In a January post, 19 artists named their favorite, most creative chefs in the city. In a February post, 22 artists, shorter on cash, named their favorite dives in the city. I thought it would be interesting to find out where some of the best, high-end chefs in Chicago go after work for some good grease. Incredibly, many of them share their choice in late night dives. Take note for some yummy, down and dirty spots. I know where I am going!
1. "I would have to say that my favorite 'dive' would be Chicken Hut on the corner of Belmont and Broadway. It doesn't look like much from the outside; but, every time I send someone there, they are back a few times the same week. No Joke!"
2. "When I'm in the mood for something very casual, I tend to hit up a few Mexican spots. You can never go wrong with Big Star, but I'll also head to La Pasadita for its Tongue Tacos and sometimes Big and littles for the Fish Tacos. When not drinking wine, I enjoy a good tequila, which pairs well with the late-night Mexican bites."
3. "San Soo Gab San, Korean BBQ in Lincoln Square, is open until 3 a.m. Great for sharing! Get the BBQ: Wang Kal Bi (marinated beef short ribs) or Bulgogi (thinly sliced beef). There's a call button if you need something! So don't expect the servers to come to you. If you don't push that button, the servers will not stop by."
- Heather Terhune, Executive Chef, Sable Kitchen & Bar
4. "If I'm in the mood for something greasy late at night, I like Diner Grill on Irving Park Rd. The place is 12 stools, one short-order cook and open 24 hours. It's also known as "Lotto Grill" because you can buy lottery tickets there. I get the Double Cheeseburger with Crispy Hash-browns, but their claim to fame is something called "The Slinger:" two hamburger patties, topped with two eggs over easy, hash-browns and then covered in chili. I've never tried it, but was with another chef once who ate two Slingers in a row. You'll always find lots of extremely drunk young folks there."
5. "Three Aces. It's in walking distance from my house and offers just what I need - a creative approach to late night bar food. The burger and pizza hit the spot after a late night on the line."
- Ryan LaRoche, Executive Chef of Park Hyatt Chicago / NoMI Kitchen
6. "My favorite dive for late night eats is definitely Big Star. There is nothing better after midnight than their fresh tacos and margaritas!"
7. "My favorite dive joint for late night scrounging is the San Soo Gab San on Western Avenue. It is a combination Korean BBQ and Japanese sushi. The food hits the spot for soaking up copious amounts of booze and grilling your own meat table-side is always a good idea when intoxicated."
- Jared Wentworth, Longman & Eagle
8. "Cocoro Sushi and Restaurant is a small place with 2 servers that has amazing Japanese food, very simple and tasty. If you order fish you get fish, if you order squid with garlic that's what you get, no spicy mayo all over it or different sauces to mask the flavors of the product. It's very traditional and I believe a Chicago hidden gem.
Lao Sze Chuan in Chinatown is a standby for pretty much everyone that likes spicy food in Chicago. Tony Hu has been packing them in for a long time, especially cooks and chefs, since the restaurant is open late and on Sundays.
Ming Hin in Chinatown is a semi-new dim sum spot that has really great dim sum. They also have traditional duck items, squid and crispy pork belly hanging in the window. All pretty amazing!"
- Chef Lee Wolen, Chef de Cuisine at The Lobby Restaurant, The Peninsula Hotel
9. "Gilt definitely does not fall into the dive category, but they are open late and it is around the corner from where I live. The food and drinks are delicious and it is a perfect place to unwind."
- Executive Chef Anthony Martin, Tru
10. "Arturos tacos! Tasty and fun. I would not say creative, but very good Caldo di Pollo, Soft Tacos Lengua and Barbacoa. The other place I like is the Superdawg drive-up windows on Milwaukee Avenue. Again, not creative, but a great Chicago dog with fries and great packaging boxes."
11. "Jake Melnick's may not really be a dive, but it is located on the ground floor of my building and convenience is key for me. Jake's has an amazing selection of beers on draft. Tony and Drew, who run the restaurant, always test me on the newest and most interesting beers available. Great burgers, wings and an old school Fried Cod Sandwich - it's what a Filet-o-Fish aspires to be.
Su Casa is my other go-to, but only if the old man is working the bar. A great place to stop and grab a couple of Margaritas and a Queso Fundido. He pours a solid Margarita and will actually roll your tortillas with the Queso Fundido at the bar."
- James O'Donnell, Executive Chef, Michael Jordan's Steak House
12. "Arturo's Tacos is the best! On the corner of Western and Armitage, they are open 24 hours. They have a full menu, but I always go for the tacos or the Pozole. Its cheap, fast and tasty."
- Chris Macchia, Executive Chef, The Florentine
13. " My favorite go-to dive restaurant is called La Bomba. When I'm craving old school Puerto Rican fare, that's where I go for a plate of Arroz con Gandules with Pasteles."
- Michael Shrader, Urban Union
15. "Hamburger King: the Yet Ca Mein with a side of rice and gravy is a great start to a nap! Or a busy day!"
16. "Two of my go-to dive restaurants are Al's for an Italian Beef Sandwich and Jim's on Halsted for an authentic Maxwell Street Pork Chop Sandwich. These are restaurants that are consistent and craveable. The staff doesn't turn over often, so you get the same service. They also both provide tasty eats before and after late night beverages!"
- Erick Williams, Chef, mk The Restaurant
17. "I always go to Konak in Andersonville when I want to eat late night. My favorite bartenders, Ali and Tuba, are always there, there's always a beer on special, and they make their pizza dough from scratch."
- Zoe Schor, Chef Ada St.
18. "Late night I often head to Gold Star Bar. There is always a glass of brown liquor with my name on it."
- John Manion, Executive Chef, La Sirena Clandestina
19. "Las Pasaditas has been a late night standby since I worked at the Everest Room. I stick with the Steak Tacos with Cilantro and Onions, hot sauce and a bottle of Mandarin Jarritos!"
20. "I love Three Aces. There are great drinks, great bartenders and the late night food is good. I also love that I can listen to some old school punk while there.
Cleo's on Chicago Avenue is another good place. They serve food late and have Carlsberg on tap, which I picked up a liking for while living in Ireland and England.
I also like to support my local place. There is a beef stand called Duk's Red Hots on Ashland. It's perfect for grabbing an Italian Beef late-night. There's a diverse neighborhood crowd and they have some outdoor seating that's ideal when the weather warms up."
- Thomas Lents, Executive Chef, Sixteen Restaurant
21. "San Soo Gab San. It's an all-night Korean BBQ spot on the north side of Chicago. I have been going here mostly after long days at work since I was a cook at Tru. They greet you with "Banchan", which is around 12 small dishes for the table including Kimchi. Great late night spot!"
- Chef Greg Biggers, Café des Architectes, Sofitel
22. "One of the best spots for late night eats and drinks is the Matchbox and its adjoining restaurant, The Silver Palm. The Matchbox is very small (hence the name), but has some of the best Manhattans and Margaritas in the city, and is often populated with Chicago's industry workers."
23. My late night go-to after a night out is Arturo's on Western. They have great traditional tacos with the must-haves such as Al Pastor and Asada. What really makes Arturo's different is their more exotic tacos like Lengua (tongue) and Tripe. It's open 24 hours, so it's perfect to soak up some booze after a long night out.
- Executive Chef, Trevor Hoyte, IPO Restaurant, The W Chicago City Center