It’s been a busy summer with lots of #patiotimes and fun in the sun! If you follow me on social media, you know that I have had plenty o’ coffee to fuel all my adventures. Here’s a few of my favorite places to grab an iced caffeinated bevvy around Chicago.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am the QUEEN of yo yo dieting and go through stretches of being a workout warrior to being a strong supporter of the Netflix and Chill movement.
Recently I have been making a lot of healthier eating and lifestyle choices. I ran my first 5k last year and this year I have already run two! Next up, is my very first sprint triathalon in August!
With all this training, I have been doing my best to incorporate mindful eating habits into my daily life. It’s still summer and yes I drink alcohol and have “bad” carbs sometimes, but life is about balance. Eating hard boiled eggs and cottage cheese gets kind of old, so for anyone else looking to stay on track that needs some power protein finds, here ya go! Here’s some of of my favorite go-to cleaner eating super powered foodie finds!
RXBar: Protein Bar, Coffee Chocolate (Box of 12 Bars/$25.99 at RXBar.com)
Nutrition Facts: 210 calories +12 grams of protein per bar; No Added Sugar, No GMO, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Gluten Free, Paleo Friendly, Vegetarian Friendly
I recently discovered this amazing CLEAN eating protein bar brand. RXBar’s motto is NO BS, and their bars are made with all natural ingredients like nuts, dates and egg whites. What I like is that it doesn’t make your stomach do the crazy dance from all the chemicals that are present in most protein bars. They come in 8 different flavors including this Coffee Chocolate made with REAL coffee for that extra boost of energy in your day!
PS: Use this link and get $5 off your first purchase of RXBars!
Think Jerky: Free Range Turkey Jerky, Siracha Honey (5 Pack of Bags/$24.95 at ThinkJerky.com)
Nutrition Facts: 90 calories + 17 grams of protein per bag; Grass Fed, Gluten Free, No Added Antibiotics, No Nitrites, No added hormones, Paleo Friendly
Jerky is becoming a thing… but not all jerky is created equal. Think Jerky is like Jerky with a conscience. It’s also kind of a foodie thing, because all of their recipes are created by well-known chefs! I love the Siracha Honey Turkey Jerky, because it satisfies that need for a protein rich snack that’s got some pazzazz with that siracha spice. The other flavors like Sweet Chipotle and Orange Ginger are beef instead of turkey jerky. And of course, the Thanksgiving flavor is a turkey jerky, because yummo!
Halo Top: Ice Cream, Birthday Cake (Pint/Prices vary, Find a store near you at HaloTop.com)
Nutrition Facts: 70 calories +6 grams of protein per 1/2 cup; 280 calories + 24 grams of protein per pint; Low Calorie, Low Sugar, High Protein
Ice cream? Healthy? OH yessss. So when you get the hankering for a sweet treat think twice before you reach for the generic brands, because you can treat yo’ self the healthy way! Some of the more popular brands of ice cream like B&J’s or HD’s* packs 250 calories in a half cup serving alone. By the time you’ve eaten the whole pint you’ve consumed over 3/4 of what you should eat for the whole day! YIKES! Halo Top comes in seven fun flavors including Birthday Cake! If you’re PMSing, stressed or you’ve just plain had it with life, you can feel slightly less guilty about indulging in a whole pint of Halo Top, because it’ll only set you back 240 to 280 calories depending on your flavor choice. Of course, you can also use restraint and have one serving which is a great less than 100 calorie treat!
*I won’t mention any ice cream brands, because I do love them! But today’s post is about the healthy alternatives:)
Mikey’s Muffins: English Muffins, Toasted Onion (Prices Vary, Find a store near you at www.MikeysMuffins.com)
Nutrition Facts: 103 Calories + 5 grams of protein per muffin; Paleo Friendly, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Grain Free.
A few years ago a Dr. told me that I am “gluten-sensitive” so I’m not intolerant, but I know my body and when I indulge in tons of carby-gluten-filled foods it’s not good for me. That said, I do still have gluten and carbs when I want, because life’s too short:-) When I am seriously hankering from some toast or having a carbie barbie moment I discovered these paleo diet english muffins. Not only are they grain free, they have way fewer calories than traditional English muffins! There are three varieties: Original, Toasted Onion and Cinnamon Raisin. I love using the Toasted Onion to make avocado toast with, because sometimes you just want avo toast at home and not just for the overpriced hype of being a #BasicBitch at brunch.
Thorne Research: Medipro Vegan All-In-One Shake Vanilla (44.6 oz/$69.00 at Amazon.com)
This is sooo not glamorous or cool sounding, but when it comes to protein powder it’s kind of okay to not be glammed out. There’s so many fad diet powders and supplements out there that I trust this brand, because it’s actually been created by medical professionals. I have done my own tests and found this to have the most health benefits, protein power and yes, it even tastes great! Mix this up with almond milk, spinach, banana and ice with a pinch of cinnamon and you’d swear you were drinkin’ a milk shake. Okay maybe not quite, but seriously! It’s so good and I drink it every morning during the work week.
What are some of your favorite protein powered foodie finds? Comment below, hit me up at NorthandRed@gmail.com, or on social media.
I’m very lucky to have friends and family that live in the Big Apple! When I visit, it’s a whirlwind tour of everything that I need to eat and drink, all while catching up with some awesome people.
Here’s a few of the cool places I got to check out on my most recent visit over the 4th of July weekend!
But First, Coffee
Fika Coffee, Multiple Locations
I love love love coffee, and in the summer in NYC you need some good iced coffee to get your day started. Fika has a simple coffee menu without too many fancy drinks, but definitely does regular cold and hot brews right. Their lattes are also on point. If you’re fueling a full day of touring I recommend their “power bars” which are really like candy bars, but hey with 16 grams of protein that’s nothing to snuff at in regards to getting your energy boost! Totally a vay cay treat and not to be had on the reg unless you’re super active and burn calories like crazy.
Where to Roll
Burger and Lobster, 39 W 19th Street, Flat Iron District NYC
One of the first things I need to eat when I touch down on the East Coast is a Lobster Roll. One of my newest finds was Burger and Lobster, because it’s an AMAZING deal. 20 bucks gets you a roll, fries and salad. Just the roll alone can run you 15-30 bucks in NY or anywhere, so for this to include two sides with a hearty portion of seafood, I say “yesssss please.”
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Toro, 85 10th Ave, Meatpacking District NYC
This was one of the best new places I tried! Toro is a tapas restaurant in the meat packing district that has a fantastic atmosphere, great people watching, and delicious food. Slightly upscale, but still approachable and casual, this is a great place to go with a small to mid-sized group of friends for a great meal. Notable dishes were the Pimientos Del Padron, Datiles Con Jamon, Jamon Serrano, Maiz Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotilja, Pulpo, and Empanada De Pollo Y Patatas.
Bathtub Gin, 132 9th Ave, Chelsea NYC
Looking for great cocktails that no one can find? This place is an homage to prohibition era, and is located literally behind a coffee shop storefront. Look for a coffee shop from the street, then walk on through to find this hidden gem. Their cocktails are mostly gin-based, but have a full menu with a variety of classic and new mixology-based cocktails to satisfy anyone’s whim. Notable cocktails: Shirley’s Temple and Blonde Ambition.
Quintessential Brunch Goals
Penelope Cafe, 159 Lexington Ave, Midtown East – Kips Bay NYC
No trip to NYC is complete without #brunchgoals. Penelope has been a favorite of mine, and a mainstay for locals since 2003. This comfy spot is good for hangovers or to enjoy a great brunch bevvy. The queue can be long especially on weekends, so feel free to put your name in and go grab a quick coffee and check out the neighborhood. If you’re venturing on a weekday here, breakfast, and dinner offer great options. It’s very “chick” friendly during the dinner hour, so think SATC #squadgoals. Also, I highly recommend a slice of red velvet cake no matter what time of day. Notable brunch items: Salmon wrapped poached eggs and Nutella French Toast.
Seafood with a View
Brooklyn Crab, 24 Reed Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn NYC
#PatioTimes for daaaays here at BK Crab. This place is great for everything outdoors and is apparently great in the winter too. Grab yourself some fresh oysters, fried seafood, or a seafood pot… whatever you get it’s ALL good. In addition to some seriously fresh seafood fare, they have entertainment and views that make you feel like you’re not even in NY. But then you take a look around and realize, this is definitely Brooklyn with the cast of characters surrounding you. Worth the trek from the mainland.
Pro tip: Take the FREE Ikea Boat from Pier 11. Notable dishes: Blue Crab Roll, Seasonal Oysters, and the BK Steampot for 1.
Lavender Lake, 383 Carroll Street, Gowanus, Brooklyn NYC
So, I have to admit I was super disappointed with my visit to Lavender Lake, because they offer alcoholic slushies on Fridays and Saturdays and I went on a Sunday (insert sad face emoji). So, despite not getting the draaaaanks that I wanted, the atmosphere and patio at Lavender Lake is totally worth checking out. Next time I will be in for some fancy drinks and food! But for now, their atmosphere won me over.
Tiki with a Twist
Zombie Hut, 273 Smith Street, Gowanus – Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn NYC
Looking for strong frozen drink with some flare? Zombie Hut has got an array of fruity strong cocktails to satisfy a hot summer night on the patio. It’s also super cool and fun inside, so I am torn whether I say go for their patio or go for some inside times. Regardless what you choose, there’s board bames, fun drinks and a great atmosphere inside and out. Notable Drink: The Frozen Zombie.
Bar Tabac, 128 Smith Street, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn NYC
If ever there were a “feeling” that you’re in Brooklyn this place is it. The candle lit, euro influenced dishes and random artisty types that hang out here make you feel right at home. Whether you’re settling in for a chill date or throwin’ back some wine with friends this is a neighborhood joint that anyone can enjoy. Comfort food galore and live music 4 nights a week makes me wish I lived around the corner. Notable dishes: Burger Bar Tabac and Couscous Merguez.
Where all the Cool Kids Hang
Gansavoort Park Avenue Hotel, 420 S Park Ave, Midtown East – Flat Iron District NYC
I was fancy during my visit this time and got the opportunity to stay at the Gansavoort Park Ave. I recommend this place because it was a luxurious hotel without being stuffy. It’s also a great neighborhood location that is convenient to getting to lots of tourist areas, without being in tourist central. The bi-level rooftop during the day was a fantastic place to sun bathe, hit the pool and grab a delish snack like their guac with plantain chips. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, hitting their rooftop bar, The Drift for some cocktails and views is definitely a great idea if you’re in the area. If you’re up for some cluuuub times see about hitting the VIP Red Room for some DJ, dancing and a scene.
And Hey, it’s Okay to Be a Tourist
Eataly, 200 5th Ave,Flat Iron District NYC
I love going to off the beaten path places, but it’s a-okay to enjoy places that are touristy central, including Eataly. Eataly is a unique market place chef-driven and totally amazing, so don’t beat yourself up if you just can’t help indulging in their artisanal market shopping, delightful desserts or going carbie barbie and sitting down to a hearty pasta or pizza dish. No judgments over here, because Eataly is the best!
Always looking forward to more NYC finds next time I visit! Comment below with your favorite places to eat, drink and parte! Would love to check them out soon!
I think it’s safe to say I’m a “foodie” although I dislike that word, because I am not certified in any capacity to be an expert on the subject. But, for the past 9 and half years I have been eating and drinking my way through this fare city and somehow stumbled upon jobs and opportunities to share my love for it.
I remember being perched over my laptop in my tiny room in my first apartment in Wicker Park looking stuff up on Metromix to inform me of what was all the rage. Nowadays, there’s a gazillion and one ways to find “the best” anything from trending dishes like avocado toast to good old fashioned pizza. At the end of the day though, I have learned that I can only trust one source above all else, and that’s MOI!
Sure, I read tons of review boards, publications about restaurant openings and stalk down people’s Instagram feeds like it’s my job, oh wait, it kinda is;) My point is, there’s so much information out there, that sometimes I get tired of being told what’s good when in reality, it’s not. Like I said, I’m not an expert, but I have definitely ate and drank enough to know what I like, and sometimes I don’t agree with what people are hyping up on their social media feeds, just because it looks pretty in a photo to get more of a following.
A while back, I read two great reviews from the Infatuation, Chicago Edition. These articles stuck out in my memory and definitely shed light on the legitimacy of their publication and in turn gave them major street cred in my book at least. A lot of people know the Infatuation for it’s hip hashtag #EEEEEATS, it’s millennial-esque review writing style or it’s glutinous postings on social media.
Ultimately, they want to take over the world, but for now, it’s a premium food guide that started in NY that has since expanded to Chicago and other cities. Like I said, world domination is part of the plan, but for now they are only in six cities in the U.S.The first piece I read was about Coal Fire, known in the Insta world for it’s Pepperoni and whipped Ricotta pizza.
I had never been there, but was curious to read the review, because at the time I was a starry eyed pizza dreamer ogling photos of this decadent pizza in my feed. So, it was surprising to read this:
“But there’s something we need to be honest about, and it goes against everything Instagram will tell you. We don’t like the pepperoni and whipped ricotta pizza at Coalfire. It makes an infinitely better picture than it does actual meal. The ricotta adds nothing to the overall enjoyment of the pizza from a flavor standpoint, unless you get pure enjoyment from snapping the perfect shot. There. We said it.” – Sam Faye, Infatuation: Chicago
I’m one of those people that’s on social media before I am even out of bed in the AM. I also can appreciate overhead coffee table shots to perfectly manicured hands holding ice cream cones. However, the authenticity of influencers is not always transparent and there is a lot of pay to play in the market right now along with an ever changing landscape of rules and algorithms. It’s hard to really know if something is really worth the hype or if it is a well written article or perfectly captured photo that makes food and drink items seem better than they really are.
In the rest of Sam’s review about Coalfire on the Infatuation he gave them props for items that maybe aren’t as picturesque, but have some serious flavors!
“We actually like the calzones more than the pizzas, and they are almost equally as large. All calzones come stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta, and romano cheese, along with your choice of filling. There’s a heavy dose of ricotta in the calzones too, but it adds flavor when backed in with everything else, unlike when just glopped on top of the pizza for show.” – Same Faye, Infatuation: Chicago
The other misconception is the hype of a restaurant in general, and not just one food item. I was cracking up when I read the Infatuation’s cheeky rap battle review about Big Star.
“Point, Sam: There’s not much I’d rather do on a beautiful summer day than post up at Big Star to eat and drink as many tacos and margaritas/beers as my body can handle.
Counterpoint, Claire: I can think of at least 17 things I’d rather be doing on a beautiful summer day that doesn’t include sacrificing two hours of wait time, a sunburn, and potentially my first born for the privilege to sit in the equivalent of a folding chair while eating mediocre (at best) tacos.” – Same Faye, Infatuation: Chicago
I have to say, personally I’m torn too. On the one hand, I love a good patio….on the other, I can’t stand WAITING! So, for me I brave it every year and I always enjoy myself, because helloooo I have awesome friends to accompany me. But I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite place on the planet like some people make it out to be.
So what’s the point? Should everyone give up on social media? Of course, not! But, I say it’s worth taking a deeper look at, right?! This post marks the beginning of a series of investigative blogging, where I rate things that are super trendy on social media and give you my two cents on the matter. So look out for more Hype or RD posts soon!
Suggestions are absolutely welcome:) Cheers!
Happy Easter Saturday! It’s the weekend of Easter celebrations and I’m like how the heck did this month just fly by us!?
If you’re like me and didn’t plan anything, because it snuck up on you, or you’re just looking to try something different, here’s my Easter Brunch guide to Chicago:) Plenty of Egg-celent options for some last minute planning!
Big Jones, Andersonville
What’s the deal? Creole and southern inspired breakfast, lunch and dinner with vintage charm.
Takes Reservations: Yes! But walk-ins are welcome too. And if you have to wait, Andersonville is lovely to explore:)
What to Eat: It’s a tie between Shrimp & Grits and Biscuits and Gravy
What to Drink: Morning Dove
Bonus: On Saturdays and Sundays they offer free beignets to every table! #yummo
Where’s it at? 5347 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640
Southport Grocery & Cafe, Lakeview
What’s the deal? Impress your out of town friends with a casual cafe with fancy breakfast stuff.
Takes Reservations: Nope…Average wait time could be upwards of an hour or more, but they’ll take your digits so you can shop the Southport Corridor or grab a coffee while you wait.
What to Eat: Bread Pudding Pancakes
What to Drink: House made Soda on Tap (Cranberry Lemonade or Rotating Seasonal Variety)
Bonus: “Grocer” isn’t in their name for nothing… they have a unique selection of local and imported specialty goods and treats to take home.
Where’s it at? 3552 N Southport, Chicago, IL 60657
Lula Cafe, Logan Square
What’s the deal? Farm to table, locally sourced ingredients in a comfortable neighborhood environment.
Takes Reservations: Yes, and if you decided not to get one the wait time could be over an hour during busy times, but feel free to take a walk along the beautiful and historic Logan Boulevard if the weather’s nice.
What to Eat: Breakfast Sandwich (Rotating, because they only want to use the freshest stuffff)
What to Drink: La Pina Coranada
Bonus: They have a stack of awards and recognitions including a Michelin Bib Gourmand, so don’t let this hipster-ish casual vibe throw you, this place is legit.
Where’s it at? 1552 N Wells, Chicago IL 60610
Kanela Breakfast Club, Old Town
What’s the deal? Locally source and organic whenever possible and serving up some greek-infused american style breakfast and lunch options.
Takes Reservations: Nope… but if you have to wait you can wander through the shops and grab a coffee along Wells.
What to Eat: French Toast Flight (Great for sharing!)
What to Drink: Kanela Radler
Bonus: They have three other locations, and this one has free parking;)
Where’s it at? 1552 N Wells, Chicago IL 60610
Beatrix, River North
What’s the deal? Upscale-ish neighhborhood spot in River North, perfect for meeting your significant other’s parents or health-conscious friends you’re trying to impress a little bit without breaking the bank and still having a delish meal.
Takes Reservations: Yes
What to Eat: Quinoa Cakes with Poached Eggs
What to Drink: White Lightening Latte
Bonus: They offer a Gluten free menu, have delicious treats to take with you for later, and a second location in Streeterville to boot.
Where’s it at? 519 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60654
Yolk, South Loop
What’s the deal? Casual family friendly joint with lots of egg dish options and more.
Takes Reservations: Nope, but the place is pretty big so your wait time will vary based on the time you go.
What to Eat: For the savory bruncher go with any of their omelettes, for the sweet tooth bruncher go with the Red Velvet French Toast.
What to Drink: Bottomless coffee
Bonus: They have four other locations in Chicago.
Where’s it at? 1120 South Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605
Bongo Room, Wicker Park
What’s the deal? In the land of the hipsters, brunch has always been there and this is a classic in my book.
Takes Reservations: Nope (wait times vary, but you’ll definitely have to wait if it’s the weekend)
What to Eat: Breakfast Burrito
What to Drink: St. Germain Sunshine Cocktail
Bonus: They have two other locations, one in Andersonville and one in South Loop, but this one’s the original so it’s near and dear to my brunch-loving heart.
Where’s it at? 1470 N Milwaukee, Chicago, IL 60622
Tiztal Cafe, Uptown
What’s the deal? Enjoy a casual neighborhood vibe with Mexican inspired breakfast.
Takes Reservations: Nope (average wait time is 20 minutes)
What to Eat: Chilaquiles
What to Drink: Oatmeal Shake
Bonus: When it’s warm out, they have a back patio that is a hidden gem.
Where’s it at? 4631 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640
Where are you brunching this weekend!? Comment below.
Happy Saint Patty’s Day! The long time tradition of dying the river green is a popular display every year for locals and tourists. If you’re in the mood for feelin’ Irish even when the river’s not green, here’s a few joints to have yourself a good old fashioned Chirish time year round.
Chief O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant, Avondale
What to Drink: Snake Bite
What to Eat: Sheppard’s Pie
Best Nights: Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays
Best Deal: Sunday Brunch $19.95 Buffet
Where’s it at? 3471 N Elson Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
The Grafton, Lincoln Square
What to Drink: House Wine on Tap
What to Eat: Ghost Pepper Curry Chips
Best Nights: Sundays, Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays
Best Deal: Burger of the Month, $11 See site for details (Price subject to change)
Where’s it at? 4530 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625
Fado Irish Pub, River North
What to Drink: The Local (Half Guiness/Half Green Line)
What to Eat: Smoked Salmon Bites
Best Nights: Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays
Best Deal: Saturdays and Sundays, $3 Mimosas
Where’s it at? 100 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60654
Corcoran’s Grill & Pub, Old Town
What to Drink: Harp Irish Lager
What to Eat: Pub Nachos
Best Nights: Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays
Best Deal: Tuesdays, $7 Pub Burger and Fries
Where’s it at? 1615 N Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60614
O’Shaughnessy’s Public House, Ravenswood
What to Drink: Irish Mule
What to Eat: Irish Beef Steak Wrap
Best Nights: Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays
Best Deal: Mondays, $10.95 All You Can Eat Fish and Chips
Where’s it at? 4557 N Ravenswood, Chicago, IL 60640
Poag Mahone’s, South Loop
What to Drink: Smithwick’s Red Ale
What to Eat: Poagburger*
Best Nights: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays
Best Deal: Mondays, $12 Poagburger and Draft Beer (Specialty Drafts Not Included)
Where’s it at? 333 South Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60604
*Was rated one of Oprah’s favorite burgers in Chicago at one point.
D4 Irish Pub & Cafe, Streeterville
What to Drink: Guiness Blonde
What to Eat: Curry Chips
Best Nights: Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays
Best Deal: Monday-Friday 4-6pm Happy Hour, Select Small Plates for $6
Where’s it at? 345 East Ohio Street (Entrance is on East Grand), Chicago, IL 60611
Emmit’s Irish Pub, West Town
What to Drink: Guiness
What to Eat: Irish Potato Boxty
Best Nights: Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays
Best Deal: Mondays, $5 Tullamore D.E.W. cocktails
Where’s it at? 495 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60654
Johnny O’Hagan’s, Wrigleyville
What to Drink: Magner’s Irish Cider
What to Eat: Potato and Leek Soup
Best Nights: Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays
Best Deal: Thursdays, 1/2 off all draft beers with purchase of food
Where’s it at? 3374 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60657
What’s your favorite Irish Bar in Chicago? Or, better yet, where is your favorite Irish bar in another city?! Drop me a line at NorthandRed@gmail.com, comment below or hit me up on social media!
When I went to Italy for the first time, I discovered that Spacca Napoli not only measures up to the real deal, but in some cases surpasses some of the Italian pizzerias in ITALY! This place specializes in bringing only the freshest Italian ingredients and Italian products to their restaurant to serve up some authentic Neapolitan style brick oven pizzas.
Side note: They are VPN certified… meaning they are legitimately authentic Naples style pizza.
The atmosphere is warm and inviting with an open kitchen so you can see what’s cooking. You can witness the creation of their salads, small plates and pizzas being made fresh as you pass through the restaurant to be seated.
The daily specialty pizzas often times feature seasonal vegetables or imported cheeses that are always delectable. My favorite antipasto to start with is the prosciutto e bufala (or the caprese con bufala if you’re a vegetarian). I have heard that they import the cheese from Italy and there was a time that they could not get this exact mozzarella, so they did not serve it at all! THAT’S dedication to get some delicious cheese.
My favorite of their mainstay pizzas is the prosciutto e rucola. The combination of the fresh arugula topped over the prosciutto is only complimented by the doughy crusty goodness that you fold up to feel like you’re in Italy.
The staff is incredibly friendly and often times you’ll see chef and owner Jonathan Goldsmith greeting friends and patrons or back in the kitchen creating authentic and great food.
You can find another article about Spacca Napoli written by me and more Chicago finds at Spotted by Locals: Chicago Edition.
In 2015 I was fortunate to work for a company that introduced me to tons of amazing new people and tapped into my passion for dining out. I have shared some of my experiences here on this blog, in my contributions to Spotted By Locals, social media, and of course anyone willing to lend an ear that will listen to me gab about my latest discoveries has heard it all!
So here’s a look back at some of the best things I ate and drank in 2015! Cheers:)
Goldberg’s Bagels & Flagels: Montauk, New York
Lox Bagel: The picture speaks for itself. There’s nothing that compares to bagels in NY, nothing that compares to lox on a bagel, just nothin’ like it. Get it on an everything with onions and tomatoes and you’re in breakfast heaven.
Beer & Bacon Classic 2015; Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
Hell or High Watermelon: I haven’t tried a ton of new beers this year, but this one was my favorite from the Beer and Bacon Classic this year. It’s fruity without being over the top in your face and fake watermelon flavored. LOVE LOVE LOVE this for a warm summer day.
Live Oak Cafe: New Orleans, Louisiana Breakfast Sandwich: I had no expectations for this little cafe in the Garden District of Nola. Just wanted some simple breakfast, and this BISCUIT, literally BLEW MY MIND and all other biscuits can never live up to the awesomeness of this one. #butter
The Harvest on Fort Pond: Montauk, New York
Rosé Cocktail: I can’t remember the name of this! Which makes me sad, but if you’re at The Harvest, first off I hope you brought your appetite, because everything is HUGE and delicious. But if you’re thirsty, this delightful cocktail was a lady hit with my sister and I! It’s made with Rosé wine, cucumber vodka, a splash of soda and something else… a secret ingredient we’re call it. I remember it being the most refreshing taste of summer in a glass and I am going to go back for it!
Beatrix: River North
Coooookies: Beatrix is known for it’s delightful meal options, but I’m into their after meal treats! It’s a toss up for my fave with options like the butterscotch or apple oatmeal… I think the butterscotch wins, because anything with sea salt… #winning.
Firecakes: River North Butterscotch Praline: The donut craze has swept Chicago, and only the strong survive. Firecakes is one of my top picks for 2015, because I discovered the light, fluffy, creme-filled decadence of their Butterscotch Praline donut.
Jibek Jolu: Lincoln Square Boso Lagman: I suggest eating #allthefood at Jibek Jolu, but their hand pulled noodles are NOT to be missed. Boso Lagman is made with sliced vegetables and stewed beef served with fried hand pulled Noodles.
JAPADOG: Vancouver, Canada The Terimayo: JAPADOG’s Signature hot dog is made withTeriyaki sauce, mayo and seaweed make for a winning combination.
Trattoria Funistrada: Maple City, Michigan
Veal Saltimbocca: I’m not a veal person, but this was their specialty, and I have to say this is just about the best thing I ever ate: meat edition. This dish is scaloppini broiled with prosciutto, mozzarella and parmesan served with a mushroom marsala sauce. Trust me, if you’re in Michigan, FIND this place. Get their food, it’s delish and such a surprise based on the location.
ICE CREAM CONE
John’s Drive In: Montauk, New York
Sprinkles Dip Cone w/ twist ice cream: Perhaps it’s the ambience, could be it’s the pretty colors, but this cone is just the BEST. Nothin’ like ice cream from John’s when you’re in MTK.
Clam & Chowder House at Salivar’s Dock: Montauk, New York
Sushi: It doesn’t matter what kind you get, EVERYTHING is fresh, and delicious. There were two fisherman chowin’ down next to me at the bar, which means this place is legit.
FRIED FOOD (Savory)
Barrel + Rye: Geneva, Illinois
Duck Poutine: Fries are delicious, but poutine is better… especially when it has duck! It’s got a crispy fry base, pulled duck breast, local cheese curds, homemade gravy. It’s all about this gravy and the freshness of all the ingredients that pulls this savory and salty plate together. Meant for sharing…. but that doesn’t mean I will if I return:)
FRIED FOOD (SWEET)
Cafe du Monde: New Orleans, LouisianaBeignets: Fried dough. Powdered sugar. Possible addictive drugs? Regardless, the best thing from the best place to get them from.
Owen and Alchemy: Logan Square
#21: The only juice on this list is probably even more expensive than some of the alcoholic drinks! At $11.50 the blueberry, basil, lime, himalayan sea salt juice is legit, and seriously, I am not going to juice my own blueberries… #sorrynotsorry for putting this hipster find on my best of 2015;)
Tiztal Cafe: UptownChilaquiles: There’s nothing that makes me more happy than brunch that is also mexican food. And I have yet to find a place that rivals Titzal when it comes to Chilaquiles. This is absolutely one of my favorite meals probably ever:) Tiztal chilaquiles are made with fresh tortilla chips, green salsa, topped With baked chihuahua cheese, chopped onions, fresh cilantro, with eggs served scrambled and your choice of meat and their delectable breakfast potatoes.
ORD Pizzeria: Ravenswood The TC Pizza: I can’t believe I only discovered this pizza 38 weeks ago according to my instagram feed. I was already impressed when ORD opened up as a great neighborhood pizza place, but the TC is my JAM! It’s made with sliced spicy coppa, fresh pineapple, pickled jalapeno, shaved red onion, fresh cilantro with mozzarella and crushed tomato sauce. Sweet, spicy, savory, EVERYTHING that makes me happy about pizza. Literally a party in your mouth.
Parkway Bakery and Tavern: New Orleans, Louisiana
Shrimp Po’ Boy: You can eat all the sandwiches in the world, but the simplicity of a poor boy is where it’s at. Plus is there anything better than fried seafood on your sandwich?
Los Dos: Downers Grove, IllinoisPeppers & Cheese Tacos: These tacos were made with the freshest most tastiest tortillas on the planet. Los Dos is on my list to go back to in 2016 to try some of their carnivorous options!
Found Kitchen: Evanston, IllinoisMasala Fried Cauliflower (with pickled celery yogurt, pea tendrils): The healthier fried food, is a thing. I’ve tried quite a few versions of friend cauliflower in 2015, and I have to say that regardless of being cauliflower, this is a delicious dish. Healthy, not healthy, I don’t care, I loved it!
Tis’ the season to drink and eat locally. Here’s a few of my favorite places to indulge in the best chocolatey treats in Chicago!
Fannie May Candies
Fannie May was founded in Chicago on La Salle Street in 1920. Even though it was sold off to 1-800-Flowers in 2006, this candy store still carries on it’s traditions.
Fannie May’s trademarked sweets are some of the most popular in my family. Pixies were my late grandpa’s favorite. His face would light up and he’d always give me a very over-dramatized face to show his excitement to have one. Trinidad’s are another Fannie May classic, which will be snatched up by my grandma this holiday season.
Margie’s is more than just candies, it’s an ice cream shop too! This holiday season is filled with cookies, candy and all things warm and fuzzy. Which totally includes super shareable sundaes with loved ones right?
Even if you’re not stopping by to indulge in their ice cream treats, they have tons of hand-dipped candies and a variety of sweets to share at all your holiday gatherings.
Mindy’s Hot Chocolate
Two words, liquid indulgence. Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, has HOT CHOCOLATE in the name! How could it not be amazing!?
Mindy’s isn’t just a great place to have dessert, there’s a great full menu that changes seasonally. Mainstays, that will keep you warm and satisfied this winter are the burger and mac & cheese.
Mindy’s Hot Chocolate is located at 1747 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647. If you’re not local to Chicago, check out Mindy’s website to purchase hot chocolate mix and her book Cookie Love! You’ll be able to recreate the whole experience at home.
Vosges Haut Chocolate
Vosges is distributed across the country and well-known for it’s unique combinations. All the founder hand-picks flavors from around the globe, it’s original location in Lincoln Park is a delight, and worth a visit to sample the goods before you buy. Some of my favorites are the Barcelona Exotic Chocolate Bar and Bapchi’s Caramel Toffee.
Mixology and cocktails are trending in Logan Square, West Loop and other “hip” neighborhoods in Chicago. One of my favorite hidden gems for drinks in the North Center/Lincoln Square area is Tiny Lounge.
When it’s warm out, it’s one of my favorite places to chill out on the patio with friends.
But since I’m posting this in December, it’s a great spot to escape the cold with their sleek bar and lounge-like feel, it’s one classy joint without being pretentious.
They have a great selection of wine, beer and cocktails. And when it comes to cocktails, they want to mix up something that’s right for you. So for the bourbon guy in your crew, they offer the Sobourbon drink with bulleit bourbon, averna amaro, solerno blood orange liqueur, ginger beer, fresh lemon juice, and orange bitters.
For the ladies who are looking for more than your average cosmo, try the Robusti Spritz made with tito’s handmade vodka, aperol, fresh lemon juice, fresh orange juice, and a splash of prosecco.
And of course sometimes you’re feeling adventurous, or just want to try something seasonal, and this new cider cocktail tastes like APPLE PIE!
Hungry after all those drinks? They have a delicious assortment of shareable bites for dinner or snacks. They offer a few flatbreads from chicken cesar (pictured below) or if you’re more of a traditionalist go with the margherita.
And of course one of the best things on the menu in my personal opinion are the fried wisconsin cheese curds which comes with a chipotle mayo sauce that will rock your world!