Discover Chicago from the vantage point of a true Chicago native. In this week’s Seek Like a Local, Leslie of The Chicago Food Scene shares her go-to restaurants and what she loves about her hometown.
Explore Chicago Like Leslie of Chicago Food Scene
Leslie was born on the West Side of Chicago. After her parents divorced, she spent a lot of time on the South Side with her dad‘s family as well. Eventually, she and her mom settled in on the North Side. She feels very lucky to have experienced all sides of this beautiful city.
The creator behind the popular Instagram handle, Chicago Food Scene has also been featured in Eater Chicago and The Red Eye. She can also be seen on episodes of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and Chicago Food To Go. Along with creating content for Chicago restaurants and other small businesses, Leslie is also a Freelance Photographer and Social Media Manager who loves to write in her spare time.
What do you love about the Chicago Food Scene?
This is always the hardest question to answer. Because I grew up here, I was spoiled by the Chicago Food Scene long, long ago. I like places that are off the radar, family-owned, and often only have one location. You never know what you may find at a place that looks like a dive or is secretly hidden at the back of a tiny grocery store. If it looks and sounds good, just go for it. You have to take chances in a city like this. While it’s really hard for me to choose a favorite, Ms. T’s Southern Fried Chicken is a spot that I enjoy time and time again.
What are the community organizations that continue to make an impact in your life?
I grew up going to the Boys and Girls Club on the West Side in “K-Town,” and Jane Addams center up north, in what is now called Lakeview. Both of these organizations were pillars in the community and such an important part of my childhood. They are memories I’ll never forget. It was a time when a kid could really be a kid. Lakeview Pantry has been a lifesaver during the pandemic for so many people. They are always looking for volunteers and accepting donations.
Who’s an artist that you are following right now?
Mike Szpot—@illkoncept on Instagram. He is an artist who never misses and his work is incredible! I check his page daily. We have so many good ones. I find a lot of inspiration on Instagram feeds, which is one of the reasons I fell in love with the app. Businesswomen like Necole Kane, Devi Brown, Myleik Teele, and Karleen Roy are people I look to regularly for inspiration as well, just like I would an artist. They live, work, and breathe in their truth, and on their own terms.
What are some of your favorite things to do in Chicago?
One of my favorite things to do is sit at or walk along the lake. The views are amazing whether you’re on the South Side or the North Side. It’s incredibly peaceful, and gorgeous. I go there just to clear my mind. It’s a great place just to sit in silence, but you’ll also see people sharing a meal, playing chess, or working out. I’m also always up for going to a bookstore like Women and Children First. There’s nothing better than that to me. I go to a lot of outdoor festivals and music concerts as well, a lot of which are free. I need to get back to visiting museums again, like The Museum of Science and Industry which is one of my favorites. Museums are another thing that’s easy to take for granted here in Chicago.
What do you like to shop for in Chicago?
A few years ago I went through a thrift store phase, and I still like to pop into them on occasion. I am definitely checking out the bookshelves, art pieces, and the housewares department. There’s absolutely nothing better than a good deal! One person‘s trash is another one’s treasure, or however the saying goes. It’s true.
Seek Like A Local, and discover things to do, places to dine, and more of what the city of Chicago has to offer this week. Check out previous guides from influential Chicago locals here.