Saturday, April 30, 2011


I don't know how you could live in Chicago and not go to Artropolis. The entire floor of the mart is transformed into mini art galleries from all over the world. It is still going on and will be until May 2nd so make sure you spend a little time walking the galleries and get to appreciate the creative minds of these artists. It is really amazing what people are capable of.  I went Friday night and it was a nice escape. Especially after a glass of Merlot. :) 
Have a great weekend!


I can't believe it took me this long to get to XOCO. The Rick Bayless high-end sandwich shop has been open for awhile now, just next door to the famous (and more expensive sit-down) Topolobampo. His website showcases his franchise quite well and check out his bio it's an interesting back drop to how he got to where he is and the cuisine he's become so well versed in.

I went on a Friday night around 6 p.m and there was no line. But halfway through the meal the line was literally out the door around like 7. So pick your time wisely. I think if I came back I'd order take-out.
Well here is the rundown. We ordered chips and salsa. They had tomatillo salsa and a 3-chile salsa. I loved both. We ordered the Shortrib Red Chile Soup: Braised Tallgrass shortribs, red chile broth, roasted vegetables, epazote, wild arugula,and lime. Wow. This is my new favorite, next to Pho. It was an amazingly hearty bowl of soup. The shortribs were melting off the bone! Yum. And we ordered the Pepito: Braised Tallgrass shortribs, caramelized onion, artisan Jack cheese, black beans, pickled jalapenos. This torta was from the wood-burning oven. It tasted like a fancy philly steak sandwich. I loved it but I wish it was  little more creative. I think next time I'll order a torta from the griddle. And of course a couple of beers to wash it all down.

I love the energy of this place. Everyone seems to be happy. The employee's are all smiling and happy to answer questions or give you an extra bit of salsa. Now I'm so curious for the other options on the menu that I'll have to come back.
I would recommend XOCO for a quick bite. Just make sure you go on an off time and don't get stuck in line. The wait would be torture!

XOCO on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Changing Spaces

Will adding a green/pink line stop on Lake and Morgan Street change West Loop dining?

But it looks like West Loop is already changing faces, and doing so quite rapidly I might add. Apartment complexes, lofts and buisness sprout weekly. Historically the Fulton River District (or West Loop) was known to be somewhat of a cross-roads to moving people and products. Chicago's first railroad terminal was built along Kinzie and Canal around the 1840's. And between the current Ogilvie station and the Kennedy Expressway this area is still host to moving mass amounts of people and products. Over the years the transportation mecca of the Fulton River district had settled to a warehousing district storing much of the products that were shipped. Flash forward to today and you can still see some of the old warehouses between newly developed condo's.  And the city is taking notice to these changes too. In fact, the CTA is currently in the middle of a $38 million dollar project to add a stop off the Green/Pink lines just west of the loop at Morgan street.
Why does this interest me? Besides avoiding the traffic on Lake street? Because what this stop will likely do for the West Loop dining.
Well-known Restaurant Row sits in this area of rapid change and has been seeing some changes of it's own. Relatively recent additions include Girl & Goat, Maude's, & Haymarket. While Marche and Red Light close their doors I can only imagine the restaurant investors who are quick to swoop up the reputable location.Lets not fail to mention the Northern neighbors Next & Aviary amidst the veteran's Moto and Publican.
The new stop sits just north of Randolph and south of Fulton. What a strategically perfect location that will surely make the vastly un-reachable stretch of Clinton to Ashland more accessible.
And while the clientele to these restaurants are more likely to cab it to their $100+ dinners the buissness owners should take note. Opening up shop in this area is probably a good idea.

So while Fulton Warehouse districts fisheries and meat markets are close to extinction I really hope the roots of this area remain intact. Fulton has become a new cross-roads between the suburbanites on the Metra, the Expressway traffic, the diverse Green line clintele, the horse and buggy's which head toward Michigan Avenue and the well-to-do restaurant row diners. I'm sure this wasn't what the city's first railroad terminal could have ever imagined would might pass along their brick roads back in the late 1800's but kudos to Fulton River for becoming a sort of new new-cross roads. And here's hoping the changes don't over-take this neighborhoods historic charm.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This is Neat

I thought I'd share this. Because it's neat. And has nothing to do with a restaurant. And because this summer I hope to drive to the Pacific Ocean. Maybe I'll stop in Colorado for some Rainbow Trout.
Happy Tuesday.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kuma's Corner

Hi there. Ever eat at Kuma's? Well it's awesome and I suggest you go. My friend Megan and I had amazing burgers/sandwiches at Longman & Eagle a while back and in talking about burgers we realized neither of us have been to Kuma's, the Chicago burger staple. We vowed to check out Kuma's eventually so we dash over mid-week and had no problem being seated. I've heard stories of people waiting hours upon hours but mid-to-early week seems perfect. Her culinary friend- turned nursing student lives in nearby Logan square and joined us. She's had almost every burger on the menu so getting suggestions was nice. Just so you know this is not a place that takes any BS. So the group of college boys that walk in stunned that they can't accommodate their group of 7, please go back to the Tin Lizzie and stop being jerks.

For starters we got the Fried Calamari Spicy Cherry Peppers and Lemon Aioli. The calamari was perfect, not too much breading (hate when that happens) and I loved the crispy lemons and peppers. Next up the burgers. Oh yea, this place is known for these bad boys and I can see why they self proclaim to be the "Best Burgers in Chicago!". Mostly named after heavy metal bands all are served on a pretzel bun and offer unique artery clogging combination's. Please don't bring your vegetarian friend. 

The first burger pictured is: the Goatwhore a 10 oz. patty, fried salami, provolone, & olive giardiniera salad (Sorry for the blurry photo, my pet peeve). Next up the Plague Bringer Roasted Garlic Mayo, Tortilla Strips, House Made Hot Sauce, Fresh Garlic, Pepper Jack, & Sliced Jalapenos.
And finally the Iron Maiden with Avocado, Cherry Peppers, Pepper Jack, & Chipotle Mayo. I got the iron maiden, and it was amazing. I loved the mayo and pepper jack it was a nice spicy touch. The fries were also great. Perfectly golden. Overall we were very pleased with our burgers.

For drinks my friends ordered beers (lagunita's Little Sumpin' ale) while I ordered a Red Apple gourmet soda. I opted for a change of pace and ordered this lovely sweet soda because I've been really into soda flavor combination's lately. I've even started making my own ginger ale from this recipe. Yum.

My first trip to Kuma's was a success. The burgers were great and just what I had expected , if not better. I can't wait to come back and try another.

Kuma's Corner on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bar Deville

Hope you don't mind my random deviations from food talk- to bar talk but it's hard to escape the unique watering holes in Chicago...
So I thought I'd add to my previous post about my weekend and talk about an evening at Bar Deville. I've been here before, and it never fails to disappoint. I stumbled into this place a couple months back after a friend brought us here. I was totally surprised by what I found inside this little Ukrainian Village gem. From the owners of Victory/Empire Liquor they've added a more chill low-key dive to their Empire.

The decor and ambiance are so unlike most common Chicago bars. The front bar is pretty neat, with a back-lit bar and seating all around. The bathrooms are almost ridiculously small but work. The middle room is a pool room with black lacquer walls and a huge creepy Elk hanging front and center. Very much what I picture what my Dad would want out of a man cave. And finally there is the back room, the gem. Don't forget it exists because this is where the dance floor, Dj and other bar are. Not to mention the amazing vintage couches and seating lining the parameter. Where am I? seriously it's like a cross between a vintage store and someone's living room. I love it. The crowd rocks too. A nice (but not overwhelming) mixture of Hipsters, and the like. We're talking more Violet Hour and less Beauty Bar. I especially love the photo-booth (but hey, $5a bit much huh?) and Friday night Dj's.

The drinks in the front room consist of the signature classics along with mixed concoctions. This particular weekend I opted to start with the Sidecar, which left me happy. Realllly happy. If you want something less pungent, try an upscale brew or do as the hipsters do and drink a PBR, regardless they have lots to choose from. Just don't forget to stop at the Atm though, Cash only.

Bar Deville on Urbanspoon


It is officially Spring time in Chicago. Until next week when it will probably snow or something. This was a fun weekend filled with walking the neighborhoods and shopping. Boyfriend and I spent Sat. walking around Milwaukee ave. And after both of us were felt defeated and empty handed we decided to find some grub. So we ducked into Caoba on Damen. To be honest I wasn't filled with high expectations but we were both really craving a seat by the open windows and some beers. Which is what we got.

Great people watching, especially in this trendy 'hood. Boyfriend is quick to point out how this area has really turned into the "new Lincoln Park" only without the Polo's you have American Apparel hipster folk. And although his hood off Division is very close- we admit that area is quickly being taken over by ex-Lincoln Parkers as well. (Not that there's anything wrong with that). 

The food at Caoba is nothing to write home about. Plain Mexican, but without that, something. The salsa was great, so was the veggie burrito but the tacos and tostada's were really bland. I found myself pouring hot sauce and my salsa over it to add some flavor. The happy hour special was nice though - $4.95 for all of the items (including all pictured above) with a purchase of a cocktail. Not bad.

It was a much needed break from shopping to sit back and people watch. A couple hours later we meet up with some friends and enjoyed some classic cocktails, pool and dancing at Bar Deville. A lovely little weekend indeed.

Caoba on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Next Opening

And so the madness ensues after Nick Kokonas wrote on Next's Facebook page (drum-roll please) that they are ready to open. Er, maybe not?  Email's regarding reservations are supposed to be sent out today 500 at a time-  investors and family first. Hopefully? I'm confused, who can keep up anymore. Well apparently the slew of Facebook followers do keep up. I picture this:  enthusiastic Achatz stalkers consistently commenting on how eager they are, hence refreshing their email accounts every second- as sweat trickles down their MacBooks. Ah.

I on the other hand... am hoping to sneak in the back entrance while taking a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood. There's a back door right? Don't mind the girl with the Nikon and crazed look in her eye.

Just kidding. I find the hype comical, and follow along when I can, but I'm not refreshing my email account every minute.. This tricky PR stunt won't fool me! Although, if I happen to come across a table I won't turn it down, duh.

And you thought Schwa was hard to get reservations for.

*4/7/2011 Update*
Tickets were up and running yesterday and sold out today. They'll be opening them here and there so check out the Facebook page for Next Restaurant for updates.
Thus far I've logged in but unable to find a date long enough to actually purchase, they sell out quick. Kudos for the team, but frustration for the diners. Guess I'll check back later! :)

Well I got tickets for May! I was super busy with work etc. this week but patience paid off because I waited until the dust settled and ended up logging in this am to snag a table for 2. Results to follow sometime at the end of May. :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Folklore for drinks


Sorry for the dim lighting but I was trying not to destroy the ambiance of this incredibly alluring restaurant. Folklore's dimly lit interior, stench of grilled meat, and mojitos galore certainly lure you in. Bf and I decided to stop in after my post-dinner mojito craving. Yes, I have random cravings for all things sweet and savory. We've been here for dinner before but never post-dinner for drinks. It ended up being the lovely random date-night.

The bar was a perfect setting to relax and people watch. Our bartender was very sweet and informed me that the blackberry and mango mojitos are made of fresh fruit.  So naturally I got one of each. :) The mango was nice, with a hint of fruit and not too sweet. The blackberry though- WOW. The best mojito I've had in ages. It tasted so fresh and the flavors with the mint were incredible. The bf started with a Manhattan and eventually gave in and got an original mojito. For dessert we ordered the Folklore which was perfect. 

A few sips later a lovely gentleman with a ponytail and guitar begun his acoustic set. It was the perfect compliment to a random and fun night. I love how a walk down your street in Chicago results in a night like this- totally transported to Argentina. I will be coming back for food soon so stay posted.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Thai Village

Well here it is, Thai Village. I've heard stories upon stories about this place and read about the Michelin Bib they got this year, so I finally made a spontaneous trip for dinner. My boyfriend stops in frequently during his lunch breaks and raves about the 5.95$ lunch special, which is really a great deal. First thing he brought to my attention was how it used to be BYOB. We noticed the beer selections so guess they got a liquor license. The beer selection was about as random as the decor: blue moon on tap, Austrian beer, Japanese beer, and my pick - Thai beer. Might was well.

The Singah Thai beer I got was awesome by the way. Totally hit the spot.
I ordered the classic - Pad Thai and he ordered the Kang Ped Phed; which is roasted duck, pineapple, tomatoes, basil and bamboo. His was really good I love the taste of the coconut milk and basil and the bamboo was unique. My Pad Thai was great as well. Simply good. The peanut sauce wasn't too overpowering and with some lime drizzled on top, perfection.

It's really odd inside. The decor doesn't really seem to go together. The chandeliers don't go with the bar that looks somewhat German, and the Victorian framed flower paintings don't really fit either. I don't get it. But who cares, the food is front and center.

I don't get the Michelin people either. What on earth made you decide Thai Village should get a Bib star? I'm not saying it's not deserved, I just wonder how they come up with the qualifications. I'm going to assume it's because of consistency. I bet this place consistently brings out great food and has great service. Regardless, I was pleased and stuffed.  Not blown away, but very pleased.

Thai Village on Urbanspoon