Food | Food Issue 2019 | Transportation

Fueling Up

The Weekly reviews small-shop restaurants attached to South Side gas stations

Haley Tweedell

Last summer, as a friend and I were leaving Lansing for Chicago, we stopped at a gas station to fill up the tank and stock up on our standard road trip fare. Between the two of us, that usually means Combos, Takis, sour gummy worms, and trail mix. But when we walked in, we found a Cuban sandwich bar with a full menu at the back of the Mobil shop, and who were we to choose a bag of chemical cheese pretzels over a $6 roast pork sandwich? (The sandwich was delicious. We still bought Combos for the road.) Ever since then, I’ve been haunted by the possibility that behind every unopened gas station door is a non-Subway food operation that is somewhere on the spectrum between decent and delicious. Here are some of the doors the Weekly has opened for the Food Issue. (Emeline Posner)

Elections

Election Explainer: Metropolitan Water Reclamation District

Whichever way the votes count up, there’s some change coming to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District

Ellen Hao

It’s an unusual election year for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD). Normally, every two years, three of the nine seats on the district’s board of commissioners go up for election. Each seat has a six-year term. The idea is to stagger board turnover, so that from election year to election year, two-thirds of the board remains consistent.

Development

Bringing Up the Backwaters

After decades of debt and secrecy, the Illinois International Port District presents a plan

Spaceco (Courtesy Illinois International Port District)

For the first time since 1981, the Illinois International Port District (IIPD) is undertaking extensive repairs and construction in the southernmost part of its 1500-acre property on the Southeast Side.

Development | Environment | Far Southeast Side | Nature

Shoreline Abnormality

An industrial corridor’s past and future, as seen from the waters of the Calumet

Piles of salt on city-owned land on the Calumet River (Courtesy Ders Anderson)

Down the Calumet River from a former petcoke storage site, several acres of early growth trees rustle gently in the breeze. It’s one of a few areas with sustained natural growth on the northern part of the river, which snakes through the Southeast Side’s industrial corridor. Tom Shepherd, an environmental activist and longtime Southeast Side resident—and, on a recent overcast morning, the guide of a boat tour down the river—singles that parcel out as we pass by. “It’s really amazing on that property to see how nature makes its comeback,” he says.

Food

Turning Up the Heat

Two Chicago sauce-makers show their mettle at the city’s first (annual) hot sauce expo

Emeline Posner

After several years of one-off events, Chicago finally has a hot sauce festival that’s promising to stick around. At the First Annual Chi-Town Hot Sauce Expo last weekend—the latest addition to an expo circuit that already includes Portland, Anaheim, and New York City—thirty-three hot sauce vendors convened in the parking lot of Toyota Park, just southwest of the city limits, to show off their finest and spiciest.