Come this time of year, there’s nothing that helps a visitor to Chicago warm up faster than some hot, steamy eats from the city’s top restaurants. Here are five spots where you can indulge your taste buds and heat up at the same time:
Ramen at Slurping Turtle
Steaming bowls of high-quality ramen weren’t always an easy get in the Windy City, but the last few years have produced a slew of places specializing in noodles. While there are some excellent options out there, we’re partial to the ramen at Slurping Turtle in River North, where you’ll get a variety of never-soggy noodle bowls, rich broth and tasty toppings with texture to spare. If you like heat, go for the spicy Tan Tan Men Ramen, which includes pork meatball, pork chashu, pork miso, bok choy and bean sprouts.
Chicken Pot Pie at Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits
The Logan Square neighborhood is rife with farm-to-table restaurants, one hipper than the next. Bang Bang fits right in, but its pies and goodies are far from run-of-the-mill. Sure, you can pick up a seasonal blackberry sage pie (or go in for a slice) made fresh that day, but why not go for a hot, savory treat first? The bakery’s chicken pot pie is pure heaven on chilly day — the flaky crust is stuffed with chicken, creamy gravy and veggies. Diners also have the option to make it “buffalo style” with blue cheese and housemade hot sauce.
The Hot Chocolate Doc at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago
Kids and adults alike will want the Hot Chocolate Doc at this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel to make a house call. The trained “M.D.” will bring a rolling cart loaded with all sorts of candy, confections (and even libations) to your guest room. You then get to choose what to doctor up your hot chocolate with — choices range from marshmallow crèmes and chocolate fudge to cinnamon cotton candy and caramel drizzles. The over-21 set can spike their steamy mugs with peppermint schnapps and butternut rum.
Hot Caldo Bowls at Xoco Bistro
We’ve long been fans of the hot cocoa and churros at Xoco, superstar chef Rick Bayless’ casual Mexican street food eatery in River North. His second, larger outpost, opened last fall in Wicker Park, and continues with must-eat goodies that are heavily influenced from South of the Border. In particular, the seasonal hot caldos are steaming soup bowls that overflow in heartiness. This winter, guests have four options, including barbacoa, carnitas, red pozole, and a delectable seafood option with blue shrimp, mussels, red chile broth, potatoes, grilled onions, pea shoots, cilantro and lime.
Spiced Sweet Potato Soup at Travelle
Located on the second floor of The Langham, Chicago, Travelle has showstopping floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Chicago River and State Street. (Keep an eye out for the famous Chicago Theatre sign lit up in bright lights.) The fare here is decidedly Mediterranean, but the spiced sweet potato soup fits perfectly in with the city’s diverse and multicultural food scene. The name of the dish may give its unique taste away, but it certainly doesn’t dampen the experience. It’s a little bit sweet, a little bit spicy and offers up a lot of palate-pleasing goodness — especially on a chilly Windy City night.