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sunbrace's Profile

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3-day Trip Report (Schwa, Alinea, Grace)

Schwa and Goosefoot are my top choices! Just be aware that Schwa can cancel last minute but is tops in my pocketbook for value. Also, Senza in Lakeview is great as well.

Jul 21, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

River North and Lakeview recommendations (with big kids)

Not really a lunch place, but do try to visit Jeni's Ice Cream just under the Brown Line in Lakeview. It's very close to the Music Box.

For lunch, besides Deleece, you can go further north to The Roost which serves fried chicken(cooked to order) on Irving Park.

Jul 15, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Yuba, dried beancurd or tofu skin... where can you get it in Chicago?

Where do you live? Most Asian/Chinese or Korean stores should have them. I've bought them both dried and fresh.

Jul 02, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Ice cream

Jeni's in Lakeview. It's a tad bit more expensive but well worth the occasional visit.

Jul 02, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Alinea: Guidance requested in making reservations for a specific date and time.

I was fortunate enough to go to both restaurants this year. While I agree with Gonzo70 that Alinea wasn't as good as the last time I was there, I would say that overall, I would give them my vote compared to Grace.

When I was asked which dish at Grace was the most memorable to me, I must admit that I was hard pressed to find an answer simply because there wasn't much that wowed me. I felt that at Grace, the first few courses were great, but it was pretty much downhill thereafter until I hit the truffle dish which I ordered as a supplement. At the price point both restaurants charge, I feel like taste is only one factor in the equation. The memories and the experience that you make during your visit, much like a vacation, is more important to me. At Alinea, I can still remember the campfire dish and the chocolate torte. I can probably compare 2 dishes that had similar ingredients with both restaurants but that would make this post too long.

In summary, I would still vote for Alinea if I were to spend my precious few dollars and time compared to Grace. But that's just my personal preference and realize others may differ from mine.

Jun 29, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

What if we don't want to wait for food?

By the Loop, you can try Roti. It serves Mediterranean food, Chipotle style.

On Belmont and Sheffield, there's a vegetarian cafe called Native Foods Cafe. It's a small national chain but, as a meat eater, I must say that I left impressed with the food there. Across from it is Big and Little, the lunch time crowd is thinner but there may be a wait during dinner time.

All three places should be able to get you in and out within a reasonable time if you can only spend a small amount of time eating.

I'm not sure how many of you are visiting, but downtown restaurants tend to have a wait for bigger groups, especially during the weekend.

Jun 23, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Birthday dinner SE of Wrigley? No car . . .

Agree with Senza. It's about a block or less from your hotel. Really great food and service.

Jun 23, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

best fine dining in Chicago

Maybe, just maybe, you might like this one?

http://thefrontierchicago.com/

It's not the most accessible restaurant in Chicago nor is it fine dining. But it does suit your search for exotic meats.

Jun 14, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Visiting & Looking for healthy good dining for one

I never ate there before the ex-owner left so I don't have a before and after comparison of the 2. I was there last year when the current one was at the helm and found the food flavorful without being too spicy. From what I remember, both the current and the ex-chef met each other while they were both at Topolobampo.

Jun 11, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Visiting & Looking for healthy good dining for one

You can also try Melanthos a few store fronts from Ceres Table. I loved their grilled calamari there. Slightly south of it is Chilam Balam which is cash only. This is a BYOB Mexican place. I believe the chef used to work at Topolobampo.

Jun 10, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Casual but really good Lakeview eating

I really like Senza, Big & Little's, Andy's Thai Kitchen, Chilam Balam, Wood and El Nuevo Mexicano. Senza is the most expensive and dressiest of the bunch, but I've been dined there dressed in a shirt and slacks with no problem. FYI, Andy's Thai Kitchen is cash only but is BYOB.

If you're willing to go slightly west, Bad Wolf Coffee makes the most awesome pastries I've eaten in Lakeview. Their caneles are highly addictive.

May 23, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Good quality, humanly raised, not full of crap deli meat..?

Try West Loop Salumi. They're pretty pricey though.

Apr 18, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Pork belly buns

Vora in the Gold Coast serves a Taiwanese version of pork belly buns. I haven't had the Slurping Turtle variety so I can't compare the two of them. But the Vora ones were good.

Apr 11, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Favorite spot for coffee and pastries/desserts?

I just tried Cellar Door Provisions in Logan Square a few weeks ago. They have very good pastries there and the energy of the place is hopping, especially during lunch time. Pls note, they close at 4 pm on Saturdays. You can check out what they have to offer in their facebook page as their menu changes frequently.

Apr 01, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Early Sunday Night Dinner on the Blue Line

Also in the Logan Square stop aside from the ones already mentioned is Reno. It's right across one of the Logan Square exits.

By the Damen/Ohare stop in Wicker Park, you can try Francesca Forno which is italian or Lillie's Q which is bbq.

Apr 01, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Thai New Year Festival 2014 (Songkran Festival)

According to my Thai friends and coworkers, they usually celebrate it in the Buddhist temples. Most of the congregants bring food for everyone. And most of the congregants who bring the food also own/operate Thai restaurants around the Chicago area.

Mar 18, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

5th Wedding Anniversary dinner suggestions for downtown??

For the budget you've presented, probably Cafe Spiaggia, or Baffo(note: I haven't been here yet, but if it's anything like it's NYC counterpart, it should be decent) if you need to stay downtown. Sepia or Boka if you are willing to take a cab or public transportation.

Mar 18, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Returning to Chicago - healthy week in the loop

I've been to Native Foods in Lakeview a couple of times. As someone who doesn't eat his veggies often, I would say that I found the place delicious and filling. And on the plus side, they do not serve soda for drinks. They have juices instead.

Also near the loop is Slurping Turtle which is a ramen spot. It should be open for dinner.

Mar 14, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Returning to Chicago - healthy week in the loop

+1 to Roti! Plus they have several locations in the loop.

Mar 13, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Favorite spot for coffee and pastries/desserts?

While Bad Wolf is still my fave spot for coffee and pastries, another thing you might want to consider is that they don't have any chairs. The cafe is set up so that you stand around a bar in the middle of the room.

Also, when I was there a couple of Sundays ago at around 12:30, there were only 2 types of pastries left. Two croissants and a tray of the raspberry oatmeal bar, which I thought was his best iteration of a raspberry pastry yet.

You can also try Dollop in Uptown if you are close by. They serve Metropolis Coffee and Hoosier Mama Pies among others.

Mar 05, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

something different in a chicago neighborhood - byob?

You can try Andy's Thai Kitchen in Lakeview just below the Wellington Brown Line. It's BYOB and don't accept credit cards.

Mar 05, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

One dinner in Chicago

In order of preference, I'd choose Boka, then North Pond.

Feb 25, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Where can I find kouign-aman in Chicago or 'burbs?

I just tried them over the weekend. The ones at TJ aren't bad at all, especially considering the price(about a dollar each). Having said that, Bad Wolf's version still takes the cake.

Feb 25, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Where to find Zhongzi (Ba Zhang)?

I've seen a vegetarian Hokkien version of it at Di Ho Market in Westmont. I've never seen the one with pork, unfortunately. Most of the stores here sell the Cantonese version which I personally do not care for. Although I did buy a frozen version of the Cantonese one at Hmart. You may have better luck during the Dragon Boat Festival Season in late May/early June. Try checking out Di Ho at that time or the food stalls next door.

Feb 17, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Where to find Zhongzi (Ba Zhang)?

Are you looking for the Hokkien version of zhong zi? Ba chang is the pronounciation for zhong zi for those of Hokkien ancestry.

Feb 16, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Where to get wild mushrooms?

Fresh Farms and HMart in Niles, Tai Nam on Argyle and Lawrence in the city sell different varieties of mushrooms depending on the season. Treasure Island in Lakeview and Lincoln Park have different ones as well.

Green City Market has a mushroom grower/vendor called River Valley. They recently opened a physical location on Wilson and Ravenswood.

Feb 09, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

V-day

First of all, congrats on your engagement.
There were tables for 2 at Old Town Social on opentable and on Il Pesce/Eataly on seatme.
Alternatively, when you looked for the reservations, did you try calling the restaurants? They usually hold several tables for phone reservations and walk ins, especially on a busy night such as Valentine's Day, especially for this year since it falls on a weekend.
Worse comes to worst, try a restaurant that doesn't take reservations such as Fat Rice, Ruxbin or Longman and Eagle. Just be wary of the wait times though. Good luck on your search!

Feb 07, 2014
sunbrace in Chicago Area

Critique my list & need some help for Barcelona, San Sebastian, Rioja, Madrid

I had fun at Tickets. I was actually there the night after Can Roca, which I thought was a tough act to follow. But Tickets delivered and exceeded my expectations.

Mugaritz vs Arzak: I liked Mugaritz better but both restaurants are known to be polarizing with their experimental cuisine. Having said that, if you have the money and the endurance, why not try both? Mugaritz is open on Sunday for lunch, Arzak should be open on Tuesday for dinner. For Sunday night, I went pintxos hopping in SS. Didn't particularly enjoy Fuego Negro though, especially the dishes that they recommended. I had to go to the nearby gelato store to wash down the aftertaste.

For lunch in Madrid, I particularly enjoyed the paella stall inside the Mercado San Miguel. I can't remember the name of the place, but it's the only one that sells different types of paella there.

Feb 06, 2014
sunbrace in Spain/Portugal

Looking for suggestions other than Ultra High End

I liked Cal Pep. I know it's a bit touristy but I enjoyed the dishes there. My only suggestion for this place is that you read the menu beside the front door before waiting in line. Don't ask for their recommendations as I found the ones I ordered to be tastier than the ones they recommended to me. Also, their seafood dishes were better than their veggies.

For torrones, you can try Vicens. They sometimes give out samples that you can try first before buying.

For pastries, I liked Bubo. I think this is BCN's version of Pierre Herme. Their pastries were definitely beautiful to look at. I can't remember what the name of the little ball of pastry covered in almonds that they only make during halloween, but that was awesome. I also had a chocolate raspberry cake from there which was ok, but not as good as the other one. I also had a crema catalana in Escriba(La Rambla branch) and visited their main one in Gran Via as well. it was good but nothing that really wowed me.

Don't forget to order a cortado. Most bars will serve it. I haven't had a bad one in Spain, whether it was a hole in a wall bar or a nicer/touristy looking one.

Jan 30, 2014
sunbrace in Spain/Portugal

Looking for suggestions other than Ultra High End

Tapas 24: I enjoyed their specials more than their regular menu items. Still a good bet to eat though.
Gresca: good deal for lunch, I wouldn't go for dinner.
El Quim was good but always packed. Arrive early if ever you want to eat lunch there. The other popular kiosk in La Bouqueria is Pinotxo. I preferred El Quim to Pinotxo though.
Hisop: I went there late Oct. Along with Tickets, it would be the only other restaurant I would return to if ever I go back to BCN. I also thought that it was a very good value for the price I paid.
If you are into coffee, there's an awesome coffee shop in El Born called Cafes El Magnifico if I'm not mistaken. My Spanish is rusty but I think the owner won some barista award for coffee. I had an Aeropress coffee there that was amazingly clean with fruity tones that I can actually decipher. The coffee was neither bitter nor acidic.

Jan 29, 2014
sunbrace in Spain/Portugal