Howdy, y’all! I can’t believe October is almost over. So far, I’ve spent every weekend of the month away from home.. two trips to visit my alma mater in Tuscaloosa, AL (roll tide!), a trip to Chicago and a weekend house sitting! It’s been insane, so I am more than ready for a quiet weekend at home. In the meantime, I wanted to share my visit to Chicago with you, including everything I ate! We managed to fit a lot in just 36 hours…
My parents and I went to visit my little sister, who is in school at DePaul. My family is pretty big on food, so basically our only plans for the weekend were dining reservations. We started off with dinner at Bottlefork, a trendy bar/restaurant in River North, on Friday night. I had read about Bottlefork as having the best burger in Chicago by multiple sources, so definitely was on the top of my list of places to try. The menu consists of elevated pub-style food; like Wagyu beef jerky and a ‘Rich Man’ Po Boy with Lobster and Foie. Our favorites were Tots smothered in a pimento cheese sauce, the Burger, which is a bacon blend loaded with blue cheese, shoe string potatoes and special sauce, Gnocchi with Duck Confit and the Pastrami Poutine. All in all, a great meal with good service and a cool atmosphere.
Y’all know I’m all about a sweet treat, so after dinner we walked over to Rick Bayless’ fast casual spot, Xoco, and grabbed some churros. We tried plain, pistachio and chocolate. I will say, the chocolate is a Mexican chocolate, so probably not quite as sweet as what you’re used to. My fav was pistachio; the perfect way to end a night!
I’ve been dying to brunch at Summerhouse, so we snagged a reservation Saturday morning. All I can say about this one is VIBES. Very California, airy and bright; I would have been impressed by the atmosphere alone. I started with a fresh-pressed green juice and a chocolate donut, because #balance. Both were great. My mom also got an awesome hot chocolate. For entrees, we tried the Hashbrown Eggs Benedict (served with candied bacon – amazing), Breakfast Tostadas, the Egg White Omelette and obviously Avocado Toast. The menu is a great mix of California cuisine with traditional brunch items and some with a Southwestern flair. I could definitely go back and try all different things!
After brunch, we walked down Armitage, a cute street with lots of shops in Lincoln Park. My sister showed us all of her favorite local spots. Some shops worth checking out: Marine Layer, All She Wrote, Lori’s Shoes, Intermix and Art Effect. Then we hopped on the train and headed downtown for a little more shopping and eating. We hit up Eataly, which if you’ve never been is a must. It’s like an Italian grocery store turned foodie amusement park. There are stations with bread, meat, cheese, pizza, wine, coffee, pastries, pasta, you name it. We grabbed some fresh ciabatta, a truffle creme cheese and salami and made ourselves a little picnic. I could spend hours looking at all the packaged grocery items in Eataly. Between canned truffle-pesto sauce, handmade pastas and artisinal olive oils, I could do some serious damage grocery shopping!
Dinner Saturday night was at Carmines, an old-school Italian joint that’s part of a restaurant group that’s been dishing up classic Italian food in Chicago for more than 40 years. And you could tell from the food! We pretty much all ordered pasta. I got the Cavatelli al Forno. When I ordered the waiter asked if I liked cheese.. as if that’s a question. I considered going all Real Housewife on him and flipping the table – “What do you mean do I like cheese? Do I LIKE CHEESE? WHO DO YOU THINK I AM?” His question was valid though, it definitely did not disappoint this cheese lover! We also tried the Vodka sauce, Lobster Ravioli and Veal; all solid choices. Our waiter talked us into a Chocolate Mousse Cake for dessert. My mom and I can be chocolate cake snobs, but this one passed our test! There were probably 10 layers of cake and mousse; the mousse was definitely the star but the cake was pretty moist as well.
Sunday morning we really only had time for one meal, but I somehow managed to make it into two. I had several recommendations from my Instagram followers to try Doughnut Vault, but we already had brunch plans somewhere else. I just couldn’t not check out the doughnuts though, so I headed to Doughnut Vault before it opened and got in line (you know it’s worth it if there’s a line.)
I snagged a box of doughnuts and met my fam at brunch at Nookies Too, a kind of hole-in-the-wall breakfast spot in Lincoln Park, and one of my sister’s favorites. They have all your breakfast staples like pancakes, benedicts, scrambles and skillets. I got the Paris Benedict and it was amaze. Brioche topped with bacon, poached eggs, Gruyere, asparagus and a rich truffle cream sauce. Yum!
I spent Sunday afternoon wandering around Lincoln Park while my parents took my sister to the grocery and other parental duties. I hung out at Cafe Floriole for a bit. I only had room for a chai latte – upsetting, I know – but I’ve had awesome pastries at this place before. The have a Chocolate Pot de Creme that is out of this world. Definitely recommend if you’re in the neighborhood! I wish we could have fit in a few more places, but that just means more on the list for the next trip. What are your fav Chicago spots? I’d love to add to my list!
Biscuits & Blessings,