Pearls Pace Chicago Cover
The Hungry Black Man with Pearl’s Place Owner and Staff

If you visit Chicago and are in the mood for classic African-American low country cuisine, make your way over to Pearl’s Place at 3901 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60653. With dishes straight out of the Edna Lewis cookbook, you’ll forget you’re in Chicago and not in a small coastal restaurant in South Carolina. Lewis was a world renowned African-American chef, (look her up) and Pearl’s shrimp and grits with bacon and sautéed green onions, and of course their chitterlings, honor her delicious legacy.

Pearl's African Amerinca Table
Pearl’s Place African American Table

I started my journey with the shrimp and cheesy grits with bacon ($9.99); which is so good it can take you from feeling sad, frustrated, or experiencing any negative emotion, into pure elation! I’ve eaten throughout Chicago’s Black owned restaurants, and they consistently surpassed expectations, but Pearl’s Place has the best shrimp and grits in town. Each scrumptious spoon full of grits was smooth with a slight pungent taste from the cheese flavor, giving the shrimp a welcomed flavor boost. By far, my favorite dish on the entire menu.

Pearls Place Shrimp and Grits
Shrimp and Grits with Bacon and Green Peppers

Next, I ordered the smothered short ribs of beef with cabbage and collard greens ($24.99). The ribs were tasty, almost resembling oxtail gravy if you ate it quickly. Both the cabbage and collards were excellent and cooked to a great texture, preserving their nutritional value! I hate overcooked greens. One of the cool things about this spot is none of the side items contain any meat; shocking giving the sides’ amazing flavor.


Pearl's Place Oxtails
Smothered Rib with Collard and Cabbage

Served with entrees were these incredible homemade dinner rolls. These babies had the addictive Krispy Kreme effect, causing you to easily eat multiple rolls because of the mouthwatering taste, softness and easy chewing. After downing six, I was so ashamed of myself.

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Fresh baked rolls Pearls Place
Homemade Rolls

Next, I sampled something I many of you will judge the hell out of me for, but I don’t give a damn. I ATE THE CHITTERLINGS, and they were acceptable. I prefer very flavorful chitterlings with gravy resembling a slightly thicker souse with onions and sometimes bell peppers. These were good enough for me to order again, but they weren’t the best I’ve had. Consequently, they may be the best in Chicago, given the places I’ve visited thus far.

Chittlings Chicago

I then pivoted to dessert and was pleasantly surprised to find that they made their banana pudding from scratch! I absolutely LOVED THE BANANA PUDDING! I figured that if they were making great banana pudding then surely, they would have its sister, PEACH COBBLER! Lo and behold, they sure did! I ordered the Peach Cobbler and it didn’t disappoint! It was amazing. Apparently, Pearl’s Place is known for amazing desserts, especially their sweet potato pie, which was sold out by the time I got there.

Banana Pudding Pearls Place
Banana Pudding
PEach Cobbler Pearls Place
Peach Cobbler

All in all, this place was a great spot for your soul food fix. The restaurant has white table cloths and great service. The interior is nicely decorated with vintage photos of African-American classical jazz greats along with other cultured imagery that I appreciated. Pearl’s place will be on my list to visit yet again when landing in Chi Town. You can reach Pearl’s Place at (773) 285-1700.

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Written by thehungryblackman

Starex Smith is an accomplished and experienced public administrator, fundraiser, foodie, and culinary business developer who has committed himself to maximizing the Black experience in the United States! He currently serves as Vice President of Strategy and Development for Black Tech Week with over twelve (12) years of experience in managing public/private partnerships, large scale events, and nonprofits. He has successfully raised over 20 million dollars in funding for various governmental entities, food companies, and individuals. Starex has assisted countless food industry businesses successfully obtain funding, taking mom and pop storefronts to scalable businesses. His success in working with restaurants sparked a passion for food and entrepreneurship which led to the launching of Sothern Bytes, a teaching platform food business dedicated to an ever evolving food industry with a focus on technology, culture and innovation. Having constantly run into stereotyping negatively affecting his dining and vacationing experiences, Starex decided to curate great destinations, restaurants, and discuss issues surrounding being a hungry Black man. Starex completed both his Bachelor’s and Master’s coursework in Public Administration at Florida International University where he served as president of the Black Student Union and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated, Lambda Tau Chapter

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