Barrio

There is indoor and outdoor seating, and it’s packed during brunch so make sure you get reservations beforehand (there’s a fee if you cancel so make sure you’re committed). There is a two hour time limit if you opt for bottomless mimosas ($30). Our waitress was fantastic – super friendly and gave us free shots out of the blue; thank you! The bloody mary drinks come with huge bacon wrapped stuffed jalapenos. The blueberry cornbread was delicious. The chips were fresh and crispy, and the guacamole was good though a little small. There’s also a live DJ for Sunday brunch. Lots of parties around us were having a good time, though a little rowdy. 18% gratuity added automatically to bill.

Check them out on Yelp or at their website!

Proxi in West Loop

It’s nice it’s finally warm enough to start going out again and eating outdoors on patios. They were super nice and flexible when friends wanted to join our reservation last minute. The drinks were fantastic. I was surprised by how tender and good the fish dishes here were – the lamb was also fantastic, super tender and flavorful. The dishes are on the smaller side and more expensive because you’ll need to order several to share and fill up, but I thought they were worth it. The tempura elote photos are all over Yelp and I can see why – delicious crispy but soft, fantastic texture! About $70 per person with 20% gratuity added automatically.

Check them out on Yelp or at their website!

Anniversary at Momotaro

We celebrated Chicago’s reopening and our anniversary at Momotaro in West Loop. We booked through OpenTable and indicated the anniversary celebration; everyone mentioned it and we got a keepsake anniversary menu! Our waiter gave us a nice detailed overview of the menu and was helpful in pointing out dishes he recommended. Cocktails were good, and the sushi was spot on. Is it lame if I say my favorite was the otoro? We got the chef’s recs nigiri plate – like omakase though not one at a time (there were only a few seats at the sushi bar). Felt safe, staff wore masks, and there were glass dividers and it wasn’t too crowded. Dessert was absolutely amazing – chocolate tarte with a crackle piece and hazelnut crumble that was amazing. They also gave us a free anniversary dessert pop, which was really nice, though I found it kind of doughy. Service was great, fast water refills. Ran us $300, but I had a great time.

Check them out on Yelp or at their website!

Breaking fast with Ever (2M) in West Loop

It’s been a long year without eating out; after getting vaccinated and continuing to take distancing and masking precautions, we finally felt safe to return to eating out to celebrate and chose to break our restaurant fast with Ever, Curtis Duffy’s pandemic restaurant in West Loop. We were doubly lucky to be able to eat with our friends, J&J, who we haven’t seen since before the pandemic.

We booked ahead through Tock for their 10 course tasting menu, which uses a $100 deposit that is applied to your final check. The architecture of the restaurant was amazing – felt insulated and the noise level is aptly described as ‘hushed’. Hanging ingredients greeted us as we walked in through the long hallway (articles say these were originally intended to be things you could sample, a la Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but alas, COVID). We were seated in a socially-distanced manner. Servers wore masks throughout the meal, as did we when not eating/drinking.

Seafood and fresh vegetables were the highlights of the meal – sunchoke to scallops, king crab to white asparagus; the wine pairing is all whites and we were just commenting on the pescatarian nature of the meal when the wagyu arrived; is it lame if I say this was my favorite? The most interesting dish was the Rhubarb – with dry ice on the bottom, upon which hibiscus was poured, creating bubbles that released little mists when they popped – how delightful!

My husband enjoyed the crab, hamachi, salmon, beet, and wagyu. The hamachi was his favorite of the seafood dishes – frozen curls that warmed as the dish progressed, with finger limes – always fun, playful citrus pop, almost like ceviche? The scallops in little custard jars, sealed with applewood smoke, with little lids. The cream cheese ice cream with pollen and candied beet; like a sorbet or cheese transition post entrees before dessert.

Really enjoyed the bread ‘pairing’ with some of the later dishes – favorite was the Japanese milk bread.

Everything was good, and a wide range of flavors were presented. Service was impeccable, highly professional yet friendly and welcoming. Wait staff were synchronized in their serving of dishes, pouring of drinks. They also let you glimpse into the (surprisingly silent) kitchen after the meal. A great experience; we lucked out and went before Michelin stars came out today – two stars for Ever!

Yelp; website

Tzuco

We were super excited to check out Tzuco after reading a lot about them online. We got lucky because we came early and snagged seats at the bar; it got super full shortly thereafter. The bartender was fantastic and accommodating. Everyone talks about the octopus – pulpo enamorado – I don’t usually like octopus but this was really well prepared. The cactus sorbet was really cool in the ceviche verde. The tinga de pollo tetela had a good flavor. The dessert was awesome – surprisingly sour with citrus tapioca and guanabana and the hazelnut sponge cake with salted caramel and beautiful leaf were great.
Check them out on Yelp or at their website!

Guest writers; Schwa, 1 Michelin, Chicago

Featuring our friends Corey and Phil writing:

One of my favorite Chicago restaurant experiences so far. Such fun, great music, cool waiters. Strange BYOB but worked well; we didn’t bring any white so they kindly provided some to pair with the seafood. Loved the sparkling water. Liked how we paid ahead of time.

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“The waiters seemed more like someone out of the local skate park than what I’d expect at a Michelin star restaurant…in a good way. The curtain hung, and the music was to die for”

“It felt like Pan’s labyrinth. The attendants were marvelous – they could tell a joke, and stand to take a joke. The music reminded me that I was among my own people. This was not your grandmother’s 1 michelin star restaurant.”

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“What of the cocktail. For an unobservant participant, they might miss the amuse bouche on the top of the glass.”

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“The ravioli was like a heroin injection in my mouth. It was like a quail nestled in my egg. It brought forth an umami flavor. If I could have but one dish before I was executed, this I would want to be the antipasta.”

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The soup started out with a celebration of autumn. It was antelope 3 ways. It was a tour de force of the evening. I haven’t even had antelope one way, let alone three! When the brought was poured on the garlic and sage, on the vegetables and squash. It was a symphony on my senses…and oh the songs that it sang.

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We only brought a red wine and didn’t have a white wine, but the waiters were kind enough to pour us small glasses from a house white.

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The leaves standing up on the caviar potato chip was a small gesture that went a long way. This was an elevated sour cream and onion potatochips, with a salty surprise on top, but also a salty surprise inside.

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The next course looked like something out of an alien’s garden. The fish I was better off not knowing, because I will never eat another fish again the same way. The skate was perfectly cooked. The colors required every cone in my eye to see the color. Without having tasting it I knew this would be a dish that would unite all my senses.

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The next one bite dish was a great single bite. It had a rich filling with a crunchy finish. When my cat saw this, it purred.

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This was a fascinating play on a childhood favorite. The dreamcicle. However, they did it right by not making it to sweet. Instead, they had the creamcicle flavor, while still enjoying the savory nature of the brains. You wanna talk about smart food, here’s your dish.

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The next dish featured a steaming center piece that made my mouth water and mind wonder as I wondered what hidden scent was now delighting my senses. I thought, let me try sleeping vertically to enjoy this more.

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Next came a wagyu beef dish. Let’s just say I didn’ think a cow do this, and I’ve seen a cow do a lot of things. This dish ‘moo’ved me.

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To think that bread and butter could be so innovatively done is a testament to this establishment, and I say, hats off to the cook. The dough of the bao simply filled the mouth with a chewy rush of flavor. When the beef inside let forth its succulent juices, it sang like a choir.

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This cheese course was the south by southwest in a bite. This one felt like things I’ve eaten before, but never truly appreciated until they were combined in this truly elegant bite.

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Popsicle – good not great. I felt like it tasted something from my childhood, but less sweet with more authentic flavor. I thought when I’m slowly transitioning to a soft diet, this is what I’ll start with.

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I loved the presentation of the dessert, and I was wowed by the flavors. The flavor profile – BAM. The fennel added a much needed rustic and earthy note to an otherwise sweet dish. My hats off to the chef, the sous chef, the sommelier, and the line chef #gamerespectgame #TB12. This is one meal, I will not soon, forget. In fact, this is the best fine dining experience, I had in months.

Check them out on Yelp or at their website.

 

Girl & the Goat

Our friend gave us a gift card to Girl & the Goat, where we’ve been meaning to go since we moved here. We walked in right at opening and were able to get seated pretty much immediately, which was awesome. We were at the back and could see all the dishes being prepared, which was pretty cool. Service was wonderful, really prompt, the perfect amount of checking in, and food was well-paced. Despite everyone raving about the pig face, I found it too much and too salty, and also the idea of it made me a little queasy. Should have gone with the short ribs, which looked delicious. The green beans were also too salty. The goat empanadas were good. The fish was surprisingly really good, probably the best dish of the meal. The dessert – “Sticky tasty toffee yummy – Sweet potato cake . miso caramel whip . sour cream ice cream . gooseberry” was absolutely spectacular. Drinks were good too. Overall was okay – a little too salty and maybe overhyped, not bad but didn’t live up to expectations.

Check them out on Yelp or at their website.

Acadia, 2**

We walked in on a quiet Sunday evening without any reservations and the bar was pretty wide open, surprising because of how amazing our experience was, I would think they’d be absolutely full. The service was superb – I thought our bartender was really experienced, thoughtful, and observant. The drinks were great, the fried chicken had perfectly sweet honey crunchy skin; the lamb cumin was pretty authentic flavor-wise though a little spicy for me. The sorghum and black sesame dessert blew me away, an amazing playful range of textures and flavors. A really great experience, can’t wait to come back and try the full tasting menu. Check them out on Yelp or at their website!

 

 

Just opened – MingHin in South Loop

We’ve been watching this for the last few months and they finally opened! Best part is dim sum available every day at any time – including my favorite, crepes! Although just opened, didn’t have the usual trouble that new places do – clearly run by a group familiar with restaurant business – good speed and service (though husband ran out of water a few times, but that’s common because he drinks an exorbitant amount with meals). Loved the crepes as mentioned, the duck was also good but wish there was more meat on the skin pieces, though it did come with a duck fried rice dish, I like the buns+hoisin+greens better. Egg tarts were great though they were out of the multicolored ones, that was okay. Green beans a little salty. It was cool you could order on iPads – beautiful big photos. Very reasonable price too, generous portions that gave us several additional meals from leftovers. Overall a nice addition to South Loop that satisfies that dim sum craving.

Check them out on Yelp or at their website!

Rosebud

We went to Rosebud on a Saturday night so it was really busy. Despite making reservations, still had to wait awkwardly at the downstairs bar, then when we were told we had a table, had to still wait by the maitre d’ table before being seated. Pretty noisy, and service was okay, but nothing particularly special. They did have very generous portions, from the gigantic eggplant parmesan to the huge chocolate cake. Very classic Italian fare. Check them out on Yelp or at their website!

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