Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria is a Chicago staple. It’s one of the three big Chicago deep dish pizza chains, so I absolutely had to give it a try. I was walking back to the city from Lincoln Park, and came across the Gold Coast Lou Malnati’s location. I stopped in for some garlic bread with marinara sauce (pictured above) and a deep dish pizza (below). It was super tasty, although very heavy (not a surprise). The pizza was really flavorful and rich, and while I don’t usually favor the thick-crust pizza, this was good. The crust (we ordered the Buttercrust style pizza at the suggestion of friends and guidebooks) was actually yummy, and I ate it all when I almost never eat the crust. It was a good call, and the lunch tided me over for the rest of the day!
Toast is a cute little breakfast diner in Lincoln Park (although there’s another location in Bucktown as well). We went there on a Sunday morning, and even though there was already a 45 minute wait, the hostess told us we should feel free to wander around the neighborhood rather than waiting right outside. It was a gorgeous sunny day, so we did just that.
We sat at the bar where I ordered the Stuffed French Toast — one each of the strawberry, mascarpone, and Mexican chocolate stuffed french toasts. They were all delicious (the strawberry was my favorite), and the friendly server who joked with us all through breakfast made the experience even better. In fact, for a crowded and trendy breakfast spot, Toast was really pleasant to hang out in. The staff was friendly and jovial, and the food was reasonably priced and served up unexpectedly fast. It’s definitely worth the wait!
I think my favorite restaurant in Chicago is Hot Chocolate. It’s this great little place in Bucktown where they serve the best damn cup of hot chocolate I have EVER had. I started with the Medium hot chocolate, which their menu describes as “milk chocolate with a touch of dark chocolate and a hint of caramel.” It tasted like heaven. Pure heaven. Warm, with a home-made marshmallow on the side.
I also got the Napolean au Chocolate & Pear (above), which I can only describe as the best invention in the history of food. The menu describes it as “bittersweet chocolate sabayon mousse, port wine pear sorbet, almond feuillantine, 2hr dehydrated port wine poached pears, local honey cream”…also known as delicious. When we finished the dessert, we weren’t ready to leave so we got the Assortment of Artisan Cheeses. Our wonderful waiter selected the cheeses for us at our request (all we told him was that we had a preference for hard cheeses and mild but interesting flavors) and he totally delivered! In addition to the cheeses, there was a smear of fresh apple butter, a selection of breads, and some fresh fruits and veggies. This was the best, most delightful surprise. I wish I could go to Hot Chocolate every single day! (I’m not kidding….)
The Wildberry Cafe serves up a mean short stack! Their Signature Berry Bliss Pancakes (pictured above) are topped with fresh berries, Wildberry Mascarpone, a vanilla cream sauce, and a blackberry sauce. They’re super-tasty, and extremely affordable. Given the location of the Wildberry I went to — right across the street from Millennium Park — it’s really easy to grab some pancakes as you’re running about town. The wait was only 45 minutes when I went: on a sunny and warm St. Patrick’s Day, incidentally a Saturday morning, around 11:00 (about 30 minutes after they finished dying the river green), amidst swarms of green-clad revelers. In other words, it was something of a miracle that I only had to wait 45 minutes — and that after that the service was friendly and fast, and the food was delicious. I’d visit Wildberry again if given the chance. Totally recommend!
…would taste as sweet! And oooooh how sweet it tastes. While wandering around Chicago’s River North district, I stumbled upon the Rosebud Trattoria. I ordered the Antipasti Misto (above), which was very tasty. The olives and cheeses were flavorful and delicious, and the Margherita Pizza (below) was that perfect balance between crispy and soft. Perhaps most surprising was the friendly and fast service, and the romantic atmosphere (from the outside, the place didn’t look like all that much). It was a really good meal, and a nice dining experience.
The Chicago Diner is awesome! I have to begin this post by apologizing for the quality of this photograph: the lighting in the restaurant was very red, and this picture doesn’t do the food justice. (In an attempt to rectify this, I’ve pasted a photo of the same dish from the Chicago Diner’s Facebook page below.) The Chicago Diner is an entirely vegetarian (and very, very vegan-friendly) restaurant in Chicago’s Lake View district. I ordered the Radical Reuben at the encouragement of my friend, who introduced me to this wonderful establishment, and I was not disappointed. It was delicious. If I could, I would return to Chicago and eat the same sandwich all over again! If you’re ever in Chicago, whether you’re a vegetarian or not, you should definitely stop by the Chicago Diner for a memorable dining experience. This restaurant is one of my all-time favorites.
While wandering around Chicago’s River North district, I ended up at the Cantina Laredo. I didn’t know at the time, but it’s actually a large national chain. Regardless, their food was delicious. We had them make their “top shelf guacamole” (pictured above) for us, and it was fresh and spicy — just what we wanted.
I also ordered a mango margarita (above), which was delicious — not too sweet, not too strong — and the Enchiladas de Avocado (below). I never would have thought to put avocados and artichokes together in an enchilada, but it was incredible! Of course, nothing was as incredible as the dessert.
For dessert, we ordered the churros, which came with strawberries and a delicious chocolate-y, caramel-y, Grand Marnier-y sauce. Oh. My. Goodness. These churros were … I don’t even have words. Crispy and fresh on the outside, warm and melty on the inside. Cinnamon and sugar dusting the outside and sticking to your fingertips. I wanted to lick the plate when they were all gone. Seriously.
I ended up at The Purple Pig when I went to Chicago last month, and it was the happiest culinary surprise! All I wanted was something light and delicious, and that’s exactly what I got. I sat outside on their cute patio, at one of their oversized communal tables. It may have been mid-March, but it was also in the mid-80s and it was the ideal day for patio dining. I ordered one of the smears (I have now forgotten which one, although I remember it being sweet and delicious…pictured above), the marinated olives (which came with some really yummy pickled veggies…pictured below) to start.
Then I ordered the best, and most surprising, dish of all: the Salt Roasted Beets with Whipped Goat Cheese & Pistacio Vinaigrette (below). It was amazing. This was a delightful find, and if you find yourself in Chicago, just north of the Chicago River along the Magnificent Mile, be sure to stop in at The Purple Pig for “cheese, wine, and swine” (as their subtitle proclaims)!