Taste Chicago
603 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA, USA

L.A. sure has its share of insanely great restaurants, but, paradoxically, so few places where people really, really enjoy eating. Invariably those places are unbedouched non-scenes like Taste Chicago.

I love going here. It's a must whenever I'm in Burbank, whether I'm hungry or not. I've visited several times, and it's consistently excellent. My go-to is an Italian Beef with mozzarella and giardanera, and a coke: $12.46. Sometimes if I'm feeling like "pulling a Farley" I'll add a side of cheese fries. Whatever you get here, it's pretty much the real deal. Chicago food purists will quibble about the details, but overall they do a good job.

There always seem to be a couple of obvious Chicago transplants here, often working on a screenplay or what have you, because this is truly a lonely oasis for Chicago food in the sea of sashimi that is Los Angeles. Sometimes you'll see Joe Mantegna and/or his wife working and/or hanging out here … they're the owners, and thank God they saw fit to do something about the paucity of Chicago food here. Let the Jolie-Pitts of the world solve world hunger, the Mantegnas have solved mine.

Unlike the Chicago joints it emulates, Taste Chicago is comparably much slower and more expensive. But beggars can't be choosers. For a Chicago food nut like me, complaining about the minor flaws here would be like crawling through the desert and refusing water. Which, by the way, seems to happen A LOT if you're a cartoon.

Review by La Fée, August 2009