Things Are a Happenin’ in Chicago’s West Town

If you head on over to Chicago’s West Town neighborhood these days, you’re bound to find some new, tasty and happening restaurants. I recently dined at a couple of them that are worthy of some praise.

First was West Town Tavern. Don’t think of your typical local tavern when you’re dining here. Recently awarded a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin guide, their contemporary food is anything but ordinary. The duo in Chef Susan Goss and husband Drew have a sweet little gem of a spot in Chicago’s West Town. The space is rustic and comfortable and the menu is intriguing.

We started with the Crispy Lobster and Crab Cake served with Green Goddess Dressing. Along with that we added the Tavern Potato Chips with rosemary and parmesan cheese, drizzled with balsamic syrup and truffle oil. Completing our round of appetizers, we ordered the Fennel Salad with mushroom, radish, lemon and white truffle oil and one of the specials of the evening, a pear and blue cheese tart, which was fantastic!

For entrées, we touched all sections of the menu. First up was the Pan-Roasted Wild Lake Trout, served with zucchini, fingerling potatoes, tomatoes, house-cured bacon, black olives and rosemary. The special of the night, a haddock with a New England-Style clam chowder sauce (a thinner version of the soup) also made its way to our table, along with another special, Chicken Saltimbocca. Wrapped with cheese, sage and prosciutto, this chicken dish was another winner. I went with the Owensboro-Style Smoked Lamb Shoulder BBQ served on top of a corn cake and traditional “black sauce,” a pungent sauce made with ingredients including Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, lemon, vinegar and hints of allspice.

With a regularly changing menu, don’t wait too long to try these dishes at West Town Tavern!

West Town Tavern, 1329 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL, 312-666-6175,

Next was a newcomer to the sushi scene, Arami. That said, I headed over for a different reason: to try their ramen (picture above). I’m happy to say that I’m now very happy to have access to some decent ramen here in Chicago. Moving back from New York City where ramen places are as plentiful as Starbucks (okay, maybe not quite), I was missing it this cold winter.

I started my lunch off at Arami with the Spicy Tako Spring Roll, a fabulous yet simple light soft spring roll wrapper filled with spicy octopus, cilantro and crisp mixed greens drizzled with a sweet sauce. I next had to choose between four different bowls of ramen. I went with the Kimchi Ramen, served piping hot with tofu, pork belly, egg and scallions.  The flavor was rich and the spice was ever-so-present.

Soothe your ramen cravings at Arami, and be sure to report back on your favorite ramen in the Comments section!

Arami, 1829 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL, 312-243-1535,

Andrew “Kappy” Kaplan loves food. A professionally trained chef, these days you’ll find him on the road talking up kids and cooking as Director of Yum-o! and keeping special projects running smoothly for Rach, all the while taking a bite here and a bite there as he samples and shares local flavor from across the country, from taco trucks to fancier finds. Follow Kappy on Twitter to see what’s On Kappy’s Plate!

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