Tuesday, August 14, 2012

top chicago finds, thus far

fancy, steakhouse
river north

ever so grateful to be invited for dinner by my very amazing gal friend rikki davidoff and her vivacious mama sandra. it's a fine dining staple in the city and once finishing our exquisite meal of meals, i can attest to all the praise. that's a medium rare new york strip alongside lobster mac and cheese, soft crab gnocchi and their dessert platter but all you need to know is 'butter cake.' side note - they do to go orders in case getting too dressed up pains you. rikki tells a great "i devoured the butter cake before making it home" story. 

cool kids, american wine bar
logan square

when the charming and adventurous mr. david denberg decided to pay the midwest a visit, i immediately thought of telegraph as a dinner option for many reasons. great write-ups, located in an up and coming neighborhood and well, its wine menu is designed around the food. 

what a dashing time. delightful service amidst a small dim lit room, to a super-duper good squab dish and wine that helps connect the dots. wonderful things are happening at this spot, won-dah-full.

nori sushi
classic, japanese
lincoln park

a byob in lincoln park keeping the masses happy is nori. one of my first chicago friends was elena montalvo, an open minded spirit always ready for a good time. her happy-go-lucky roommate ali johnson dined at nori for her birthday and each roll got better and better. her sweet boy jimmy recommended wonderful rolls, highlights were: chicago crunchy crazy (unagi, escolar) & shrek (smoked salmon, jalapeno.)

i want more-y.

cafe, cheese shop
the loop

it's safe to say that cheese makes this girl rrreally happy. when my foodie friend eddie and i were making lunch plans towards the loop, i jumped at trying pastoral becauase of the cheese mecca its supposed to be.

it met all my goat-cow-sheep milk dreams imaginable. they have a crazy long and tempting sandwich menu. we nommed on killer salads and cheese plates on a beautiful summer day in millenium park.

pasta palazzo
new-kitchen, italian
lincoln park

exploration pants on, mai and i wandered the streets on lincoln park and settled on pasta palazzo. mama mia was this a find! super-small space, kitchen open for your viewing pleasure and absolutely everything was homemade. my mouth waters looking at the picture of what i ordered.

linguine with basil pesto - so good, so so good. grateful for the leftovers!

cafe ba-ba-reeba
vibrant, spanish tapas
lincoln park

i can easily say this is one of the most popular and celebrated restaurants in chicago and boy-ba-reeba is it good. Enjoy sangria or choose from a top notch selection of wines to be paired with these two winners: spicy potatoes and pork ribs. The adorably quirky and ever so darling mai tran lives for this place and her and I have had our fair share of visits.

sun wah
old school, chinese/vietnamese

rule of thumb for any ethnic eatery, in my book, is that 75% of the diners should be of actual descent per it's stated cuisine. this is one of them. a delicious, spacious restaurant with a great deal of asian families enjoying their version of sunday brunch in little vietnam town. mai goes on these awesome rants about duck and duck and then more duck that she craves from sun wah so it was only natural for us to wake one sunday stupor and zombie our ways there. 

you're looking at their house-smoked bbq duck, chicken and pork platter. that's what's up.

mercat a la planxa
fancy, spanish tapas
south loop

one of the best days i've had while living in chicago was when the family i babysat for in florida all came to visit. both the kids matthew and amanda are mini-adults (i'm having a hard time accepting the fact that they won't freeze at the ages of 7 & 9 - now that they are 11 & 13.) their mom anne, who has been a close confidant for several years, took us to ironchef jose garces restaurant called mercat. the kids got burgers and we each opted for their steak and chicken entrees. but what you need to order are the phenomenal croquettes served over a darn perfect romesco sauce. we were all happy and red from eating so much romesco.

butcher and the burger
new casual, american
lincoln park

another tasty eatery denberg and i tried was a byob where you build-yo-own-burger. we split a bison, wasabi infused beauty and occasionally stuffed it with french fries, because there is no such thing as too much of a good thing - ya dig?

so many combos to try, so little time.