Posts for January 4, 2013

Too Much Heat Hinders Food Trucks From Moving Forward

We thought that food trucks were finally getting the green light when we heard that the city gave them the go-ahead to operate last summer, and then we heard that they were getting their own parking spaces a couple of months ago. Now the Tribune's Monica Eng serves us the real dish about what's going on with food truck ordinance and licensing in her thorough and stellar article, "Nothing's Cooking on Chicago's Food Trucks." She lists myriad reasons from various hopeful licensees about why there's been no, er, movement with regard to the matter; the chief reason being that the city just makes it too darn difficult: it's too expensive to outfit the truck with equipment the city deems necessary; lack of guidance from city and public health officials; standards and regulations not immutable. [Trib]

You Should Make That Grace Reservation While You Still Can

It's probably not quite this open, but you get the idea.Photo: Anthony Tahlier

Curtis Duffy's Grace was one of the most highly anticipated (if not the most highly anticipated) restaurants to open last year. From the moment it was announced, food media — Grub Street included — covered every detail of Grace's debut. Despite being open just under a month, Grace has seemingly already solidified its place in the annals of restaurant greatness. Early reviews from both critics and diners alike, including Zagat naming Grace as one of the ten hottest restaurants in the world, have been nothing short of glowing. But here's the thing: As long as you don't want to go on a Friday or Saturday night, reservations are still fairly easy to come by. Day-of availability is often an option, thanks to cancellations. And the restaurant, which takes reservations two months out, has sporadic availability for many weeknights. All of this is to say, go now, while you still can, because it's just a matter of time before the national media converges on this place and makes it near-impossible to get in. [Earlier, Related]

Video-Game Maker Namco Opening Prototype for Chain Restaurant

Pac-Man-inspired dumplings, like the ones served at Red Farm, should definitely be on the menu.Photo: Evan Sung

Call it tables for Tetris: The arcade game division of video-game manufacturer Namco Bandai is developing a prototype for a new, "upscale entertainment restaurant concept" that will likely debut in the Chicago area, reports gaming site Polygon. Few details are available about the restaurant; Namco started off as the producer of Golden Age arcade games like Pac-Man and Pole Postion, but now mostly produces games and rides for places like Wal-Mart and multiplexes. So this could either be the restaurant of the future or the second coming of Chuck E. Cheese.

Pac-Man is at MoMA now, after all. »

New Soul-Food Film Screening This Month at Chicago Cultural Center

So good, yet so bad.

Diets and health are the topics on everyone's minds right after the new year, which brings us to the topic of soul food. The traditionally Southern foods of the black community are rich in not only tradition, but also in many things that nutritionists warn against: sugar, fats, starches and cholesterol. That is why acclaimed filmmaker Byron Hurt took a long, hard look at foods like candied yams and fried chicken to investigate whether the diet nurtures or adversely affects the health of the black community in his film, Soul Food Junkies.

Read more »

Patrick Dempsey Buys Tully’s Coffee Chain for $9 Million

National treasure.

Rejoice: Patrick Dempsey has succeeded in his heroic mission to save Tully's Coffee, a Seattle-based company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October. "We met the green monster, looked her in the eye, and ... SHE BLINKED! We got it! Thank you Seattle!" McDreamy tweeted last night. (Somewhere, Hugh Jackman is brooding.)

Should we now call him McSteamy? »

Tennessee and Tuscan Truffles at Spiaggia

Mega truffle!

Sarah Gruenberg and Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia will host chef Jason Lenn of Tennessee's highly vaunted Blackberry Farm for a truffle dinner entitled Tartufi della Toscana and Truffles of Tennessee.

Read more »

Subway Clerk Threatens to Kill Man Who Wanted Ketchup on His Cheesesteak

Eat fresh, but watch your back.

A man named Luis Martinez was feeling hungry on Tuesday night, so he went to the Subway shop inside his local Orange Country, Florida (of course), Wal-Mart and proceeded to order a Philly cheesesteak with American cheese, onions, and ketchup. That's when things went horribly wrong.

"That's when I flew off the handle." »

Chef Alex Stupak Rings in the New Year With Mezcal, Caviar, Sausages, and Juice

Stupak, cleansing with oysters and beer at Upstate.Photo: Melissa Hom

"I’m a big fan of leaping before I look," Alex Stupak says. By now the chef's trajectory — moving from pastry chef jobs at Alinea and wd~50 to opening Empellón Taqueria and, less than a year later, Empellón Cocina — is well known. "We opened the second restaurant, like, way too fast." The move seems to have paid off — lots of critics around town have recognized Cocina as one of last year's best new restaurants. That doesn't mean a third Empellón will happen anytime soon, though: "For 2013, I really just want to put my head down and focus on the two restaurants we have." To see what it takes to fuel that — including candy, homemade sausages, a self-described "unlealthy" relationship with mayonnaise, and a New Year's juice regimen that was perhaps inspired by Stupak's previous cleanse — read on in this week's New York Diet.

"The last spoonful of habanero salsa gave me an endorphin rush." »

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