photo credit: Christina Slaton
What’s the concept? What’s the angle? How can we accurately and humorously get the point across without using too many swear words or making an immature joke? Those are the questions we usually ask ourselves when starting to write a review. And there’s always an answer. Every restaurant has some sort of dining version of an Aesop’s fable to tell. But Giant isn’t every restaurant, so let’s get straight to the facts: Giant is an American restaurant, it’s f*cking excellent, and you need to eat here.
There’s no angle, no shtick, no story, just a swear word for emphasis because it’s deserved. If you’re planning a date, dinner with the parents, or eating with a small group of friends who appreciate great food, Giant is the place to do it. There’s a lot of energy here, and it translates into the food and experience as a whole.
If you liked the old Nightwood in Pilsen, then you’re going to love Giant. It’s the follow-up restaurant in Logan Square from the same guy, and this time he’s teamed up with some new friends. The most impressive part of Giant is the fact all of the dishes are created equal. Rather than one or two outstanding things, Giant rolls out hit, after hit, after hit. It’s like the original Now That’s What I Call Music!, but instead of going from The Backstreet Boys, to Hansen’s MMMBop, to K-Ci & JoJo, you go from uni shooters, to waffle fries and crab salad, to al dente pastas more perfect than Nick Carter’s hair.
Boring items like broccoli are made interesting with lemon, yogurt, and thai chili oil, creating the perfect balance of hot and cold. And while classic American dishes like baby back ribs seem out of place, one bite of their tender, spicy, and smoky goodness will make you a believer.
Consistency across a variety of dishes like this is rarely seen, yet Giant does it with a perceived sense of simplicity and ease. But that sh*t ain’t easy, which makes us appreciate it even more. That trait is also clearly carried over to the staff, who is friendly, knowledgable, and will help out if you need.
So accept Giant for what it is - a great restaurant with delicious food, an enjoyable atmosphere, and no unnecessary tricks. The kind of place so good we didn’t need a single immature joke to get the point across.
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Fried Super Uni Shooter
A creamy uni inside comes with a crispy shell. If you like uni, you’re going to love these one-bite fried shooters.
Good biscuits, but nothing more than a filler dish. Whether or not you need these depends on how much you like biscuits.
Sweet and Spicy Peppers
Both sweet and spicy peppers in a pool of olive oil with some honey butter. At any other restaurant these would be a can’t miss, but we prefer the other veggie dishes here. That’s not a bad thing to say, it’s just a thing we’re saying.
Jonah Crab Salad
Homemade waffle fries with a crab salad mixture. We wish this dish was the size of a giant plate of nachos with mass quantities of crab salad and fries. So much yes.
Zucchini might sound boring, but that’s not how veggies here work. This zucchini with pumpkin seeds and cilantro is delicious.
You need the broccoli with lemon, yogurt, thai chili and sunflower seeds. It’s excellent.
We think of this sweet corn as a cousin to elote. It’s not quite that, but the corn with thai chili, peanut, scallion, and mint is great.
There’s no such thing as bad onion rings, and that’s the case here too.
Garlic Buttermilk Potatoes
Garlic buttermilk potatoes with a cheesy crust. We could go without this dish only because at the end of the day it’s mashed potatoes, and we find other things here more interesting. But these are awesome mashed potatoes.
The pastas are a huge strongpoint here. Order them and order them all, including this sortallini with guanciale, basil, and pinenuts. The soft pillowy noodles are excellent.
Pici, With Chew
Pici are like fat spaghetti noodles, and these come with jalapeño and bacon. This is the definition of al dente pasta done to perfection. Order it.
Fusili noodles with meat sauce. Sounds standard on paper, but the flavors are not. Get it.
This isn’t a steakhouse steak. It’s a smaller piece of marinated meat meant to share that comes with peas and rice. It’s not huge, but you’re going to like it.
Baby Back Ribs
The baby back ribs are the biggest wildcard on the menu. They seem out of place, but they’re not. They’re smokey, a little spicy, and delicious, and you should have no qualms about getting them. The baked beans and sweet pickles that come with it are just as good.
The first time we came here our server told us to get the blueberries. We laughed, and didn’t get the blueberries. The second time we came here we ordered the blueberries, and they’re better than we expected. They’re still blueberries, but they come in a ginger syrup giving them some extra sweetness while also being fresh and delicious.
Vanilla Cajeta Ice Cream
If you like Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake bars then you’re going to love this. It’s basically a more sophisticated and better version.