Chicago is known for great deep dish pizza, charbroiled hot dogs with electric green relish and popcorn, Garrett's popcorn to be more specific. What the Windy City is not known for is Southern cuisine.
If you have a hankering (for you Yankees, that means craving or taste) for some good old Southern cooking, take a ride over to The Southern, located at 1840 W. North Ave in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood. Patrons enter the restaurant through the outdoor courtyard, which makes you feel as if you have walked into a private residence in the French Quarter. The rod iron tables and abundant shade from the trees create a relaxed atmosphere that make your most difficult decision of the day to choose between the beer on tap or the bourbon based cocktail.
The Southern offers an impressive selection of small batch bourbons, micro-brews, hearty whiskeys and plenty of specialty drinks. Executive chef Eric Michael uses ingredients from local farmers and sustainable sources, which not only increases the fresh food taste, but makes you feel good about increasing your environmental footprint.
While everything coming out of the kitchen looked delicious, my friend and fellow foodie Robyn and I were lucky enough to sample the fried green tomatoes, gumbo, grilled shrimp and grits and the crawfish roll. Think Rhode Island meets Louisiana and you will dive into a sandwich that will rival any lobster roll served in the most exclusive restaurant in Newport. Each dish was cooked to perfection and I have not found a gumbo that tasty and authentic outside of the two LA's (Louisiana and Los Angeles). Yes, they use Amish chicken, a fact that did not go unnoticed by this New Orleans transplant, but again, they are supporting the local farmers and in this case, the state of Indiana, so everybody wins.
With summer finally in full swing, I highly suggest you take a trip to The Southern and enjoy a laid back afternoon with friends, fellowship, and food. If you are looking for a great rooftop patio to host a party, The Southern can also accommodate large groups. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org and you will be on your way to an authentic Southern food experience and a relaxed atmosphere that will leave you coming back for more.