We at LTHForum.com come here because we love food. We love to eat, we love to cook, we love to discuss food – and we believe that by sharing our experiences and knowledge we will all eat better. Those of us who have been here a long time have seen ample evidence of the truth of this.
We also come here because we like to meet for meals. Most of us prefer the perfect little hole-in-the-wall shack that serves unusual (to us) cuisine, prepared and explained by the owner and cook, often while his/her kids are doing their homework at the table in back. That does not mean we do not enjoy fine dining – we certainly do. But our first love is finding original, delicious experiences that take us to new places, even if we physically remain in Chicago. We actively seek out new food, new neighborhoods, new countries, new cultures.
We engage with our food by understanding how it is grown, how it is made, what went into it, and where it came from. To that end, we really like places where the people producing the food will engage with us and share what they know.
And whether you’re an explorer who always wants to be first to try the new tripe taco in Humboldt Park, or the person who prefers to visit the taqueria after you get word from someone you trust, we welcome you.
We encourage you to join our discussion.
Our focus is, first and foremost, what’s on the plate. And if there’s a dish you wish to investigate, there’s probably someone here who knows all about it – where it came from, how it’s been modified, and how it relates to other dishes and traditions. You might even find that a discussion about it has taken place already.
We are not a place where people come to glamorize what they eat, attack others about their tastes or thoughts, complain about service (much) or make grabs at attention. But we are interested, and we are thorough. If you choose to post on LTHForum.com and share your experiences and opinions, you’ll be asked to explain what you ate and why you feel how you feel. We like context, because it helps us to understand where you’re coming from and what your contributions to our community will be.
It’s this that differentiates us from other, more anonymous sites – and makes the LTHForum.com community what it is.
How It All Began
LTHForum.com was founded in 2004 by a bunch of Chicago refugees from another food discussion site, Chowhound. We took issue with some of Chowhound’s more restrictive policies, and decided to strike out on our own. From the beginning, LTHForum.com was meant to be inclusive and open, despite our members’ strong – and often disparate – opinions about food.
One night in 2004, about 14 people met for dinner at Little Three Happiness, the café in Chicago’s Chinatown that also gave us our name. The result of that meeting was LTHForum.com. We all agreed to move our posts here, and these 14 people became the new site’s moderators. None of us knew what to expect going forward, but we knew we would continue to share our thoughts and break bread together.
Then, in 2006, the Great Neighborhood Restaurant Program was started to create a crowd-sourced guide to what we think are some of the best places to eat in and around Chicago. It is a crazy, random, eclectic, idiosyncratic and delicious mix of places.
While the food world – and the whole world – has changed a lot around us, LTHForum.com has remained an active and thriving community, evolving along with it. We’ve explored slow food, local food, farmers markets and much more as the city’s culinary offerings have exploded. Today, Chicago-based food explorers have more choice, quality, and information than ever, and LTHForum.com reflects that too. We even discuss eating healthy at times, though most of us share the belief that healthy food can and should still be delicious.
Naturally, over time the group running the site has changed. It has always been a labor of love, run by a central core of volunteers and often funded by them as well. At this point, most of the founders have left their day-to-day roles at LTHForum.com, but still participate in the conversation. Other members have left Chicago, but remained attached to this community.
In 2011, the site was acquired by the present owners, three long-time members (see Meet the Team). Their intent was simple – respect the culture of the site, update its look and feel to make it more attractive and welcoming, and put the site on a firm financial footing by selectively attracting simpatico sponsors and advertisers to underwrite it. With the release of this updated site in July, 2013, we are getting close to achieving those goals.
Although we could not have foreseen the path LTHForum.com would take when we started it almost a decade ago, one thing hasn’t changed. We are still explorers, on a mission to discover food and promote it to the world. And whatever success and influence this site has achieved comes from our simple formula: Shop, cook, and eat well; then, please come and tell us all about it.