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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

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A one day ‘The Bear’-inspired food tour because if Sydney can do it, we can too

Illustration by Lillian Ali
Follow along as Amanda Kangsadjaja goes on a food tour of all the locations featured in hit series The Bear.

Since “The Bear” first came out in June 2022, everyone I knew was telling me to watch it. As an avid restaurant-goer and self-proclaimed food connoisseur, I always surprised my friends when I said I hadn’t given the series a try. 

The show is a comedy-drama set in Chicago. It’s intense and yes, it stars Jeremy Allen White (which probably is reason enough to watch), but it also centers around food. The show features everything in the restaurant world from the fine dining background of Carmy (White), a chef, to The Original Beef of Chicagoland and the chaos of running a small business. It has become a must-watch for every foodie. 

I ended up getting around to binge watching it at the beginning of this year, and I get it now. Season two was a particularly delicious watch, especially episode three titled “Sundae”— where Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) wanders around Chicago and goes on a day of food tasting as she searches for inspiration and advice ahead of the opening of their restaurant, The Bear. 

So in anticipation of season three, which premiered Wednesday, of course I couldn’t just sit and twiddle my thumbs. Simply rewatching the previous seasons wasn’t going to cut it either. I had to really live it by doing my own food tour —“The Bear” style. If Sydney could hit all these spots in a day, so could I (in actuality it took them three days to film the episode “Sundae”).

8:47 a.m. – Kasama (and Dark Matter Coffee)

The breakfast sandwich and mango tart from Kasama; Coffee from Dark Matter Coffee. (Amanda Kangsadjaja/ The Daily Northwestern) 

The order: Longanisa, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich $11, Side hashbrown $3, Mango tart $13, Dark Matter chocolate city nitro cold brew $5

Total cost: $42.40 (including tip)

One of the places Sydney stops at during her tour of Chicago in season two episode three is Kasama – an iconic Michelin-starred Filipino restaurant. She orders the longanisa breakfast sandwich, a hashbrown, the mango tart and mushroom adobo.

This had to be the first stop of my food tour. Kasama doesn’t do daytime reservations and the line here is notoriously long, especially during the weekends. I got up bright and early to make it to opening at 9 a.m. and arrived at 8:47 a.m. only to find a line already trailing down the block. Just over an hour later at 10:10 a.m., I placed my order — everything Sydney got in the show except for the mushroom adobo. 

Kasama also serves coffee from Dark Matter Coffee which makes an appearance in The Bear when Natalie (Abby Elliott) is seen sipping on it in the same episode. 

The first thing I tried was the mango tart. If I could start all my days with this mango tart, I would. The tart shell was crunchy — no soggy bottoms here. The swirls of mango delicately topped a layer of coconut cream. And yes, it was exactly as good as it sounds. 

Next, I tried the breakfast sandwich and hashbrown. Sydney is definitely onto something. Placing the extra crispy hashbrown inside the sandwich provided a much-needed crunch to each bite. The longanisa was amazing, duh, and the cheese was perfectly melty. But the standout ingredient was the egg — not fried or scrambled but steamed, making it soft and creamy. All these ingredients came together to make a fantastic breakfast sandwich that I will be thinking about for weeks to come. 

11:00 a.m. – Lao Peng You

The dumplings and cong you bing. (Amanda Kangsadjaja/ The Daily Northwestern) 

The order: pork and chive dumplings $16, cong you bing $8

Total cost: $30.54 (including tip)

After Kasama, I walked over to Lao Peng You only a few blocks away. Sydney also dines here in the episode “Sundae” and orders dumplings, the cong you bing and noodles. 

I got there right as it opened and was the first to order. I ordered the pork and chive dumplings and the cong you bing. I was kindly informed that the bing will take 20 minutes to come out as it’s made to order. Oh, and this place is BYOB.

The dumplings were good, but for $16 and a feature on “The Bear,” I was hoping for something spectacular. Pork and chive is a standard combo, served in a vinegary broth garnished with chili oil, sesame seeds and cilantro. There were around 12 dumplings and, to my surprise, five of them were the pork and dill ones. It was a fun surprise at first, like getting a curly fry in your bag of normal fries, but after the third dill dumpling, I was over it. Give me my pork and chive! 

The cong you bing was a different story. It came in a little paper bag, piping hot. It was crispy on the outside and soft and steamy on the inside. The scallions were generously dispersed in the dough, each bite a flavor bomb of salty deliciousness. Tip: try dipping the bing in the dumpling broth.

12:16 p.m. – Ever

A picture of the Ever sign, which was free. (Amanda Kangsadjaja/ The Daily Northwestern)

From Lao Peng You, I walked the 30 minutes to Ever but you can also take the bus. I’m unfortunately not ready to splurge the $325 to eat here. The two Michelin-starred restaurant was featured in season two episode seven titled “Forks” where Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) learns to stage, essentially an unpaid internship in the restaurant industry. And while the food does indeed look exquisite, it’s currently way out of budget. I still stopped by for the experience, and it was also a good break from eating. It’s a marathon after all, not a sprint. 

12:29 p.m. – Publican Quality Meats

Publican Quality Meats at Fulton Market. (Amanda Kangsadjaja/ The Daily Northwestern)

From Ever, I walked to Publican Quality Meats where Sydney receives a butchering lesson from actual chef and butcher Rob Levitt. I didn’t get any butchering tips or any food either, but I’ve heard they have great sandwiches that are perfect for lunch. I would’ve loved to try one, but I was already planning to get a sandwich after this. 

1:10 p.m. – Mr. Beef

The iconic sign and the super juicy italian beef sandwich, hot and sweet. (Amanda Kangsadjaja/ The Daily Northwestern)

The order: Italian beef – hot, sweet and juicy $9

Total cost: $10

Of course, I had to go to Mr. Beef, where it all began. Mr. Beef was the original inspiration for the show and the pilot episode was filmed in this exact establishment. 

It’s cash only and the right order, according to the owner Chris Zucchero, is the italian beef – hot, sweet and juicy. Hot meaning the giardiniera, sweet meaning a bell pepper and juicy meaning dipped. 

Stepping inside Mr. Beef unsurprisingly felt very much like stepping into the show itself. From the music, the decor, the fast-paced ordering, the sound of the fryer, down to the chaos of two little girls behind me almost knocking over an entire shelf. It was marvelous.

The sandwich was also everything I wanted. It was quick, easy, messy and definitely juicy. Yum.

2:19 p.m. – Pequod’s Pizza

Pequod’s famous deep dish. (Amanda Kangsadjaja/ The Daily Northwestern)

The order: Pan pizza personal 7 inch cheese only $10.95

Total cost: $12.23

After Mr. Beef, I took the brown line to Pequod’s Pizza in Lincoln Park. In season two episode seven, the same episode where Richie stages at Ever, he overhears a table saying they unfortunately weren’t able to try Chicago’s iconic deep dish before leaving the city. So naturally, Richie runs over to Pequod’s, gets a pizza and runs it back to the restaurant where the chef flips it into an Ever-worthy dish with “micro basil, fuck yes!” 

When I got to Pequod’s though, it wasn’t nearly as speedy as Richie’s visit. They don’t have any tables available so I’m told to wait until 3 p.m. I didn’t mind but for those on a tight schedule, making a reservation isn’t such a bad idea.

I eventually ordered a personal cheese pan pizza. It was saucy and cheesy but the best part, as it’s known for, is the crust. The cheese just caramelizes on the sides of the pizza and the bottom crisps up from cooking in that cast-iron pan, making the already good pizza phenomenal.  

The best pizza in the country? Sounds about right.  

4:20 p.m. – Pizza Lobo

A slice of pepperoni; I try to embody Sydney outside of Pizza Lobo. (Amanda Kangsadjaja/The Daily Northwestern)

The order: Pepperoni pizza slice $5

Total cost: $5.54

From one pizza onto another. The next stop was Pizza Lobo in Logan Square serving New York-style pizzas. Another spot from Syd’s food tour, I ordered the pepperoni slice just like she did from the takeout window on the side of the building. 

It’s a huge slice. The rounds of pepperoni are ultra crisp. It’s salty and greasy – the ideal late night snack. And it is open until midnight every day of the week. 

4:48 p.m. – Margie’s Candies

The hot fudge sundae with vanilla ice cream. (Amanda Kangsadjaja/ The Daily Northwestern)

The order: Hot fudge sundae $8.95 

Total cost: $10.96

The final stop on this food journey had to be Margie’s Candies. It was spectacularly hot that day and a sundae was perhaps the only cure to the sweaty mess I had become. 

This was also Sydney’s last stop on her food adventure and hence the title of the episode “Sundae”. 

While Sydney sat there alone, I wasn’t by myself anymore. My friend had joined me on the last leg of this trip and this was definitely a dish best eaten together – sorry Syd! We shared the hot fudge sundae with vanilla ice cream served in the cutest clamshell bowl.

The first bite felt like a straight shot of dopamine. The vanilla ice cream was perfectly sticky and sweet and there are no words to describe the hot fudge except that, by the end, we were scraping up the last bits from that little tin cup like our lives depended on it.  

11:25 p.m. – Alice’s Lounge

Finally, later that night we ended the day at Alice’s Lounge. A karaoke dive bar in Avondale, this is where Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas) joins her culinary school friends in season two episode five after school. 

It’s a true test of bravery, or maybe intoxication, as you’ll be belting on a mini stage in front of strangers but that also means it’s never a dull moment inside. Did a man in a “Kenough” t-shirt sing a Ryan Gosling worthy performance of “I’m Just Ken”? What happens in Alice’s Lounge stays in Alice’s Lounge. 

Honorable mentions:

A few more spots that didn’t make this trip but are still important. 

Loaf Lounge

The whole chocolate cake for a friend’s 22nd birthday and the capicola, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. (Amanda Kangsadjaja/ The Daily Northwestern)

Remember that chocolate cake from season one? The one that Marcus (Lionel Boyce) makes? Well, for those of you who don’t already know, you can snag a slice of the real deal from Loaf Lounge. Sarah Mispagel, co-owner of Loaf Lounge, was a consultant for “The Bear” and created this cake during filming. You can order a slice at the cafe alongside what I must say was one of the best breakfast sandwiches of my life, or order a whole cake in advance (and yeah, I did get a whole cake and it was dense and decadent and magnificent). 


The short rib hummus. (Amanda Kangsadjaja/ The Daily Northwestern)

Avec has long been a standout Chicago restaurant serving Mediterranean fare, characterized by its wooden interiors and long communal tables. During Sydney’s food tour, she speaks with Donnie Madia, co-founder of One Off Hospitality, asking for advice and served the short rib hummus. 

My friend and I went down on a Tuesday night earlier this June and made it exactly on time for our 9 p.m. reservation. You do need to make a reservation way in advance if you’re hoping to get a better time slot than 9 p.m. Another thing to note is that the short rib hummus is only served at the West Loop location during dinner. And most importantly, on Tuesdays, bottles of wine are half off.

So we ordered the short rib hummus, bacon wrapped dates stuffed with chorizo and a bottle of wine. The short rib was plated in the center of a pillow of hummus and tucked in with a warm, fluffed pita bread. The short rib itself was super tender and had a sweet marinade. The hummus was creamy and tangy. Together, the flavors blended well together especially with some of the mint garnish sprinkled around. 

The guy sitting next to me asked, “How’s the short rib?”

“It’s super good!” I replied, “Have you guys watched ‘The Bear’?”

“Yeah, we’ve watched the first few episodes,”

“Well, Sydney comes here in season two and eats this short rib hummus.”

“Huh”, the guy says, with a blank look in his eyes. Clearly Avec is known for more than just its “The Bear” cameo. 


So Giant wasn’t actually in “The Bear,” but a restaurant called Verdana was. Sydney also stops here for advice in season two episode three. But the so-called French restaurant is actually Giant in disguise. I visited in 2022 and have been craving to go back ever since. I still think about their Jonah Crab Salad and Microwave Cake. You’ll definitely need to make a reservation for this one but it’s worth a visit.

The whole route

The route of all the spots featured in this story. (Illustration by Nineth Kanieski Koso)

I think “The Bear” succeeded in showing off Chicago’s best and most scrumptious, so it’s a good thing we know there will be more Chicago restaurant features in season three as it’s apparently “key to this round’s storyline” whatever that could mean. I guess we’ll all have to tune in to find out! 

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