By Kristin Boza
Chicagoans know how to cope with the cold. We’ve mastered the art of layering and recognize the importance of a good pair of mittens. We have one other cold weather trick up our sleeves: warming up from the inside. A hot cup of cocoa is nice after shoveling out your parking spot, but finding a meal to stick to your ribs is really the way to warm up.
Fortunately, Beverly/Morgan Park restaurants, bakeries, and sweet shops have created homemade meals that are fresh, healthy, and comforting to get us through our tough winter. Don’t worry about calories – you’ll burn them off on the sledding hill anyway.
Take-and-Bake Comfort Foods from Beverly Bakery
Beverly Bakery, 10528 S. Western Ave., owned and operated by the Quigley family, gives customers the opportunity to stop in for their morning coffee and breakfast, and then leave with a freshly made frozen meal to heat up for dinner.
From comfort food to Indian food and even vegetarian and vegan dishes, Beverly Bakery has more than 30 unique recipes that are frozen in recyclable tins to cook at home, no pre-order required.
“My personal favorites are the Indian dishes with an amazing layering of spices and the seasonal special Butternut Squash Risotto, which is comforting, filling, and decadent,” said Megan Quigley. “Our top sellers are the Shepherd’s Pie, Beef Stroganoff, and Chicken Tetrazzini.”
“Dinner is done with our take-and-bake meals. Just put the tin right into the oven and set the timer, without having to venture out again in the cold,” Quigley said.
Beverly Bakery also delivers the meals as gifts, which makes the perfect treat for those who just had a baby, are sick, or are too busy to cook themselves.
Quigley said their take-and-bake menu is always evolving and they accept suggestions for new options.
Find the Take and Bake menu at beverlycoffeeroasters.com or call 773-238-5580.
The Soup is On
Katie and Patrick Murphy, owners of Sweet Freaks, 9927 S. Wood St., know all about the importance of good chocolate. But one can’t live on the decadent sweet treat alone, no matter how hard some of us may try.
To combat the cold and provide a well-balance meal, Sweet Freaks offers a freezer full of 16-ounce soups for customers to take and heat up at home or at the office.
Their everyday soup menu consists of Vegan Vegetable, Chicken Vegetable, and Spicy Steak Tomatillo. Currently, they also offer Cream of Broccoli. With a brand-new freezer to accommodate the soup, no pre-ordering is required.
“All of our soups are made with fresh ingredients, and they are hearty enough for a full meal,” said Patrick Murphy. “We even have spoons available if people are taking the soup back to the office for lunch.”
The frozen soup menu changes frequently, so be sure to stop by to see what’s available and pick up a treat for dessert. Sweet Freaks is open Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Chili on a Chilly Day
Chili aficionados will disagree forever about what makes chili “authentic.” But, it doesn’t hurt to try as many different bowls as possible to find out which one stands out from the rest.
Swanson’s Deli, 2414 W. 103rd St., has been serving delicious chili to hungry neighbors since the early 1940s — and they still use that same tried-and-true recipe.
“First off, we grind our own beef for the chili, using ground chuck and chopped skirt steak, like the kind used for taco meat,” said owner Greg Dix. “We use diced onion, Poblano peppers, fresh garlic, fire roasted tomatoes, Brooks Hot Chili Beans, toasted cumin, dark chili powder, dried chiles and a few secret ingredients and spices.”
Dix said Swanson’s classic recipe has a little bit of heat to it. For those clamoring for hot and spicy chili, they also make Dragon’s Breath Chili from time-to-time, “…which will make you sweat!” Dix said.
Swanson’s chili is sold by the cup, bowl, quart, or gallon and comes with shredded cheddar cheese, onions, and oyster crackers. Customers can purchase it hot or ask for it cold to reheat at home later.
Dix recommends grabbing a gallon of chili for any occasion, football game, tailgating, lunch or dinner to stay full and toasty on a cold Chicago day.
Stop in, check out the menu at swansonsbeverlydeli.com, or call 773-239-1197.
Grown-ups Deserve Sophisticated Cheesy Dishes
For the ultimate comfort food with a twist for adult palates, check out the grilled cheese and mac and cheese at Horse Thief Hollow, 10426 S. Western.
Developed by the former head chef and recently modified by Chef Mark Hemmer, the Adult Grilled Cheese is composed of smoked Gouda and Muenster cheeses.
“This blend provides a sophisticated cheesiness while the chili butter, onion marmalade, and pulled pork add depth of flavor,” said Horse Thief Hollow owner Neil Byers. “Served with tomato bisque, it’s a grown-up version of the dish we’ve all loved!”
Chef Mark created Horse Thief Hollow’s Lowcountry Mac and Cheese after being inspired during his travels to South Carolina. It includes garlic, shallots, scallions, smoked Gouda and white cheddar along with the rendering the flavor from the andouille sausage for a full, rich flavor.
“Chef Mark has been a big fan of our house-made andouille sausage and decided to incorporate it into the dish along with three different types of cheese and a cornbread crumble crust,” Byers said. “Both of these dishes fuel the soul and the belly. They’re deeply satisfying!”
Check out the Horse Thief Hollow menu of food and brews, and make reservations at horsethiefbrewing.com.
Hot Pasta for Cold Nights
An old-school Italian restaurant, hungry patrons won’t be disappointed with the variety of authentic Italian pasta dishes to help them stay warm on cold winter nights at Franconello, 10222 S. Western. For more than 25 years, two generations have provided hungry Beverly/Morgan Park residents with quality service, upscale ambiance, and classic Italian dishes.
The house favorite Linguini with Clams or Mussels is a dish covered in a zesty tomato sauce and developed to bring spice and heat to warm us up from the inside. Hand-crafted specialties include Manicotti Al Forno, three rolled crepes stuffed with ricotta and parmesan, baked with a layer of marinara sauce and mozzarella and the Cheese Tortellini Alfredo.
Franconello offers 11 delectable pasta dishes, including gluten free pasta that can be topped with a choice of marinara, Bolognese, fresh tomato, vodka or alfredo sauce.
Make a reservation for a cozy table at FranconelloChicago.com.
Hearty Dishes in a Warm Ambiance
For a classic American dining experience and numerous comfort food favorites, Ken’s on Western, 10522 S. Western, prepares traditional food based in a family experience.
Ken’s is known for their daily specials that give customers a choice between two classic dishes. These complete meals are old-school style home cooking that provide customers with delicious meal that’s been cooking all day! On Mondays, choose between braised short ribs or meatloaf; Tuesdays are lamb shanks or lake perch; Wednesdays are pork chops or braised oxtails; Thursdays are beef Stroganoff or roast chicken; Fridays are fish fry or ribeye; Saturdays are BBQ ribs or stuffed chicken; and Sundays are turkey or prime rib.
Ken’s regular menu offers steaks and chops, chicken dishes, seafood and Italian favorites, as well as several appetizers. Dinners are served with a relish tray and Ken’s signature pizza bread.
You’ll get hungry reading the menu at KensOnWestern.com. Call 773-238-0234 for reservations.
Kid Approved Comfort Foods
Kids have their own version of comfort food, and Nicky’s of Beverly, 10500 S. Western, has it on the menu. Go-to kids’ favorites like grilled cheese, chicken tenders, and hot dogs are higher quality than fast food options, and sure to keep the kids happy while parents enjoy delicious grown-up options like blackened catfish, buttery Lobster Rolls, and oven-roasted Greek chicken.
Nicky’s is well-known for its robust menu of vegetarian and vegan dishes as well. “Beyond Meat” selections include vegan sausages and brats, meatless jerk chicken on a pita and vegan nachos. Parents may also enjoy the variety of craft beer, wine, and cocktails created by Steering Cocktails and infused with seasonal herbs and fruits.
Plan an evening out at NickysOfBeverly.com and order online for pick-up.