This is nothing new. Ordering pizza for delivery. Big whoop, right? Wrong. Incorrect. This is in fact a true gift from the culinary gods, especially living in the vast food haven that is the city of Chicago. We’ve had a remarkable winter thus far. Cannot complain. Most Chicagoans are tough as nails anyway, making the best of whatever the lake effect wind blows our way. We spend many days hunched, wrapping our coats tighter around our shivering bodies, lowering our head to avoid the wind, keeping our eyes down at the ground so there’s no tripping, slipping or falling. It does a number on our posture and on our moods. This winter we’ve been fortunate enough to look up, to de-layer, wear less, smile more. We’ve been gifted some windy, snowy days to remind us what normal winters entail, and then we receive a few days of warmth and sunshine to melt any crankiness away. On those “average” days, when the wind howls and the temperature drops, I recommend you park under your electric blanket (if you don’t have one, give yourself the gift or have an awesome mom give it to you like mine did, especially in a cold winter), call one of the great places listed below, pop in a good flick and wait for pleasure to be delivered to your door.
If I had to give thanks to 5 things beyond what truly matters, beyond my amazing family and friends, beyond my health and lasting happiness, my dreams, values, yoga, yada yada, I’d most certainly put pizza on that list. I love almost every version of pizza, even some frozen varieties. I love creative and bizarre pizzas (see Dimo’s, formerly Ian’s). I love Chicago style (Pequod’s!). And I love good ole NYC style cheese pizza. And for that, I won’t go anywhere else but Gigio’s. Even my enthusiasm for food and writing cannot bring adequate words to page to describe the simple yet exquisite delight that is this pizza. To me, and roughly 15 people we share pies with from time, Gigio’s is perfect. I cannot fathom a way to improve it. The original location is in Evanston, a charming suburb on the north-side of Chicago. Sometimes I wish I grew up there. I know some genuinely unique and wonderful people who emerged out of Evanston’s streets and they all know and love Gigio’s as well. They now have a location on North Broadway, in Uptown. The location is nothing special, not nearly the nostalgic experience I feel when visiting the Evanston shop, but either is remarkable for delivery or take-out. I highly, highly recommend! And now I’m craving it. One large cheese feeds our three large mouths very well. Nod to the spinach, pepperoni and sausage as well. Delectable. Sinful. Just like I like it. $16.55, little over $20 for delivery. For stellar pizza, that’s a fine deal in my book. They deliver til 2 am on the weekends and accept credit cards. Easy as a scrumptious, savory pie! 4643 N. Broadway St. Chicago, IL 60640 (773) 271-2273
Almost everyone in this expansive country grows up with the luxury of pizza delivery. In the burbs it’s not always the greatest, but when you’re a kid, you could give two shits. Bread, cheese, hot, without effort, sold. Beyond the joy that is receiving quality pizza on a cold winter night is the sheer miracle of receiving Chinese food via the same transmission. If only we didn’t have to get off our asses and pay the poor sod braving the cold to bring food to a bunch of lazy sloths. Small mercies. For this, I recommend Mark’s Chop Suey on Halsted. I’m a gargantuan fan of wonton soup. Something compels me to order it regardless of my level of hunger, time of day or what entrée I’m pairing it with. And at Mark’s, all soups are very satisfactory and are beyond our normal Chinese fast food equivalents. I’ve a barrage of meat and veggie dishes, usually accompanied by both friend rice AND lo mein, I have no shame. You really cannot beat their dinner box deal’s. For one, you receive an egg roll or two crab rangoons (I love both, but who can pass up a crab rangoon? You shouldn’t. They’re crazy awesome.), choice of beef, pork, chicken or veggie entrée and a side of fried rice for $6.95. They deliver until 11 pm and are closed on Mondays. Slurp up some noodles and enjoy! Delivery Area: Division (1200 North) to Devon (6400 North) California (2800 west) to Lake Michigan (773) 281-9090
Here’s where I go back to some old favorites and recommend you order delivery now and then walk or ride your bike for a visit once it warms up. Or now, if you’re not a wimp like me. Panes is by far my favorite sandwich place in Lakeview. From the baked fresh daily bread, their refreshing sides and vegetables, quality deli meat, truly unbelievable cookies and even better prices, we order Panes probably twice a month. $5.95 a sandwich. Cash only so beware. They close at 9 so order early. 3002 North Sheffield Avenue Chicago, IL 60657 (773) 665-0972
Crisp’s wings are truly unbelievable, large, perfectly executed and well worth the $8.95 for 5 price. I love their bowls and fried mushroom app too. They close at 9 as well are closed all day Monday. I’ve made the wretched mistake of craving them so intensely I have tunnel vision and want nothing else, all to call and find out it’s fricken Monday! Curses. Don’t make that mistake. Delivery Area: Lake Michigan to 2000 W Damen 1600 North (North Ave) to 4000 North (Irving Park). (773)-697-7610 (773)-697-7611
Despite my pension for pizza and cookies, I do enjoy eating healthy foods most often, just not late at night on the weekend’s. This next choice is a real American munchie craving, one you cannot sweat too much because of calories or fat, just enjoy it. When I have a hankering for BBQ and the energy of my dog Bear, I’ll call Risque Cafe. No, it’s not a strip club/buffet combo like it sounds, or like you’re used to, it’s an oddball concoction of whiskey and craft beers, and some damn fine BBQ. I love fried pickles. Theirs are speers, bursting with salt and flavor, piping hot, and excellent. Their pulled pork is juicy, tender, smokey and tangy and is paired with fantastic baked beans, surprisingly well made cornbread (I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, I live in the land of corn and more corn!), and an unnecessary side salad. What was even better, what I will order every single time from now on, is their F*ck Fidel sandwich, a meal and a sentiment most can get behind. Pulled pork, ham, swiss, fried pickles and mustard. Oh my f*cking god, mind-blowing, heart exploding, stomach challenging, taste buds in ecstasy. Toss it down with some crispy fries and you’re in for a good night’s sleep. Eat in moderation, as a treat. I can’t emphasize this enough. Sandwiches range from $7-10 and are served with fries or tots. This is a bit of a tease because Risque does not deliver, BUT, if you are enjoying a night in with someone, I highly recommend the “I buy, you fly” method, order it to-go, it’ll still be fresh when it gets home. 3419 N Clark Chicago, IL 60657 (773)-525-7711
Rounding out our countries visited is a trip to Mexico, or the gift of Mexico visits you! Azteca de Oro is a consistently well reviewed, healthy, unassuming establishment on Clark Street, just north of Wrigley Field. I truly enjoyed every dish, every staple ingredient, and every margarita I’ve ever had, at authentic Mexican restaurants. An important distinction. Azteca is BYOB if you want to bring some friends and enjoy the food right after it’s prepared, but succumbing to our lethargy as we often do, we thought it best to receive this meal via carrier. Our tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas and tortilla soup held out magnificently. Another home-run. Most entrée items run from $6-9, with the larger, more adultish choices being over $10. They’re open late and deliver their beautifully fresh and delicious food at warped speed. Enjoy! 3731 N. Clark St. Chicago, IL 60613 773-857-6565
A good night awaits you with any of these above and beyond delivery and carry out joints. At each, the hardworking staff provide genuine care in preparing every dish and delivering with optimum freshness. Living in the city, I personally walk miles a day. I love it. I can walk to most of my friend’s houses, take an elevated train and bask in the glory that is Chicago’s architecture, its vintage and modern beauty, its endlessly fascinating population and it’s infinite possibilities in memorable cuisine. Sometimes I need to rest these old bones while I watch the snow blow by, next to my radiator and my pups, in one of Chicago’s many great neighborhoods. Wherever you live, find the goodness. You can get bogged down with the sameness, the plain, the weather whoas and the distracting weirdos. Or you can embrace it for its totality and extract every bit of positive you can. If you live in Chicago and you complain about it, move. May sound harsh, but if you’re bored or unhappy it says more about you than it does the city. If you can’t plainly see the good or it’s not thrusted upon you on a silver platter, then do some work and find it. You deserve it. Have some great nights in!
Work hard. Play well. Live vibrantly and Eat even better. Masticate each bite thoroughly. Swallow with gratitude. Happy Eating.