Category: Ryan Bluestone

Chicago’s Top 5 Handmade Dumpling Spots

Chicago, a city known for its diverse culinary scene, has embraced the art of handmade dumplings with open arms. These little pockets of joy, stuffed with flavorful fillings, have found a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike. Join us as Ryan Bluestone of Chicago Taste explores the top five handmade dumpling spots in Chicago, each with its own unique charm, culinary mastery, and signature dumplings that have made them landmarks in the city.

  1. Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings (Chinatown)
    Nestled in the heart of Chinatown, Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings has been a beacon of dumpling excellence since it opened its doors in 2015. Owner, Eric Zhou runs this hip spot that is renowned for its handmade dumplings and they even offer free 90 minute dumpling classes via Zoom. Ryan Bluestone will tell you that you literally can not go wrong with any dumpling or kebab selection, but his favorites include the Wagyu Beef and Onion and Kurobuta Pork and Cabbage dumplings both of which feature a delicate balance of flavors. The restaurant’s commitment to tradition and quality has made it a favorite for those seeking an authentic dumpling experience.
  2. Lao Sze Chuan (Chinatown)
    In addition to other city locations, Ryan Bluestone notes Lao Sze Chuan has been a Chinatown staple since 1998. founded by Chef Tony Hu, has been delighting diners with its handmade dumplings and traditional Sichuan cuisine for decades. The Shui Jiao, or boiled dumplings, are a standout, filled with a delectable mixture of pork and vegetables, and Ryan Bluestone gives five stars to the Peking Dumplings. Chef Tony Hu’s dedication to showcasing the diverse regional flavors of China has made Lao Sze Chuan a beloved spot for dumpling enthusiasts throughout the city.
  3. Lao Peng You (Chinatown)
    Lao Peng You first opened its doors in 2018. Specializing in contemporary Chinese cuisine, the establishment has gained widespread acclaim for its innovative approach to traditional dishes. The head chef, Eric “Chops” Wat, is a culinary maestro known for his expertise in crafting authentic Chinese flavors with a modern twist. Lao Peng You has become a go-to destination for those seeking a sophisticated yet approachable Chinese dining experience. Some of the most celebrated dishes include the signature Peking duck, mouth-watering pork and chive dumplings, beef and green onion dumplings, and the delectable Sichuan-style hot pot, all of which have garnered praise in numerous reviews.
  4. Aroy Thai (West Loop)
    In the West Loop, Aroy Thai has made a name for itself with its authentic Thai cuisine, including handmade dumplings. Opening its doors in 2013, this spot, led by Chef Pha-Jeaw, serves up delightful Thai-style dumplings filled with minced pork, shrimp, and water chestnuts. These Thai-style dumplings are fried to crispy perfection, giving an incredible crunch. Aroy Thai combines fresh, high-quality ingredients and traditional techniques in a memorable and delicious way that you won’t soon forget.
  5. A Place by Damao (Chinatown)
    A relative newcomer to Chicago’s dumpling scene, A Place by Damao opened in 2019 and quickly gained fame for its hand-pulled noodles and, of course, handmade dumplings. Featuring a variety of dumplings, including the classic Pork and Chive dumplings, this spot has become a go-to for those seeking authenticity and a taste of northern Chinese cuisine. Ryan Bluestone likes his dumplings fried, but they also serve steamed dumplings. Chef Damao’s skillful execution and dedication to tradition make A Place by Damao a rising star in Chicago’s dumpling landscape.

Chicago’s culinary map is dotted with these exceptional handmade dumpling spots, each offering a unique interpretation of this beloved dish. From the classic Pork and Cabbage dumplings at Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings to the crispy Pork and Chive dumplings at Damao’s, these establishments showcase the diversity and creativity within the world of dumplings. Whether you’re a longtime dumpling enthusiast or a newcomer to this culinary delight, Ryan Bluestone believes Chicago’s handmade dumpling spots invite you on a delicious journey that transcends borders and celebrates the art of crafting these delectable pockets of flavor.

Culinary Cornucopia: Chicago’s Top 5 Food Halls

Chicago, a melting pot of cultures and flavors, has embraced the trend of food halls, creating vibrant spaces where culinary innovation and community converge. From iconic historic venues to trendy modern spaces, these top 5 food halls redefine the city’s dining scene. Join Ryan Bluestone of Chicago Taste on a gastronomic journey through the heart of Chicago, exploring the rich tapestry of flavors and stories that make these food halls must-visit destinations for food enthusiasts.

  1. Revival Food Hall (The Loop)
    Nestled in the heart of The Loop, Revival Food Hall opened its doors in 2016 in the historic National building. This culinary haven features an array of local favorites with something for literally every person in your group. Ryan Bluestone’s top picks include Hot Chi Chicken’s Hot Honey Butter Chicken Sandwich and The Fat Shallot’s Truffle BLT. Both pack incredible flavor at a reasonable price. From gourmet tacos to artisanal sandwiches, Revival Food Hall is celebrated for its commitment to showcasing Chicago’s diverse culinary landscape and supporting local chefs, making it a hub for lunchtime office crowds, adventurous foodies, and Tuesday Night Trivia lovers alike.
  2. Time Out Market Chicago (Fulton Market)
    Inspired by Time Out Magazine’s dedication to discovering the best of city living, Time Out Market Chicago opened its doors in 2019 in the vibrant Fulton Market district. The 50,000-square-foot market brings together a selection of the city’s top restaurants and bars. Diners will find plenty of healthy choices – Ryan Bluestone suggests checking out Chicago Raw and Everything Countz – as well as decadent spots like Lizzy J Cafe and JoJo’s ShakeBAR. With offerings ranging from Michelin-starred cuisine to iconic local favorites, Time Out Market Chicago is famous for its commitment to culinary excellence and providing a curated taste of the city.
  3. Chicago French Market (The Loop)
    The French Market feels like a European market with plenty of vendors serving up fresh ingredients for your own culinary creations, and local restaurants with a curated selection of homemade tastes. Firenze’s Chicken Pesto Sandwich, Blue Spot Sushi’s Flaming Roll, and the Bon Appetit Creperie’s Nana’s Pie crepe are just a few of Ryan Hunter Bluestone’s favorite eats at the Bensidoun family’s food hall at Ogilvie Transportation Center.
  4. 88 Marketplace (Chinatown)
    This place is an Asian food utopia combining the largest Asian grocery store in the midwest with plenty of eat-in dining available as well. While the restaurant side is still in development you will find terrific BBQ at B.B.Q. King House and wonderful Dim Sum at Ying’s among so many other treats. The second floor destination is stocked to the rafters with ice creams, delicious baked goods, and nearly every ingredient you need to make your own mouth-watering Asian creations.
  5. Eataly Chicago (River North)
    Since its debut in 2013, Eataly Chicago has been a mecca for Italian gastronomy in the bustling River North neighborhood. Founded by Oscar Farinetti and partners, this expansive food hall features a diverse array of Italian restaurants, cafes, and marketplaces. The handmade pasta, pizza and freshly baked bread are irresistible to every carb-lover including Chicago Taste’s Ryan Bluestone, but fear not there are options for every diner. Eataly is famous for its commitment to authenticity, allowing visitors to experience the essence of Italy’s culinary traditions without ever leaving the city.

Chicago’s food halls are more than just entertaining places to dine; they are reflections of the city’s culinary soul. Whether you’re savoring the diverse flavors at Chinatown’s 88 Marketplace or immersing yourself in the rich Italian heritage at Eataly, each food hall contributes to the dynamic and ever-evolving gastronomic landscape of Chicago. These top 5 destinations not only celebrate the culinary arts but also foster a sense of community and exploration, making them essential stops for those seeking an authentic taste of the city’s diverse and delicious offerings.