Dessert, Lakeview

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Dessert

Neighborhood: River North
Address: 3404 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, IL 60657
Phone Number: (773) 348-7139
Website

Price Range: $5-10
Our Rating: 5 out of 5

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Adorable Exterior? Check.

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Expansive (and Enticing) Menu? Check.

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Makes-Your-Stomach-Want-to-Eat-Itself Curb Appeal? Check.

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Cucumber Water? Check. (Ice cream always makes me thirsty; these people think of everything)

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Fresh Ingredients? Check. (Pictured: Sweet Cream Biscuits & Peach Jam, Pineapple Upside Down Cake made with Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt)

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Pure Indulgence? Check. (Pictured: Brown Butter Almond Brittle, The Buckeye State, Salty Graham Gravel, Hand-Whipped Cream, and Extra-Bitter Hot Fudge Sundae)

What We Tried: Goat Cheese with Red Cherries, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, The Buckeye State, Sweet Cream Biscuits & Peach Jam, Pineapple Upside Down Cake – Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt

Our Take: Our first 5 out of 5! Just go. Seriously. Do not stop. Do not collect $200. Just go. First of all, great decor – modern, clean, and fun. And then there’s the smell. I wish I could blog a smell. But I can’t. So just go. Then there’s the ice cream. So inventive! Unique! Mouth-watering! The Goat Cheese with Red Cherries was surprisingly delicious, but I don’t know that I’d want a whole bowl. Good for those who like Original (Tart) froyo. The other flavors were just out of this world. My favorite by far was the Pineapple Upside Down Cake. The fresh cherries were so sweet and mixed with soft and spongy cake – just orgasmic. Is that appropriate to say on here? I don’t care. We will definitely be back. Frequently. For things like a Salty Caramel with Smoked Almonds Ice Cream Sandwich. You should go too. 

-Meredith

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Breakfast and Brunch, Dessert, River North

Firecakes

Firecakes
Breakfast, Dessert

Neighborhood: River North
Address: 68 W. Hubbard Street, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone Number: (312) 329-6500
Website

Price Range: $1.50-5
Our Rating: 4.6 out of 5

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Enticing Signage

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Malted Milk Ball is next on the list

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Donut Ice Cream Sandwich

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Almond Joi Donut

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What We Tried: Donut Ice Cream Sandwich, Almond Joi Donut, Chocolate Hazelnut Long John

Our Take: Donut miss the Ice Cream Sandwich! The thin layer of ice cream moistens the already spongy donut creating a heavenly cool treat. The layer of fudge is just the icing on the cake (quite literally). The Chocolate Hazelnut Long John was also out of this world. The Almond Joi was nice as well, but passable comparatively speaking. We sat on the quaint little patio for about an hour just people watching and enjoying our donuts (let’s be real, the donuts were gone in like 2 minutes). We’ll definitely be back for more!

– Meredith

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Breakfast and Brunch, Wicker Park

Lula Cafe

Lula Cafe
Brunch (Also serving lunch, dinner, and drinks)

Neighborhood: Wicker Park
Address: 2537 N. Kedzie Ave., Chicago, IL 60647
Phone Number: (773) 489-9554
Website

Price Range: $10-17
Our Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Blueberry Basil Buckle

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The Spread

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Bran-Chocolate-Zucchini Muffin

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Breakfast Burrito

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Spanish Tortilla

The bar at Lula Cafe

The bar at Lula Cafe

Our breakfast spread

Our breakfast spread

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What we tried: Iced coffee, Bran-Chocolate-Zucchini Muffin, New Potato Summer Squash Hash, Spanish Tortilla, Peanut Butter Bread Pudding French Toast, and the Breakfast Burrito

Our Take: Show me a group of girls who doesn’t love brunch, and I’ll show you a time I didn’t order the skillet. And at Lula Cafe, all the affection is deserved. We waited for an hour to seat a table of four at 12:30 pm on a Sunday, but the time passed quickly. We grabbed iced coffees at the bar (where I want to return for drinks!), and people-watched until our table was ready. Side note: I especially liked this place for its quirky personality and hipster clientele…made me feel as if I were home in Portland! We went family style “for the sake of the blog.” Meredith and I shared the hash, the tortilla, and the french toast. (They didn’t have a skillet) The hash was the clear winner. Light, colorful, and perfectly cooked. The tortilla was pretty, but not very flavorful. The french toast was bomb if you are into PB. Raves on the burrito, as well. Bonus points for farm-to-table quality and great atmosphere. We will return!

– Carolyn

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Bars, Dinner, River North

Bull & Bear

Bull & Bear
Dinner (Also serving Afternoon and Brunch), Bar

Neighborhood: Old Town
Address: 431 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone Number: (312) 527-5973
Website

Price Range: $9-20, additional $5-14 per alcoholic beverage
Our Rating: 2.5 out of 5 for dining, 4.5 of 5 for bar scene

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$30 Pitcher of Homemade Red Sangria (looks better than it tastes)

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Southwestern Salad: blackened grilled chicken, crisp romaine, napa cabbage, black beans, monterey jack (not pictured), aged cheddar, pico de gallo, tortilla strips, cilantro, chipotle lime vinaigrette

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Asian Skirt Steak Salad: mixed greens, green bean, cherry tomato, carrot, red & yellow bell pepper, crispy wonton strips, honey-miso vinaigrette

What We Tried: Homemade Red Sangria, Asian Skirt Steak Salad, Southwestern Salad, Grilled Steak Tacos

Our Take: Subpar. Our first time at Bull & Bear was for a mid-week dinner out, and we were less than impressed. The homemade Sangria (far inferior to the sangria at Citizen) reminded us of our raspberry Kool-Aid days, and really, who actually enjoyed Kool-Aid? The salads were definitely light on the toppings despite their appealing descriptions (ex: compare the Asian Skirt Steak Salad description with the picture), and the tacos were just okay. We did end up returning later in the week for a fundraiser bar event, and to our surprise ended up having a great time. It was a great scene with even better specials. All in all, Bull & Bear is not a lost cause, as long as you don’t actually eat there. 

-Meredith

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Dinner, Near North Side, River North

Hub 51

Hub 51
Lunch and Dinner

Neighborhood: River North
Address: 51 W. Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone Number: (312) 828-0051
Website

Price Range: $10-20 (before drinks)
Our Rating: 4.8 out of 5

The Seafo

The Seafood Salad

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Pork Tacos

Vegetarian Tacos

Vegetarian Tacos

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Carrot Cake and the Brownie Sundae. Ya gotta.

What We Tried: Hummus Appetizer, Guacamole, Sushi, Vegetarian Tacos, Pulled Pork Tacos, Seafood Salad

Our Take: It’s hard to go wrong at Hub 51. Their American-fusion menu offers you an almost overwhelming number of options, all of them good. The tacos earned rave reviews, and the seafood was very fresh. Fun, energetic (read: loud) environment…no need to go to the exclusive club, Sub 51, downstairs–enjoy the great drink menu at the bar upstairs. Also: order the carrot cake. Or go back just for that.

-Carolyn

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Dinner, Meatpacking District

The Publican

The Publican
Dinner (Also serving Afternoon and Brunch)

Neighborhood: Meatpacking District
Address: 837 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607
Phone Number: (312) 733-9555
Website

Price Range: $18-42
Our Rating: 5 out of 5

What We Tried: The house pickles, fried eggplant with turmeric yogurt and black pepper honey, roasted tomato bruschetta with pancetta and crostini, pork belly, stone fruit crisp and mint-chocolate pudding

Our Take: If offered the opportunity to eat at The Publican, leap! This is the kind of place where you call two months ahead and the only table available for two is at 11 pm, but we waltzed in without reservations at 8:30 pm on a Thursday. You sit either along a lengthy wooden table or inside a gated wooden booth. Either way, your dining companions will be close, even if you don’t know them. Ordering is done family style–which means you get to try a little bit of everything. I even shared a dessert, which is rare! And all of it is out of this world. Our pork belly was perfection, and the eggplant–a last-minute decision–was probably my favorite dish. And the service and presentation? Spot on. The menu changes everyday, but I imagine it is always flawless. We hear the brunch is divine, as well, and, though The Publican is not open for lunch, their deli (right next door to the restaurant), serves up sammies from 10 am to 6 pm. That’s next on my list!

-Carolyn

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Dessert, Uncategorized, Wicker Park

iCream Cafe

iCream Cafe
Dessert

Neighborhood: Wicker Park
Address: 1537 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
Phone Number: (773) 342-2834
Website

Price Range: $4-9
Our Rating: 4.2 out of 5

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What We Tried: White Chocolate Ice Cream with Nutella Swirls and Fresh Raspberries, Chocolate Ice Cream with M and M’s and Fresh Raspberries

Our Take: The concept behind iCream is fantastic. Patrons can quite literally design their own ‘zerts, choosing from ice cream (regular, light, soy, or organic), shakes, yogurt, or hot pudding. They then choose the flavor of their treat, as well as mix-ins and toppings. This is no ordinary Cold Stone, though. Everything is frozen right in front of you using liquid nitrogen! I was skeptical that this place might be sort of gimmicky and more about the experience than the ice cream, but my white chocolate/fresh raspberry/Nutella creation was delightful! There were a few downsides: prices were a little steep for ice cream, mix-ins could’ve been amped up (toasting the coconut, more fruit options), and the atmosphere left something to be desired. It felt more like a harsh fro-yo shop than your friendly neighborhood ice cream shop. I’d suggest taking your treat to-go and strolling the neighborhood while you nom!

-Meredith

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