Chicago’s food obsessed blogger is sharing the love
When Emily Weinstein went back to school to get her master’s in journalism she learned a ton about digital media—during her graduate capstone project the name “Wein & Dine” was coined, and she’s run with it ever since. Her food blog and Instagram @weinanddine were born out of that and she’s never looked back. Here the beloved Chicago food blogger shares her favorite foodie haunts, where to find the best burger in Chi Town, and how she’d spend her dream day in her home city.
When did my interest in food begin?
I definitely attribute that to my parents who are both phenomenal cooks. Not only are they magicians in the kitchen, but they’re also really into the restaurant scene—especially my dad. He’s always looking for the trendiest, hottest new spot to check out. So any time we’d travel, we’d always be dining in style at really delicious restaurants.
Have you noticed any new trends on the Chicago food scene? If so, what are they?
Chicago’s food scene is constantly changing, with new spots popping up so quickly, I find that I rarely even repeat a restaurant these days. In terms of trends that I’ve seen lately though, shared plates are huge. Well, not actually in size, but in popularity. It seems every restaurant these days has opted for the shared plates route. Examples of places I’ve recently been to: Roister and Duck Duck Goat. And honestly, I love shared plates. I always have the internal debate of what to order—because I really want to order the entire menu. And with shared plates, you sort of can. You get to try a ton of different dishes, so who could be mad about that? Another big trend right now in Chicago: Izakayas. Think Japanese gastropub. Those have been growing like wildfire here. In terms of ingredients, I’d say I’ve seen a lot of ‘nduja lately. Two dishes come to mind: the ‘nduja arancini from Monteverde, and the octopus with ‘nduja from Cold Storage. Yum!
What are your three go-to restaurants in Chicago and why?
Right now I’d say Mott St., Bernie’s Lunch & Supper, and Haywood Tavern. Mott St. is a shared plates concept, and the best way to describe the fare is straight-up fusion. They really pull inspiration from cuisines all over the world—and it’s evident, because their dishes are jam-packed with flavor. Must-haves: The Everything Wings and the burger. Phenomenal. Keep in mind though, you can only order the burger at the bar.
Bernie’s is also shared plates, and also pulls flavors from several countries. Everything I have tasted there is literally finger-licking good. Must-haves: The Pork Confit, the Lamb Hashwi and the paella. I lived in Spain for a period of time, and had not had paella that tasted even remotely like the Spanish national dish, until I ate the paella at Bernie’s. Bernie’s also has a unique cocktail list. Last time I went they had themed their cocktails around foreign words that have no true translation in English. So cool!
Lastly, Haywood Tavern. Haywood is a hidden gem in the Humboldt Park neighborhood cattycorner from the famous California Clipper. Zagat once rated Haywood as one of the best under-the-radar new restaurants in Chicago, and I definitely agree. Haywood has a cozy corner tavern feel to it. You’d think they would be serving up bar food, but their dishes are much more elevated – like smoked fish dip, raclette, and roasted half chicken with a glazed garlic jus. My go-to though, is the double cheeseburger with fries. Obviously. It’s a classic-style burger, but is executed super well. And the fries are oh so crispy!
How would you spend your dream day in Chicago?
My ideal day would of course start with brunch—my all-time most favorite meal.
But, knowing that my ideal day would most likely be a gluttonous one, I would probably start the day off with a run on the lake path. Chicago’s lakeshore trail is idyllic though, so that fits well here.
Back to brunch; my go-to’s with scrumptious fare and good boozy brunch drinks are Dove’s Luncheonette, Big Jones, Bohemian House (Boho), The Publican and Little Goat. After I’m feeling nice and full, and maybe slightly buzzed, I’d head to the river. There are these great little electronic boats you can rent that seat 10-12 people. You captain them yourself and you can bring your own food and drinks aboard. It’s not only lovely to be outside, but it’s the perfect way to see the beautiful architecture of the city.
Speaking of architecture, the architectural boat tour is one of my most favorite things to do in the city—I take all of my visitors on it! Other great outdoor activities could consist of a free outdoor concert at Millennium Park’s amphitheater, or paddle boarding on the lake.
Late afternoon on an ideal day could either be relaxing on one of Chicago’s beaches, or having ice-cold beers on a sunlit patio. Some of my favorite patios belong to Sheffield’s, Big Star and Small Cheval.
Dinner is a must, followed by dancing at one of my favorite bars like Innjoy, Beauty Bar or Revel Room. Then every ideal night must end at Wieners Circle, the iconic hotdog stand that’s open until 4 am, where you are ruthlessly berated by the woman serving up Chicago char dogs and cheese fries. If you really want to make a night out of it, ask for a chocolate shake. Just be warned—it’s not actually a shake.