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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Dinner, Meatpacking District

De Cero

De Cero, A Modern Day Taqueria
Lunch, Dinner

Neighborhood: Meatpacking District
Address: 814 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607
Phone Number: (312) 455-8114
Website

Price Range: $10-15 (without drinks)
Our Rating: 4.3 out of 5

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Fresh Chips and Guac

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Clockwise from the top: Al Pastor (pork shoulder, guajillo, morita and arbol chiles, pineapple, onion, cilantro); Portobello Mushroom (portobello mushroom, chipotle, lime, lettuce, queso fresco, pepitas, cilantro); Berries and Brie (marinated skirt steak, brie, arugula, berries, dijon, and red wine balsamic)

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A+ for presentation!

What We Tried: Chips and Guac, Berries and Brie Taco, Carnitas de Arbol Taco, Portabello Mushroom Taco, Sautéed Shrimp Taco, Al Pastor Taco

Our Take: Now, just to preface, this dining experience was slightly different from our last a la carte taco experience at Big Star, as I was with my childhood friend and her mom, but it was just as delicious!

From the folks that brought you Grange Hall Burger Bar, De Cero is loosely translated to “from scratch,” and boy did these guys deliver on their promise! Literally everything is straight from scratch: crema, tortillas, lime juice, tortilla chips… you name it. We were amazed by how intricate and unique each of their 15(!) different kinds of tacos was – not to mention the starters, 6 different homemade salsas crafted daily, entrees, tamales, and 6 different kinds of rice and beans. Whew!

The chips and guac combo was fabulous. You could tell the chips were fresh out of the fryer, but they were still insanely crisp and not chewy like when they shove too many chips in the fryer at once (I’m just imagining that’s what happens).

We each tried one of the Berries and Brie tacos (one of the specials – because it wasn’t hard enough choosing between the existing 15 different tacos) and liked them pretty well. Be forewarned, though, definitely not a date taco. Unless date finds you trying to hold together a mountain of skirt steak, arugula, brie, and berries while shoving it in your mouth to be very attractive. Then by all means… Anyway, they were nice but would have greatly benefitted from less dijon.

Though neither the Portobello nor the Al Pastor were quite as good as Big Star‘s, in my opinion, I certainly left more than satisfied.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to indulge in one of their ridiculously fresh and inventive margaritas (the true test against Big Star), but you can sure we’ll be back for something like a Lime Ginger Margarita (made with freshly pureed fruits and house made lime sour).

This place has a great vibe and would work best for a happy hour or dinner out with the ladies, whereas Big Star best serves hipster clientele (and wannabees) looking for a bite before hitting the town and maybe a few (read: lot) of drinks to get them started.

Note: Tuesday-Friday from 11:30 am – 3 pm De Cero becomes ¡Hello Tacos!, a weekday lunch fiesta (“Same location, different attitude,” they say. Oooookay). This is generally confusing and pointless, but don’t let it stop you from going. They are the same, and they are delicious (though the tacos are $.25 cheaper at ¡Hello Tacos! SCORE)!

-Meredith

p.s. We promise to maybe leave the Meatpacking District some day. Maybe.

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Bars, Breakfast and Brunch, Coffee, Meatpacking District

Little Goat Bakery

Little Goat Bakery
Coffee Shop, Lunch, Bar

Neighborhood: Meatpacking District
Address: 820 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60607
Phone Number: (312) 888-3455
Website

Price Range: $3-10
Our Rating: 5 out of 5

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an autumnal delight

What We Tried: Skim Latte, Gluten-Free Apricot Muffin

Our Take: Little Goat Bakery opened a mere three weeks after Girl & the Goat, to serve as a dedicated baking kitchen for the larger parent restaurant. Since bread at Girl & the Goat is a part of the meal, rather than an appetizer or side, they wanted a place where their bakers could let their flour fly all day long, without worrying about getting in the way of braising goat legs.

Little Goat Bakery is attached to the Little Goat Diner, and contains a pretty swanky bar, too, but I’m going to concentrate on the coffee shop component of the operation. You order your coffee at the back of the bakery, where you can watch the bakers at work through a large glass window. It’s sort of like the world’s greatest cooking show.

When I finally pulled away from watching the bakers fold dough into pie tins (and picked my jaw up off the floor), I walked back to the front of the shop to pick up my coffee and muffin from the espresso station. All of the coffee is Stumptown (say hey!), and all of the breads and pastries are baked that day.

I was a little nervous about my muffin choice, since I’m new to the whole gluten-free thing, but it was soft and perfect and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. My latte was one of the best I have had in a long time, and arrived with an intricate fleur-de-lis swirled on top.

Start off your next Saturday with a cappuccino from Little Goat, or pick up a fresh Italian loaf for dinner…I guarantee you’ll be impressed.

-Carolyn

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Bars, Dinner, Meatpacking District

Grange Hall Burger Bar

Grange Hall Burger Bar
Lunch, Dinner

Neighborhood: Meatpacking District
Address: 844 West Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60607
Phone Number: (312) 491-0844
Website

Price Range: $10-17
Our Rating: 4.8 out of 5

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PBR so you know he’s chill and casual and **hip~~

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Mac and Cheese is a favorite of my dinner date, but I wasn’t disappointed, either.

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The Michigan Berries and Brie Burger

What We Tried: PBR, Pumpkin Old Fashioned, Mac N’ Cheese appetizer, The Ultimate, and the Michigan Berries and Brie Burger

Our Take: We happened upon Grange Hall Burger Bar on a serendipitous Indian summer evening, in search of good drinks and a better bite to eat; something casual, but cultured. Bingo! Grange Hall is down the street from one of Chicago’s most famous burgers, Au Cheval, but doesn’t deserve a comparison. We tried the cheeseburgers at Au Cheval before a Josh Ritter concert last year, and don’t get me wrong, the burgers earned a solid two thumbs up, but if you can’t get in at Au Cheval—and you probably won’t—keep walking. Grange Hall is just as good.

I ordered the pumpkin-flavored seasonal drink of the day, which was so good that it should be a permanent item on the menu. Since pumpkin spice is the Girl Scout cookie of flavorings, though, I made sure to order one more drink…before it goes away again, you know? Our Mac and Cheese appetizer, which came with potato chips crumbled on top, was lighter than expected and perfect for what it was mean to be—a starter. Because we had to save room for the burgers, in my case, a medium-rare blackberry and brie sensation, and in Alex’s case, a caramelized-onion bacon triumph that he ordered for the arugula.

I should also mention that Grange Hall is Chicago’s only Farm to Table Burger Bar dedicated to grass-fed beef and local fruits and vegetables. Oh, and it was voted one of Chicago Magazine‘s best new restaurants. Plus, the waitstaff is hilarious.

-Carolyn

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Dinner, Meatpacking District

Green Street Smoked Meats

Green Street Smoked Meats
Lunch, Dinner

Neighborhood: Meatpacking District
Address: 112 N. Green St., Chicago, IL 60607
Phone Number: (312) 754-0431
Website

Price Range: $10-17
Our Rating: 4.7 out of 5

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the hip alley

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the hippest

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bad photography, delicious broccoli

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that slaw tho

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chopped brisket sandwich

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this hip location just made us want to casually laugh all over the place.

What We Tried: Chopped Brisket, Chopped Brisket Sandwich, Cole Slaw, Broccoli Salad, Spicy Pickles

Our Take: You will probably never feel as hip as you do sitting at a picnic table at around 4 pm (hip people like to eat meals at odd times – brunch, ever heard of it?) on a sunny late-September Sunday in an alley outside of Green Street Smoked Meats chowing down on some chopped brisket. But that is okay. Because the food at Green Street is as good as the decor is hip, so you basically never have to eat at any other picnic table in any other alley.

First of all, the barbecue is great. Tender, moist, succulent. The spicy, traditional, and vinegar-based bbq sauces are just the cherries on top. Then there are the sides. We were going to go with the pickled vegetables, but when we saw that the cole slaw wasn’t a soggy, mayo-laden mess, we had to investigate. It turned out to be a crunchy, vinegary, tangy, delicious decision. We also tried the broccoli salad, which was light and scrumptious as well. Plus, they have homemade pickles. And we LOVE pickles. The menu doesn’t have much variety, but we like that they just do what they do best – good barbecue.

-Meredith

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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, 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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