Old is New Again: The Berghoff

My parents grew up going to The Berghoff in downtown Chicago. Most Chicagoan’s probably have. I used to go as a kid, but the last time I was there, I was in high school. In fact, I thought for the longest time it was closed. Recently, I had the opportunity to dine and tour the restaurant and was so impressed. Not only because of the history, but the revival of the menu.  The Berghoff is known for their German food like Weiner Schnitzel’s, bratwursts and giant Bavarian pretzels. Of course, those dishes are legendary, but there are new additions to the menu that are more modern and appealing to a younger generation. More contemporary dishes that even include certified gluten-free options. But first, let me tell you about the history and how it all began. 

IMG_0964

The Berghoff has been around since 1898, and is rich in Chicago history.  Herman Berghoff posted right outside the Chicago’s World Fair in 1893, similar to a pop-up cafe. His success from that, is how he made enough money to bring his family to Chicago and open his cafe.  

BerghoffCafe1920's

Berghoff_Bar-ProhibitionEnds1935

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End of Prohibition- 1935 (Photo Courtesy of The Berghoff)

During the prohibition, the bar remained opened by selling a “Near Beer” which contained less than 0.5% alcohol. This made it possible for Herman to sell and stay open. After prohibition ended, The Berghoff was issued Chicago’s first Liquor License. Chicago has honored this every year and they will always receive the first license.

IMG_7307

The Berghoff had a separate men’s only bar until 1969, when Gloria Steinem demanded service and this ended the male-only streak.

Berghoff-Cafe-East-Room-Row-Dining-2

Now for the food. We sampled a lot of everything, some classic dishes and contemporary ones. I also had the opportunity to meet Chef Matt and Chef Javier. Their love for not only the food, but their passion for working at the restaurant shined through. They have been at the restaurant for years and are dedicated to making great food. Chef Matt went into detail on how everything is made in house. With a bakery and 4 kitchens in the 50,000 square feet space, everything is made on site. That is something unique and many Chicago restaurants can’t claim. To take a closer look at the behind the scenes in the bakery, look here.

Berghoff_Chef Matt.jpg

IMG_8605.jpg

With all that being said, my top 3 dishes are:

3. Red Velvet Cake- I am not usually one for dessert or sweets in general, but this red velvet cake is fluffy with the right amount of sweetness. Served with a side of vanilla ice cream, this dessert will make anyone go out of their way to dine here.

IMG_7303

2. Braised Short Ribs- This is fantastic. Melts in your mouth good. Served with a side of mashed potatoes and topped with fried onions. The textures are just right. Perfect comfort food during the cooler months.

IMG_0971

1.Butternut Squash Lasagna- Layered with diced butternut squash and Manchego, then topped with grilled asparagus and glazed walnuts, it is outstanding. The combination of the sweetness from the squash with the cheese is perfect. It is light enough to eat year-round and vegetarians should go crazy over it. Definitely a stand out dish.

IMG_0972

The Berghoff is also known for Oktoberfest. This runs from September 7th- October 7th. With live music and food specials, it will put you in the mood for the fall festivities ahead.

Whether you are from Chicago or here to visit, The Berghoff is a must stop for great food and some Chicago history.

Until next time…

Christine

 

Advertisements

Your Non-Hipster Guide To Pilsen

If you know anything about the various neighborhoods in Chicago, you would know that Pilsen has always been a predominately Mexican neighborhood. Recently, Pilsen has been slowly gentrifying as hipsters and young families move into the area, the culture is still very present. Although the restaurant scene is thriving with places like Michelin rated Dusek’s and Honky Tonk BBQ, there are still plenty of authentic, Mexican taqueria’s and bakeries. My husband’s family still lives in the area, so we know some less touristy places that might not be as well-known. Plus, he has a discerning taste 🙂

El Milagro (1927 S. Blue Island)- Cafeteria style dining and the only tortillas you should ever eat, El Milagro. I had chicken tacos, rice and beans. You will literally have an entire piece of chicken, bones and all. So good and such a unique dining experience.

Lupitas (1723 S.Ashland) This is a taqueria which serves breakfast all day and homemade FullSizeRender(1)menudo (cow stomach), which my husband had and loved (not so much my thing). I had steak tacos, huge portions and delicious. This mom and pop restaurant has grandma and mom cooking in the back and the daughter works the front. We stumbled upon while walking around the area and so glad we did. Very easy to miss, but definitely a must stop.

Bon Bon Bakery (1457 W. 18th Street)- TRES LECHES (3 milk cake) had me in tears. Seriously, the best in the city. Maybe world. A ittle bit more well known throughout the city, this original location is a must along your way.

IMG_9925

Bright doors and colorful street art

 

Nuevo Bakery (1634 W. 18th Street)- Currently, the restaurant is under construction from a fire they had recently, but the bakery has the best conchas (Mexican Bread). Best when dipped in coffee.

Try out the street food. Don’t be scared. We had some tamales from a lady on 18th street, right by the Pink line. They were fresh, delicious and really, it feels good to shop local and support small businesses.

Jump on the Pink line to 18th Street and do some exploring. Try the street food. Check out the National Museum of Mexican Art and all the street art. Do it. Let me know what you think!

Until next time,

~xoxo~

CGL