NFT Chicago South


Former lifeblood of the South Side economy, US Steel Company left behind expansive, desolate acreage decades ago. But despite squashed Olympic development hopes, transit artery Lake Shore Drive is currently being extended south, and solid plans for housing and infrastructure may become reality over the next few years. Still, life goes on in the South Side, one of the most crime-riddled areas in the city between Garfield Boulevard and Englewood, as well as the comfortable middle-class enclaves of South Shore to Chatham to Burnside, a bungalow belt that defies the area's rough-and-tumble reputation.

75th Street is a major hub of South Side action: Lee's Unleaded Blues offers a truer Chicago blues experience than anything downtown or on the North Side. South Shore's Jeffery PubSee more.

> offers a friendly haven for the South Side's GLBTQ folks. South Deering received its 15 minutes of fame when the smoked fish offerings of Calumet Fisheries were featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations.


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Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Calumet Fisheries
We once again will give the nod to the great Anthony Bourdain for giving us a great south Chicago tip (we're not proud at NFT: just because we didn't find something first, we'll still eat it and write about it if it's good). The smoked colossal shrimp at Calumet is everything Mr. Bourdain said it was, as were the fried smelts, the smoked salmon, the fried fish, the onion rings, etc. As a take-out-only joint, your eating options are: (1) pull up in your car, order your food, take it back to the car, crack the windows, and eat it as you are parked on South 95th Street just before the bridge, or, if you don't have a car, (2) after ordering your food, spread it all out on the sidewalk on the 95th Street Bridge itself while you eat and watch the drawbridge go up and down (don't picnic on the drawbridge part). I guess a (3) is to take it back to the 95th Street Metra stop and eat it on the platform, but you might get some looks and you might need to share. Either way, you'll without a doubt have leftovers, since it's impossible to walk in and not order too much food. Can't wait for more smoked shrimp and fried smelts. Truly.

Posted By:  Tina Fakhrid-Deen
Photo:  Tina Fakhrid-Deen

You know an eatery is worth the trip when people actually from that country dine there. Filled with Caribbean patrons, calypso music, and Trini flags waving all around, this tiny island haven p romises “authentic Trinidad Caribbean food with a touch of soul.” Café Trinidad is located on the Southside of Chicago, in the heart of the hood. The main dishes are their seafood offerings such as the Curry Crab & Dumplings, Red Snapper, and Curry Salmon. Their Stir Fry is quite popular, as are the delicious Roti Wraps. They have plenty of vegetarian options and at least a dozen sides. The soul food sides such as the macaroni pie and sweet potatoes were yummy, but the greens were tasteless and grainy. Grainy greens = gross. To add spice to any of the grub, try their homemade hot sauce, but only a few drops unless you’re a professional flame-eater. To wash it down, try the Sorrell, the ice cold Mauby, or the bubbly Ginger Beer. The “soul food” options left a little to be desired, but you don’t go to a Trinidadian restaurant for soul food. You go for authentic Trini food and at Café Trinidad, that’s exactly what you’ll get.

Posted By:  Kelly Pucci
Photo:  Kelly Pucci

Hagen's Fish Market
Los Angeles Smelt season is almost over. So you can either hurry to the Montrose Beach with your state fishing license, gill net, and beverage of choice and try your luck snaring the little fishies. (Note: Chicago tradition requires that you bite the head off the first smelt caught.) Or, you can head to Central Avenue and buy smelt-heads, battered and fried at Hagen’s Fish Market for $6 per pound. While the friendly Hagen staff fries your “catch,” pick up free recipes and purchase some inexpensive seafood tools; $2.19 will get you a sturdy clam knife. If you’re still hungry after polishing off a bag of crisp smelt, walk next door to Toots for a swirl ice cream cone.

Posted By:  Kelly Pucci
Photo:  none

A&G International Fresh Market
A&G Fresh Market is a gourmet grocery store Chicago-style: it’s big and it ain’t pretty, but somehow it works. Located west of Boystown in a building that formerly housed Goldblatt’s, a rock bottom discount department store, A & G offers gourmet food at neighborhood prices. On a recent trip, I spied an 8 oz. bottle of Italian olive oil infused with truffles for only $4.19 and a one-pound box of rose-flavored Turkish delight candy for $2.99. Don’t expect to find the usual amenities offered at national gourmet grocery stores. There’s no café. There are no pseudo-health magazines or organic cosmetics. And there are no little recipe cards explaining ways to use products. (If you don’t know what to do with Danish Puck Cream or Butter Ghee, just don’t buy it.) But there is a large bakery with yummy pastries and breads from area ethnic bakeries, an old-fashioned butcher shop, and lots of fresh produce. You’ll find free parking behind the store.

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