Bars, Breakfast and Brunch, Dinner, Lunch, The Gold Coast

Hash House A Go Go

Hash House A Go Go
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Neighborhood: Gold Coast
Address: 1212 N State Parkway, Chicago, Illinois 60610
Phone Number: (312) 202-0994
Website

Price Range: $7-12
Our Rating: 3.8 out of 5

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Fresh Mushroom, Artichoke Hearts, Sundried Tomato and Fresh Spinach House Hash

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Blackberry Granola Pancake

What We Tried: Blackberry Granola Pancake; Fresh Mushroom, Artichoke Hearts, Sundried Tomato and Fresh Spinach House Hash

Our Take: Before trying out a new spot, Carolyn and I like to check out the restaurant’s Instagram to get a feel for what we’re in for. Our first observation after looking up Hash House A Go Go is that they like to pierce a large number of their meals with steak knives. Maybe it’s to keep these massive meals together? Or maybe it’s the chef’s stamp of approval? Either was good reason enough to check the place out. So we did.

The interior of Hash House has more of a bar-ish vibe (i.e. dim lighting, stainless steel, ironically¬†not ideal for Instragramming), but was pleasant none-the-less. Our wait on a Sunday at primetime (11:45 am) was about an hour, which was okay because we’ve come to realize that wait time is positively correlated with deliciousness (If you don’t believe us, just know¬†the wait at Big Star at 5 pm on Saturday was already upwards of 1.5 hours. And we all know of the deliciousness that is Big Star.). Also, wait time is¬†an opportunity to scope out what other people ordered (an underrated but essential brunching activity).

For as large as my pancake was (and it was large), I was surprised that it wasn’t too dense. It was heavy, sure, but not that undercooked, I-think-I-just-ate-a-small-brick kind of heavy. Regardless, though, I was lucky to take down half of the thing. Bonus points for fresh blackberries and not blackberry sauce¬†because fruit sauce always ends up tasting like medicine.

When you do go, though, I’d recommend going with the namesake dish: a hash. Carolyn’s house hash was positively delicious and led to major order envy. The biscuit was as perfect an accompaniment as the random green sprig coming out of it¬†(the homemade jam wasn’t too shabby either).

tldr; Go for the food not the atmosphere, order the hash, don’t question the steak knives.

-Meredith

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Breakfast and Brunch, Lakeview, River North, Streeterville, The Loop

Yolk.

Yolk.
Breakfast, Lunch

Neighborhood: the Loop, River North, Streeterville, West Loop, Lakeview
Address: Multiple
Phone Number: Multiple
Website

Price Range: $6-14
Our Rating: 4.6 out of 5

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Margarita Frittata

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Tuscan Frittata

What We Tried: Tuscan Frittata, Margherita Frittata, Build-a-Skillet (Among many other things, during many other visits)

Our Take: Yolk is Switzerland. Neutral, but in the best way possible. You can’t not like Yolk, because it has something for everyone. It has trendy food items for your hipster friends (Cajun Portobello Scramble) without being too off the wall for your Plain Janes (Two Eggs and Meat). It has crazy big portions for your guy friends who forget they no longer play football (2X2X2X2 Combo) while still catering to your “I’ll just have half a grapefruit, thanks” friends (half a grapefruit). Something for your Sweet Brunch Enthusiasts (Banana Blueberry Crunch Cakes), as well as your Savory Brunch Enthusiasts (Countryside Skillet). Something for your Health Nuts (South Beach Greek yogurt bowl) and your Couch-Potato-but-Still-Unfairly-Skinny friends (Red Velvet French Toast with a Cinnamon Roll¬†on the side) ((It’s going to catch up to them some day)).

Get the picture? Yolk likes everybody, and everybody likes Yolk.

My Tuscan Frittata was everything I love about food. Sun-dried tomatoes, red potatoes, chicken, fresh basil, goat cheese… so good. Seriously even better than¬†Sunny Side Up‘s amazing frittata. Plus each egg dish comes with a side of toast, pancakes, or english muffin, with only a slight up charge for specialty pancakes (worth it).

The only way this place could improve is with homemade jam and an amped-up muffin game (not worth the splurge for true muffin lovers).

The decor is somewhere between Ann Sather and Hot Chocolate. Not especially hip or eclectic, but bright, sunny, and pleasant. Again, Switzerland. Overall, Yolk is a great place to start your day.

-Meredith

p.s. Bonus points for anyone who finds the two very subtle Parent Trap references hidden in this post.

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Breakfast and Brunch, Coffee, Dessert, Logan Square

!Bang Bang! Pie Shop

!Bang Bang! Pie Shop
Breakfast, Lunch

Neighborhood: Logan Square
Address: 2051 N. California Ave., Chicago, IL 60647
Phone Number: (773) 276-8888
Website

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

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always with a dollop of whipped cream

What We Tried: Sweet Potato Pie, Coffee

Our Take:¬†Last Sunday, I found myself sitting alone in my apartment‚ÄĒmy roommate and friends were all out of town, with family, or working, and I had no plans to meet up with any other acquaintances. As solitary as that sounds, it was exactly what I needed. Commence a perfect Carolyn day: a¬†morning yoga session, deep cleaning the apartment, clearing out my closet at¬†Buffalo Exchange¬†and¬†Crossroads, lunch at¬†Native Foods Cafe, finding out I won a $500 giveaway from one of my favorite bloggers,¬†San Francisco Girl by Bay¬†and¬†Makers Market, and then a solo trip to !Bang Bang! Pie.¬†Liz Lemon¬†would have been proud.

But enough about me. I had been admiring Bang Bang Pie on their¬†instagram¬†for some time, but had been waiting on friends’ availability so I wouldn’t have to order a slice of pie by myself (whoops).

Worth it. Located in Logan Square, Bang Bang serves up classic Midwestern dishes with a twist. Their menu features seasonal pies (such as the caramel apple crumble), classics (chocolate pecan), and a number of savory breakfast biscuits, all made with fresh, seasonal, ingredients. Though the menu is small, and rotates every day, you’ll still have a hard time deciding. After some deliberation, I took a slice of sweet potato pie and a $2 cup of bottomless coffee out to the patio.

It was the happiest and the hippest I’ve felt in a while, and the pie was out of this world. Bang Bang is truly a gem, and I’m going back as soon as I can. And this time, I’m bringing friends.*

Note: Be prepared to wait! Even though I went to Bang Bang at 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon, I still joined a line going out the door. (The shop is small, and growing in popularity). But the line moved fast, and again, it’s worth it.

-Carolyn

* i.e. She is bringing me. – Meredith

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Breakfast and Brunch, Bucktown, Dessert, Dinner, Lincoln Park, Lunch, O'Hare, River North

Goddess & Grocer

Goddess & Grocer
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Neighborhood:¬†Bucktown, River North, Lincoln Park, O’Hare
Address: Multiple
Phone Number: Multiple
Website

Price Range: $7-12
Our Rating: 5 out of 5

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Love this Bucktown location

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Perfect people watching post

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Yes, it’s impossible to choose

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So much yes

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Yes, THAT Jeni’s

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Cutest seating upstairs

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Carolyn ‚̧ al fresco dining

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Homemade granola bars

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Tofu never looked so good

What We Tried: Too many things to try to remember

Our Take: Living around the corner from a¬†Goddess & Grocer is both a blessing and a curse. Ex: It is a blessing the morning after you had a little too much fun¬†at Big Star (not speaking from experience or anything). It is a blessing¬†when you’d rather avoid a night like the one at Big Star and just want to eat dessert and watch a movie with your roommate. It is a blessing when you host a dinner party and forget to defrost the chicken (Again, not speaking from experience). It is a blessing when you and your roommate decide to go on a 5 hour¬†walk without any particular food stops planned. It is a curse when you lose all motivation to cook anything ever (which we do.¬†Cook, that is. Just so you know.).

Anyway, G&G is a mecca for delicious prepared, made-to-order, and packaged foods. Their sandwiches are¬†to die for. The¬†make-your-own options are unique (read: not your typical Subway fare), and they don’t charge you an arm and a leg for each individual topping. The prepared foods are just as inventive,¬†like the aforementioned Lemon Thyme Chicken. The packaged options, like granola bars, are also awesome and usually artisanal,¬†all natural, or locally made (like pints of JENI’S!!!!). All of the locations are well-decorated and trendy, but we’d especially recommend the Bucktown spot for its knockout¬†salad bar (think Whole Foods level) and rooftop dining. Basically,¬†you’ll be mad you didn’t know about this place sooner.

-Meredith

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Dinner, Lunch, The Loop, Vegan, Wicker Park

Native Foods Cafe

Native Foods Cafe
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Neighborhood: Wicker Park, the Loop
Address: Multiple
Phone Number: Multiple
Website

Price Range: $5-15
Our Rating: 5 out of 5

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Kale is Kool at Native Foods Cafe.

What We Tried: Jamaican Kale Salad, Sweet Potato Fries, Kale Macro Bowl, Roasted Vegetables Side, Oatmeal Cream Cookie Pie, Blueberry Hibiscus Iced Tea

Our Take: They say¬†kale¬†is the new black. My great aunt Mary was eating it before it was cool‚ÄĒand she was still playing tennis at age 92!‚ÄĒbut I must admit that I’ve also jumped on the cruciferous¬†bandwagon.

Enter Native Foods Cafe, an entirely plant-based restaurant. Though Native Foods is a chain with locations across the country, each restaurant features a regional menu. They use organic, sustainable ingredients, made fresh every day, and all the restaurants are energy-efficient. Namaste!

Last Sunday, I stopped at the Wicker Park location for a quick lunch. As I’ve stated in earlier posts, I’m not vegetarian, but after living in Nepal for a summer and trying to cook on a budget, I don’t have to eat meat every day. And if the opportunity to try some fancy vegan creation presents itself…it’s like that time my friends suggested we continue our night at a dueling pianos bar…”I live for that ish!”

You order at the counter, where I guarantee your server will be¬†really,¬†really¬†nice. Either they’re all from Canada, or the whole “you are what you eat” thing actually works. **INSIDER TIP**~~ if you give them your phone number, you get a free drink on your first visit. And then if you fill out the survey on the follow-up email they’ll send you, you get a free dessert! I told you they were nice!!

My meal was equally delicious and beautiful, and you get a lot of food for a good price. And it doesn’t require any strategizing like a trip to the¬†Whole Foods salad bar. The menu is large enough that I could go back again and again without eating the same thing twice, and diverse enough to satisfy whatever craving I have at the moment.

Native Foods, consider me a regular! In the meantime, I’ll be in the kitchen¬†massaging my vegetables.

-Carolyn

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Breakfast and Brunch, Coffee, Wrigleyville

Southport Grocery and Cafe

Southport Grocery and Cafe
Breakfast, Lunch

Neighborhood: Wrigleyville
Address: 3552 N. Southport Chicago, IL 60657
Phone Number: (773) 665-0100
Website

Price Range: $11-17
Our Rating: 2.9 out of 5

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Bread Pudding Pancake

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Fruit with Vanilla Vinaigrette

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Grilled Turkey Sandwich

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‘Klug’ Apple Salad

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What We Tried: Bread Pudding Pancake, Fruit with Vanilla Vinaigrette,¬†Grilled Turkey Sandwich (house-roasted turkey, honey mustard, prickled pear, braised kale, & barely buzzed cheese on griddled whole grain), ‘Klug’ Apple Salad (roasted & shaved brussel sprouts, zingerman’s goat cheese*, pickled pumpkin, pecans au poivre* & cider mustard dressing)

Our Take: Let me preface – we really wanted to like this place. Like really. The market-style interior was adorable. The shelves lined with delicious-looking treats with packages that just screamed “gourmet treat that you will pay way too much money for but will love all the same” enticed. The art on the wall said “you’re in a classy place, but don’t be intimidated.” Everything on the menu sounded delectable.

But then… we ate it. It wasn’t baaaaad. It just wasn’t anything to write home about. The pancake was pretty delicious, but for as good as the salad and sandwich sounded, they just couldn’t deliver. The sandwich, in particular, had all the things we love in it, yet we couldn’t really taste them. This might be a place to stop for coffee and a pastry on a blustery Chicago afternoon (Carolyn says it was delicious, worth going back for), just not to fit your big-brunch-out needs.

-Meredith

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