Staying connected to your girlfriends does not only make for a great time, but it makes for a healthy and sane mind. It's so important to nurture your female relationships as those ladies will be there for your through thick and thin, No matter what is going on in my life, I know that my close friends are by my side no matter what. And having a fun GNO on the reg is necessary to let loose and nurture that bond.Read More
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In case you haven't noticed, I'm mid- health kick. Which isn't a diet (hate that word) because I thoroughly love and enjoy all the delicious foods i'm eating, and I'm never hungry, nor do I deprive myself. I've just been staying away from all meat except seafood, making smarter and healthier choices, especially when out at restaurants, and working out a ton. Piece of cake really... mmmmmm cake.
You might think it's impossible to go out to dinner and still eat well. It's NOT! Even if you're veggie and/or seafood focused. Here are my fave picks from my/ Chicago's fave restaurants. I've included a ton of neighborhoods, and cuisine types. Please share with me your favorite healthy dishes, I'd love to discover even more!
Eataly Chicago- the grilled octopus (polpo alla griglia) at Il Pesce restaurant inside Eataly. Cooked to perfection, not rubbery AT ALL. The great kick from the chili flakes and chili peppers will also jump start your metabolism!
Bub City- Bub City is known for their succulent BBQ. But if you're not eating meat, or trying to eat light.. there aren't too many options on their menu. It has almost discouraged me from going until I discovered, in the very bottom right corner of their menu is one seafood item. The blackened or BBQ grilled salmon. They're both INSANELY delicious, but if you're trying to cut sugar, get it blackened.
Pearl Tavern- They are oyster and seafood focused, so there are a few great options like the ceviche and oysters of course. But their Salmon burger with shredded butternut squash and house made giardinera is quite possibly the tastiest sandwich, and dare I say, burger, I've had in a LONG time.
La Sirena Clandestina- There's really no way to go wrong at this spot since all their food is to-die-for. But if you're keeping it healthy, check out the Head On Prawns with charred Serrano Salsa.
Maude's Liquor Bar- The oysters are to die for in this romantic and intimate setting. I love the way they're served too. Makes you feel like it's more of a meal vs. an appetizer.
Osteria Langhe- Love the unique Italian fare at this Logan Square spot. The Cauliflower with salted cod and sunchoke puree with house pickled veggies is a great meatless and lighter choice.
MFK- This Lakeview spot has some of the best ceviche I've had. But their Boquerones are fab too. An anchovy is perched atop piquillo peppers and fennel, all of which is resting on a piece of crusty Italian bread.
GT Fish and Oyster- always my fave. Their Thai Coconut soup is light yet filling. So yummy with chunks of fish and shrimp in it. Also their mussels in a spicy red marinara is outstanding.
Beatrix- Love everything on this menu, but the standouts for my fave healthy fare would be the Mushroom and Quinoa Burger with swiss, baby kale, and sriracha aioli. It's one of the best, if not THE best veggie burger I've ever had.
RPM Steak- Do you ever feel like you "just can't even" go to a steak house if you're not eating meat, or trying to eat healthy. Well ya can. RPM Steak has a ton of amazing salads, but 2 items I have literally dreamed about are the Coal Roasted King Crab legs with lime and coriander, and the Atlantic Scallops. Trust me, you will NOT feel left out while your fellow diners are gnawing on Flintstone's sized Tomahawk bones.
Sushi Dokku- Now sushi can be pretty healthy overall... especially if you're not getting mayo rolls deep fried in sweet and crunchy tempura batter. When you hit up this outstanding West Loop venue, try the Uni but order it in a cucumber cup and compliment it with the Tako (octopus) sashimi.
Greek Islands- If you love Greek Town as much as I do, you never want to have to give up the yummy food just because you're eating healthy. Fortunately, I can OD on taramosalata and grilled octopus and this spot has the best of both. If you're cutting carbs too, or gluten conscious, order the taramo with veggies for dipping instead of bread/pita.
India House- Indian food is known for having a ton of vegetarian options. Even though they're fried I cannot eat Indian food without getting the veggie samosas. Also, order the tandoori shrimp which is very light and comes with veggies on the side. I love to mash up the samosas and mix it with the sauces and all the tandoori and veggies too!
I had such a blast a couple weeks ago with theses Fashion forward foodie babes!! We dined at Tipling Hall, ate delicious brunchy bites, drank mimosas, and gabbed forever. Check out the entire video here! Plus we gave away the chance to host your own amazing brunch at Tippling Hall and the winner is @KELLYLETTO_ Congrats!!
Hey Y'all. This weekend marks the 3 day period where Chicago bows down to 2 of the mightiest forces in the universe. BBQ and Country Music. This may be controversial as, I've come to find out, not EVERYONE is a country music fan. Well shame on you! You have a chance to make it right! The Windy City SmokeOut starts today and not only will some of the best BBQ from around the COUNTRY be featured, but,... there will also be some of the biggest names in Country Music...right here in our own back yard...in River North! Bub City puts it on, and we already know how great their food is. Smoque, Chicago's Q, and Lillie's Q from Chi-Town are also repping as well as Salt Lick BBQ, Myron Mixon, and Dinosaur BBQ from around the ole US of A. But of course, the twang will be flowin' and some of my favorite acts (and friends) will take the stage at Grand and the River. Including Clayton Anderson, Brett Eldredge, Chase Rice (who I'll be interviewing for Eat Travel Rock TV on Sunday) Eli Young Band, etc. Tix are still available. Come on people, get your shit kickers on!
I love the unexpected. Especially when the unexpected is a good thing... or better yet, a delicious thing. Last week I was taking my new production assistant, Raquel, for a beer to talk "shop". I thought I'd stop into a friendly watering hole, and by friendly I mean the bartender, Liz, is a close friend and the owner, Joel is a fellow Hawkeye. For those of you who have been to Theory, you probably think of it as a late night Hubbard Street spot or a bustling sports bar that's an awesome place to catch a game while listening to loud hip-hop (all good things). This is how I always thought of Theory.... more of an upscale sports bar with typical "bar" food. Not where I would necessarily go for a great dinner or a unique libation.
So much to my surprise, my casual beer turned into some delicious cocktails and about 10 plates of insanely good food. Right when I sat down and tried to order us two craft beers, Liz said, "No way girl! You're trying one of these new cocktails...this one is named after me!" Low and behold, we had the "Smashed Lizard", the name rings true because after one of these made with Patron silver, Patron citronage, ginger beer with fresh muddled oranges and limes, you may be a bit smashed. Then Liz and Joel gave me a menu and when I looked it over I was shocked. These dishes were not what I was expecting, and NOT typical bar food. I was also intrigued by the fact that they specialize in BBQ. How did I not know this?! They smoke all their own meats, in house, low and slow over hickory smoke. "Alright Raquel, get ready... we're eatin' good tonight!" Even though this was her first dining experience with me, she is aware of my reputation, and immediately had a look of concern on her face. She knew it was about to go down. But, being the good sport that she is, she happily indulged with me, dish after dish, until we were no longer mobile.
Our first taste was my favorite nacho to date. I say "nacho" because they are served individually. Perfectly proportioned little bites of heaven... all on one chip. Theirs include a spicy fried shrimp, a slice of jalapeno, sour cream, pico de gallo, and oozy melty cheese (not the sparse shredded cheese you see on many nachos)... all finished off with a tasty salsa verde. One of the reasons why I don't order nachos, even though they are all of my favorite food in one pile, is that you always end up fighting with your friends over the "best" chip or most densely populated area of the pile. With Theory's nachos... all of your friendships can remain in tact.
Next, was an outstanding mac and cheese, and yes, I consider myself a connoisseur of this soothing comfort food. Theory's version kicked it up several notches (sorry Emeril) by using spicy Cajun shrimp in the thick creamy cheesy sauce. Finally a BBQ smorgasbord followed. I was unprepared for just how good this BBQ was going to be. I was also unprepared for BBQ pulled pork, tater tot Poutine!! WHATTT??? As if Poutine couldn't get any better with just fries, they had to go and add tater tots!? It was almost too much flavor and deliciousness in one bowl. But the glory of their BBQ really shined through in the simple dishes. The BBQ pulled pork slider was simple, and perfect. Yes, it's very saucy... but not the kind of saucy where they're trying to cover up or add to the flavor of the meat. They just have a damn good sauce and like to put a lot on it. Lastly, the BBQ ribs. Wow. These baby-back babies were intense with flavor, not too much sauce, but had one hell of a spicy kick.... which made me happy and thirsty at the same time. But of course, the cole slaw is right there to help you cool down.
Here are the pros. I found an amazing River North spot for BBQ. I now know the place to go when I want a delicious yet casual meal with a good cocktail in my neighborhood. Here are the cons. I may have scared my new production assistant away as Raquel was expecting a quick beer and she got a full on BBQ festival. But hey, if you're gonna work with me, ya gotta keep up!!! Thanks Theory!
I’ve loved burgers for as long as I can remember. The seeds of love and trust began to germinate when I was a little girl and my dad would take me and my two younger sisters all over Chicago to fun burger and hot dog spots; Byron's, Plush Pup, Wolfy's, etc. Of course there were the frequent trips to McDonalds, still a fond and comforting reminder of childhood, but it was the authentic Chicago burger joints that really made an impact.
I can appreciate a fancy gourmet burger just as much as the next foodie, but it’s the tried and true, old fashioned, greasy spoon burgers that are near and dear to my heart. You also can’t go wrong with a classic Steakhouse burger. My list below is compiled of many of MY Chicago favorites. I really tried to stay away from the main stream “favorites” that everyone always talks about. Of course we all love Kuma’s Corner, Au Cheval, etc., but I wanted to bring some new flavor to the table… pun intended. Here are my favorites, in no particular order.
The Lockdown Bar and Grill- Let’s just say I have a deep Burning Love for this next burger. The Fat Elvis Burger is all kinds of crazy. First off, for those of you who haven’t graced the space that is the Lockdown, be afraid…be very afraid… in a good way. DO NOT go on a day you have a migraine; as the incessant blast of heavy/death metal is on a decibel level not known to the common restaurant. But don’t let the hardcore, blood-curdling tunes and the prison-like atmosphere deter you. For the Fat Elvis Burger really makes this Jailhouse rock. If you like dessert for dinner, then pull up a chair, you're gonna be quite happy. They begin with Grand Marnier sautéed bananas and thick cut smokey bacon and pile it on a juicy black Angus patty that happens to be smothered in PEANUT BUTTER. The decadence is off the charts. Even though I ate this when I was already stuffed from about 5 other burgers… I couldn’t stop eating it. The juxtaposition of the sweet with the salty and the savory was sublime. Worth EVERY screaming calorie. 1024 N. Western Ave. West Town
West Town Bakery- A bakery?? Somewhat unlikely for one of my favorite burgers. Yet this fluffy piece of paradise deserves a top spot on the list. The West Coast double burger with American cheese and special sauce is curiously reminiscent of my favorite NON-Chicago burger, In N Out Burger. Pretty much everyone on Earth agrees that it doesn’t get any better than In N Out, so here’s a way to get a souped up version of it right here in Chi Town. It’s melty deliciousness is off the charts, and it’s soft bakery bun gives it a polished finish many “greasy spoon” burgers lack. The quality and freshness were incredible. A must try. 1916 W. Chicago Ave. West Town
Dusek’s- Ahhh the Juicy Lucy. Even though Pilsen is a bit of a hike, going to Dusek’s for all of their food, but especially their burger, is worth every step of the journey. Yes, the Juicy Lucy is considered a “Gourmet” burger… but that’s ok. Any burger that is made of Slagel Farm beef automatically scores major points. This burger is no exception. The preparation is unique yet with a recognizable flavor profile. The thick “local and sustainable” patty is served with a red onion and bacon marmalade that explodes with flavor. That, along with an heirloom tomato slice and butter lettuce make this burger deliciously well balanced. It should also be noted the Juicy Lucy is served with Duck Fat Fries. Yup… these fries are no joke. Bacon marmalade and duck fat fries on the same plate? Yes Please!!! 1227 W. 18th St. Pilsen
Centro Ristorante- I can’t remember a time I’ve EVER had a subpar meal at any of the Rosebud Restaurants. They’re not only known for their exceptional food, but also their consistency. Centro is their most recent opening, yet it is a revival of one of their very first Rosebud locations, Centro on Wells. But man, this River North spot knows how to do a a Steakhouse burger. Their Rosebud Burger on a Butter Bun is perfection. Don’t you dare get it cooked more than medium rare, as this thick juicy patty doesn’t deserve to be dried out. The butter bun is soft and scrumptious and it needs no more accoutrements than the simple combo of lettuce, tomato, and ketchup. One of the best steakhouse burgers I’ve ever had. 6 W. Hubbard St. River North
Chop Shop- This is one of my favorite NEW spots in EVERY aspect. It’s a kick-ass restaurant, it’s an Italian butcher shop, and also an entertainment/live music venue. It’s everything I love in one spot! But their burger is wonderful and is already scoring them a ton of buzz. Once again, simplicity and classicism win over pomp and flash. Their Butcher Burger is comprised of Slagel Farm beef (yay!!), aged cheddar, and smokey bacon. Cooked perfectly, perfectly seasoned, and perfectly delicious. This place will be my second home for sure. Oh, did I mention their incredible cocktail and craft beer menu??? Yea, definitely will be my second home. 2033 W. North Ave. Wicker Park
Odge’s- From the outside, Odge’s looks like a local graffiti artist had a field day. Inside… well it’s your typical old school Chicago hot dog/burger stand. The warm cozy nostalgia takes a back seat to the delicious burger. Double patty, oozy melted American cheese, grilled onions, ketchup, mustard, on a sesame seed bun. It was perfect and whisked me back to childhood and everything that is great about regional Chicago casual cuisine. If you want a solid and traditional burger… no frills, but cooked perfectly… check out Odge’s. 730 N. Damen Ave. Ukranian Village
Portillo’s- As I said this list is in no particular order. That being said, the Portillo’s cheeseburger is the one I eat most often, and may have to be my all time favorite numero uno. I’ve really never found another burger that can stand up to, or top this charbroiled masterpiece. It’s simple, and it’s perfect in every way. Lettuce, tomato, mayo, and melty American cheese. Needs NOTHING else…except maybe the occasional bacon upgrade. Hats off to you, Portillo’s. You’ve been curing my hangovers and making me happy for many years past, and I'm sure for many years in the future. 100 W. Ontario St. River North
Dillman’s- Au Cheval has gotten more press for their burger than probably any other food item in Chicago over the last year. Yes, the Au Cheval burger is glorious in every way… and wow…that egg. However, I wanted to give props to another Hogsalt Restaurant Group creation… the Dillman’s burger. Dillman’s is what you get when you cross a Jewish Deli with Bavette’s. A dark intimate room that serves one hell of a matzah ball soup…and burger. Imagine an actual quality version of a Big Mac on steroids. The towering double patty with “sharp” American cheese with dill pickle and dijonnaise is reminiscent of American’s iconic “I’m lovin it” burger. Only better, wayyyy better. It’s delicious and needs its own place in the spot light… apart from it’s famous Au Cheval sibling. 354 W. Hubbard St. River North
Edzo’s- Let’s just say when I met the manager, Thom, at Edzo’s he informed me that he’s eaten at least one burger a day for the last 27 years. I kid you not. So it says a great deal that he chose to manage the acclaimed Edzo’s in Lincoln Park. Now he can satisfy his burger obsession easily, often, and with an amazing product. Edzo’s does the traditional, old-school burger right. Fresh, never frozen, tasty thin patty with the traditional toppings, ketchup, mustard, pickle and onion. The also offer a “Slagel Farm Upgrade” which made me so beyond happy. It’s not everyday that a fast food burger joint will offer the highest quality, local, sustainable, and “animal friendly” meat. So, I of course, tried the “Spicy Sconnie” burger with the Slagel Farm beef. It’s made with “ketchipotle sauce”, jalepeno infused Merkt’s cheddar, and grilled onions. It was spicy, sweet, tangy, and unreal. Loved every bite. If I were Thom, I could definitely see eating one of these creations on a daily basis. 2218 N. Lincoln Ave. Lincoln Park
The Wiener’s Circle- Chances are, if you’ve ever been to The Wiener’s Circle, you were likely blackout drunk at 3:30 am. You also probably remember the screaming insult match you got into with the staff instead of the meal you ordered. So please allow me to refresh your memory. I’ve been going to this crazy joint for about 15 years now. And shockingly, I’ve been there in the broad afternoon daylight…as well as in the dark and ominous twilight hours. Their charbroiled cheeseburger is out of this world. I do NOT want to know how it’s made, who is making it, or what the sanitation process is, I put the blinders on for this one . It’s magic on a bun. The char flavor with that Merkt’s like sharp cheddar sauce that resembles a neon orange greasy form of crack is sinful. Literally, i’m sure. I implore you to try it in the light of day… not only will you remember it, but the staff will go a bit easier on you too. Tip: Do NOT order the “Chocolate Milkshake”. 2622 N. Clark St. Lincoln Park