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Bohemian House?

Nearby is Celeste, where I've had really great cocktails and some dynamite food. And if you go after the show, you may be able to get some ridiculously good fried chicken, which is the complete antithesis of the restaurant otherwise. Skip the street level and head up to the 2nd level.

Sep 30, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area

Bohemian House?

I went the 2nd week it was open and really enjoyed the rabbit dumplings and pierogies. We sat at the bar and chatted with the managing partner, who was very friendly. I found cocktails to be a bit on the sweet side.

Beautiful space, with a diverse crowd (mix of typical River North crowd and older, food-focused crews).

All in all, worth a visit - order the pierogies.

Sep 29, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area

Magnificent Mile Hip Eateries

Not on this list, but also in West Loop (should you happen to find yourself there) and very friendly to bar seating for single diners would be La Sirena Clandestina, and my current favorite restaurant in Chicago - Tete Charcuterie. Both have outstanding cocktail programs in addition to great food.

Sep 26, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area

Twelve hours in Springfield, MO- tees, gifts, and delicious eats!

I found the pork verde at Tortilleria Perches quite good. Also liked the vibe of the mom and pop shop Momma Mary's for their Navajo tacos. Had great beer and good fish and chips at Springfield Brewing.

In Branson, a surprisingly good steak can be had at Level Two. I wish Candlestick Inn was still open, but Level Two is a good second fiddle.

If you enjoy craft cocktails, I recommend both Scotch & Soda and Barley, Wheat, & Rye in Springfield. Both are hipster-ific, but make a great cocktail and have friendly bartenders. Barley, Wheat & Rye had some delicious corn bread with bacon drippings from the restaurant downstairs.

Sep 25, 2014
jhojati in Great Plains

Private Dining Space, 60 people - River North

Check out the red room at Tortoise Club. I'm a big fan of the place in general, and that room has a bit of a wow factor.

Sep 25, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area

Des Moines Update

It may help if you could outline what specifically you're looking for. If you're looking for a craft cocktail, you'll have a hard time finding a great one in Des Moines (I've been trying for a couple years now, hoping for one to open). That said, the places that I think make the "better" cocktails in DSM are The Continental, Eatery A (had higher hopes for this place), Django, and Americana. George Formaro also looks like he's experimenting with some interesting things at Malo.

For martinis, I'd suggest Cosmopolitan Lounge at the Suites at 800 Locust.

Lots of great places for beer downtown Des Moines, from dives to microbreweries. My favorite places in DSM for that are any of the Full Court Press places - Royal Mile, Red Monk, Hessen Haus, El Bait Shop, and High Life Lounge.

Jul 22, 2014
jhojati in Great Plains

Pizza

I also recommend Coalfire. Other options not suggested already are Pizzeria Serio (in Lakeview on Belmont) and Pizzeria del Mercato (in West Loop on Fulton St.)

Jul 10, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area

Scotch & Soda - Springfield, MO

We were in Springfield for a day, and I had a hankering for an old fashioned (cocktail). Typically, smaller markets don't have a lot by way of craft cocktail bars, so I was pleasantly surprised to find Scotch & Soda pop up when I did a quick Google search.

If you haven't been, go this place. Cocktails here are outrageously good, inventive, creative - whatever you want to call it. And the guy who owns it, Joshua, CARES about what you like, and cares about how you like what he provides you. The cocktails here rival any Chicago cocktail bar - I even spoke to the owner about Chicago and it seems that he (and often his staff) travel up to Chicago for inspiration at some of the cocktail bars there.

We didn't eat, but the food menu looks interesting (predominantly small items that are bar friendly, but aren't typical bar fare).

YES, this attracts hipsters. YES, the owners may be hipsters. Who cares, when they're putting out a product as good as they are. Go here - you won't regret it.

May 30, 2014
jhojati in Great Plains

Dinner recommendations

I had a great meal at the bar of Baffo at Eataly just recently, not but a 2 minute walk from your hotel. Perfect for solo dining, as I found the barman engaging and the menu is absolutely pescetarian friendly.

I also cannot recommend The Berkshire Room enough, either.

Apr 03, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area
1

Anniversary Dinner Saturday for 2 - <$125 PP

I would also recommend both Naha and The Berkshire Room.

Also, a cozy cocktail at the bar/lounge at Sepia or at the bar at Blackbird are two of my favorites, with Avec next door if you want to be a little livelier.

Finally, multiple Brendan Sodikoff outposts would provide great options, with Maude's, Bavette's, and Gilt Bar all offering very good cocktails and wine lists in addition to swanky vibes (with Gilt Bar being the least swanky) and would easily fit within your budget

Apr 02, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area

Breakfast PIzza

There is no breakfast pizza like Casey's General Store breakfast pizza, in case that's what you're looking for (see here: http://i.imgur.com/KqzgbwO.jpg)

Whole Foods does breakfast pizza and I think is the only other restaurant I know of that does it early - relatively bland in my opinion, but you can add toppings as you please to add flavor

Apr 02, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area

October business trip - suggestions?

Another data point....of the $280 in food we ordered, $120 was for the steak.

Oct 30, 2013
jhojati in Los Angeles Area

October business trip - suggestions?

I prefer no water at all, and most craft cocktail spots in chicago make it with no water (usually Demerara syrup or the like), but it's merely a preference. Didn't really detract from my experience.

Oct 30, 2013
jhojati in Los Angeles Area

October business trip - suggestions?

Shoot, I forgot to mention! Went to Seven Grand our first night (Sunday). Had an old fashioned, and then two more :) While I don't like that they put soda water in their OFs, I enjoyed that place immensely and appreciated the pool tables and eclectic band that played.

At Bestia, we ordered two bottles of wine (4 people) that added up to $200, and the total bill came to about $120/pp before tax/tip. So without wine or cocktails, could get out of there for under $100 pp after tax/tip.

Oct 30, 2013
jhojati in Los Angeles Area

October business trip - suggestions?

We had a couple of tweaks to our plans, but a brief review of our trip below:

Sunday: Father's Office - I really liked the vibe here, and the beer list was good. The flavor of the components of the burger were great, but the burger was unevenly cooked (perfect med rare in parts, well done in others). I can see myself coming here quite a bit if I lived in the area, but I wouldn't take this burger over my favorites in Chicago. Still a great place.

Monday Lunch: Drago Centro: This place was great. Decor, ambience, and food all were very good, and I didn't find it stuffy at all. The garganelli was a dish I'd drive an hour for. Lasagne also good, although a pretty basic lasagne. The one disappointment was the special, a pasta with dried tuna, which lacked any flavor whatsoever. I didn't get too upset, however, as the other dishes were great, and the pasta itself had a great texture.

Monday Dinner: Ink: I was actually kind of disappointed with this place. I thought the cocktails were a bit too "unique" (trying to be nice), and the food had several misses. We ordered the charred avocado (awesome), little gems (not great in separate parts, but very good all together), hamachi (way too sweet), la quercia berkshire ham (can't go wrong with la quercia, so this was also good. beets very well prepared), corn (the doritos were an afterthought, but the corn was well executed, although not that impressive), gnocchi (very good when eaten with the mushrooms), cereal (i couldn't get my head around this - way aggressive flavors, but perhaps this was too late in the courses for me to enjoy it), branzino (thought this was a complete miss - dry, flavorless fish), and beef cheeks (good, but not great, although was a beautiful dish). I just didn't care all that much for it.

Tuesday Lunch: Rivera: A hiccup service wise with it taking 20 minutes for our cocktails, but other than that an enjoyable experience. The duck enfrijoladas was awesome - a huge portion that could easily be split, I'd order this again and again. Cocktails interesting and well balanced, for the most part. A bit of a downer vibe.

Tuesday Dinner: Bestia: Best meal I have ever had, and I've had some good ones. From the atmosphere, to the service, to the food, just hit after hit after hit. no misses at all. Ordered the salumi, veal tartare, margherita pizza, 42 oz. 28 day dry aged ribeye (bone in), cavatelli, plum crostata, chocolate budino, zeppole. Just an amazing meal. Lots of good looking people, energetic vibe, personable staff. Go here if you haven't been.

Oct 30, 2013
jhojati in Los Angeles Area

October business trip - suggestions?

Our itinerary:

Sunday: Father's Office
Monday Lunch: Drago Centro
Monday Dinner: Ink
Tuesday Lunch: Rivera
Tuesday Dinner: The Gorbals
Wednesday Lunch: Langer's

Will report back.

Thanks all for your input!

Oct 27, 2013
jhojati in Los Angeles Area

Best sazerac?

Au Cheval, Bavette's, or Sepia all do a great Sazerac.

Sep 26, 2013
jhojati in Chicago Area

October business trip - suggestions?

It just seemed that all of the suggested places were a bit outside of downtown. Will add Baco Mercat to the list, but my trip may be cut down to 3-4 days, so going to have to be very choosey!

I'm thinking Cole's and Langer's for lunches Monday and Tuesday - doable from the Los Angeles Convention Center?

Aug 15, 2013
jhojati in Los Angeles Area

October business trip - suggestions?

This place looks perfect - it's on the list and will absolutely make it here.

Aug 15, 2013
jhojati in Los Angeles Area

October business trip - suggestions?

I'm heading to downtown LA at the end of October from Chicago. I've been many times before, but haven't really dug into the dining scene and would like to get into a couple of can't-miss places. I've listed some targets below - any guidance on them (would you skip it?) or something that's not listed? We'll have a car, and I'll be there from Thursday night through the following Wednesday night, so a lot of flexibility. We're at a conference at the LA Convention Center M-W and will likely try to sneak out for lunch.

Also, I'm looking for a well-made Old Fashioned - something that I know where and where not to go in Chicago, but have no clue about in LA.

Thanks in advance!

Ink
Animal
Son of a Gun
Father's Office
Pizzeria Mozza
Matsuhisa
Langer's
Hinoki & the Bird
Taylor's Steakhouse
Raffi's Place (I've been to a dozen other Persian places, but never Raffi's)

Aug 09, 2013
jhojati in Los Angeles Area

Girl and the Goat - What to Order?

I second the pork shank, and also enjoy the fried oysters and whatever crudo they have at the time. Try the budino for dessert. Squash blossom rangoons were awesome as well, but I'm admittedly a sucker for fried, stuffed squash blossoms.

Aug 09, 2013
jhojati in Chicago Area

White "cheese dip" in Chicago?

Jake, also have had this cheese dip in Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, and it is indeed made from white American cheese at every single one of these places. I love it too, but chihuahua cheese it is not - it simply won't melt into the velvety cheese dip that you're speaking of.

I've not found anywhere that serves it in Chicago.

Aug 05, 2013
jhojati in Chicago Area

West loop reception. BellyQ?

What is your question? Food, ambience, suitability for a party? How many people are you hosting?

The BellyQ space is nice in that it has an area that is separate from the main dining room with an adjacent outdoor space that could be utilized. There are several menu items at BellyQ that would be good for a non-seated reception.

Other options in that area (assuming you're looking in this area) would be The Tasting Room, City Winery, or if you want to have catered, I believe there is event space right there on Randolph just east of Belly Q a block or two.

Aug 02, 2013
jhojati in Chicago Area

Eating between Chicago and Iowa City

294 to 80 is fine. It won't take you as far north as going to 88, which will avoid most of the traffic.

Jul 13, 2013
jhojati in Great Plains

Fine Dining in Des Moines

I'm a fan of Sam and Gabe's. Get there on a jazz night and you're golden. I'd vote Trostel's Greenbriar over Dish, but both good options. 801 an obvious choice.

Been a long time since I've been but Cosi Cucina could give you that romantic vibe.

Splash has always underwhelmed me but is generally above average.

More casual are places like Skip's and Nick's and Django.

Also, owners of baru opened table 128 recently. No idea what the vibe is though.

Jul 13, 2013
jhojati in Great Plains

38 Essential Chicago Restaurants

I agree 100%. I have no idea why that was added, but it seems that recently the list has taken a bit of an odd turn. You can see in the comments on the page at eater that people aren't too happy

All that said, the list is still a good one. Trying to choose the "top" 38 restaurants is an impossible task in Chicago, especially when your criteria is fluid.

Jul 10, 2013
jhojati in Chicago Area

38 Essential Chicago Restaurants

If you have followed the list in the past, it intentionally omits the $$$$ places and only focuses on places that people might frequent regularly. They used to have that explained - I'm not sure why they left that tidbit out this time around. This list is updated pretty regularly.

Jul 09, 2013
jhojati in Chicago Area

Eating between Chicago and Iowa City

Skip 88. That will cause you to run into Chicago traffic on 294. Just take 55 to 80 all the way.

Jul 09, 2013
jhojati in Great Plains

Eating between Chicago and Iowa City

Honestly, you'd be better served to eat in Chicago or Iowa City instead of trying to stop off of 80 or 88 in the boonies - I make this drive quite a bit and it's pretty much no-man's-land on 88 through Illinois. I can't speak as much to 80, so will let someone else comment there.

Your big issue is that you're going to get into Chicago right at rush hour on a Friday, which is going to be brutal. Attempting to take any road into the city will be a major pain. You're better served to stay south and just hop on 80 and go from there. A general consensus favorite near MDW would be Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe: http://www.chuckscafe.com/ There will be some decent Mexican options nearby, with Zacatacos getting pretty good reviews (full disclosure, I haven't eaten there). If you want Polish, there's a popular spot - Szalas - http://www.szalasrestaurant.com/ also not far from MDW

If you happen to get back into Chicago early on your return home and have time to stop off, I'd suggest heading to Lao Sze Chuan in Chinatown and getting pretty much anything on their menu (except American-style Chinese food), with my favorites being the Szechuan Wontons, Chengdu Dumplings, Dry Chili Chicken, Dan Dan Noodles and Hot Pot. From there it's easy to hop back on the interstate and head to MDW. If you plan instead on eating in Iowa City, there is a pretty good Iowa City thread you could check out.

Jul 09, 2013
jhojati in Great Plains

Craft cocktails in a cozy environment?

Owen & Engine and Longman & Eagle both would fit the bill

Apr 29, 2013
jhojati in Chicago Area