Chicago’s hidden gems: Fresh, seasonal food at the Blue Door Farm Stand and dumplings at Pierogi Heaven
If you’re searching for that special, out-of-the way experience that represents this great city, we’ve got you covered
Blue Door Farm Stand
Just when I thought I had hit up all of the fun little cafes Chicago had to offer, I stumbled upon the Blue Door Farm Stand in Lincoln Park and came away thoroughly impressed. The quaint, comforting vibe makes you feel as if you stepped away from your chaotic urban life and entered a country diner.
“It’s really cozy, like you are at someone’s home instead of somewhere public — it’s a nice little place to go that’s not mainstream,” said Cassandra Kendell.
The café has a rustic wooden appearance, with blue doors and frames highlighting the room. I noticed a diverse set of customers in the dining room — everything from a group of college girls studying to a couple on a date, a group of older folks reuniting and a young family with their baby. Come one, come all.
The café specializes in fresh, seasonal food and beverages from local farms and farmers’ markets, including the restaurant’s namesake, Blue Door Farm, formerly Oprah Winfrey’s Indiana property. Their artisan market features gourmet foods and handmade gifts.
Since most of the popular homemade baked goods had been gobbled up by my late-afternoon visit, I scurried to grab a coconut macaroon before it was gone. Unlike most macaroons that have that whoopee-pie appearance, this was thickly coated with shredded coconut. So chewy and scrumptious. The fig and arugula grilled cheese is on my list for the next visit, which can’t come soon enough.
The Blue Door Farm Stand is located at 843 W. Armitage in Lincoln Park. www.BlueDoorFarmStand.com
— Clare Edlund
If you didn’t know exactly where it was, you could spend hours walking right past this tiny restaurant in the Loop without giving it a second glance.
For lovers of everything sweet or savory, Pierogi Heaven is the perfect place to indulge in those stuffed dumplings and other Polish specialties. Pierogis can be ordered filled with meat, spinach, sauerkraut, mushrooms, potato, various cheeses, a mix of fruit and more. For dessert, pick up a couple of sweet cheese pierogis to satisfy your sweet tooth.
The restaurant, though small, has ample seating and several TVs. It closes pretty early — at 7 p.m. during the week and 5 p.m. on Saturdays — so lunch or a late-afternoon snack may be the best option.
Pierogi Heaven’s two locations are at 169 N. Wells and 329 S. Franklin St. www.PierogiHeaven.com
— Gabriella Mikiewicz