Harding's Colonial Room

Street Address: 
21 S. Wabash Ave.
Chicago, IL

Culled from: Drury, John. Dining in Chicago, New York: The John Day Company, 1931, pp. 73-75.

Note: The Newberry Library holds the personal papers of author John Drury.


"The Famous Corned Beef of John P."

Here we have the home of that great American dish — corned beef and cabbage. Only John P. Harding and his chefs know the secret of concocting a corned-beef dinner such as you get here — tender, tasty slices of red corned beef, laid over a heaping mound of fresh green boiled cabbage, and the whole flanked by boiled potatoes, parsley-buttered and as big as a policeman's fist. After feasting on this famed Harding dinner, you too feel the urge to write a limerick over it, just as J. P. McEvoy, of "The Potter's" fame, did.

"The famous corned beef of John P.
Is a succulent delicacy...
Why, it's England's belief
It was Harding's corned beef
That practically set Ireland free."

Another well-known author, Julian Street, who is also one of the most fastidious of epicures, writes of Harding's corned beef in the Saturday Evening Post. Pointing out that "certain items from the old American cuisine, the cuisine of our forefathers, are now found almost exclusively in private homes," he indicates corned beef as an exception. "Thus the several Harding lunch rooms of Chicago," he adds, "are famous for their corned-beef hash, actually supplying it wholesale to some other establishments." What he means, of course, is Harding's corned beef and cabbage and not their "corned-beef hash."

When you can get this old-fashioned American dish in an atmosphere redolent of Colonial America, your pleasure is well-nigh complete. We know of no more charming dining room in town than Harding's Colonial Room, on the second floor of their big eating establishment in South Wabash Avenue. A pretty young damsel, costumed appropriately in Colonial style, greets you at the elevator and conducts you to a table where an equally pretty and well-mannered waitress takes your order. These girls, rosy-cheeked and young, are working their way through college and are well-bred and intelligent.

Don't get the impression that here you can obtain only corned beef and cabbage. No, their menu is replete with other viands as notable — the roast beef is the best in the city, the steaks and chops with big baked Idaho potatoes are unexcelled, the sugar-cured baked ham is memorable and the pastries are as toothsome as can be found, especially the Colonial Special, consisting of cake with vanilla ice cream filling, covered with hot caramel sauce and whole pecans and topped with whipped cream.

You would be missing something if you failed to eat a corned-beef dinner in Harding's Colonial Room. Nowhere in the place can you detect any odor of cabbage being cooked. All is elegance, charm, and pleasure — considerably added to by the young lady who softly plays appropriate airs on the baby grand piano.

Harding's Colonial Room, American

21 South Wabash Avenue

Open for luncheon and dinner

A la carte only — and surprisingly reasonable

Maitre d'hotel: Martin J. Harding




1931 - 1931



I am trying to find some pictures of the restaurant from the 1940's. My grandmother worked there during the late 1930's and early 1940's.

See this link: https://www.google.com/search?q=Harding%27s+restaurant+chicago&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS777US777&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjFnMDYksXmAhVPCc0KHfpFDmgQ_AUoAnoECA0QBA&cshid=1576876574880670&biw=1280&bih=566#imgrc=jgT7ChbXuKXafM

Add comment