The Fifty/50 ( 2047 W. Division St.; www.thefifty50.com/ ), fromwho else?the Fifty/50 Restaurant Group, beat a lot of other places to the punch regarding sports bars kicking it up and serving patrons something more than plain burgers and corn chips.
For more than a decade, this casual spot has claimed that it's a sports bar that offers something moreand a recent visit convinced me of that, at least for now.
The smoked pork-belly burnt ends are quite beguiling appetizersmaple-cured and applewood-smoked, and accompanied by honey-mustard dipping sauce. However, there are other apps such as tempura popcorn shrimp ( addictive ), beer-battered pickles, buffalo calamari and even tempura-battered cauliflower ( reaching out to vegetarians, in another turn for a lot of sports bars ).
The Fifty/50 is famed for its wings, and they come in three varieties: regular breaded, boneless breaded and applewood-smoked. ( They like applewood here. ) On the other end, there are several salads available, including the Wicker Park, appropriately ( mixed greens, toasted pine nuts, goat cheese, cucumbers, vine tomatoes and roasted shallot vinaigrette ).
And, of course, there are burgers and baby-back ribs galore. I actually found the burgers particularly fascinating, with varieties such as HELL ( with habanero salsa, roasted jalapeños, Fifty/50 hot sauce and pepper jack cheese ), The O-Face ( Merkts cheddar, BBQ pulled pork, waffled mac'n'cheese on a pretzel bun ) and the very tasty Big Hered, which is a bison-based concoction.
By the way, keep this place is mind for casual patio dining this summer if you're a dog owner, as that area of this spot is canine-friendly.
Francesca's on Chestnut brunch
Francesca's on Chestnut ( 200 E. Chestnut St.; www.miafrancesca.com/locations/profile/francescas-on-chestnut-gold-coast ) has a brunch that measures up with its other meals.
That's wonderful for at least two reasons: great quality at fantastic prices ( especially considering the restaurant is in the heart of Streeterville, one of the most most expensive neighborhoods in Chicago, if not the Midwest ). Arancini Benedict ( $13 ) involves crispy risotto balls with prosciutto, poached egg, hollandaise and house potatoesand could be a meal on its own. Ditto for the delicious brioche French toast ( $10 ), which is made simply and wonderfully.
However, practically everything is a hit here, including the Davanti burger ( $16; roasted tomatoes, crispy mozzarella, arugula, bacon jam, and roasted garlic aioli, served on a brioche bunand, yes, it's served with fries ). However, if that's not your style, other offerings at this particular Francesca's restaurant range from smoked salmon salad ( $14 ) to rigatoni alla paesana ( $13; rigatoni with roasted sausage, wild mushrooms and peas in a light tomato cream sauce ).
And with the money you save, you can hit the shops on nearby Michigan Avenuemaybe.
Thousands of attendees got to "ham it up" April 6-7 at the UIC Forum, where Baconfest Chicago took place.
At Baconfestwhere a portion of the proceeds go to the Greater Chicago Food DepositoryChicago and suburban chefs concoct and serve dishes to thousands of bacon lovers. Just a few of the restaurants present this year included The Heritage ( which served bacon-and-red floriani cornmeal dumplings ), Bites ( Billionaire's BLT bao ), Carnivale ( maple-bacon pops ), Inspiration Kitchen ( bacon pistachio beet empanadas ), Italian Village Restaurants ( bacon BBQ truffle ) and Edzo's Burger Shop ( pancake-and-bacon milkshakes ). In addition, there were alcoholic beverages and other products ( such as Burton's Maple Syrups ) that complemented the meats.
Keep up with the latest Baconfest news at https://baconfestchicago.com/.
Note: Restaurant profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.