Let’s face it, while we aspire to be like our mothers and serve home cooked meals around the kitchen table each night, sometimes we just need to get out of the house and let someone else do the cooking. And when we find a gem like Benito’s Chicago Eatery that is not only kid-friendly, but sources more than half of its menu locally and uses fresh organic ingredients… we’ll find any excuse to take the fam out to eat! Read on to find out more about this Ballard hot spot that is serving up authentic Chicago eats.
It Doesn’t Get Any Fresher Than This
Created by Chef Benjamin Kulikowski, a born and bred Chicago native, Benito’s Chicago Eatery hit the Seattle restaurant scene in May 2012 with its Chicago-style classics including hot dogs, deep dish pizza, Italian beef sandwiches and pasta. The restaurant prides itself on serving regional Chicago-centric food while sourcing more than 50 percent of its menu locally. This means, sausage for Benito’s classic deep dish pizza comes from Ballard’s Cascioppo Brothers and beef for its sandwiches comes from Double R Ranch before it’s rubbed with Italian seasonings and slow roasted. Bread is delivered fresh from Grand Central Baking Company and organic flour for the pizza dough comes from Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill in Bellingham as well as local tomatoes from Seattle-area farms. Additionally, the coleslaw, potato salad and salad dressings are all made in-house by Kulikowski, including Benito’s famous creamy garlic dressing—a staple in Chicago dining.
Grab a Seat and Stay for A While
When you first enter Benito’s, you will notice the open kitchen, extremely friendly staff, and bistro-style seating which makes the restaurant feel like you’re sitting inside your mom’s kitchen. Don’t be surprised if the table next to you strikes up a conversation or even asks what you ordered… Kulikowski designed the restaurant to be conversational and that it exactly what it is. Kids will love the coloring sheets and the window seats and you will love watching Kulikowski and his kitchen staff prepare your order.
What They Should Order
In addition to kid-friendly pizzas and hot dogs, Benito’s offers a new separate kids menu with yummy pasta dishes, PB&J, and cheesy bread with a fab marinara dipping sauce. We promise even the pickiest of eaters will find something to love at Benito’s.
What You Should Order
With so many items on the menu, it’s hard to know where to start. If you’re going the Chicago pizza route, we recommend “Benito’s Special” made with sausage, pepperoni, peppers, mushrooms, and onions or the new “White Pie” made with chicken, fresh spinach, mushrooms, pecorino romano and creamy homemade garlic dressing. If you want to start your meal off with a salad, the salumi salad made with fresh veggies and dry salami, spicy capicola, provolone and mozzarella is downright delish! Be sure to order the creamy garlic dressing and if you say pretty please you might just get an extra serving on the side.
The salumi and cheese plate is also another great option to start with. This app consists of the chef’s selection of meats and cheeses with a fab house-made pickled garnish. We dare you not to ask for seconds!
If you’ve never had a Chicago-style hot dog before, we recommend giving one of Benito’s dogs a try. The “Ballard” consists of a ¼-lb all beef hot dog with cream cheese, whole grain mustard, sautéed peppers, and sautéed onions or the “Chicago” made with a ¼-lb all beef hot dog with yellow mustard, tomato and cucumber slices, raw onion, Chicago relish, sport peppers and celery salt. Now, that’s a mouthful!
Be Sure to Save Room for Dessert
No matter how full you think you are, you must save room for dessert. And we’re not talking about just any old dessert. We’re talking about Aunt Chicki’s cannolis. The sweet and sour combination of mascarpone cheese and ricotta mixed with salty pistachios and a hard chocolate shell will leave you dreaming about these cannolis for days. Psst…One cannoli will easily feed a family of four.
Good to Know
If you plan on ordering a Chicago deep dish pizza, place your order when you first arrive; the pizzas take about 25-30 minutes to bake.
If you’re dining with little ones, grab a window seat which will act as a distraction when lil’ tummies start grumbling and don’t’ be shy about asking for more coloring sheets.
The pizzas and entrees are big so order with caution and don’t be surprised if your kids can only eat one slice of pizza. This just means more leftovers for you!
Benito’s doesn’t serve pineapple on their menu so if your kiddos are die-hard Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza lovers, you might want to prep them ahead of time.
If you love the creamy garlic dressing as much as we do, you can ask to purchase some to go. Same goes for the house-made pickled garnish.
In addition to dine-in, Benito’s offers takeout and delivery in the Ballard neighborhood.
Monday – Thursday: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Friday – Saturday: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
In addition to street parking, free parking is available after 6:00 pm at U.S. Bank and Ballard Dental Care.
Note: Dine at Benito’s on November 12 and help support the Ballard Food Bank! All you have to do is dine in from 5-10 p.m., order your favorite pizza, pasta, salads, wine and beer and Benito’s will donate 15% of their sales to the food bank to help ensure food security in our community!
Have you been to Benito’s Chicago Eatery for lunch or dinner? What’s your family’s fave item on the menu? Let us know in a comment below.
–Kristina Moy (words and most photos)
Photo credit: Benito’s Chicago Eatery Facebook page