Dale Talde's Chicago, Illinois

© Anjali Pinto

Chef Dale Talde shares his picks for his favorite things to see, eat, and drink in his hometown of Chicago, from noodles in the city's Little Saigon to improv theater to the city's best sneaker boutique.

After competing on two seasons of Bravo's Top Chef, Talde went on to open some of our favorite restaurants in New York, most notably his eponymous Talde (369 Seventh Ave.; 347/916-0031; taldebrooklyn.com) which now also has locations in Jersey City and soon, Miami. Known for his irreverant and addictive flavor combinations, we're thrilled to get his picks for the Windy City. 

What neighborhood are you from? I grew up in Chicago on the Northside and then we eventually moved to the northwest suburbs. I lived there until I was 18, went away for school, came back when I was 21, and then moved to New York in 2005. I try to go back as much as I can, but it’s usually about six times a year.

Where do you put up friends visiting town? The Thompson Hotel because it is straight baller. It has a fantastic aesthetic and restaurant. Definitely a fun place to send friends (pictured below; 21 E Bellevue Pl.; 312-266-2100; thompsonhotels.com).

Where is the best place to find your hometown’s signature dish? To me, it's the Works in Morton Grove. It’s a hot dog/Euro place. It’s run by the same Greek family that has owned it since it was opened. I always loved it, and one day Carrie [Nahabedian] and I realized we both went there and loved it. That solidified it as one of the greats to me.

What is your favorite restaurant to take visitors? Pequod’s Pizza, my favorite pizza place ever (2207 N Clybourn Ave.; 773-327-1512; pequodspizza.com).

Where can you find the best cocktails? Wine list? Cocktails, Three Dots and a Dash (435 N. Clark St.; 312-610-4220; threedotschicago.com). For wine, visit Naha (500 N Clark St.; 312-321-6242; naha-chicago.com).

Where would you choose to splurge on a night out? Carrie Nahabedian’s new place Brindille—I’ve never been, but I know Carrie’s cooking and it’s very luxurious (534 N Clark St.; 312-595-1616; brindille-chicago.com).

What is your go-to after-hours bar? Subterranean—I’ve been going there since before I was 21 (sneaking in). On Tuesday nights, they have open-mic hip-hop nights. It’s still run by the same guys. It went from a crowd of Filipino kids and immigrants to a new hipster crowd. It’s a real dive, but it’s really fun and it’s right in the heart of Lincoln Park (2201 W North Ave.; 773-278-6600; subt.net). 

What’s the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon in town? If it’s in the summer, chillin’ by Lake Michigan.

What is your Sunday morning routine? Go to church and then get some lunch with my family at Mitsuwa, a Japanese market and restaurant joint (100 E Algonquin Rd.; 847-956-6699; mitsuwa.com).

What’s your favorite view in town? The John Hancock Center—you can see all the way out and around. Chicago is built with some big skyscrapers, but what I love about the city is that once you get past downtown the layout opens up. Up in the John Hancock Center, you can see up and down the lake, from Evanston to the South Side (875 N Michigan Ave.; 312-751-3680; johnhancockcenterchicago.com).  

What’s your favorite path or trail to follow on a walk? The lakefront, right where it meets Michigan Avenue, is the best place to tour around because it’s bendy and windy and you can get into some cool harbors. There’s awesome people-watching there.

What are your favorite offbeat cultural attractions? I’m not sure if they’re still doing it, but there used to be this play called Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. It was a cool improv troop thing. They have these dice and you roll the dice and whatever number you get is how much you pay for admission (5153 N Ashland; 773-878-4557; neofuturists.org).

What’s your favorite shop or boutique? Saint Alfred, a sneaker store in West Town (pictured above; 1531 N Milwaukee Ave.; 773-486-7159; stalfred.com).

What’s the best-kept local secret? Argyle Street—aka the Little Saigon of Chicago. Tons of different noodle and pho places around the neighborhood. When I used to go in my 20s, sriracha hadn’t really been introduced to American culture yet so it felt really exotic and ethnic. I would use it on everything—in my pho, as a dip for my spring rolls, or I'd add a little on top of my banh mi.

In our Hometown Guides series, we're seeking the best restaurants, bars, vistas, and things to do in a given place from the people who know best—the artists, designers, chefs, and store-owners who live there. See more Hometown Guides »

Photo Credits: Courtesy of Thompson Chicago; © David Rasool Robinson.