Like most neighborhoods on the South Side, the South Loop has fought to recover an identity it once lost. Once a thriving immigrant enclave that fell victim to crime and blight in the 1970s, the area is rebounding with unprecedented vitality, throwing up luxury lofts on Printers Row, townhouses along Roosevelt Road, and fine dining restaurants on Wabash Avenue. Consider the neighborhood’s proximity to the Loop, and you’ve got to wonder how the South Loop could get any closer to the center of everything.
Best Place to Get a Cavity
Canady Le Chocolatier
When you first walk into Canady Le Chocolatier, there probably won’t be anyone behind the counter. That’s because le chocolatier, Michael Canady, spends most of his time in the glass-enclosed kitchen in the back of the shop, and for good reason. Using skills he traveled to Belgium and Switzerland to perfect, the Hyde Park native makes everything he sells, from truffles to gelato, with only the help of a part-time assistant. And since deciding what you want in this confectionary paradise could take the better part of your lunch break, it’ll probably be a while before you need to flag him down to the register. Choices include old favorites like caramel-, amaretto-, and mint-filled chocolates, as well as Canady’s originals. His Tiramisu and Crème Brûlée varieties replicate the flavors of the originals so well they’re preferable to their namesakes. Many of the treats look almost too pretty to eat. The Cappuccino Cream, for example, is a dark chocolate saucer and cup filled with tufts of sweet cream. And still other confections, like the miniature, Egyptian-style pyramids, or the flawless gold busts of King Tut, don’t even look like chocolate. If need be, Canady will affirm that this is the case. “The Lower Kingdom Chocolates are filled with pistachio, and the Date with King Tut is filled with…well, what do you think?” You’ll eat like royalty at Canady’s, and best of all, you won’t pay that way. The chocolates cash in at $33 a pound, but sampling one only takes a dollar and change; a scoop of gelato or slice of chocolate mousse pie won’t break the bank either. And that’s without the Monday student discount. 824 S. Wabash Ave. Monday-Friday, 10:30am-9pm; Saturday-Sunday, 11am-9:30pm. (312)212-1270. www.canadylechocolatierchicago.com (Supriya Sinhababu)
Best place to eat when cursed by Daoists
“May you live in Interesting Times,” reads the proverb printed over the bar at Tamarind. The saying may be an ancient Chinese curse, but the adage is only a blessing where Tamarind’s food is concerned. The pan-Asian café features all the standard Chinese and Japanese fare, a substantial number of Thai and Vietnamese dishes, and even a few Indian options. But there’s no need to stick with kung-pao chicken. Adventurous eaters can try tamarind duck, tofu masala, or Thai chicken tacos. Desserts get even more original, ranging from apple wantons to banana chocolate egg rolls to green tea milkshakes. Formerly known as Charming Wok and Charming Cuisine, Tamarind itself has gone through some interesting times of late. The restaurant has extensively revamped both its menu and décor, remaking itself into one of the trendiest eateries in the neighborhood. The sofa-style seats and piped-in college rock give it a laid-back atmosphere perfect for a third date or dinner with friends. Don’t forget to grab a tamarind-flavored candy—or an actual tamarind—on your way out. 614 S. Wabash Ave. Monday-Sunday, 11am-11pm. (312)379-0970. (Supriya Sinhababu)