Here are some of the places we visited.
Bar Toma with my dear friend from medical school, Bonnie. Also in town was her (and our) friend Eric. It was an absolutely perfect Chicago night. Pleasant temperature in the sun, pleasant temperature after sundown, just perfect! Bar Toma is a great spot, flush with all the usual accolades of a fabulous chicago spot including Time Out Chicago Eat Out Award 2012 best new pizza, Food and Wine best new pizza, Chicago Magazine's 20 best new restaurants. The chef is Tony Mantuano from Spiaggia which is the only 4 star Italian restaurant in Chicago. He's also the chef at Terzo Piano (see my review here) on the roof of the Modern Wing of the Art Institute. Bottom line: the pizza is fabulous with interesting fresh ingredients and the place walks the walk in addition to talking the talk as noted above.
|The sauce parade on every table.|
Thursday night we headed to an old favorite (actually, I think it's only been around for a few years but we go there so frequently it seems like it's 'old' in the best sense of the word!), Lillie's Q on North Avenue. This is a BBQ joint. The next question out of any self-respecting BBQ lover would then be what kind of BBQ? The answer is ALL! Texas style focuses on the meat preparation with lots of wood cooked meats and often no sauce. North Carolina style involves vinegar or mustard based sauces. And Memphis style (my personal favorite) involves sweeter, tomato based sauces with variable amounts of heat. All are good and in the hands of Lillie's Q chefs, all are great! Other amazing tastes include the fried pickles and the shrimp and grits. So good!
Oh, and they have moonshine! Adam enjoyed many a moonshine cocktail waiting for us gals to arrive and he definitely recommends the adult 'Cherry Coke'. I was lucky enough to have a night with two of my very favorite women in the world as Sara joined us direct from San Francisco. I'm so lucky to have such great friends from different phases of my life who get along so well. I swear they were planning a vacation together and they weren't planning on inviting me! (Don't worry, I invited myself.)
|Bonnie, me, Sara|
Flo & Santos. They do one thing and they do it well. We paired our pizza with a super nutritious (but absolutely delicious) basket of onion rings (don't judge- we were preparing for our triathlon!) and a couple (few?) glasses of Allegash Whites. F & S is a Polish themed sports bar with exposed brick, 'tavern style' pizza, peirogies and plenty of friendly bartenders. The chef/owner was intrigued by our body marking and after chatting with us a while kept our steady supply of beer going gratis:)
Saturday night after making all our triathlon preparations, working out, and napping, Sara and I rallied to check out the brand new City Winery. This is a great spot on Randolph- one of a string of many good spots on Randolph, but definitely one worth checking out. It's a HUGE space, with a great outdoor eatery, a large bar area, a really huge main eating area as well as cute eating nooks on an upper level and by the fireplace, and more tables in a separate room with a stage where small bands and comedians put on shows. They make their own wine with grapes from various regions. I had a great Cabernet Franc from some Russian River (CA) grapes, delicious! We started with Risotto Balls, which were good but fried to my surprise. For meals, Sara tried the Seawater Tofu Steak and I had the duck breast. Both were very good. We then had the lava filled chocolate cake for dessert. The food was as good as expected, but not better than expected. But the great space and the excellent house wines make it worth a visit.
I almost forgot to mention brunches! Yes, the girls and I became ladies who lunched/brunched for a few days. Twice we visited the very convenient and almost impossibly popular Wildberry just down the street from our apartment. This is a solid brunch spot with something for everyone. It's not super chic and not super unique but has all the usual offerings including omelets, skillets, specialty benedicts, with plenty of dessert type offerings such as tiramisu pancakes and red velvet french toasts. The place often has a huge gathering of people outside but has many tables both inside and out thus the line moves quickly.
Perennial-Virant is another good brunch spot especially for those in the Old Town area. It's a trendy spot for dinner and increasingly becoming a top ten brunch spot in Chicago, which is a competitive space in which to excel. Adam had the 2 egg skillet with black beans, chow-chow, spiced onion, smoked capriko cheese, and cilantro. I had the local tomato salad with cantaloupe, pickled watermelon vinaigrette, candied pistachios and basil with a side of cheesy grits. Sara had the omelette w/ mouton frays, shaved summer vegetables and pesto. Oh, and we of course sampled both the mimosas and the bloody mary's and we were all satisfied:)
It was a great week of socializing, eating and drinking. I must admit, though, I'm ready for some home (Adam) cooked meals:)