The Best Munchies In Chicago
Contributions by Carrie McGath, Jessica Mlinaric, Mae Rice and Anthony Todd
Sometimes, you need to chow down, and you're not concerned about health, calories, fat or cholesterol—just about stuffing as much delicious food in your mouth as possible. Depending on your personal life, this may or may not coincide with an altered state of consciousness. (Such as being high. High on marijuana. It's 4/20, guys.) In case you don't have the energy to make Rick Bayless' ultimate stoner food, here are ten of our favorite indulgent munchies in Chicago.
The Mac at Cheesie's Pub & Grub (photo via Yelp)
The Mac at Cheesie's Pub & Grub
This sandwich is a beautiful golden brick of carbohydrates that was clearly designed for high people, though Cheesie's, ever-classy, doesn't call that out explicitly. Per its name, it's a literal mac-and-cheese sandwich, with some extra Kraft Single-esque cheese slices thrown in for good luck. Served on thick slabs of Texas toast, it comes with tomato soup for dipping, but the melty cheese is all the sauce you need. —Mae Rice
Cheesie's is at 958 W. Belmont Ave, 1365 N Milwaukee Ave. and 622 Davis St. in Evanston.
Empanadas at 5411 Empanadas
Whether you get their stellar BBQ chicken or the caramelized onion and parmesan empanadas (my two favorites), be sure to also get a side of their chimichurri sauce, which complements the empanadas perfectly. Located on North Avenue near the Damen Blue Line stop, the restaurant also has a solid tap selection. —Carrie McGath
5411 Empanadas is at 2045 W. North Ave.
Walking Taco at Big Star
Need to munch on the move? Try Big Star's playful take on a Texas frito pie. The walking taco elevates an already munchable bag of Fritos by adding meatless bean chili. Topped with onion, cilantro, queso and tamazula sauce, it may not be Big Star's best taco, but it is the most mobile. —Jessica Mlinaric
Big Star is at 1531 N Damen Ave.
The tater tots at Skylark (photo via Yelp
Tots at Skylark
Skylark is famous for their tater tots, and rightly so. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, they come in a basket so large that it might scare you if you're a bit too high. Trust us, though: these tots are your friend. You can get them with three dipping sauces if you want (honey mustard, ranch and barbecue)—or just dunk them in ketchup. —Mae Rice
Skylark is at 2149 S. Halsted St,
Pickle Plate at River Valley Farmers Table
Need some acid in your life to cut the fat from all those munchies? Order the incredibly generous pickle plate at River Valley Farmer's Table. Depending on what's in their deli case, you might get pickled mushrooms, green beans, beets, cabbage, brussels sprouts or who knows what else. No matter what, be sure to get some of their whole dills—they ferment them instead of using vinegar pickling, so they stay crisp and salty. Also, order the fried mushrooms. Just trust us. —Anthony Todd
River Valley Farmers Table is at 1820 W. Wilson Ave.
Buffalo Wings at Rocking Horse
We know wings as a munchie sound pretty typical, but the buffalo wings at Logan Square’s Rocking Horse are saucy and perfect for a late night snack. They're finished on the grill, too, which gives the skins a unique crispness while keeping the insides juicy and divine. —Carrie McGath
Rocking Horse is at 2535 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Tamales at Tamale Spaceship (photo via Facebook)
Tamales at Tamale Spaceship
Not only will you get the best tamales in the city, but also some of the best guacamole. Once only a food truck, this spaceship filled with deliciousness has landed on Damen in Wicker Park with a small brick-and-mortar location. Highlights include No One’s Tamale (stuffed with barbacoa-style chicken and green peanut mole) and the Simple Tamale (stuffed with cheese and poblanos). Don't forget that glorious guac. —Carrie McGath
Tamale Spaceship is at 1341 N. Damen, but be sure to also follow their food truck map to keep up with the mobile version.
Togarashi Fries at Belly Shack
When only a phenomenal fry will do, look no further than Bill Kim's "Koriquen" (Korean meets Puerto Rican) shack under the Western Blue Line stop. The perfectly crisp fries are tossed in Togarashi, a flavorful chili blend. Delicious on their own, the fries take on a habit-forming quality after a dive in the garlicky curry mayo. —Jessica Mlinaric
Belly Shack is at 1912 N Western Ave.
Mac and Cheese at Valois Cafeteria
There is absolutely nothing fancy about this mac and cheese, which is available on Fridays and Sundays at this Hyde Park spot. It's made with processed ingredients and held on a steam table. Maybe that's why we love it - somehow, it tastes just like childhood, and is a big goopy mess of happiness. —Anthony Todd
Valois Cafeteria is at 1518 E. 53rd St.
Slices and pies at Dante's
This BYOB pizzeria is easily one of our favorites in the city. The Beatrice (with garlic sauce and mushrooms) and the Virgil (with salami and two types of olives) are our favorite specialties, but Dante's also has a unique range of toppings, including Italian beef and tofu, if you would rather build your own. Slices of cheese, sausage, pepperoni, and the slice of the day are available as well—and one slice is a meal in itself. —Carrie McGath
Dante’s is at 3028 W. Armitage Ave. and 2825 Milwaukee Ave.
The garlic cilantro fries at Fork (photo via Yelp)
Garlic Cilantro Fries at Fork
You won't want to breathe on anyone for a few hours afterwards, but these salty, savory fries are some of our favorites. Hand cut and tossed with tons of garlic and cilantro (green stuff is healthy, right?), these aren't for the faint hearted, but if you love as much raw garlic in your life as you can get, get a double order. —Anthony Todd
Fork is at 4600 N. Lincoln Ave.
THT Fries at The Harding Tavern
This intimate pub features a range of comfort foods and munchies from their late night kitchen, but the time is always right to order a plate of THT Fries. Served in portions big enough to share with a few friends, the thin-cut fries are topped with pasilla chile and cheddar sauce, cilantro, bacon and cotija cheese. (Or, if you're not feeling quite that indulgent, the classic fries tossed with sea salt and fresh herbs will satisfy serious munchie cravings as well.) —Carrie McGath
The Harding Tavern is at 2732 N. Milwaukee Ave.