It’s not easy to work in the world of food, no matter what end of the food chain you’re on. Start-up costs are high, the hours long, and the rewards often minimal. But working with food is a labor of love.
What Was Breakfast is a series in which I walk up to a stranger, take their portrait, and interview them about what they had for breakfast.
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)
The 95th Street Metra station in Beverly closed its window for ticket sales in March 2016, but another window in the station opened for business last month: Two Mile Coffee Bar. Co-owned by couples Sonia and Nate Hollister and Gretta and Patrick Dertinger (Nate and Gretta are siblings), Two Mile serves family- and neighborhood-inspired drinks, as well as pastries crafted by the Morgan Park–based Laine’s Bake Shop, in the station’s bright waiting room. With Nate’s passion for reviving the historic space and Gretta’s extensive experience as a high-end barista, the family business seems off to a promising start. Their opening day on April 20 was packed, especially with young couples and children. Despite the tiny size of the coffee bar itself, the seating area is spacious: small tables, rose-colored vintage chairs, and several of the train station’s original wooden benches make for a welcoming and airy environment. Current weekday morning hours cater specifically to commuters. For a taste of Beverly’s latest, try the cedar-infused “Mamma Sue and the Reverend” or “The Ridge,” a latte with a cardamom twist—drinks named, respectively, after Nate and Gretta’s parents and the neighborhood’s iconic hill.
If anything was going to make me nostalgic for my childhood summers spent driving through beach towns on the white-sand coasts of Alabama, I didn’t expect to find it in South Shore. But Surf’s Up South Shore encapsulates everything I remember about the restaurants in Southern beach towns: the colorful painted interiors, the pithy “Life’s a Beach” wall art, a diagram explaining the difference between “you,” “y’all,” and “all y’all,” and of course the menu offerings: deep-fried (or grilled!), richly seasoned, and generously portioned seafood platters that already had me ready to bring out the flip-flops and sunglasses for a beautiful summer day at the Point.
If you stop to get lunch in Hyde Park, it’d be understandable to think Rico Nance owns just about every restaurant in the neighborhood. From the original LiteHouse Whole Food Grill at 55th Street and Hyde Park Boulevard, which opened in 2013, his family of restaurants has radiated outwards. In 2016, Mikkey’s Retro Grill popped up two blocks north on 53rd, with a second location opening in Avalon Park in 2018.
Tis the season for warm weather, sunshine, and, of course, ice cream!
Pinches Miches is an independent drink company started by Mo Muñoz Husein and girlfriend Nancy Hernandez five years ago. Their drinks are inspired by a popular Mexican drink, the michelada, a light beer mixed with a flavorful blend of tomato juice and bold spices on the rocks.
Looking for a place to order a custom cake for your best friend’s birthday or your grandparents’ anniversary? Well-known and well-loved for their fluffy tres leches cakes, which come in a variety of flavors, Kristoffer’s Cakes should top your list. For those unfamiliar, tres leches is a type of sponge cake made without butter, which results in a cake that’s full of holes and dry enough to be soaked in three types of milk (evaporated, condensed, and heavy cream) to give it texture.