Francis Sadac heads off the beaten path for Chicago dining favorites

Written By By Janet Rausa Fuller For Sun-Times Media Posted: 06/02/2014, 12:51pm

Francis Sadac knows a good performance when he sees it — onstage and on the plate.

A board member of a few local theater companies and past president of Steppenwolf’s young professionals board, Sadac spends several nights a week taking in shows and tucking into pre- or post-theater meals.

His paying gig is in human resources consulting. The work takes him around the world, nourishing his appetite for street food in Southeast Asia and fine dining in Mexico, and enables him to call out the “armchair dining experts” on social media.

“How can you say something’s the best Vietnamese restaurant if you haven’t eaten in Vietnam?” Sadac says. “Context is everything.”

Back in Chicago, the opinionated Lincoln Square resident chooses dining favorites that tend to be out of the spotlight.

It’s personal: 42 Grams [4662 N. Broadway] is fantastic. It’s very thoughtful, personal food. I don’t know how sustainable the model is — they’re basically serving eight diners every seating — but it’s intimate. You have four people looking out for you, two servers and two chefs.

Curtain call: Just down the road from Victory Gardens Theater is Rickshaw Republic [2312 N. Lincoln], which I love. [Indonesian cuisine] is not too familiar to many Chicago diners. I love the fried chicken. The mother, who’s the head cook, has something like 200 recipes.

Sushi veteran: Itto Sushi [2616 N. Halsted] has an untranslated Japanese menu. On Monday and Tuesday nights, it’s full of Japanese people. From December to February, I go for the oden, a fish cake dish. You don’t really see it anywhere else.

On Argyle: La Patisserie P [1050-52 W. Argyle] is an interesting, overlooked bakery. They have Asian pastries but also traditional French desserts, because the chef trained in Paris. Another of my secrets — Chi Quon [1127 W. Argyle] — has a dim sum menu. You can order siu mai and har gow to go.

Party food: I know lots of people go for the banh mi at Nhu Lan [2612 W. Lawrence], which are terrific. But what I get for parties are their spring rolls, which are better than Ba Le’s. They’re packed with ingredients and fresher.

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