I got a sense of the kind of effect Frente al Sol could have on a customer when I walked in for the first time and a woman by the counter turned to me, completely unprompted, and said, “The food here is amazing.” A few minutes later, again spontaneously, she told me to have a great day as she left before I could get her name. Wondering if the food here had that impact on everyone, I ordered, on the co-owner’s recommendation, a tilapia taco ($3.15) and four chicken enchiladas in an avocado-poblano sauce ($12.59). Frente al Sol bills itself as a Mexican fusion restaurant, so even though the menu had a lot of familiar Mexican restaurant fare, I wanted to try the dishes that came with a twist.
“Gardening is going to be a game changer.” That’s what Cordia Pugh says to me as we walk through the Hermitage Street Community Garden.
Graffiti adorns Bridgeport’s newest (and only) fried chicken restaurant, but don’t worry—it’s open. Situated just south of Archer and Halsted, the colorful storefront of Big Boss Spicy Fried Chicken is hard to miss. The interior follows a similar design, with spray-paint motifs and illustrations of cartoon chickens and ambiguous creatures (are they rabbits or dogs?) dressed like chickens.
Best Boba for a Sweet Tooth
I enjoy food. The second I finish the last bite of my breakfast I’m contemplating what I’m going to have for lunch. I have a liberal palate with no dietary restrictions, and I appreciate most flavor profiles. I can chow down with glee at a she-she poo-poo-laa white linen tablecloth reservations-only restaurant, or get my grub on just fine at the hole-in-the-wall greasy spoon, as long as the food and the vibe are good. There are few deal-breakers for me when it comes to a meal, so if I tell you there is a place where I’ve eaten but I won’t be back, you may want to listen. Draw your own conclusions, of course, but here are some of mine.
In 2011, when Jinxi Liu saw the Richland Center Food Court for the first time, it didn’t look like a welcoming place for new beginnings. Located in the basement of the Richland Center in Chinatown, the hall had been open less than a year and still looked mostly empty, with only a couple food vendors attending to their stalls. But to Liu, who had moved to the United States from the Chinese coastal province of Guangdong three years earlier, it nonetheless seemed like a promising place to start a restaurant of his own. In June of that year, with money he had borrowed from relatives and saved from working in various kitchens, he opened Yummy Yummy Noodles, the food court’s newest stall specializing in noodle dishes.
Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot campaigned on a promise to “Bring in the Light,” positioning herself as a progressive candidate who would uplift all Chicagoans. Prior to the runoff, the Chicago Food Policy Action Council (CFPAC) asked both candidates where they stood on food justice issues that impact Chicago’s communities. In response to the eight detailed questions in the CFPAC questionnaire, Lightfoot simply responded “yes.”
Chicago is considered the birthplace of the environmental justice movement—but mayoral candidates have never really been grilled about how they would address the issue.
A line grew out the door of B’Gabs Goodies on a Friday evening in late October, as around seventy-five people filed into the intimate Hyde Park eatery for the the second iteration of a grassroots funding event called Food Fun(d)ing Friday. As I waited in line with my friend, we overheard the chatter of friends who hadn’t seen each other in years, and who had encouraged each other to come together to this event.
On a Thursday in early November, around forty people gathered at a coworking site in the West Loop to attend a “(Re)Launch” of the Ward Ambassador program run by Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA), a network that supports urban farms, gardens, and sustainable food initiatives in the Chicago region.