Dinner, Meatpacking District

Girl and the Goat

Girl and the Goat
Dinner

Neighborhood: Meatpacking District
Address: 809 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60607
Phone Number: (312) 492-6262
Website

Price Range: $40-70
Our Rating: 5 out of 5

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Classic trendy restaurant atmosphere…great for ambience, horrible for picture-taking

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Wood Grilled Broccoli making rice krispies fancy

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Goat empanadas, porfa!

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Yeah even the starter bread was unbelievable.

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Fall-off-the-bone braised pork shank

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Is this your first time at the Girl and the Goat, lover?

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Pig Face…plus an egg.

What We Tried: Wood Grilled Broccoli, Sweet Tomato Corn Bread, Pan Seared Diver Scallops, Goat Empanadas, Crisp Braised Pork Shank, Peaches and Blueberry Buckle, Zucchini Bread, Chocolate Brownie with Basil Gelato

Our Take: We’re becoming semi-Meatpacking District groupies, but I’m not mad about it. After crossing Publican off our list, we had to make it across the street to the next hot spot on our list, Girl and the Goat. Girl and the Goat is another one of those places where you need a reservation two months in advance to get a table for three at 8:45 pm on a Wednesday. But, as always, it’s worth it.

We chose an item from every section of the menu, and then our waiter came up with “a plan” (his words) for the order in which our dishes would arrive from the kitchen. You share all the plates, family-style—probably a good thing, because this is the kind of restaurant you bring up three months later (“Remember that wood grilled broccoli? I dream about it!”), and you need people who can relate.

My favorite dish? The scallops. But you shouldn’t be surprised there. The goat empanadas were a revelation, and tasted very different from the goat I ate all summer in Nepal. (Though both were a sign of a special occasion). And the wood-grilled broccoli? Now I can see where those people who eat grilled cauliflower instead of steak are coming from. Total game-changer: the pig face. Which…is an actual pig’s face. Click here to see how it’s made. Or don’t.

–Carolyn

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Dinner, Wicker Park

Big Star

Big Star
Lunch, Dinner

Neighborhood: Wicker, Park
Address: 1531 N Damen, Chicago, IL 60622
Phone Number: 773.235.4039
Website

Price Range: $9-14 (without drinks)
Our Rating: 5 out of 5

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Queso Fundido – tastes better than it looks

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*insert praising hands emoji here*

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Waste Not, Want Not.

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It was that good.

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Still pretty unclear which one this was.

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When things got dicey.

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Tostada de Hongos (Mushroom Tostada) was INCREDIBLE.

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Yep, don’t know what this is. But it was good!

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Meredith tries to be ~artsy*

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It’s the thought that counts, right?

What We Tried: Chips & Guacamole, Queso Fundido, Taco de Pescado, Taco al Pastor (went like 8 deep on this one), Tostada de Hongos, Taco de Panza (?), Taco de Pollo

Our Take: This is how your trip to Big Star will probably go: You will arrive at around 4:00(?) in the afternoon on a Saturday after a Cubs rooftop (okay, the last part might be just us). You will find that the wait is rather long, so you will get a pitcher (or 2) of Big Star’s ridiculously good margaritas from one of their hipster bartenders and realize that waiting isn’t all that bad. Then, when you are finally seated, you will ask for more of the margs from Heaven. You will order chips and guac and some odd-looking yet amazingly delicious cheesey dip that you will later look up and find out is called Queso Fundido. Then, you will realize that you need to take pictures for your food blog, but your friends have already devoured all of the apps. You will then crack up and take photos of your blog partner/roommate/bestie and her “guac fingers.” You will lose count of the marg pitchers at this point. Somewhere in there you manage to order your tacos, and thank goodness you do. Because it is love. It’s that can’t-sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over-the-fence, World Series kind of stuff. Not just infatuation, it’s true love. These are quite possibly the best tacos you’ve ever eaten. You will probably go on to make some questionable decisions that evening, but you will know that Big Star was not one of those questionable decisions. The next morning, you will wake up and realize that, while you remembered to take pictures, the focus is just a tad off. So you vow to go back. “For the blog.”

-Meredith

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Bars, Dinner, River North

25 Degrees

25 Degrees
Lunch, Dinner

Neighborhood: River North
Address: 736 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60654
Phone Number: N/A
Website

Price Range: $10-20
Our Rating: 2 out of 5

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What We Tried: Number One Burger (Caramelized Onion, Vella Tomato, Aderkasse Reserve, Bacon, Arugula, Thousand Island), Craft Your Own Burger (Caramelized Onion, Portobello Mushroom, Cottonwood River Cheddar, Garlic Aioli), Craft Your Own Burger (Caramelized Onion, Roasted Red Pepper, Avocado, BBQ Sauce), Fries, Onion Rings, Sweet Potato Fries

Our Take: If there is one thing that this place has going for it, it is a decent vibe (repurposed garage, exposed brick, etc.). The buck pretty much stops there, though. Let’s start with drinks. The menu suggests you ask your server about the month’s “craft beer” selections. Now I am a loyal Michigander and celebrate Oberon Day like it is birth of my firstborn, but I don’t think having Oberon on your way-too-short-for-a-burger-bar beer list along with Stella and Miller Lite makes it a “craft” beer list. We ended up settling on a few Revolution Rosa Hibiscus Ales (one of like 2 legit craft beers), which was not exactly what we were looking for when asking the waiter but whatevs.

Then we got to the burgers. I asked the waiter for a smoky cheese suggestion (my favorite’s gouda). To my surprise, he didn’t suggest the smoky mozz (too obvious), but a cheddar instead. I went with it because he’s the expert, right? Wrong. It was tangy and way overpowered the other flavors in my burger (not that there were many). Instead of long strips of deeply caramelized onions and a marinated or seasoned portobello, I got a few chopped up and quickly sautéed onion bits and some flavorless shrooms. Then there was the meat itself. Word to the wise: While sirloin is a great cut of meat for a burger, it’s also very easy to butcher (hehe). As in, you can’t just leave it on the grill as long as you want. My medium burger didn’t even have a trace of pink. The bun was a non-factor.

Finally, sides. The fries were just okay. They had good flavor and crispiness, but with the skinny kind you have to either go limp and greasy or dark and crispy. These fries were a very unappetizing pale shade. The sweet potato fries and onion rings were fine, I guessss. Sorry for the diatribe, but I felt strongly about this one. We thought about going back to try the boozy milkshakes, but just poured bourbon over our Ben and Jerry’s instead.*

*This actually happened.

-Meredith

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Farmer's Market, Lincoln Park, Recipes

Green City Market

Green City Market
Farmer’s Market

Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
Address: 2732 N. Clark St., #302, Chicago, IL 60614
Phone Number: (773) 880-1266
Website

Price Range: $6-30
Our Rating: 4 out of 5

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The vegetable section

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Baked goods

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One of two flower stands–I wish there were more!

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What We Tried: Black Garlic, Peaches, Nectarines, Apples, Apple Cider

Our Take: I came to Green City Market with obnoxiously high farmer’s market standards, thanks to two summers spent in Park City and Saturdays at the Salt Lake City Farmer’s Market. Green City Market looks bigger from the outside than it actually is, but it has everything you need in terms of fresh fruits and veggies. There are a couple stands each for jams, sauces, and cheese, and two or three baked goods stalls. One corner of the market is devoted to food vendors. We didn’t stop at any of the food vendors, but the line for the savory spinach crepes was down the block, and people were raving about some kind of bacon cookie. My only complaint? Everything was very expensive. I purchased five peaches for $6, but other than that, I couldn’t afford much else. (Although, as soon as I get my next paycheck, I will be treating myself to a package of black garlic) I am fully in favor of eating local and supporting nearby farms, but I also need to pay my rent. Maybe someday! 

So, we went to Jewel and bought all the same vegetables that we wanted to buy at the farmer’s market, instead. At Jewel, I also participated in an in-store contest where you stood inside a glass box and tried to grab paper dollar bills as they flew around. Which was maybe the exact opposite of the farmer’s market. But hey, the nectarines we bought at Jewel were still gone in two days, and Meredith and I made an excellent dinner of cauliflower pizza with three different toppings. (Kale, Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onion; Eggplant and Pepper, and Peach, Arugula, and Balsamic). Speaking of balsamic, see below. You can just pretend I bought the strawberries at the farmer’s market.

-Carolyn

PS. My must-make recipe of the moment: 

Balsamic

Balsamic Roasted Strawberries (Before roasting)

Balsamic Roasted Strawberries

Ingredients:
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1-2 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a small baking dish with parchment paper. 
2. Combine liquid ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Add in strawberries and toss until they are well coated. Transfer the contents to the baking dish. Be sure to drizzle out all the sauce from the bowl into the baking dish, too.
3. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until the balsamic vinegar is thick and syrupy.
4. Let cool, and then store in a closed mason jar (or any kind of container) in the refrigerator. 

Use the strawberries as an addition to salad, pasta, yogurt, oatmeal, ice cream, or even on their own. I made a zucchini noodle pasta salad with them, which I am posting below:

Zucchini Pasta Salad with Balsamic Roasted Strawberries, Avocado, and Pistachios

Ingredients:
Salad Greens, I prefer a Spring Mix
Balsamic Roasted Strawberries (see above)
25-30 shelled pistachios
1 avocado, cubed
Zucchini Noodles (We own a spiralizer, see how to make zucchini noodles here
Rice Vinegar
Balsamic Vinegar

Directions:
1. Place the first five ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Dress the salad with one turn around the bowl each of the rice vinegar and balsamic vinegar. 
3. Toss, and serve. 

The salad of the summer

The salad of the summer

 

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Breakfast and Brunch, Coffee, Lakeview

Heritage General Store

Heritage General Store
Coffee Shop

Neighborhood: Lakeview
Address: 2959 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60657
Phone Number: (773) 245-3005
Website

Price Range: $3-7
Our Rating: 5 out of 5

Studies have shown that hanging at Heritage Coffee makes you more awesome than the general population.

Studies have shown that hanging at Heritage General Store makes you more awesome than the general population.

What We Tried: Iced Coffee

Our Take: People demand bikes and coffee, and Heritage General Store has both. Heritage is Chicago’s original bike cafe. (Read their story here) The store sells and fixes bikes, organizes rides with a bike club I wish I were cool enough to be a part of, and makes really good coffee. All the coffee is Stumptown (hey, Portland!), and the treats are made by local bakers like Southport Grocery or Bang Bang Pie. And you know a place is hip when it’s featured in Kinfolk. I don’t live in Lakeview, but you know I will be coming back here to sip another soy cafe misto and pretend I own a bike. 

-Carolyn

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Coffee and bikes–now that’s a concept!

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The in-cafe repair shop

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Sit outside

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Outdoor eating area

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Dessert, Lakeview

Popcorn Asylum

Popcorn Asylum
Dessert

Neighborhood: Lakeview
Address: 68 W. Hubbard Street, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone Number: N/A
Website

Price Range: $6-9
Our Rating: 4.4 out of 5

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Modern interior sets the tone

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They let you sample any flavor! (Pictured: Mexican Hot Chocolate)

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What We Tried: Cookies ‘n Cream, Strawberry Balsamic, Blueberry Balsamic, Mexican Hot Chocolate

Our Take: Friendly service, inventive decor, and a delicious product a good popcorn shop does make. Founded by two brothers and their friend, the trio is constantly creating new flavors for us to enjoy. Flavors start with either a cheese or caramelized base and range from savory to spicy to sweet. The best part is that every flavor still maintains the light, airy nature of popcorn, unlike a certain famous Chicago popcorn chain. So light that you and your roommate could polish off two bags without even noticing (not that we would know). We LOVED the balsamic flavors. Keep an eye on Popcorn Asylum’s latest flavors on their Facebook page or website, and be sure to stop in soon!

-Meredith

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