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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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