Does food taste better in uncool neighborhoods?

October 15, 2013

WBEZ
Assorted speciality hot dogs from Hot Doug’s in Avondale. Does food taste better when you have to travel out of your way to get it? Or are those locations just annoying?

Last week, chef Bill Kim announced he will be moving his groundbreaking Avondale ramen joint Urban Belly from a quaint strip mall on the Northwest side to Randolph Street’s bustling restaurant row.

Restaurant relocations don’t often make much news, but this one seemed to signal a certain abandonment of dining in the hood for dining with the stars.

Kim explained to the Tribune’s Kevin Pang that it was a logistical decision made after expanding his partnership with the Cornerstone Group, which owns Wave and Michael Jordan’s Steak House.

 “We did everything we could there,” he said to Pang. “...We have great memories (in Avondale) and it leaves a hole in my heart, but Urban Belly is growing up and graduating and moving on.”

This got us thinking about all the off-the-beaten path restaurants we love in the Chicago area. During a quick chat around the WBEZ water cooler, we learned that some people—specifically the carless—actually hate these eateries because they seem intentionally inaccessible.

But to others, these places represent something special, something slightly out of reach. Something that says, I’m so good, I’m worth the effort.

Many such restaurants are catalogued in the LTHForum’s Great Neighborhood Restaurant gallery (even if some on that list reside in high restaurant density areas) but WBEZ food contributor Louisa Chu, Sound Opinions producer Robin Linn and I came up with our own personal list to start the discussion.

Monica Eng’s Top 3

Yassa African Restaurant, 716 E 79th St.

Katy’s Dumplings, 665 N. Cass Ave. Westmont

Tio Luis Tacos, 3856 S Archer Ave.

Robin Linn’s Top 3

Marie’s Pizza, 4129 W Lawrence Ave.

Tre Kronor, 3258 W Foster Ave.

Top Notch Burger, 2116 W 95th St.

Louisa Chu’s Top 3

Jimmy's Red Hots, 4000 W Grand Ave.

Johnnie's Beef, 7500 W North Ave., Elmwood Park

Burt's Place, 8541 Ferris Ave. , Morton Grove

Find out what’s so special about each of these places when we continue the discussion on WBEZ’s Morning Shift on Oct. 16. 
Also to tell us which out of-the-way restaurants you like best below or call in 312-923-9239 during the Wednesday show.