Chef Ryan Poli's South Side Eating Guide | Tasting Table Chicago

Ryan Poli is a Chicago boy for life, born on the South Side and raised on Archer Avenue's burgers, calzones and coffee cakes.

The Tavernita, Barcito and Little Market chef even put an homage to his childhood on the Little Market menu: the Big Baby, a classic South Side cheeseburger.

We asked the chef how he feasts when he returns to his home turf, the stretch of Archer between Harlem and Central Avenues. 

Poli as a child | Kolache at Weber's

Weber's Bakery: "It seemed like every Sunday we'd have a coffee cake from Weber's in the house," says Poli of the 83-year-old bakery. "It smells amazing in there. Like shortbread and buttercream." Don't miss the kolache, stuffed Eastern European cookies.

Nicky's Hot Dogs: "This is where we'd gather for a Big Baby and an RC Cola after school," explains the chef. "There's a discrepancy about who created the sandwich, and some places put tomato and lettuce on it. Here it's just a sesame bun, toasted perfectly, with two patties griddled with cheese and griddled onions, and topped with ketchup, mustard and pickles."

Nicky's Big Baby
Danny's Pizza Place:
Poli calls this "a great red sauce joint." Go for meatballs and the pizza puff, a hulking calzone packed with sausage, mozzarella and tomato sauce. "You have to wait, like, 40 minutes to eat it because it's so hot."