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Chef Iliana Regan
Photograph: Jeff MariniChef Iliana Regan

Chef's Table: Iliana Regan

Chef-owner of Michelin-starred Elizabeth, Bunny, the Micro Bakery and the in-progress Kitsune enjoys old favorites

Maggie Hennessy
Written by
Maggie Hennessy

When the chef-owner of Michelin- starred Elizabeth, Bunny, the Micro Bakery and the in-progress Kitsune, a casual Japanese spot in Lincoln Square goes out, it’s often to an old favorite.

“On a day off, I'm usually with my partner and we visit a restaurant we haven't been to before,” she says. “We try to think of ones that have been around awhile rather than hitting all the new places. One of our last date nights in the city was at Boka, and it was great.”

Most of the time, she slurps down bowls of her mom’s weekly batches of homemade soup, like miso, mushroom and tofu. But for her other favorite picks, check out the other places the star restaurateur and Midwest forager extraordinaire likes, including hot dogs from Home Depot.

In Andersonville: You’ll find her at Anteprima for the octopus salad appetizer or fresh pasta; the mostly vegetarian Kopi A Travelers Cafe for breakfast; and Sabor a Cafe for empanadas.

Outside the 'hood: She goes to Strings Ramen for ramen and rice tea bowls; the food court at King Spa & Sauna for authentic Korean; Lazo’s Tacos in Bucktown for tacos; Au Cheval for a burger; Katsu in West Rogers Park for sushi; and, yes, Home Depot for hot dogs.

Favorite old school, classic Chicago spot: “I love Lou Malnati’s—great deep dish,” she says. “Sausage and giardiniera is my favorite.”

Favorite newer restaurant: MFK “for the ceviche or fish collar,” she says.

For a pick-me-up: “I drink coffee in the morning and tea in the evening,” says Regan. “In the evenings I drink jasmine blossom from Rare Tea Cellar.”

When pastry calls: “I love bread,” she says, adding that Bunny’s offerings change daily and range from boule to black bread, sourdough and brioche. “But I love Baker Miller and Cellar Door Provisions.”

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