Gott’s Roadside

Chili Cheese Fries, Impossible Cheeseburger
Exterior
Exterior

***** (5 stars)

Great historic roadside eatery from the 1940s, now occupied by a small local burger chain. Terrific chili fries, Impossible Burger, and some of the best onion rings I’ve had anywhere. Also a shout-out for the coffee shake! Sounds like a great 10am breakfast on Christmas Eve to me!

Gott’s Roadside
933 Main St
Saint Helena, CA
94574
(707) 963-3486
https://www.yelp.com/biz/gotts-roadside-saint-helena-2

Roti Modern Mediterranean

Exterior
Counter

**** (4 stars)

This is essentially the Chipotle of Mediterranean food. Choose you bowl, salad or pita, your protein, and the toppings. The only thing I found odd was the absence of taboule, which seems like such an essential part of, say, a falafel pita.

Service at this location is very fast and friendly.

Roti Modern Mediterranean
200 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL
60606
(312) 332-6013
https://www.yelp.com/biz/roti-modern-mediterranean-chicago-5

Francois Frankie

Steak frites
Salmon tartare
Lobster cioppino
Salmon
Interior

***** (5 stars)

This is an interesting almost-French-bistro with some American items as well. A charming carousel bar is the centerpiece; it slowly revolves, about once an hour.

There is absolutely no acoustic treatment anywhere, and the walls are glass, mirror, and metal, so it can get very loud. The environment was much better as the evening went on and it started to empty out.

The triple creme camembert and the crispy brussels sprouts were delicious hors d’eouvres. Caesar salad is a very generous portion.

My entree, the lobster cioppino, was delicious. The broth was redolent with fennel, and the lobster was plentiful.

The wine list is a bit eclectic, but our waiter, who was also the sommelier, did a great job of finding something to our taste.

Francois Frankie
222 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL
60606
(312) 600-9659
https://www.yelp.com/biz/francois-frankie-chicago

Taza Cafe

Gyro Plate

Falafel Sandwich

Interior

Exterior

***** (5 stars)

Extremely friendly staff in this counter service restaurant make it special.

I tried the gyro platter, which came with lentil rice, hummus, a falafel, salad, and pitas. It was very good, especially the gyro meat coated in tzatziki and spicy sauce.

Even better was the falafel sandwich, a generous serving of falafel, lettuce, tahini, spicy and a very fresh pita pocket to hold it all.

Definitely one of the best choices for fast Middle Eastern food in Chicago.

Taza Cafe
176 N Franklin St
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 201-9885
https://www.yelp.com/biz/taza-cafe-chicago

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery

Interior

Exterior

Nachos (no beans)

Rib eye

Chili

**** (4 stars)

Based upon the name I was expecting sort of a dive bar, but it’s actually quite modern and nice inside. The menu offers a broad range of sports bar food, and I was pleasantly surprised by how good our selections were.

The nachos were actually better than any I’ve gotten in Chicago’s Mexican restaurants. They were spread out in a thin layer over a huge rectangular tray, so they stayed nice and crisp. We ordered them without the black beans, just our preference.

I had the ribeye, and it was a pretty darn good steak for much less than half what it would cost in any of River North’s steakhouses. About half of it needed to be trimmed away, but that’s what makes a ribeye so tender and juicy, and this one certainly was.

Service from our original server was a bit spotty, but the bartender and manager filled in nicely during her unexplained absences.

I was definitely favorably impressed, and will return.

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
One West Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 755-9339
https://www.yelp.com/biz/rock-bottom-restaurant-and-brewery-chicago

Nate’n Al Delicatessen

New York on rye

Deli case

Interior

Interior

***** (5 stars)

This is the deli you’ve been looking for. Its extensive menu offers all the genuine New York style Jewish delicatessen standards, in every conceivable option.

Speaking of New York, try the New York sandwich: meaty pastrami on seeded rye (or whatever your preference) with their not-to-heavy cole slaw, and a perfect amount of Russian dressing. Order the half sandwich unless you want to take some home. My favorite (included) side item is the potato salad, but you can also upgrade to fries (three kinds) onion rings, and a lot of other stuff.

The serving staff has been here forever (and a few of the clients look like they have too), so it’s just like you remember it from however far back your memory goes. A great deli.

Nate’n Al Delicatessen
414 N Beverly Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 274-0101
https://www.yelp.com/biz/naten-al-delicatessen-beverly-hills

Hannah’s Bretzel

Prep area

Exterior

Club baguette with almonds

*** (3 stars)

This is a pleasant counter service restaurant that specializes in sandwiches made on pretzel bread, hence the name. The bread is fairly small and it’s not that cheap, so don’t expect a Subway experience.

The focus is on fairly healthy combinations such as a turkey club. The health aspects are somewhat offset by the hundreds of chocolate bars lining the queue–dieters beware!

Service is well organized and there is a pleasant outside dining area.

Hannah’s Bretzel
400 N La Salle St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 621-1111
https://www.yelp.com/biz/hannahs-bretzel-chicago-7

Chicago q

***** (5 stars)

This might not be the best barbecue place in Chicago, but it’s certainly the nicest, and I love their approach to food and beverage. They focus on flights of both, and offer variety in surprising ways.

For example, we started with the barbecue flight, a good way to sample brisket, pulled pork and pulled chicken. It came with four(!) different barbecue sauces, all of which were good.

Well, we didn’t actually start with that, because when you sit down they give you a generous basket of seasoned house-made potato chips and delicious sweet pickles.

For our main courses we had the chicken and waffles and another flight, this time of eggs benedict. I still don’t really get the combination of chicken and waffles, but both were good–even better when I asked for some barbecue sauce to dunk the chicken in. The eggs benedict was served three ways, each of them huge: with brisket, pulled pork, and pulled chicken. But it was different from the barbecue flight, because each was on a different base: biscuit, fried green tomato, and corn bread. Each also had a different Hollandaise sauce, which my dining companion wisely opted to have on the side. A little bit was all it needed.

There’s a really extensive list of beers, wines, whiskey, bourbon, scotch and a limited list of cocktails. Staying with the flight theme, we tried the Grand Tasting, which consisted of nine(!) whiskeys. It wasn’t cheap, but it was a real learning experience, because they were all so different, and the beverage manager was really knowledgeable about them.

For the record, here are my ratings (on a scale of 10) for the flight:

Auchentoshan Whiskey (American Oak) 6/10
Hibiki Harmony (Japanese) 7/10
Wieser Uuahouua (Pinot Noir barrels, Austrian) 7.5/10

Compass Box Spice Tree (clove cardamom cinnamon) 7/10
Elijah Craig (barrel strength 102 proof) 8/10
Slaughter House by Orin Swift 9/10

Noah’s Mill Bourbon 6.5/10
Willet Pot Still Bourbon 7/10
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked 9/10

I really like the whole approach to food and beverages at Chicago q.

Chicago q
1160 N Dearborn St
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 642-1160
http://www.yelp.com/biz/chicago-q-chicago