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.
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.
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).
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.