You can make a good argument for calling Jerry Kleiner the restaurant king of Chicago. He's responsible for such cutting-edge restaurants as Marche, Red Light and Carnivale in the West Loop, Gioco, Opera and Room 21 in the South Loop, and Park 52 in Hyde Park. The stunning decor and often adventurous menus are also a Kleiner trademark.
So where does this ultimate foodie go when he wants a treat? You may be surprised. Kleiner favors a number of small, out-of-the-way spots that do not register on a lot of people's radar.
In fact, Kleiner loves to tell the story about stopping at the Mexican Inn on the way to one of Sam Zell's parties, and Christie Hefner wouldn't get out of the car. Translation? You won't find these spots in the fancy neighborhoods y'all.
- Old Fashioned Donuts (11248 S. Michigan): It's a ways away from the Magnificent Mile, but the trek to this donut shop is worth it. The donuts are made right in the shop, and come out of the oven piping hot, directly into your hands. Recommendations? Definitely try the apple fritter and the glazed donuts. They may just be the biggest donuts you've ever seen.
- Loncar's (3201 E 92nd St.): This isn't the fanciest joint you'll ever walk into (note the regulars saddled up to the bar watching the game), but you'll want check out this spot for the fried chicken. It's been around since 1924, so they definitely know their fowl.
- Schoops (7235 Indianapolis Blvd.): If you're hanging around this part of Chicago, you might as well cross the border to Hammond, Indiana. That's where you'll find the original location of Schoops Hamburgers, which has been around since 1948. The decor still feels like the 1950s. And what's the featured item here? The hamburgers of course! And don't forget to wash it all down with a Green River soda.