6 Chicago Cookbooks for When You Can’t Get a Reservation
Chefs, sharpen your knives
Chicago is blessed with an overabundance of superstar chefs--we’ve got everyone from Top Chef Stephanie Izard to the molecularly amazing Grant Achatz. But it can be a wee bit hard to score a table at one of their acclaimed restaurants. Next time you find yourself in the mood for fine dining with nary a reservation in sight, turn to one of these cookbooks authored by our city’s best.
“More Mexican Everyday: Simple, Seasonal, Celebratory” by Rick Bayless
Beloved king of Mexican cuisine Rick Bayless--of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo--knows how to tweak his recipes for the rest of us. Show off your home-chef prowess with a fresh mole, breakfast taco or slow-cooker braised meat. If you haven’t yet had any tacos prepared by the man himself, we suggest splurging for a night of Topolobampo to try Bayless at his best.
“Girl in the Kitchen” by Stephanie Izard
We’ve loved Stephanie Izard ever since she graced our screens as an unstoppable Top Chef contestant, and we love her even more now that she’s opened three restaurants in Chicago’s West Loop. The photography in Girl in the Kitchen is gorgeous, and the dishes featured stay true to Izard’s eclectic tastes. Important note: You won’t find the recipe for Girl and the Goat’s beloved green beans in here, but you will find a recipe for a similar dish that stars green peas instead. Give it a go.
“Alinea” by Grant Achatz
If you figure out how to get a reservation at this cookbook’s titular restaurant, please let us know. Immediately. Until then, revel in all the otherworldly recipes found in this beautifully visual book. Achatz doesn’t modify his recipes for the home chef; this book is more a fantastic read into the world of high-dining than anything else. Plus, you eat with your eyes, right?
“Takashi’s Noodles” by Takashi Yagihashi
James Beard Award-winning chef Yagihashi indulges us in all things noodle with this beautifully photographed cookbook. Ramen sometimes seems like the ultimate going out indulgence (we’re talking fresh ramen, none of that instant stuff), but Yagihashi’s easy-to-follow recipes will have you cooking up your own batch of ramen, soba or udon in no time.
“The Spiaggia Cookbook: Eleganza Italiana in Cucina” by Tony Mantuano and Cathy Mantuano
If Tony Mantuano is good enough for Obama, he’s good enough for us. Obama named Spiaggia his favorite restaurant in 2009 and for good reason, the upscale spot boasts an unreal diversity of regional Italian cuisine. This cookbook gives you comfort Italian with a modern twist: Think crescenza cheese-filled ravioli with Parmesan truffle butter and Swiss chard timbale.