The prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards, slated to take place in Chicago on Monday, May 1, are not only an opportunity to celebrate fine cooking across the country, but also to showcase some of the best restaurants and bars in Chicago that have helped position the city as the world-class dining destination it is today. As nearly 2,500 of the world’s most esteemed chefs, restaurateurs, bakers and mixologists descend on Chicago, it’s an apt opportunity to get out into the city’s neighborhoods and taste what makes the city so great.
 
As part of James Beard Eats Week, taking place April 21-May 1, restaurants all over the city are featuring special menus and dishes directly inspired by the legendary James Beard himself.
 
Here are three neighborhoods to explore in Chicago and what to eat while you’r there:

Ukrainian Village

Bite Cafe

 

Dotted with quaint eateries, Ukrainian Village on the city’s near west side is home to both local fixtures and stylish new dining gems. a tavola fits neatly into the former category. The cozy Italian restaurant is a neighborhood mainstay, beloved by locals for its homey, seasonally inspired cuisine. As part of Eats Week, the restaurant is paying homage to James Beard with a special dish of braised beef short ribs with saffron risotto.
 
A few blocks away is Bite Cafe (pictured above), a modern diner with inventive American comfort food. For their Eats Week contribution, Bite is going Southern with a dish of roasted pork belly with black-eyed pea stew, mustard seed and apple compote and cracklings.
 
A smidge east of Ukrainian Village proper is Mexique, an essential stopover for French-Mexican fusion. For Eats Week, the restaurant is serving up a six-course tasting menu of Mexican cuisine with French influences, making it a prime opportunity to try the restaurant if it’s still on your bucket list.
 

 

Lincoln Park

Just north of downtown Chicago, Lincoln Park is filled with dining destinations in its own right. Mon Ami Gabi is a French classic, making it a particularly befitting place to pay ode to James Beard, a man who famously loved French cooking and all things butter. The restaurant’s chef Michael Battocletti embraces his inner Beard for Eats Week with a special foie gras torchon with rhubarb compote, frisee and housemade brioche.

There’s always something fresh and seasonal to sample at Floriole Cafe & Bakery (pictured at top), and their Eats Week contribution is no exception. From April 21 through May 1, head to the sunny cafe for a rhubarb and brown butter Danish or a spring vegetable and chicken pot pie.
 
One of the most interesting dishes being served for Eats Week can be found at legendary tapas restaurant Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! Putting a Spanish accent on the French classic vitello tonnato (veal with tuna sauce), chef Matt Holmes is serving cured Iberico pork loin with Spanish tuna, fried capers and parsley. Additionally, the restaurant is also doing razor clams a la plancha with garlic, shallots and pepper vinaigrette. 
 
 
 

Bucktown

Ada Street
 
Head deep into one of Chicago’s prettiest neighborhoods for an eating tour of Bucktown during Eats Week. The neighborhood boasts some serious dining cred, with restaurants like The Bristol serving up simple, high-quality dishes like beef tartare with pumpernickel toasts.
 
Hidden away in an industrial part of the neighborhood, Ada St (pictured above) is worth seeking out. Especially since the restaurant is offering a smoked salmon dish with roasted beets, whipped horseradish creme fraiche and arugula for Eats Week. Altogether, it tastes like a reimagined smoked salmon bagel, which fits in nicely with the restaurant’s contemporary American ethos.
 
For something a bit more casual, indulge in a sandwich at Pork & Mindy’s. The eatery adds its hat to the Eats Week ring with a house-cured and smoked pastrami sandwich on griddled marble rye bread. It’s layered with Swiss cheese, tangy sauerkraut and housemade 1000 Island dressing. 
 
For more information on Eats Week and all 140+ participants, visit choosechicago.com/jbf