Mussels are a great dish to have in cold weather because the delicious broth usually used to cook them keeps you warm but the actual mussels make it feel like light fare. Chicago’s restaurants really know how to prepare them and these are three that keep us coming back for more.
Maude’s Liquor Bar in the West Loop may be hard to spot with its simple sign painted that says Maude’s, but it is absolutely worth the effort to find because everything hiding behind that sign and black wall is pure culinary gold especially their mussels. Being a French restaurant their mussels fall in their almost-French side of the menu and they are served in a white wine and pastis broth with celery root, fine herbs and a baguette. The mussels are steamed to perfections but when you find a piece of bacon that’s been swimming in the broth and take a bite it is like flavor bomb going off in your mouth.
Maude’s Liquor Bar
840 W. Randolph St.
Fairly new to the Mercat a la Planxa menu is the most unassuming yet one of their most delicious dishes of all—zarzuela de mejillos. This PEI mussel dish is cooked in a sherry broth with tomato and fennel and served with ciabatta bread and provencal aioli. The mussels were cooked perfectly, but the star is the broth. The aioli should probably be used to spread on the ciabatta, but I completely ignored it and used the bread to sop up the remaining broth. So rich in flavor, I would be lying if I didn’t fantasize about bathing in a tub of it. Don’t be hesitant to ask for more bread for sopping. I sure wasn’t.
Mercat a la Planxa
638 S. Michigan Ave.
Dryhop Brewers is known for their excellent beer selection, but as soon as you visit you’ll realize that their food is definitely not an afterthought. While they do have delicious burgers that go well with their beer, Dryhop goes above that with dishes like their green curry mussels served with coconut milk and cilantro. This is much spicier than the mussel dishes mentioned above but so good that the spice is a welcomed buddy on this journey of mussel majesty.
3155 N. Broadway St.