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Late-Night eats in River North area?

So I live and work in River North and generally get out of work around midnight, when I'm typically starving. I'm not new to Chicago or to River North, but I'm just wondering if you guys might be able to suggest some other places for me to try since I'm getting kinda sick of my usual standbys, and I haven't felt like coming home and cooking for myself much lately.

When I do go out after work, I normally end up at Boss Bar, O'Callaghan's, O'Tooles, or Quartino, and I hit up Bijan's occasionally. I'm not big on fried, heavy "bar food," but unfortunately I feel like that's what I'm typically stuck with given my late hours. I'm really hoping you guys can help me open my eyes to some new places or even some old ones that just haven't crossed my mind.

Thanks!

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Quartino
626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

Bijan's
663 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654

Oct 11, 2011
Al_Pal in Chicago Area

Eating well, while being poor.

The Walgreens down the street from my house just started selling a limited selection of fresh produce (not sure if all of them are doing this now), but I found a package for $2.49 last week that they called a "soup starter." It had 3 HUGE carrots, 4 red potatoes, parsley, and 2 or 3 giant celery ribs as well. WAY cheaper than what I would have paid if I had gotten the same items at the grocery store. Walgreens routinely has eggs on sale for $.99 as well, so I always get my eggs there rather than at the grocery store.

Mar 03, 2010
Al_Pal in General Topics

Do people really (and I mean "really") like Girl Scout Cookies?

I like the Samoas and Trefoils the best but I'll eat Thin Mints and Do-Si-Dos, but maybe it's just because those remind me of my childhood (although my mom sent me 2 boxes of Samoas recently and they were literally GONE in a matter of days. And no, I didn't share them with any of my roommates). Although I definitely feel like any of the newer ones they've tried to come out with (even when I was in grade school) have been pretty gross.

Mar 03, 2010
Al_Pal in General Topics

Do you have a favorite I'm-alone-now-so-nobody-will-know favorite dish?

Might be unforgiveable, but when I'm alone and feeling lazy, I love the lean cuisine stuffed cabbage and the pesto chicken flatbread. The other dishes I could do without, but I always make sure my freezer is stocked with a bunch of these.

Mar 03, 2010
Al_Pal in General Topics

Do you have a favorite I'm-alone-now-so-nobody-will-know favorite dish?

I love Trader Joe's when I'm feeling lazy. Almost everything I've ever bought from their frozen section has been incredible. Their frozen dumplings (doesn't matter which kind of filling) are some of my favorites when I don't feel like putting a lot of effort into my meal.

Mar 03, 2010
Al_Pal in General Topics

The Hardest Things to Cook Thread

What temp do you typically set your oven on? I don't really have a costco close by and I don't drive (I'm in Chicago), but I usually get the ones from Trader Joe's if I don't feel like slicing my own potato.

Mar 02, 2010
Al_Pal in Home Cooking

The Hardest Things to Cook Thread

Baked sweet potato fries or chips. I love, love, LOVE them, but I feel like I've tried doing it a million different ways. Don't get me wrong, I'll still eat them, but I'd love to be able to eat crispy sweet potato fries instead of soggy ones.

Mar 02, 2010
Al_Pal in Home Cooking

Looking for a great appetizers for baby shower...

My sister makes these fantastic ham and asparagus wraps. She just steams a bunch of asparagus and buys thin slices of ham from the deli. Lay a piece of ham flat, spread it with a thin layer of cream cheese, and roll it up around a piece of the steamed asparagus. Then just slice them into little bite-sized pieces. They're a hit at every party, easy to make ahead of time, and a great app because they're not too filling.

Mar 02, 2010
Al_Pal in Home Cooking

Tibetan recipes?

I was just wondering if anyone had some good recipes for Tibetan food. My friend is having a dinner party next week, and the theme is Tibet, so we're all trying to bring some kind of Tibetan or regional dish (momos are already taken). I'm in school full time and working too, so something relatively simple would be preferable. I'm pretty experienced in the kitchen though, so if there's something really good that's a little more complicated or time-consuming, I would be willing to set aside some time to give it a shot.

Mar 02, 2010
Al_Pal in Home Cooking

Where can I find garlic bologna?

Just wondering if anyone knows of a place in the city where I can find garlic bologna? I was telling someone about how we used to eat it all the time in Michigan, and I sort of developed a craving...

Thanks!

Aug 30, 2009
Al_Pal in Chicago Area

Need party food suggestions!

This Sunday, my roommates and I are having people over since the gay pride parade runs right by our apartment and we're friends with a ton of gay people. We're not really sure what the head count is going to be since almost everyone we invited is going to come, and I'm sure most of them will bring people.

We're starting it at like 10 AM, so we're going to make a baked egg dish and we'll have bagels. I'm going to probably end up making a couple different kinds of pizza and some sugar cookies...but other than that, I'm looking for some good breakfasty and lunchy type finger foods that aren't terribly labor-intensive. And I'm not opposed to buying an appetizer or two from the frozen section of the grocery store if anyone knows of anything particularly delicious. And obviously, the more festive it is, the better since it's for pride day!

Jun 23, 2009
Al_Pal in Home Cooking

cooking for a new beau for the first time! help!

If pasta works for you and nobody has any aversion to bacon, go with Spaghetti Carbonara. Total prep/cook time should take about 30 minutes. It's shockingly easy, but it impresses people every single time I make it. It was the first meal I made for my current boyfriend, and I love it because it's practically impossible to screw up (a plus if you're at all nervous).

For every pound of pasta, I use one package of bacon, two whole eggs, and one egg yolk. Slice the bacon very thinly and cook it while you're waiting for the water to boil. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl. As soon as the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and immediately toss it with the cooked bacon. Add the egg while gradually stirring the pasta so that it completely coats the pasta and the bacon. Then add as much parmesan cheese as you'd like (I typically end up using more than I think I will). The heat from the pasta will cook the egg and melt the cheese so that it becomes its own sauce. Add pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Once you get the pasta and bacon going, you'll just have to stir both occasionally, so while you're cooking it, you'll still have time to enjoy a glass of wine and talk to your guy :)

Jun 23, 2009
Al_Pal in Home Cooking

Great Chicago Pizza and other goodies?

I've lived here for about a year now, and Lou Malnati's is still my favorite for Chicago-style pizza. I always get the butter crust - it's fantastic and stays crisp rather than getting soggy like a lot of stuffed pizza crusts tend to do.

Jun 23, 2009
Al_Pal in Chicago Area

$20 for a plate of pasta-would you expect the pasta to be fresh?

I wouldn't necessarily expect the pasta to be fresh. But considering that you can buy a pound of pasta at the store for little more than $1, I would expect the ingredients to be top-notch and the dish to absolutely blow me away, particularly if the portion size is standard.

Nov 23, 2008
Al_Pal in General Topics

Thanksgiving dinner: What is your LEAST favorite menu item that you can't get rid of?

I've never understood why marshmallows have to go anywhere near sweet potatoes. I only like marshmallows when they've been set on fire and charred on the outside but are still gooey on the inside....and in Lucky Charms. But why ruin an awesome sweet potato dish with something as vile as marshmallows?

Nov 23, 2008
Al_Pal in General Topics

Thanksgiving dinner: What is your LEAST favorite menu item that you can't get rid of?

YES! I don't think my mom has made them lately because I think she and my grandmother are literally the only two who will touch them, but those onions used to sit next to the leftover turnips and rot right alongside them in the fridge.

Nov 23, 2008
Al_Pal in General Topics

Thanksgiving dinner: What is your LEAST favorite menu item that you can't get rid of?

Mashed potatoes can go one of two ways: freaking incredible or absolute garbage. I grew up eating my grandfather's recipe which also includes onion, a couple different kinds of cheeses, some milk, and some seasonings you'd never expect. I mash them (no electric mixer) so they don't have such a uniform texture. And they're amazing. Truly incredible. We make TONS of extra potatoes just so we'll have leftovers, and my sisters and I still can never get our fill of them.

On the other hand, when we don't celebrate a holiday at my parents' house and end up having to go over to another family member's house, the potatoes are typically horriffic - bland and overly buttery to make up for the fact that they came out of a box. Which is why my parents always petition to have Thanksgiving at their place.

Nov 23, 2008
Al_Pal in General Topics

Thanksgiving dinner: What is your LEAST favorite menu item that you can't get rid of?

I've never been a fan of cranberry sauce (and my mom always makes it fresh - NEVER from the can), but from doing Thanksgivings with friends over the years, I've noticed that it's really only the people who grew up eating canned cranberry sauce who actually like it. One of my friends loves vienna sausages, and I think it's sort of the same thing - you'll enjoy it if you were raised with it, but it's probably not something you'll like if you try it for the first time when you're older.

Nov 23, 2008
Al_Pal in General Topics

Thanksgiving dinner: What is your LEAST favorite menu item that you can't get rid of?

I concur. Honestly, making a pumpkin pie has to be one of the simplest things on earth, and I find it so tragic when someone can't or won't put even that minimal amount of effort into making their own on a holiday that's ABOUT good, home-made food.

Nov 23, 2008
Al_Pal in General Topics

Thanksgiving dinner: What is your LEAST favorite menu item that you can't get rid of?

I totally beg to differ! My family always has the traditional Thanksgiving dishes, but we make a POINT of trying a new dish every year...possibly because my mother rarely cooks anymore now that her three birds are out of the nest, so this is a good chance for her to try something she's been wanting to since she has to cook anyway. And some of the experimental dishes were so good that they've become Thanksgiving staples.

Nov 23, 2008
Al_Pal in General Topics

Thanksgiving dinner: What is your LEAST favorite menu item that you can't get rid of?

I was actually talking about tamales with someone the other day, and I would LOVE to know where I can get some good tamales or exactly what it is that would make them good. I'm actually from Texas originally, so you wouldn't expect finding good tamales to be a real problem, but I've never had any that weren't dry and bland. Which is a total shame because I've heard that when they're good, they're AMAZING. So after 25 years of life, I'm sadly still searching for a good tamale. Or perhaps just a good recipe.

Nov 23, 2008
Al_Pal in General Topics

Thanksgiving dinner: What is your LEAST favorite menu item that you can't get rid of?

I second the turnips. My parents make them every year, and without fail, it's the one leftover dish that ends up molding in the fridge. I'll admit that aside from my mom making them, I've never eaten them elsewhere, but she's a great cook, so I'm inclined to think that it's more the turnips than her method of preparation that's turning me off. I've always thought there were just kind of dry.

Nov 23, 2008
Al_Pal in General Topics

best turkey sandwich (or panini or wrap or spring roll) for thanksgiving leftovers...?

I agree wholeheartedly. Lately I've become kind of a purist in terms of my sandwiches, and all I need anymore is some honey whole wheat bread, a thin layer of mayo on both pieces, and the turkey. There's nothing quite so divine.

I'm not a huge fan of deli meats, so when it's not the holidays, I'll buy a rotisserie chicken and cut it up for sandwich meat to get the same kind of effect.

Nov 23, 2008
Al_Pal in General Topics

'fess up, "i'm a hog when it comes to eating ____ ."

With the occasional exception, I keep my diet very healthy, but for whatever reason, cheetos are the one thing I just CAN'T let go. I go through approximately a bag a week. BUT I buy the baked ones if I want the crunchy kind and the natural white cheddar ones if I want the puffs...so maybe that's not so bad?

Nov 23, 2008
Al_Pal in General Topics

'fess up, "i'm a hog when it comes to eating ____ ."

I eat a spoonful of peanut butter from the jar on a daily basis. My roommate thinks it's so weird.

Nov 23, 2008
Al_Pal in General Topics

'fess up, "i'm a hog when it comes to eating ____ ."

White castle burgers for SURE. They're horrible and amazing all at the same time.

I'm also a total glutton when it comes to my grandpa's mashed potato recipe, pierogies, pasta, and asian food pretty much across the board.

Nov 23, 2008
Al_Pal in General Topics

Looking for kid-friendly fish, tofu and vegetarian recipes

Your son sounds the pickiest, so if he likes steak, you may want to give tuna steaks a try. They'll still be familiar - just a lot healthier. They're best served rare or close to it, and there's very little prep work involved. Altogether, it might take you 15 minutes TOPS to prep and grill a couple tuna steaks (perfect for squeezing into your busy schedule). Just rub each one with a bit of olive oil, salt, and coarse ground pepper to prep. Grill them for about two to three minutes on each side, and you're good to go. My mom is the one who introduced them to me, and she said she was told to use indirect heat but has gotten much better results from just putting them directly on the grill.

Oct 06, 2008
Al_Pal in Home Cooking

Online recipes/websites you trust

I've had really good luck with every recipe I've tried off of allrecipes.com, and they even send a daily recipe to my inbox. Most of the recipes have been reviewed many times over, and I've never gone wrong with the best rated ones.

I also like marthastewart.com. My family's polish, and when I moved a couple months ago, I accidentally left my recipe book with all of my grandfather's recipes at my parents' house. Since she's Polish, I tend to look to this site mostly for authentic Polish recipes in the absence of my grandfather's, and everything i've tried has been fantastic.

Oct 06, 2008
Al_Pal in Home Cooking

can you freeze butternut squash?

You can totally freeze it. I've even seen it sold in the frozen foods section of the grocery store - both pureed and cubed.

Oct 06, 2008
Al_Pal in Home Cooking

How to eat a pomegranate?

Can someone tell me how I'm supposed to eat this thing? I love pomegranate, but I've never had great luck eating them. Mostly I just end up making a huge mess with the seeds and getting some sort of permanent pomegranate stain on my clothing. And I've heard of about three different "right" ways to eat one. I didn't think you were supposed to eat the flesh part, but I met someone who has. I thought the proper way was to just cut it open, scoop the seeds out, and eat them, but then I heard that you're just supposed to eat the fruity part from around the seed and then spit the seed out. Also, what is pomegranate good with? I can't think of anything (save for maybe a salad) that would go well with it.

Oct 06, 2008
Al_Pal in Home Cooking