I'm always on the look out for bars, pubs and restaurants that serve properly cooked tator tots: crispy and golden on the outside, moist (but not soggy) on the inside. Soft, soggy tator tots are the worst. They make me sad. They recall school lunches, which would often come with a pile of six or seven limp brown barrel-shaped lumps. These sad excuses for tator tots were often, unfortunately, the best part of the lunch.
Not quite as bad are the rock-hard tots that have no white center, but have been fried solid through and through. These are a mystery to me. How long do you have to cook a tator tot to get it like that, and how do you not notice that you're ruining it?
Anyway, these are a couple of my favorite places around Chicago for good tator tots:
Located just south of Roosevelt, this place is very convenient to Grant Park. Nothing tastes better after a softball win (or loss, or rain out) than piping hot tator tots. The grilled cheese and grilled cheese with bacon aren't bad, either.
The other place is Small Bar in Avondale. Their website is not working right now,a nd I haven't been there in a while, so hopefully they are still around. the neighborhood is a little scary to be honest, but one of my friends used to live down the street and having tator tots right down the street was very convenient! The bar is nice, too, and has a cute little patio.