The Purple Pig in Chicago

When we arrived at The Purple Pig in downtown Chicago for a late lunch, there was a crowd of people attempting to inch their way into the tiny restaurant.  Worried that I had picked a touristy spot (after all, it’s located right on Michigan Avenue), I considered not sticking out the hour-and-a-half wait.  But on second thought, decided to stay.

House Cured Lardo Iberico, delicious fat from the pig’s back over toasted bread.

A friend who admits she’s “not that into pork” (those people actually exist?) recommended the Purple Pig for lunch.  The restaurant could easily pass for a bar with its tiny tables squished next to each other, the bar-like table in the center of the room and the wine bottles lining the upper walls.  Add to that an impressively extensive wine list (or more accurately, wine book) and it’s practically a wine bar.  But a glance at the menu is proof that it’s indeed a restaurant, and one with a firm focus on meat.

A cold and surprisingly flavorful salad of braised baby artichokes, fingerling potatoes,
asiago & salami toscana.

With a small plates attitude and a meant-to-share mentality, the dishes on the menu range from appetizer small (pork-fried almonds with rosemary and garlic, pig’s ear with crispy kale, build-your-own cheese and charcuterie platters) to entree-sized dishes (turkey leg confit, wagyu sirloin tip, berkshire pork chop).  While a lot of the menu items could satisfy a vegetarian, even the bread “smears” had a fair share of animal-established parts (pork neck bone gravy with ricotta, pork neck bone rillette, roasted bone marrow).

Fried eggplant parmesan balls. I could eat an entire platter of these!
Milk-braised pork shoulder with creamy mashed potatoes, a predictable but deliciously savory dish.

Every dish we ordered was a creative twist of juicy and salty perfection.  A long, leisurely lunch of pork with a bottle of wine was the perfect escape from Chicago’s bitter cold.  The Purple Pig could easily be a touristy trap that’s all oink and no bite, but in reality, it’s a perfect place for a great wine lunch.  Plan to wait (they don’t take reservations) but know that it’ll be worth it in the end.

The Purple Pig on Urbanspoon

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1 Comment

  • Every single dish you posted sounds incredible. I am dying to make a trip up to Chicago just based on what I’ve heard and read about their restaurants alone! Sounds like such a great city.

    I’ve been seeing so many great eggplant recipes and menu items lately – I love that such a once-frowned upon vegetable has picked up such popularity. Who knows, maybe eggplants are the new Brussels sprouts ;)

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