This tiny restaurant is the passion project of celeb chefs Scott Harris (Mia Francesca), Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia) and Jimmy Bannos Jr. (Heaven on Seven), with a prime location just off Michigan Avenue that holds, at any given time, fewer than 100 diners. Wait times stretch well beyond two hours, and, sadly, the Pig doesn’t accept reservations. But the succulent tapas-style dishes–milk-braised pork shoulder, chorizo-stuffed olives, octopus with green beans–and the superb wine and cheese selections make dinner at this cozy eatery a worthy goal. Ready to accept the challenge? Here’s how to enjoy a night at The Purple Pig (thepurplepigchicago.com).
Plan your day so you can be at The Purple Pig by 5:30 p.m. to get your name on the waiting list. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a spot in under an hour. If not, plan to leave your name and phone number with the host. Oh, and wear shoes you can move in–when they call you, you have 10 minutes to get back and claim your table.
Enjoy The Miracle Mile
Don’t stray too far–the host might overestimate the length of your wait. But there’s plenty to do along the Mile. Shopping (or window shopping) at upscale Burberry, Nordstrom’s and Swarvaski Crystal stores can fill a few hours. Or grab a drink in one of the many bars along the Mile that don’t have a two-hour wait. We like Bandera, a block north of the restaurant, where live jazz plays most nights.
Claim your seat
When the host calls to say your table is ready, hustle (remember, you only have 10 minutes to get back to the restaurant). Once you’re there, you’ll be seated right away.
Let your server be your guide
A cheese plate with Prairie Breeze, Monte Crudo or Robiola di Capra? A glass of Greek santorini or Portugese douro? The well-educated servers know their stuff and, if you let them, will ask insightful questions to guide you to perfect-for-you selections.
Linger and enjoy
The small-plates menu format allows for a night of lingering, sampling and experimenting. Feeling bold? Try the crispy pig’s ears with kale. Looking for a classic? Hearty osso buco delights. If you saved enough room, a plate of not-too-sweet Italian wedding cookies makes for a delectable coda to an adventurous meal.
Photos courtesy of The Purple Pig.