Breakfast and Brunch, Coffee, Dessert, Dinner, Farmer's Market, Lincoln Park, Uncategorized

Blue Door Farm Stand

Blue Door Farm Stand

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
Address: 843 Armitage Ave. Chicago, IL 60614
Phone Number: (773) 935-2583
Website

Price Range: $10-15
Our Rating: 4.8 out of 5

What We Tried: Brussels & Kale Salad, Roasted Beet & Farro Salad, Fig & Arugula Grilled Cheese, Purple Line Wrap, Turkey & Aged Cheddar Sandwich, Roasted Vegetable Wrap

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Cute!

 

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Okay, cute!

 

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Ca-ute!

 

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I gave up sweets for Lent…

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Brussels & Kale Salad…the bacon evens out.

 

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Apple Pie Grilled Cheese

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Turkey Cheddar

 

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My kind of place.

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Roasted Beet & Farro Salad

 

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Order at the counter.

 

Our Take:

Kale. Mason jars. Oprah. These are a few of my favorite things. All three come together at Blue Door Farm Stand, the Lincoln Park cafe/restaurant named after none other than Ofrey’s Indiana property. 

Blue Door serves up seasonal wraps, sandwiches, salads, juices and coffee, all made with ingredients from local farmers and farmers’ markets. As their mission statement declares, “Our philosophy at Blue Door Farm Stand is simple. We believe in the seasons dictating what’s on the table. We are committed to being part of the community and the importance of having personal relationships with all our purveyors. We believe in providing a warm and welcoming space for all our guests to enjoy wholesome delicious food.” 

Same. Try Blue Door Farm Stand for brunch, lunch or dinner, eight days a week. I’m partial to their Brussels & Kale salad, but I won’t say no to a roasted vegetable wrap, either. They also serve the best carrot cake in Chicago (I would know), which you can have delivered to your apartment via the Locally app (I wouldn’t know anything about that). 

10/10, 100%, favorite cafe in Lincoln Park. Meet you there for coffee at 5. I’ll be there, drinking my almond milk latte, checking out Oprah’s Instagram

– Carolyn

Harvest Day!

Harvest Day!

 

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Breakfast and Brunch, Coffee, Streeterville, The Loop

Do-Rite Donuts

Do-Rite Donuts
Breakfast, Coffee
Neighborhood: Streeterville, The Loop
Address: 50 W. Randolph St. Chicago, IL 60601
233 E. Erie St. Chicago, IL 60611
Phone Number: Randolph St. – (312) 488-2483
Erie St. – (312) 344-1374
Website

Price Range: $1.95-2.50/donut
Our Rating: 4.8 out of 5

What We Tried: Vanilla Bean Glazed, Pistachio-Meyer Lemon, Chocolate Old Fashioned, Buttermilk Old Fashioned

Our Take: If 16 years of Catholic schooling has taught me anything, it is this: Embrace Fat Tuesday with all of your being.

Despite my native Detroit’s affinity for Paczki on this particular day, I prefer my donuts sans filling. To be honest, because my previous donut experience was pretty much post-Church donuts in the social hall, I didn’t think I liked donuts that much at all. That was, of course, until I moved to Chicago. Chicago, I am convinced, is the donut capital of the world. And if Chicago is the donut capital of the world, Do-Rite is its ruler.

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why donut you just give me all of them

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spent fat tuesday with this donut.

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donut ask…

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this one’s a little do-nutty

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donut you just love old-fashioners?

I tried three different donuts from Do-Rite (we’re embracing, remember?), and I can honestly say with complete conviction that these three donuts were the best donuts I’ve ever tasted in my entire life (I’ve had more than my fair share since moving to Chicago). While Do-Rite may not serve up the variety of Stan’s, they do the classics, and they do them flawlessly.

To make sure my opinion was well-rounded, I tried a yeast donut, a cake donut, and an old-fashioned (If you don’t know what that means, click here). The Vanilla Bean Glazed (yeast) was pillowy soft and light as air, so much so that it required gentle holding to avoid getting squished. The glaze was perfect: light and sweet, but not too sweet, with the vanilla bean adding the perfect amount of flavor.

The Pistachio-Meyer Lemon and the Buttermilk Old Fashioned were both cake donuts, and OH MY LAWD were they ever perfect. Never in my life have I bitten into something with such a perfectly crisp exterior and then sunk my teeth into a dense, cakey, and moist bed of flavor immediately afterword. If the yeast donut was a goose down feather pillow, the cake donuts were Tempurpedics – all about personal preferences, but I would fall asleep on, err eat, either of those options any day. The best part about the actual flavor of the Pistachio-Meyer Lemon was actually its subtlety. The lemon was like the pretty girl at the party who stands by the wall – everyone knows she’s there and she’s gorgeous, so she doesn’t need to show it off too much. The addition of pistachio was more about the crunch on top than neon green hues or the almond flavoring that usually accompany pistachio-flavored things.

It is definitely a good thing that we didn’t discover Do-Rite until the day before Lent; that being said, you know where to find me on Easter Sunday.

-Meredith

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Breakfast and Brunch, Lunch, West Town, Wicker Park

Hash

Hash
Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch
Neighborhood: Wicker Park
Address: 1357 N. Western, Chicago, IL 60622
Phone Number: (773) 661-2964
Website

Price Range: $7-11
Our Rating: 4 out of 5

What We Tried: Pork Bubble and Squeak, Truffle Hash

Our Take: Another weekend, another brunch. But actually this wasn’t brunch, it was breakfast. This is an important distinction because it allowed us to go to lunch that afternoon. Ideal, if you ask me.

I digress. Hash is a cheery little spot in the heart of West Town with all the charm  of a classic 70s diner, the neighborhood vibe of your favorite childhood post-Church breakfast spot, and the “chalkboard-cool” aesthetic of a hip urban café. Though the place is small, we were seated right away. Hash uses an efficient order-at-the-counter system so even if you do have to wait, they move diners in and out pretty quickly so it won’t be long before you’re seated.

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nestled on a cozy corner in the heart of west town

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order-at-the-counter = less wait time

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yes, cookies before noon seems unhealthy, but it’s vegan sweets don’t count, right?

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avocado on the side will cost you extra, but not much at this ultra-affordable spot

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drizzle anything in truffle oil and i’m sold

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post-breakfast walk was on point

Carolyn and I decided to try one of the namesake dishes – a hash. Each hash comes with potatoes and other mix-ins topped with either one or two eggs, your way.

I opted for the Truffle Hash – perfectly crispy potatoes over sautéed kale and carrots drizzled with truffle oil and topped with two eggs, scrambled in my case. The truffle oil was definitely the key to this smooth, full-flavored dish, but the finely chopped sautéed kale and carrots were surprisingly welcome, if not traditionally desirable in an egg and potatoes dish.

Carolyn’s Pork Bubble and Squeak reminded me of pot roast with the addition of brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes – which is convenient because those are two of our favorite things. The pork shoulder was fall-apart-on-your-fork, while the mustard cream sauce added the perfect tangy zip to the otherwise classically flavored dish.

We both left satisfied, but more breakfast-full than I-can-go-without-eating-until-7pm-full – the ideal way to fuel our 5+ hour city walk!

This isn’t the place to go for your 3-hour bottomless mimosa brunch rolling 15 people deep, but if you’re looking for a fun spot to grab a quick (and cheap) breakfast, brunch, or lunch and a little piece of neighborhood in your big city life, Hash is the call.

-Meredith

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Bars, Breakfast and Brunch, Dinner, Wicker Park

Trenchermen

Trenchermen
Brunch, Dinner, Drinks
Neighborhood: Wicker Park
Address: 2039 W. North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647
Phone Number: (773) 661-1540
Website

Price Range: $15-23 for brunch, $25-35 for dinner
Our Rating: 4.5 out of 5

What We Tried: Black Forest Ham & Gruyere Danish, Pork Flight, Pretzel Bagel, Bacon Mortadella Breakfast Sandwich, Avocado Toast, Kyle’s Breakfast Sandwich (AKA Breakfast Reuben)

Our Take: The building in which Trenchermen now resides opened during the 1920’s as the Luxor Russian Baths, a social space for hard-working immigrants to take a load off, steam, and grab a drink and bite to eat. Though the baths are long gone, many pieces of the building’s past have been incorporated into Trenchermen’s effortlessly hip Prohibition-era décor. More importantly, though, the friendly service and New American-style bistro food keep the Luxor’s “come in, stay awhile” attitude alive almost one hundred years later.

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the exterior of Trenchermen reminded us of afternoons wandering Kensington whilst studying abroad in London

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definitely coming back for drinks

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trenchermen’s prohibition era décor paired nicely with their modern take on classic dishes

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Black Forest Ham & Gruyere Danish, Mustard, Rye

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pork flight: house sausage patties, beeler’s bacon, coffee-cured bacon, link sausage

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avocado shrimp toast with soft-boiled egg on sprouted grain bread

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not your standard cantaloupe/honeydew/pineapple

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swiss & eggs (sub cheddar here), smoked pork Shoulder, caraway sauerkraut, mustard aioli

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bacon mortadella breakfast sandwich: sunny side egg, sharp cheddar, breakfast potatoes

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pretzel bagel, smoked salmon, mustard cream cheese, pickled onion, cucumber, greens

While we vowed to return for drinks and dinner before we even ordered, the food most definitely did not disappoint. The pastries were nearly impossible to choose from, but we decided to split the Black Forest & Gruyere Danish because Carolyn and I are trying to limit our refined sugars this month (we don’t want to talk about it). As a bonus, it’s fun to watch the appointed “orderer” try to pronounce gruyere. At any rate, it was a fantastic choice; the perfectly flaky exterior and soft buttery interior would have been enough, but the ham and gruyere definitely amped up this pastry.

My breakfast reuben looked nothing like I expected but was everything I wanted. Seemingly contrasting flavors married perfectly in this sandwich, with the mustard aioli tying everything together. While the crumpet-like vehicle for this sandwich seemed odd at the time, I didn’t miss my toasted rye one bit (actually, I don’t care for rye so this was pretty clutch).

Even a non-bacon lover such as myself (please don’t kill me) could see the draw to the Pork Flight. Shockingly, because I also despise coffee, the Coffee-Cured variety was my favorite. Confusing, but definite props to the chef on that one! Each portion was generous for bistro-style dining, but still not overwhelming, allowing us to walk away from the table comfortably full.

Major shout-out to Jeremiah, our friendly waiter, potential new life coach, and reason enough to make a return trip. He was able to advise us on everything from vegetarianism to the body’s use of carbohydrates (all solicited advice, mind you). He even brought over a gargantuan book on the subjects, which was both delightful and confusing in the best possible way. We will, without a doubt, be returning for brunch, dinner, drinks, and dessert. It’s only January, but I’m already betting Trenchermen will end up on our Best of the Best 2015 edition!

-Meredith

P.S. Visit Trenchermen on Wednesdays when $10 gets you a burger, a beer, popcorn, and chips/a side! Check out their Instagram for each week’s theme. We stopped in for a Pimento Cheese & Fried Okra Burger with Whole Grain Mustard Potato Salad & a Flywheel Lager, and let’s just say, we were pleased. 

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Bars, Breakfast and Brunch, Dinner, Wicker Park

Fatpour Tap Works

Fatpour Tap Works
Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Drinks

Neighborhood: West Town
Address: 2005 West Division Street, Chicago, IL 60622
Phone Number: (773) 698-8940
Website

Price Range: $10-17
Our Rating: 4.2 out of 5

What We Tried: Lamb Eggs Benny, The Hipster Burger, Bloody Mary

Our Take: Located in the heart of Wicker Park, Fat Pour was voted 2013’s “#1 Beer Bar in the Country” by Nightclub & Bar. With over 50 good beers on tap and a diverse, chef-driven menu, I can see why.

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The Bloody Mary, which comes with a Miller High Life (On, Wisconsin!)

The Bloody Mary, which comes with a Miller High Life (On, Wisconsin!)

The Lamb Benny

The Lamb Benny

The restaurant has a fun, lively, too-cool-to-care attitude, and the waiters all treated us as if we were regulars. While we waited for our food, we kept an eye on the Wisconsin game (note: Fat Pour is a popular Badger bar), and watched beer stream up three stories through the glass keg cooler in the center of the room.

My Bloody Mary came with a can of Miller High Life (I would expect nothing less from Wisco fans), and a spear stacked with spicy pickles and feta-stuffed olives. Though I only recently joined the Bloody Mary bandwagon, I could tell that it was a five star concoction, and I had to make a conscious effort to sip it slowly.

Since we were eating at the post-spin class, is it still brunch, is it still lunch ambivalent meal time of 1 pm, we decided to order one brunch item and one lunch item, and split the two. Between the two dishes, I preferred the hipster burger (balsamic infused, topped with arugula and roasted tomatoes), but the lamb benny was a fresh and flavorful twist on a classic, too—not at all heavy, and the right combination of ingredients.

Fat Pour’s menu is large enough that I could—and would want to—go back a dozen times without eating the same thing twice. Next time I’m looking for a game day lunch or feeling a good beer/good burger kind of Friday night, you’ll find me at Fat Pour, for sure.

-Carolyn

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Breakfast and Brunch, Dessert, Dinner, Lincoln Park, Lunch

Summer House Santa Monica

Summer House Santa Monica
Brunch (Sat, Sun), Lunch (Thurs, Fri), Dinner

Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
Address: 1954 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: (773) 634-4100
Website

Price Range: $15-30
Our Rating: 4 out of 5

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go ahead, get Acai Basil Smashed

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there was no appropriate way to photograph this squash

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lobster orecchiette is a top Maine course at Summer House (heh)

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I love you an enchilada

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bae

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grilled salmon, I sea you

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come to mama

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vanilla bean is key

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♥ ♥ ♥

What We Tried: Fresh Burrata, Hot Mess of Fries, Spicy Calamari, Caramelized Butternut Squash, Caramelized Brussel Sprouts, Maine Lobster Orecchiette, Grilled Atlantic Salmon, Wild Mushroom Enchilada Stack, Grilled Chicken Tacos, Pork Shank (a special), S’mores Cookie with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookie with Brown Butter Ice Cream, Caramelized Pan Perdu

Our Take: I think we can all agree that winter in Chicago can get pretty brutal. Luckily, Summer House Santa Monica is here for us. The restaurant takes us to the sunny beaches of Santa Monica with its sky lights, life guard chair bar stools, white walls, and pockets of greenery around the restaurant. Summer House gives off an open-air vibe without opening a single window (because even though it doesn’t feel like it, we are still in Chicago). While themed restaurants run a high risk of feeling tacky and contrived, Summerhouse keeps things subtle and genuine.

Our wait was longer than expected (okay with us because it gave us time to stop at the Marquee Lounge for drinks), but the host staff felt terrible and offered us complimentary appetizers and a round of drinks as an apology. Totally unnecessary but definitely a way to win us over right off the bat, especially if you make drinks like the Acai Basil Smash (originally a “zero-proof cocktail” but best with the addition of vodka or rum, in my humble opinion).

We started with the fresh burrata, the spicy calamari, and the “hot mess of fries” because who can turn down al pastor, pico de gallo, queso fresco, and a sunny side up egg all piled on a stack of fried potatoes? Not these kids (and one mom), and we would recommend that you don’t either. I’m not typically a seafood girl (or a spicy girl for that matter), but the calamari was also stellar.

Being the sharers that we are, everyone tried a little of everything and unanimously decided that the Pork Shank with Roasted Fennel and the Maine Lobster Orecchiette were the winners of the entree category. The extremely tender and oh-so-succulent pork fell right off the bone (and was promptly devoured). I’d say it even rivaled the pork shank at Girl & the Goat, which is saying a lot. The pasta was just as rich, and the lobster was incorporated generously.

My friends, mom, and I will likely never settle the debate over what was better: the Sea Salt Chocolate Chip cookie or the Caramelized Pan Perdu with roasted local apples, cinnamon custard, and brown butter ice cream. The Pan Perdu was my personal favorite (think a giant piece of French Toast) with its crisp, caramelized exterior and soft, pillowy interior that somehow evaded the sogginess trap. Even my mom, who usually doesn’t bother with dessert unless it involves chocolate, was infatuated. The cookies are a house specialty, though, and worth a trip in their own right. Carolyn and I have considered Ubering all the way up to Lincoln Park just to grab one (or five), if that tells you anything.

As fantastic as Summerhouse was for dinner, I’ve heard their brunch is just off the charts. We’ll surely be back for that, ya know, for the blog (#ftb).

Note: I’ve heard that if you check in on Yelp, you get a free cookie a la mode. Just sayin.

-Meredith

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Breakfast and Brunch, Dinner, Meatpacking District

Little Goat Diner

Little Goat Diner

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Neighborhood: Meatpacking District
Address: 820 West Randolph Street, Chicago, Illinois 60607
Phone Number: (312) 888-3455
Website

Price Range: $9-15
Our Rating: 4.8 out of 5

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coffee, tea, or me?

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the spanish omelette

a latte love and an apricot muffin

a latte love and an apricot muffin

the fat elvis

the fat elvis

What We Tried: Spanish Omelette, Kimchee & Bacon & Eggs & Pancake Asian Style Tasty Thing, Fat Elvis Waffle, Parathas Burrito, Corned Beef Hash and Eggs, Fall Harvest Chicken Salad

Our Take: I don’t think I could say a negative word about the Girl & the Goat franchise if I tried. You could maybe bribe me with a cranberry pepita scone or a Grumy Goat Golden Raisin Bagel, but, still—it would be hard.

Another brainchild of Stephanie Izard (first female champion of Top Chef and James Beard award winner), Little Goat Diner opened two years after its sister restaurant across the street, Girl & the Goat. It’s a little (goat) more casual, a little easier to get in, but just as innovative.

On a sunny Saturday outing with my favorite brunching betches, I tried the Parathas Burrito, a flavorful combination of sunny-side eggs and a spicy chili sauce, served on India flatbread with a cooling avocado relish.

Just for fun, a few of us ordered the house bloody mary, which, according to my friends who are bloody mary experts, (are we too young to be bloody mary experts?), was “kickass.” I don’t remember the last time I ordered a bloody mary, but I remembered I didn’t like it. At Little Goat, though, I loved it. And the rest of my Saturday was extremely productive, too!

While my brother was visiting over Thanksgiving weekend, we went back to Little Goat for lunch. Feeling the post-Thanksgiving food baby, I got the salad. But hey, it was awesome! Grilled chicken, butternut squash, kale, ginger maple dressing, all of my favorite things, etc.

Andrew went with the Fat Elvis Waffle, an absolute masterpiece composed of two waffles, topped with maple-bacon syrup, peanut butter sauce, and sliced bananas. Now, this is the kid who polished off four slices of stuffed sausage pizza in one sitting and then ran a ‘casual’ 6:55 pace 8k the next day, but even Andrew couldn’t finish the Fat Elvis. It’s the kind of dish that’s better if someone else at the table orders it…you can appreciate the few bites you sneak off their plate, but not have to worry about too much of a good thing, ya know?

-Carolyn

goat groupies

goat groupies

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