Do you adore tomatoes like I do? It makes total sense to me that we would have a holiday called National Tomato Month. My memories include many August weeks of my entire family showing up at dad/grandpa's farm and cramming ourselves all day long with the most incredibly delicious giant tomatoes - just picked and still warm from the sun. We'd slice them or wedge them and eat them for breakfast with eggs, alone or on sandwiches for lunch, and alone or in salads for dinner. Lord, what a celebration of the fine art of growing vegetables. Listening to dad's stories of fighting bugs, mold and weather, I really came to appreciate what farmers go through.
Check out these 7 Chicago restaurants that invite you to celebrate with tomato-y specials.
1. At the Bad Dog Tavern, 4535 N. Lincoln Ave., enjoy $5 Bloody Marys on Saturdays and Sundays all month long. Bring your (well-behaved) pooch and sit on the huge patio. It's summer!
2. Carnivale, 702 W Fulton St., celebrates this month with its Heirloom Tomato Salad. Served with Dunbarton blue cheese, sourdough croutons, rooftop basil and topped off with a bacon balsamic vinaigrette (num!), it's 10 bucks and available all month.
3. Chicago q, 1160 N. Dearborn St., one of Chicago's hottest spots for top-shelf barbeque, has its own special Heirloom Tomato Salad, sliced thinly and served with basil chiffonade, fresh cracked pepper and a honey vinaigrette for $8.25 (pictured above). Tomatoes from the farmer's market can be almost as good as my dad's. And I like the idea of this very simple, delicate preparation.
4. LM Gastro Bistro, 111 W. Huron St., has a new brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. And this month the restaurant is offering a special Tomato Tartine, $9, with heirloom tomatoes, olive oil and garlic (pictured above).
5. Merkle's Bar and Grill, 3516 N. Clark, this month sports $5 Bloody Marys in a 22-ounce cup 7 days a week (pictured above). It looks spicy! Check this place out for Open Mic Nights for comedians, 100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall Challenge and live sports coverage for a variety of games.
6. Porkchop, 941 W Randolph St., brings you a Fried Green Tomato BLT for $9. Their twist on the classic BLT consists of Texas toast topped with mayo, arugula, bacon and fried green tomato. They also have Saturday and Sunday $5 Bloody Marys (and mimosas).
7. This past spring the folks at Troquet, 1834 W. Montrose Ave., decided to grow their own vegetables and herbs in a community-based allotment garden nearby. And now you can enjoy daily specials with their own juicy cherry tomatoes in side vegetables, soups and quiches of the day. Look for seasoning with some of their own herbs - mint, basil, oregano, rosemary, dill, thyme, squash, beets, parsley, green beans and lettuce.
What a joy is nature's bounty in summer. Absolutely nothing more fabulous than home-grown tomatoes in August. Get out and enjoy!