But first, Coffee… Iced Edition

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.

Star Lounge

This place serves up Dark Matter Coffee, which is hands down probably one of the best roasters in the city.  There are two other locations and a few spots like the West Town Bakery where you can get a taste of their delicious Chocolate City Cold Brew on tap.

Eats and Sweets

This is a fantastic little neighborhood spot serving up Two Brothers Maelstrom Cold Brew on tap.  This iced coffee with a splash of cream makes for a decadent treat anytime you pop in!  Tastes just as good without cream, I’m just a milk whore with my coffee;)

Saigon Sisters

Delicious Vietnamese sandwiches, baos, and more, so what more could you ask for?  A delicious, creamy, sweet and slightly bitter drink with a caffeine boost to counteract the food coma you’re in from the amazing food!? Grab an iced Vietnamese coffee with your meal or to go, and you won’t be disappointed.  Saigon Sisters has three locations you can check out.


Beatrix offers you a healthy bulletproof hot coffee option, but they’ve got the RD of iced coffees… La Colombe’s Nitro is like drinking a beer for breakfast but with a boost of caffeine and no hangover by lunch.  Check out the nitro by Colombe at one of Beatrix’s two locations or one of the La Colombe locations where they also have a latte on tap!

Asado Coffee Roasters

Asado is such an underrated coffee roaster in the city compared to the many that have popped up.  I think they make one of the BEST iced lattes I have ever had.  They don’t offer any specialty flavor syrups, just cane sugar if you want to add some sweetness to your coffee.  How could you though when you drink an iced latte that tastes this smooth?  It’s hard to make espresso blend well when iced, because of the nature of it’s bitterness being masked when hot, but this is delish! Check out one of their two locations.

Iced Military Latte from Sawada Coffee

 Admittedly this drink is pretty darn instagrammable when it’s hot, but what tastes great hot is also delish when cold.  And, let’s talk about this latte that has literally been brought to the next level of amazingness.  Green Tea latte PLUS espresso!?  Sign me up for that extra boost any day!  Oh and if it’s 5 o’clock somewhere in your world, feel free to indulge in some of their boozy options like their Sawada Style Cold Brew, which is their iced coffee with shochu, because why not?!

Iced Nutella Mocha from Dollop

An iced Mocha is delicious, but an iced NUTELLA mocha is da bomb!  Dollop has been expanding through out Chicago like crazy, because their delightful coffees and teas have been satisfying us for years up in uptown.  It’s great to see more options to hit them up at one of their nine locations.

Iced Coffee your way from Julius Meinl

Sometimes you just want to sit down to coffee like royalty.  You’ll get table service and the royal treatment at Julius Meinl.  Not only do they have a delightful spread of pastries and brekky items, but their lattes and coffees always hit the spot for me.  An austrian brand giving you a unique experience in Chicago.  For a relaxed pick me up, hit up one their spots around the city.
What’s your favorite iced bevvy?  Where do you like to go to refuel on a hot day!?  Let me know by commenting below, because I could always use more coffee in my life!  #ButFirstCoffee
M - Signature - Meghan Phillipp - North and Red

Hype or the Real Deal? Instagram’s Famous Food

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 Infatuation - North And RedThe 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!

M - Signature - Meghan Phillipp - North and Red

Music Monday: #MondayMotivation

Happy May!  I’m super excited about today’s Music Monday post, because not only is it a brand new month, it’s also my half birthday!

For me this is that time of year when I think about what I’ve accomplished at <Insert Age>.  Since my birthday last November, I have undergone a lot of changes.  And although I don’t always notice it on a daily basis, I do feel that I have grown a lot.  With that said, today I’m super excited to kick off May with a #MotivationMonday #MusicMonday Playlist!

One of the things I struggle to stay motivated with is working out.  Last year at this time I started preparing to run my very first 5k run ever.  How does someone that doesn’t like running get motivated to run a 5k you ask?  With amazing tunes to keep me pumped and a handy dandy iphone app called 5k Runner Pro ($2.99 at the itunes and android app stores).

Over the course of this 8 week program (3 days a week) of runs, you can literally go from not having run in years to being able to run a 5k!  I am NOT a runner, but this was an easy to follow program that you listen to while you’re exercising instructing you to run and walk in intervals.  This process of upping the intervals over the 6 weeks is so gradual and doable that by the end, you’re ready for race day!

In addition to getting your interval instructions, you can play your own music in the background and still get your walking/running instructions.  Today’s #MusicMonday list is perfect for training, because I have curated this list to be 45 minutes with a  warm up and cool down built into the mix, so you can have a great work out!

~M~ Tip: Thinking about doing a run or walk/run… here’s a link to find one near you!  Sometimes just setting a date to do a race is the motivation you need to start training!  GO FOR IT!

M - Signature - Meghan Phillipp - North and Red

PS This list is all about Female Empowerment, but that’s not to say there aren’t some serious jams by some dudes out there! So there will be more #MotivationMonday lists to come. I Promise!

Garfield Park Conservatory

Happy April!  In Chicago, our weather is unpredictable and it’s not quite “April Showers bring May flowers.”  So if you’re visiting Chicago or tired of the Chicago winter weather my new favorite way to escape is the Garfield Park Conservatory!

Garfield Park Conservatory - Chicago - North and Red

The conservatory has been there for over 100 years, I have lived in or around Chicago for over 30 and I can’t believe I just discovered this fantastic place!  What’s great is admission is always FREE so whether you’re looking to sit and meditate in the Desert Oasis House or take the whole family to enjoy the Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden.

Garfield Park Conservatory - Spring Garden Show - Chicago - North and Red

If you’re ready for Spring in Chicago like I am you should check out the Annual Spring Flower Show, Colorwise featuring Luftwerk’s conservatory-wide installation Solarise.  

2016 Spring Flower Show: Colorwise
Horticulture Hall at the Garfield Park Conservatory
Runs February 13th – May 8th during Conservatory Hours

The Garfield Park Conservatory is Located at 300 North Central Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60624.  There’s parking available and it’s also accessible via the CTA Green Line (Conservatory/Central Park Station).

You can find another great article about the Garfield Park Conservatory and more Chicago finds from my fellow spotters and I at Spotted by Locals: Chicago Edition.

M - Signature - Meghan Phillipp - North and Red

Egg-celent Brunches for Easter or Just ‘Cause

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.

M - Signature - Meghan Phillipp - North and Red

Saint Patrick’s Day: 9 of Chicago’s Best Irish Bars

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!


Music Monday: Brunch and Broadway in Chicago

I had the absolute pleasure of taking my mom to finally see Beautiful the musical based on Carol King’s life this past weekend. The staging, the music, everything about the production was magical.  It captures the spirit and role that Carole King’s life has had in the music world.

photo cred: link

The audience’s response was roaring with positive responses throughout the show.  The musical’s score ranges from her early days of writing songs like “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” originally sung by The Shirelles and “Up on the Roof” performed by the Drifters, to her own triumph as a solo artist with songs from her album Tapestry.

photo cred: link

Beautiful is being performed at the Oriental Theater on Randolph Street as a part of the 2015-16 Broadway in Chicago Season.  Tickets and more information is still available for the remainder of the shows run now through February 21st at BroadwayInChicago.com.


Planning your trip to see Beautiful or another Broadway in Chicago show?  My mom and I had the pleasantry of attending the matinee performance, so we made a reservation at Cochon Volant Brasserie just a few blocks from the Oriental Theater and some of the other theaters apart of the Broadway in Chicago network.

This fantastic hidden gem in the loop is a great destination for locals and tourists alike.  It’s connected to the Hyatt Centric Hotel in the Loop, but doesn’t have hotel food vibes.  This quaint brasserie exudes elegance, but is a completely approachable and casual atmosphere.

Indulge in a classic dish like their croque monsieur….

Croque Monsieur: French Country Ham, Gruyere, Hot Mustard w/ frites

Or go for something new like the veggie friendly, Super Green Benedict.

Super Green Benedict: House made english muffin, avocado, spinach, crispy artichoke, hollondaise w/ breakfast potatoes

Brunch is fantastic, but if you’re there for lunch during the week or dinner sometime, the Burger is absolutely LEGIT and may be one of the best burgers in Chicago now, if not at least the top 5!

Les Cheeseburger Royale
Les Cheeseburger Royale: Prime dry-aged beef, crispy bacon, confit onion, american cheese, dijonnaise, house pickles

Stop in or make a reservation at Cochon Volant when you’re heading to a show or just going to be in the Loop.  It’s located at 100 W Monroe, Chicago, IL 60603.

Spacca Napoli

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.  

photo cred: link

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.  

photo cred: link

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.

photo cred: link

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.  

Spacca Napoli is located at 1769 W Sunnyside Ave, Chicago, IL 60640.

photo cred: link

You can find another article about Spacca Napoli written by me and more Chicago finds at Spotted by Locals: Chicago Edition.


Spotted by Meghan

On the eve of my 30th Birthday in 2013, my cousin and I had the opportunity to travel to Spain and Italy.  As a self-proclaimed foodie, I was on a mission to eat and drink my way through each day and make the most of our time.  In preparation for our travels I read blogs and guidebooks to help us navigate.  I came across several great sources including a blog called Spotted by Locals that featured articles written by locals for two of the cities we would be visiting (Barcelona and Rome).

September 2013: Florence, Italy

Our trip came and went, and it was fantastic!  I had finally checked Italy off my bucket list of places to visit before I turned 30, discovered my love of Cava and manchego cheese in Barcelona, had a Julia Roberts Eat, Pray, Love pizza moment at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Naples, drank limoncello and sang karaoke with locals and tourists in Sorrento and drank the best espresso of my life at Sant Eustachio caffe in Rome.  

September 2013: Rome, Italy

To say that I was bitten by the travel bug, would be an understatement.  I was engulfed with cultural delights and have been making every effort to try new things and discover new places ever since.  It’s probably a cliche to say that I was on a trip to self discovery when I was only gone for two weeks, but in all honesty, it’s the truth.  I came back with a renewed sense of the world and myself.  

Part of my self discovery took longer for me to realize and appreciate.   When I returned from my trip, I was contacted by Bart and Sanne, the founders of Spotted by Locals to become a local Chicago Spotter.  Contributing to Spotted by Locals has been more than just writing articles and posting photos.  It’s been an opportunity for me to explore and discover unique places in Chicago and has opened doors for me both personally and professionally.

A year after I started writing for Spotted by Locals, I had the awesome chance to attend the 2014 Spotters Weekend in Amsterdam where I met over 100 spotters from across Europe and North America.  As one of the furthest travelers, I was humbled by how welcoming and encouraging all of my fellow spotters were for me to be in attendance. Over the course of three days, I made friends for life with people from all walks of life and different cultural backgrounds.  This was a wild experience and made me reflect on the fact that it all started the year before when I was surfing the internet to plan my trip to Italy and Spain.

My contributions as a Spotter have helped me grow immensely and is one of the many reasons I started this blog.  Spotted By Locals has expanded to new cities, launched a brand new Android App and updated the maps on iOS. I’m so proud to be a contributing member to this platform and hope that the next time you visit a new city, you check out what the locals have to say.  

November 2014: Amsterdam, Netherlands Spotted By Locals Weekend 2014 Photo Credit: SpottedbyLocals
November 2014: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Spotted By Locals Weekend 2014 Photo Credit: SpottedbyLocals

For local tips from me about Chicago, check this out!  If you’re traveling in Europe or North America, check out what some of my fellow spotters have to say about their cities here!  


Best Things I Ate & Drank in 2015

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

photo cred: link

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 
IMG_8196Breakfast 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

IMG_7209Rosé 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 IMG_3994Butterscotch 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 FullSizeRender-1Boso 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 IMG_3456The 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.

John’s Drive In: Montauk, New York
IMG_7298Sprinkles 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.

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:)

Cafe du Monde: New Orleans, Louisiana
IMG_8499Beignets: Fried dough. Powdered sugar.  Possible addictive drugs?  Regardless, the best thing from the best place to get them from.

Owen and Alchemy: Logan Square
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#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: Uptown
FullSizeRender-10Chilaquiles: 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 
IMG_6595 (1)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

IMG_8271Shrimp 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, Illinois
IMG_3627.2015-03-13_191701Peppers & 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, IllinoisIMG_9903Masala 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!