Chicago: Bad Hunter Showcases Vegetables That Sing

My 91 year old aunt lives in Chicago.  She follows my blog, and after she reads my posts I often receive an email that says “I wish I could dine there with you.  Someday I will.”  The day comes when I am in Chicago for a conference.  I peruse the Eater Chicago Hot List, and select Bad Hunter in the West Loop for dinner with my aunt and cousins.

My Aunt Eleanor is not your average Jewish great-grandmother. In her younger days she was a singer, and my family loves the fact that she once sang at the Playboy Club in Chicago.  The fact that she’s willing to dine anywhere with me is but one example of her still adventurous nature.

Aunt Eleanor

Bad Hunter stems from an old Indian term used to describe a vegetarian.  While the menu at the Randolph Street restaurant has a preponderance of vegetable dishes, it is not a vegetarian restaurant. In fact, if you’re feeling particularly bold, at lunch you can order a veggie burger and add bacon. The dinner menu also gives meat eaters something to chew on with sirloin skewers, lamb kofta with tahini, and chicken thigh kabab coated with preserved lemon yogurt.

The dining room at Bad Hunter is bright and cheery, with just enough botanic touches to keep the concept front of mind.  The vegetable theme carries through to cocktails.  Spicy carrot cooler is an exceptional way to drink alcohol while feeling healthy and refreshed.

Naturally, the menu at Bad Hunter rotates to showcase seasonal ingredients. Luxurious fried sunchokes in a bath of buttermilk and seasoned with black garlic and Aleppo chili honey is a fine example of how Executive Chef Dan Snowden gives vegetables a starring role in his dishes.

Bad Hunter Fried Sunchokes

Asparagus charred on the restaurant’s wood grill is served with garlic-mushroom broth and cured egg yolk.  The dish is another illustration of the chef’s mastery in featuring the earth’s bounty.

Bad Hunter charred asparagus

It’s a good thing that plates are meant to be shared.  The hits keep on coming with fry bread flattered by burrata and pickled onions and rye gnocchetti with wood ear mushrooms, Thai basil, Brazil nuts, and peas.

Bad Hunter rye gnocchetti

Fish makes a welcome appearance at Bad Hunter as well, in the form of striped bass ceviche, softshell crab, and seafood hot pot.

Bad Hunter striped bass ceviche

Also of note are desserts.  A carrot cake is expected, but it reaches peak perfection when its moist coffee-roasted carrot cake served with smoked sorghum ice cream, and sorghum-pecan cracker jack.  Chocolate mousse incorporates avocados and is uplifted by grapefruit, mezcal, and spicy pepitas.

Bad Hunter coffee-roasted carrot cake

Bad Hunter enables delusions of healthful eating with every bite, and this is a very, very good thing.

I did not inherit the gift of a beautiful singing voice from my aunt, although her talent was passed down to my sister, daughter, and niece. I may not be able to carry a tune, but I am happy to use my voice to sing the praises of Chicago’s Bad Hunter.

Bad Hunter, 802 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL

Chicago Magazine:  2017 Best New Restaurants



  1. Joan lepp cahn says

    Great review of a very good restaurant. We had so much fun being with you. Steve and I will go back.

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