Brunch at La Sirena Clandestina – West Loop

La Sirena Clandestina Dining RoomLa Sirena Clandestina feels cozy yet open with large front windows that allow the morning light to come streaming in. There is not shortage of rustic wood highlighted by brick and teal walls. The stools, netted light fixtures and mermaid artwork give it a retro vibe.

I love a classic American breakfast but La Sirena Clandestina brings a nice change of pace with its Latin/Brazilian/Japanese take on brunch. There are so many interesting mixes of flavors in each dish. It reminded me of Myers + Chang or what I imagine Fat Rice would taste like if they served brunch.

Let’s start with the fact I found my favorite empanada in Chicago. I’ve been around the Empanada Block, from Chicago to Colombia and these won my heart. I suspect it has to do with Continue reading

Breakfast in Soho – Jack’s Wife Freda

Jack's Wife Freda Entrance

Jack’s Wife Freda is a cute little spot in Soho on Lafayette Street. We walked by and noticed the charming white and green awning and took a peek inside to find a bright yet cozy space with leather bench seating along the walls and a long communal table in the center. Arriving just at opening ensured us a seat and it steadily filled up by the minute.

Jack's Wife Freda Interior

We ordered a cappuccino (Stumptown, yay!) while we looked at the hand drawn menu and contemplated the origin of the restaurant’s name. The menu has Continue reading

Best Pancakes In Atlanta – Ria’s Bluebird

Ria's Bluebird Logo

Image via riasbluebird.com

Ria’s Bluebird was the last restaurant on my southern road trip and it was a great way to end a memorable trip. It was recommended by an Atlantan that swears by their pancakes being the best in the Atlanta. Located in Grant Park across from the historic Oakland Cemetery Ria’s is colorful and eclectic just like its clientele. The vibe is laid back and you get the feeling you might be the only tourist because everyone seemed to know each other. It makes sense, Ria’s has been in business for thirteen years and has a cult following.

Everything is from scratch as you would expect down home cooking to be. Ria is also committed to using local ingredients and an inventive cooking style so as she says, “I don’t have boring food.” I am a witness to that.

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Tweet, Let’s Eat! – Uptown, Chicago

Tweet Patio

There is something for everyone at Tweet. Gluten-free, full bar, great beer selection, healthy options, comfort food options, Mexican dishes, vegetarian and vegan options, huge portions, toys brought to the table for kids, free Wi-Fi, plenty of parking on Sheridan, outdoor seating. You get the picture. Continue reading

Macanese Cuisine at Fat Rice – Logan Square

Fat Rice Poster

Fat Rice is the restaurant everyone and their mother has been talking about recently. I wanted to see for myself if this number four rated best restaurant in America 2013 (according to Bon Appetit) lived up to the hype. Waiting for an hour for a table can be a pain but the set up at Fat Rice makes it bearable (does anyone take reservations anymore?). Meaning there is a dedicated server for the people waiting in the outside seating that will promptly feed you drinks.

Fat Rice Outdoor Seating Fat Rice Building

The menu is based on food from Macau serving “Euro-Asian comfort food.” What that means is a mix of great flavors with roots from Portugal, Asia,  India and Spain and a whole lot of lemongrass, garlic, sauces, curry, sausage, vegetables, noodles and seafood.

I started with the Kalimotxo, described as “sangria-like” with Luberri Rioja “Biga”, coca-cola and lemon. It was a tasty twist on sangria and the cola actually works with it. Continue reading

Brunch @ Perennial Virant – Lincoln Park

Sunday’s are always good for sitting outside and enjoying a Bloody Mary and some brunch. I decided to check out Perennial Virant in Lincoln Park because every time I pass by the patio is packed and everyone always looks like they are having fun.

If you don’t mind a crowd this is the place to be on Sunday…check out my video to see the food and restaurant. (Sorry, it was a bit windy when I filmed!)

Housemade Sausage: two eggs cooked your way, homefries with cheese curds, toast…cheese curds were amazing! And I’ve had some good cheese curds in my days in Madison, Wisconsin.

3-Egg Skillet: roasted broccoli, mushrooms, onions, capriko cheese…left us wishing there was more.

Bloody Mary: Nice and spicy

 

You Need to Get Yourself to Lula Cafe – Logan Square

Photo: Marina Karassellos

Saturday brunch outside in the sun is one of the best ways to start your morning in Chicago. I didn’t even have to experience the usual long wait, the stars must have been aligned. I hope there are few more days for outside dining, we’ll see. Brunch line-up:

Strada ­­— savory pain de mie bread pudding with eggplant, bacon, basil, spinach, and provolone. The salad was a nice balance to the richness of the strada. As always bacon makes anything taste better but it also added a nice crispness to the softness of the bread and veggies. Highly recommend.

Breakfast Burrito with avocado, onion, pepper, potato, eggs, and cheddar; with sour cream and salsa verde. I am a sucker for a breakfast burrito but this one is definitely in the top ten. Every ingredient was fresh and the eggs cooked perfectly which can make the difference between an okay burrito and a great one.

Lula has a Monday night farm dinner (menu example, here). Many vegetarian friendly items as well. I hope to be back soon to try their dinner.

Lula Cafe – 2537 N. Kedzie Boulevard Chicago, IL 60647

Shut Up And Bake

Bleeding Heart Bakery is not for the faint of heart. Sorry for the kinda-pun but it’s true. Exhibit A: Deep-fried doughnut breakfast sandwich. Yep, a donut that is tempura battered and deep-fried with a fried egg and choice of meat and cheese.

BHB’s new West Town cafe is a beautiful and spacious diner with great artwork, murals and vintage touches.  I cannot wait for the rooftop next year. Cassie, our waitress/new BFF, broke down the large menu in terms of what we should get for first-timers. I also have to say, for Day 2 this place had it together. Everything ran smoothly and everyone that worked there seemed like they had been doing it for years. You might recognize the owners Michelle and Vinny Garcia from various Food Network competitions and their Roscoe Village and Oak Park bakery locations.

Cassie recommended swapping out one of the chai’s on order for The Dim…a banana split mocha…behold:

Next up, Housemade Biscuits & Gravy. I don’t usually get B&G so I wanted to try something different. These were good; some cayenne on top so there is a little kick to the thick and rich gravy. You could tell the biscuits were made from scratch, hearty but flaky. Had the eggs over easy.

My favorite dish of the meal, Veruca Salt Waffle: salted caramel mouse and vanilla anglaise. This was one of the best savory and sweet dishes I have tasted. The warm gooey caramel melting into the sea salt = complete gratification. The waffles were a perfect slight crisp on the outside and light and fluffy inside.

Last up, since it was “healthy”, the Caramelized Grapefruit. Basically crème brulée grapefruit. Sugar combined with tart thirst-quenching juice was the perfect way to end the meal.

Great relaxed vibe with a slight edge. Good for brunch anytime of the day and if you don’t have much time, order sweets/donuts/cakes and coffee from the to go counter. Vegan, vegetarian options and local and organic farm ingredients used. Also open 57 hours straight from Friday until Sunday so if you get some food craving late-night, head there. The A/C was cranked so if you get cold easily might want to bring an extra layer.

Cute bathrooms too:

Will I be back? Yes. Should you go? Definitely.

Join the Punk Rock Brunch at Bleeding Heart Bakery and Café - West Town, 1916 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60622