (how could you tell??) hotspot is one for the books. Their flaming saganaki is a must-try, as are their many other mains.
Inspired by the Korean taco craze that's become a food truck staple across the land, DS is bringing that street ethos to a takeout-focused brick 'n mortar joint covered in food cart-esque sheet metal and three flat-screens touting the menu, so finally TVs'll actually help you stuff your face in front of them.
Because sports and nostalgia are natural companions so long as you aren't a Cubs fan, the folks behind Bangers & Lace are opening The Anthem, a retro-themed athletics bar decked with a 19thC American flag, reclaimed school lockers, and station-wagon-esque wood paneling along the L-shaped bar, which is presided over by a mere four flats and a couple of projectors, though just tell those bitter dudes to shut up and confront their dad, already!
The Bad Apple is a comfortable neighborhood tavern with a full menu of stacked burgers, sandwiches, and bar-appropriate snacks like fried cheese curds and poutine. The beer menu features a helluva -- almost 200 -- options of domestic and international craft beers.
A lot of things about Wicker Park's Big Star will make you feel like you're in Texas. First, there's the taco-centric menu that features a dozen taco varieties and necessary sides like guacamole and queso. Then there's the drink selection, which is heavy on whiskey, tequila, and craft beer. The massive outdoor patio begs for you to order a margarita and drink the day away, especially during the summer when the seasonal music series is in full swing.
This Lincoln Park resto is one of Chicago's most romantic, because what could be more romantic than soft lighting, live music, and fondue?!
You can basically imagine what's going on inside here. Fat Willy's are hoping to pass on their condition to you by loading your plate full of delicious ribs and all sorts of other BBQ awesomeness.
Longman & Eagle, the Michelin-starred gastropub in Logan Square, has an exclusive whiskey selection (clocking in at over 400 labels), a craft cocktail menu, and an extensive beer list all fit for the most pretentious of drinkers, in the least pretentious of atmospheres. Longman takes a flavor-forward, honest approach to eating and drinking, and because it doesn’t accept reservations, there is always a wait for brunch, happy hour, and dinner alike. (And it is always worth it.) While whiskey may be king, the regional American fare has just as much to offer, hence the Michelin star. The menu changes often, but expect anything from beef tallow beignets and veal brains to wild boar sloppy joes, chicken and waffles, and a burger that, if you know what's good for you, you will order.
Cheese lovers (so, everybody) get ready for your utopia! Bar Pastoral is adorned with cheeses sourced from across the globe and local independent farms so you can drop that Mini Babybel now. Wine, sandwiches, and select items are also served.