GUEST POST: Best of Chicago

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The following is a guest post by a (formerly) local blogger sweet enough to share the best spots in Chi-town while Sara is snorkeling with dolphins. 

Hello SaraBozich.com readers!

My name is Lauren and I use to be a local Harrisburg blogger. I still blog (www.saywhatyouneedtosayblog.com) but over the past year, I’ve relocated to the Windy City to venture into some pretty amazing experiences in the beautiful land of Chicago.

LaurenP

Not knowing much about this city before I moved, there were two things that were reinforced to me by the locals as soon as I came: the summers here are unreal and the food is out of this world. Turns out, they were right!

Aside from the multitude of street festivals every weekend, being steps away from “the beach,” and being in the core of some of the best nightlife, I’ve also found myself surrounded by some of the best bars and restaurants I’ve ever experienced.

It would be nearly impossible to keep track of Chicago’s best places to eat in my book; however, there are a few honorable mentions that have stood out in my mind over the past year.

Breakfast/Brunch

Prasino brunch.
Prasino brunch.

Prasino – Wicker Park

This has become a regular brunch spot for me, Chelsey and Kathleen and was the first real place I ate at in Chicago. The brunch menu is outstanding, even though I have yet to get anything other than my absolute favorite – The Hippie omelet. It serves contemporary American with upscale seasonal fare and full service bar. Not to mention, they brew and make their own Kombucha, which is an instant win for me!

Little Goat Pancakes.
Little Goat Pancakes.

Little Goat – West Loop

The sister restaurant of one of my all time favorite’s Girl and the Goat, this modern-day diner has quickly climbed to the top of my list for breakfast spots in the city. I’ve been here twice, both for breakfast, and have loved it each time. They do offer a lunch and dinner menu but I haven’t heard the best things about anything other than their AM meals. The Apple Crumble Pancakes are to die for as well as the Elvis French Toast stuffed with bananas and peanut butter. Unlike Girl and the Goat, Little Goat does not take reservations so either try to hit it on a weekday or expect a little wait on the weekends.

Toast – Lincoln Park

There are so many adorable little cafes in Lincoln Park, but Toast is one of my favorite spots for brunch. The menu isn’t huge, but it’s beautifully designed and offers a nice selection and balance between sweet and savory items. The banana walnut pancakes are out of this world, and the lemon poppy seed come in at a close second. They’re aren’t many tables so if you are going on the weekend, you will probably wait — but trust me, it’s worth it!

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Orange and Rosemary French Toast at Orange.

Orange – Lincoln Park

Orange with A Peel – first, props for having such a great name! The second major draw to this place is the unique frushi it serves daily. Yes, frushi – fresh fruit rolled in sweet rice. So for those that have an issue eating raw fish in the morning, this may be your answer. Orange has two locations and both are always busy during the weekend brunch hour. I was able to attend to their Lincoln Park location recently where I devoured a plate of Orange and Rosemary French Toast. Most of their menu items, although not all, have a hint of orange embedded into the ingredients in some way. Clever and most importantly, delicious!

Coffee Shops/ Cafes

Julius Meinl – Lakeview

Vienna, Austria-based specialty coffee roaster serves up gourmet coffees and fine teas as well as an impressive German-inspired light menu. I’ve eaten here a few times but usually stop in on my way to work to pick up an iced coffee. This place is so inviting and a nice change from my usual Starbucks stop. I’ve eaten here a few times but their baked egg dishes are the most sought out and the chicken salad is also some of the best I’ve ever had!

Intelligentsia Coffee– Lakeview, Logan Square, West Loop

Intelligentsia coffee is 100% local and some of the best I’ve had. There are a few locations in the city, but many smaller coffee shops will proudly serve their coffee on the menu.

floriel
Lunch at Floriele Cafe.

Floriole Cafe and Bakery– Lincoln Park

Floriole specializes in french pastries using fresh, local ingredients. They also serve Intelligentsia coffee and a great selection of local organic teas.

Argo Tea– Various locations

I’m pretty sure this may be a chain, but I haven’t seen any before moving to Chicago. Their tea menu is extensive offering everything from fancy chai lattes to sparkling fruit teas. I love this place when I’m in the mood for something refreshing and different.

Sushi

Rollapalooza – Boystown

The name may throw you but don’t be fooled, this place has pretty incredible sushi. What I love most is they offer Forbidden Black Rice in any of their rolls. It’s a BYOB as well which is always a fun option when dining.

sushi
Chicago has incredible sushi restaurants.

Rise – Lakeview
Shine– Lincoln Park

Both of these are under the same ownership but each have a slightly different menu and ambiance to offer. The sushi is of course stellar, but also try any of the stir fries and you will be pleased.

Bars / Pubs

The Diag – Lakeview
Derby – Lincoln Park
FatPour – Wicker Park

I may be a bit biased because I work for these bars, but all three are definitely worth checking out. The Diag, a beloved neighborhood sports bar with Chicago’s rated top patios is the perfect place to grab a drink on a warm summer night. Derby is a bar and grill with a classy Kentucky Derby theme. The menu is southern inspired but with an upscale twist. Fatpour is a hardcore beer bar in the heart of hipster-ville. If you ever are in the area and want to check out any of these bars, please let me know and I will make sure you’re taken care of.

DMK Burger – Lakeview

DMK is hands down the best burger place I’ve been to. Every time I go, I’m lured into trying a new burger because each are so unique. The quality of these burgers are up to par and if you are looking for the best veggie burger in the city, look no further than DMK.

Casual and Fine Dining

Girl and the Goat – West Loop

I’ve had the opportunity to dine here twice and both times were incredible experiences. You can read my full reviews here and here.

Piccolo Sogno – West Loop

Fantastic little Italian restaurant! You can read my full review of it here.

crosby's kitchen
Salad at Crosby’s Kitchen.

Crosby’s Kitchen – Lakeview

This place has an modernized southern-inspired menu with a wood-fire open kitchen and smoky rotisserie. The sangria is freshly made daily and delicious and their salads are incredible! If you go, don’t miss the corn bread as it’s one of their signature dishes and will blow your mind!

The Gage – The Loop, Michigan Ave

A unique tavern that fuses the freshest ingredients into some rather interesting dishes. A great spot to grab dinner if you are downtown.

Nacional 27 – West Loop

A modern Latin restaurant, this restaurant/dance club is the place to be on a Saturday night. The menu is tapas style and the mojitos are some of the best in the city.

Avec – West Loop

A Mediterranean restaurant in the West Loop. It’s small with family style seating and the menu is meat for sharing. This place was also rated one of the top 20 places to eat in America from Bon Appetite Magazine.

As you can imagine, this is just a small sample of the seemingly endless bounty of delicious food in this city. If you ever find yourself in Chicago, come hungry!

Sara Bozich
Author: Sara Bozich

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