Chefs Tell Us The Restaurants They Return To Again And Again

Life & Culture Writer

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If you’re looking for the best any industry has to offer, you find out where the people actually working in that industry go. Where do hairstylists get their hair cut? Where do bartenders drink? And where do chefs go to eat?

We often ask pros in the food world to steer us toward the best restaurants out there as part of our Chefs Tell Us series. This time, we didn’t just want to know where they’ve been a time or two, we wanted to know those joints that they frequent compulsively. Whose takeout containers are always in their fridge? Whose hosts know them by name? Which kitchens expect them right before closing?

Check out what these chefs had to say about the places they can’t keep away from.

Din Tai Fung (Costa Mesa, California)

Jason Quinn, Head Chef & Owner Playground DTSA and Playground 2.0

Din Tai Fung just checks all of the boxes for a place you’d go back to. The food is meticulously crafted, it’s affordable, it’s clean — in that you never leave feeling heavy or sluggish. I really admire what they’ve done there, they take great care in their recipes and ingredients.

The idea of a “chain” is often a bad word in restaurants, but this place has eight locations and their quality control stays on point. That’s really hard to do.

Café Marie Jeanne (Chicago, Illinois)

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Aaron Thebault, Executive Chef of Maddon’s Post in Chicago, Illinois

Café Marie Jeanne in Humboldt Park in Chicago. Mike Simmons and the crew had my heart the second I ate their jamon and raclette sandwich. The bread was crusty, the cheese was sharp, and the jamon was rich and fatty. I can’t count how many times I’ve dined there since that sandwich, but it never disappoints.

You can have oysters, smoked chicken, and a lil’ gem salad all for breakfast or just get an egg and cheese. Don’t miss out on the very well-curated wine list — which always features delightful bottles you can buy and take home with you for later. Their house-made French pastries and bread are true to the French bistro style. It’s a dining experience unique to America and, more so, to Chicago, but it takes me straight to a Parisian neighborhood bistro every time I’m there.

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