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Returning Chitown foodies need your help, please!

We will be back in AZ, specifically the Four Seasons in Troon in late March for one week. So excited!

We have the first night at the Barrio Cafe. Other reservations include past favorites: FnB, Roka Akor and Talavera.

We have four other nights. We prefer closer to the hotel, but will travel for great food. Contenders: Ocean Room, La Hacienda, The Mission, Noca.

We love all kinds of food, esp. Mexican, Asian (any type). We are adventurous diners. Ambience is important (which is why I always loved La Hacienda)--something with a view, or rustic, modern, or trendy/fun. We have done Posh, Noca, Binkley's.

Any other ideas for great dinners (just nothing fancy)?

We also would love some brunch/lunch options, too! Always looking for in the know locals spots in Northern Scottsdale. We typically make the drive to Vincent's Market Bistro on Saturday.

Thank you!

Mar 18, 2013
ljero in Phoenix

Chitown Foodies need a little help please!

Slowcooked, thanks for reminding me. I wanted to let you guys know that we made the poor decision of NOT renting a car. I will never do that again. It really limited us and was hard to give my mom the whole tour of such a great city. She did not even get to see Whole Foods! We took cabs and walked. That being said, I was most upset b/c I could not hit Taces El Rico and the other taco joints I wanted to. I will not miss these next time, believe me as they are what I enjoy the most.

Jan 30, 2013
ljero in Austin

Chitown Foodies need a little help please!

We just returned from another diet-busting weekend filled with an excess of food, drinks and fun. On Friday night, we went to Barley Swine. With the wait, we sat outside and indulged in a cheese and charcuterie plate from Henri's. The plate was gorgeous and the chicken liver pate and chorizo both fabulous. We ordered the entire menu minus the redfish mousse at BS. We had clear favorites. The goat as was recommedned on this board was the hands-down favorite of all. The crispy wild rice, kolhrabi and green garlic flavors and textures were amazing. We could not resist Lick for dessert, and enjoyed the goat cheese and coconut/avocado ice creams. While good, I agree they could be creamier and are a bit icy. We had a night cap at the Four Seasons. Their mixologist Travis makes fantastic drinks and we loved his take on a margarita with a cilantro salt rim and cilantro habenero syrup.

On Saturday, we headed down Soco. We had a Mighty Cone (chicken/avo), which was actually better than I recall, and two slices from Homeslice, which was not as good as I remember. Too light on the cheese and dry. A margarita at Guero's was also not as good as I recall--both types (diff tequilas) we ordered were very sour--not smooth at all. Still, I always love an afternoon in Allens and strolling this avenue. To make up for that margarita we headed to Cedar door, which did not disappoint. They now make a 'skinny' version made with blue agave, which was actually better and smoother than the original. For dinner, we went to La Condesa, which I found disappointing. Poor service. More focused on the scene. Food average. Best item by far was the atun tostadas. Not worth going in to, but I would not go back.

Sunday morning, Tom, I followed your advice and dragged everyone to Franklins at 8:45am. We were eating fatty brisket, sausage, pulled pork, turkey and ribs served by Aaron himself by 11:30am. You were right, that fatty brisket was melt in your mouth good. It had a great smoke ring, deep flavors, good bark, and that espresso sauce paired perfectly with it. I am embarrassed to disclosed how much meat I ate. also indulged in a dark wheat beer to cut the fat although it just filled me even more taking up precious brisket space in my stomach. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I was so full the rest of the day I could barely move. Thankfully after a long walk and rest, I was ready for dinner at Uchiko. Great service. Food was slow to come out, but that was ok. Great wine and sake list. We ordered all cool items and specials, and all shashimi items on the second page of the menu--very clean flavor profiles. Loved the crispy brussels with that fish/caramel sauce. Ordered all desserts. My favorite was the fried milk but all of them really shined.

On Monday, we headed to campus, and to Hole in the Wall for lunch. Paul Qui was serving up the food. We tried the beet home fries, brussel sprouts, fried chicken/liberty rice and poor qui's buns. Ambience was perfect--low-key, fun. Loved the food. I wish we had time to try the other food trucks--next time. Really enjoyed that the dishes all had those fresh herbs and jalapenos. No ramen this trip--too full, although they looked great. Walked over to Trudy's for a final Mexican Martini, and shed a tequila tear that they were not open yet. So, we headed back to the hotel lobby bar for a final drink by Travis.

All in all, another gluntinous trip with fabulous food and drink. Excited to return and will look for you all next time for more recommendations. Disappointed to miss Midnight Cowboy and Peche for spirits.

If anyone is heading to Chicago, please let me know as I have a few great recommendations for you, esp. a sushi place that although it does not get the press Uchi does in a town of 10 million, it is still my overall favorite.

Thanks again!

Jan 29, 2013
ljero in Austin

Chitown Foodies need a little help please!

Thank you. Looks like rain each day now.

Jan 24, 2013
ljero in Austin

Chitown Foodies need a little help please!

Thank you for reminding me of the name. I do enjoy Cedar Door and their Mexican Martini-we go every trip. We actually always take home their mix and Paula's Texas Orange, too so that we can reminisce at home.

Jan 24, 2013
ljero in Austin

Chitown Foodies need a little help please!

thank you for the F&D brunch recommendation , but when I looked it up it appears that it only serves dinner unless I have something wrong?

We arrive this Friday around 4pm and leave Monday at 4:30pm. Re: Barley Swine for Friday, their menu looks tiny. do they have daily specials or is it just those 6-8 small plates listed on dinner menu? What are the best other than anything with egg? My sister can be picky, but I was thinking, what the heck. We can get a little bite, and then head off to Hole in the Wall for some ESK bites thereafter, as that cannot be missed.

Always loved a Mexican Martini at Trudy's but is there anywhere new that makes a better one?

Weather report for weekend keeps changing...what are you guyrs hearing? fingers crossed for some very warm sun, as it has been negative 20 around here. BURR! Want to spi some cocktails outside, and my sister and mom both like their drinks, too!

Jan 23, 2013
ljero in Austin

Chitown Foodies need a little help please!

Tominaustin, It is great to hear from you! I definitely remember all of your wonderful recommendations from previous trips! Thank you so much for sharing yet again. I think it has been two years since I have been, so I am super excited. Brinign mother and sister, both foodies. I am thinking Barley Swine Fri night, and since small menu and prtions seem a bit small, maybe drag them to ESK for a late night bite and cocktail.

Of the ESK, which has the best food in your opinion and what are you r favorite things, or am I going to have to sample a must-have at each one? Which bar of the three is the best?

Saturday night, we are doing La Condesa, and Sunday night Uchiko--do you like Uchiko better than Uchi?

I can't believe you are going to roust me from bed at 9am to stand in line for two hours for bbq. Can it really be that good? I drove to Snows to be there when it opened and we were extremwely disappointed. I love my food but I sure hope its worth it! I sent my husband to ESK last time, and he sast with owner of Franklins, strangely enough, and talked to him for quite awhile. Sat or Sun know to have *less* of a line?

Contigo sounds great. If it is in 40s at night, warm enough to sit outside? Any favorite cocktails?

I will also try to hit Tacos El Rico. Always up for a drive. So any other places that are fun trips to eccentric or great food/bars, please send me on my way!

Jan 22, 2013
ljero in Austin

Chitown Foodies need a little help please!

I LOVE Austin. I have been 3-4 times and this time I am going with my mom and sister. My mom has never been. We are staying three nights at the Four Seasons from Fri-Mon.

I have been to Uchi quite a few times, so I think we will have to try Uchiko one night. Maybe Friday?

I think my new number one choice since I was last there in 2010 is Barley Swine. Should we brave the lines on Friday or Sat? Thinking Friday since opens 1 hour later.

So, we have one final dinner. We all love Mexican, Tex-Mex and otherwise (modern, authentic) No Chuy's although fun. No Polvos b/c want mroe ambience. We want places with fun ambience, or Austin-vibe, awesome margs/drinks and food. Any ideas? I was thinking possibly La Condesa? I have never done FSM? Other choices?

Also have three lunches/brunches. My favorites have always been: trucks (ESK (which one?), Torchys, Flip Happy Crepes, the old Odd Duck). Any new trucks that I must try? I want to do Franklins but not up to the wait. Any other great new ones? What about other good lunches? Have liked congress Cafe for brunch and ESC in the past. Just want good cocktails and food again with Austin vibe.

Also fun places for cocktails? Shady Grove was a favorite on nice days. Guerros just to sit out side for a margarita and people watch. Any new haunts that are fun?

Other must-dos? May have to drink to Blacks for BBQ unless there is one close by better. Have done Snows, Louie M, Rudys etc. We love 'cue. and we just want some local favorites. thanks so much for the help. I will report back afterwards as always and would really appreciate the help.

Jan 17, 2013
ljero in Austin

Kid friendly restaurants in Scottsdale near Westin Kierland?

we have taken our 2 year old to The Barrio. It is by the airport, has great Mexican, and is loud, which was good as it drowned out some of his noise. they also had live music with steel drums which he loved. I love their food there.

Nov 08, 2012
ljero in Phoenix

40th birthday for chitown foodie!

Revised:

Wed: Beast dep on menu (if not DOC)

Thur:

lunch Gruner
dinner pokpok/whiskey soda lounge

Friday:

lunch Ha VL
dinner Le Pigeon

Sat:

Tasty n sons--need a bloody mary before w fly home!

Nov 08, 2012
ljero in Metro Portland

40th birthday for chitown foodie!

So here is where we are:

Wednesday night: Beast

Thursday:

lunch--pok pok
dinner--reservations at Noisette and DOC for the tasting menus--which would you choose? or aviary? or we may risk the lines and go to Ox or Toro Bravo?

Friday:

Lunch: Tasty N Sons (or should we trade for Pok Pok for lunch today and TNS thurs)?
Happy hour: Woodsman? My mom loves oysters--any great place for happy hour with great cocktails ambience and oysters?
Dinner: Le Pigeon

Sat:

PSU Market and departure! :(

Nov 06, 2012
ljero in Metro Portland

40th birthday for chitown foodie!

I will be staying at the Hotel Monaco for work trip which coincides with my upcoming 40th (kids and husband at home to celebrate with later in the weekend). I am taking my mom, also a huge foodie. we are there from a wed to a sat.

We enjoy all types of food, but ambience is equally important. Also would like three nights of different types of food. Looking for three of the best meals to experience and cocktails, too. I have done my research and now need some help!

wednesday:

I reserved Beast for the 6p seating-is this worth it? what about the wine pairings--they sound like tiny pours?

thursday:

maybe a coco doughnut to begin the day?
open all day
need a lunch spot
considering: ox, toro bravo, aviary for dinner--others? which is best in your opinion?

friday:

lunch at pok pok (i loved this place and have to return);
work;
cocktail somewhere with great ambience: tear drop, woodsman, kask or secret society-which would we like best for ambience as well as great cocktails and/or wine?
dinner is le pigeon

saturday:

PSU before we fly out for verde cocina, nuvrei and pine state

thanks so much for the help!

Oct 30, 2012
ljero in Metro Portland

Best Wine Club with Over-the-top Food and Wine Events ?

Bella not only makes great, reasonable zins and cabs but also have nice events for their club members like wine dinners in their caves. As an aside, you don't need to be a club member to attend some of the nice wine dinners at various properties. Just need to look up various wineries and their events to see what is coming up. We did a fabulous harvest lunch with the winemaker and his staff at Failla. They o these through oct. we did a cooking class/wine dinner outside at Hartford which was incredible. Arista has a winemakers dinner coming up. I'd suggest getting on an mail list at our favorite wineries or just doing some research.

Oct 13, 2012
ljero in San Francisco Bay Area

Done my research on this board, etc and now need some help for Sonoma/Napa wine country please!

We are back from another excellent trip to the wine country. Thanks to all for he fabulous recommendations. When we arrived wed late, we were able to sneak into peju for a few bottles to take to solbar free byob night. I still think that their cab is one of the best values in the area. Our dinner at solbar was average at best. We tried various apps and dinners..even the lucky pig a d were totally underwhelmed.

On Thursday we did the harvest luncheon at Failla which I highly recommend. Ehren Jordan and the others dined with us family style outside. We went to corison and larkmead before heading to the farmhouse.

On Friday we had a big wine day visiting many of the tiny producers in warehouses and tasted some great pinots from: ryme, wind gap, lioco and ceritas--my favorite of the day. We ended at freeman and enjoyed the tasting in the cellar. Dinner was at scopa which was great other than our surly waiter. We loved the ambience and food.

On Saturday we hit small vines and then copain for the picnic lunch. What amazing views and great pintos and syrahs. We had a wedding in Sebastopol at a co-op.

On Sunday we tried porter creek for the third time and still bought nothing....and we typically bought everywhere. Not for us. Loved arista, the people and Pinots esp.. The two birds bottling. Rochioli wasn't pouring anything of interest. Made stops at merry Edwards and siduri on way to airport in hopes of completing our fourth case to be shipped but no luck. Arista was vineyard of the day for sure. As per winemaker rec we shipped our wine on the airline as luggage which was a great rec.

As an aside, our brunches at farmhouse were fabulous. They have excellent food.

We had a wonderful trip. Thank you all. Hope to visit next year and will be sure to get ome new recs! The only RRV wineries I was disappointed to miss due to harvest were macphail and Cobb. Hope to see them next year!!!

Oct 13, 2012
ljero in San Francisco Bay Area

Done my research on this board, etc and now need some help for Sonoma/Napa wine country please!

Did you bike to both or just Venge...and I guess I should ask how far/difficult the bike ride is? I am very interested in doing this--thanks so much for the rec, so please let me know if out of shaped 30somethings whose only exercise is chasing after her toddlers is enough to endure the ride? I read Venge is difficult to find? What wines were your favorites?

Also, I really like WHansel wines. I love Williams Selyem but we are not current members...

Sep 06, 2012
ljero in San Francisco Bay Area

Done my research on this board, etc and now need some help for Sonoma/Napa wine country please!

Good idea. I think we will skip it then. thank you!

Sep 06, 2012
ljero in San Francisco Bay Area

Done my research on this board, etc and now need some help for Sonoma/Napa wine country please!

Also we are flexible to changing the two cab visits in Napa. I had a 2006 Corison Kronos last weekend, which was fabuolus, so we thought wed go, but her Kronos is sold out and her Corison appears to be only one served (which we could order)--also v. expensive--same re: Larkmead. We love Shafer's merlot and cab (one point five) but that winery I think is too commerical for our liking for a visit and we can obtain those wines at home--but those are the types of cabs that we like (Also love darioush and peju)

Sep 06, 2012
ljero in San Francisco Bay Area

Done my research on this board, etc and now need some help for Sonoma/Napa wine country please!

We have dined there before in the past. We had a good meal there but not excellent. We only have one night for dinner (thursday night) and we really wanted to go into Healdsburg to dine/walk around, and it is our only opportunity. We also wanted a place that is fun, casual with great food....is tehre something we should choose other than Scampo? We could do WIllys I guess or maybe Barn diva if nice outside to dine on their patio but menu looks better at Scopa?

Sep 06, 2012
ljero in San Francisco Bay Area

Done my research on this board, etc and now need some help for Sonoma/Napa wine country please!

Here is my itinerary so far--please critique--also have some questions as below:

Wednesday:

Arrive 1:20pm SFO.
Gott's Roadside for late lunch.
4:15pm Corison
Stay at Solage/Dinner at Solbar

thursday:

10:00 a.m. Larkmead
11:30-2:00pm Failla Harvest Lunch Series
Drive to Farmhouse Inn
7:00pm Scopa for dinner

Friday:

10:00am Paul Hobbs
3:00 pm rehearsal events/dinner for wedding we are attending in Sebastopol

Saturday:

11:30am Copain picnic lunch
3:00 pm Wedding Sebastolop

Sunday:

Windsor Farmers Market
Littorai
Freeman
El Molino Central
SFO

As you can see, we have some open time and want to hit some of the more boutique pinots in RRV for tastings--not tours. Based on my prior posting, which do you think I should choose between: Inman, WesMar, McPhail, Suacci Carciere, Adrian Fog? We have already been to and enjoy: Woodenhead, Arista, C. Donnatiello, M. Edwards, Rochioli, Lynmar, etc. Want to add a few great pinot selections. I am open to switching out Paul Hobbs, Littorai but think I should keep Freeman. Appreciate the help!! Thank you!

Sep 06, 2012
ljero in San Francisco Bay Area

"Obscure" wineries for Sonoma/Napa Tasting Trip

jonasblank: where did you end up? would love to hear a report on your trip!

Aug 13, 2012
ljero in San Francisco Bay Area

Done my research on this board, etc and now need some help for Sonoma/Napa wine country please!

Which are your favorites in the $40s range?

Aug 13, 2012
ljero in San Francisco Bay Area

Done my research on this board, etc and now need some help for Sonoma/Napa wine country please!

I recall wanting to check Failla out last time. I will definitely check it out. I am starting to think I may have to skip Napa completely as the cabs are all so expensive. As above with the pinots, I generally want to stay $50 and under ($30 would be great for a good pinot, although I realize for cabs that seems to be even more difficult).

Aug 13, 2012
ljero in San Francisco Bay Area

Done my research on this board, etc and now need some help for Sonoma/Napa wine country please!

Goldangl re: pinots. Is there any winery in RRV that makes a gorgeous pinot for under $30? I have always liked the Woodenhead Humbolt County around that price but find most are closer to $50 that I like, which now, with two young children I try to spend less but dont want to sacrifice quality. I will definitely do Paul Hobbs as I do like his pinots. but problem is they have a 90 min tour....I prefer places to taste only or do a food/wine pairing and not do the whole tour. Unfortunately, many of the others listed are not available for visits right now.

Aug 13, 2012
ljero in San Francisco Bay Area

Done my research on this board, etc and now need some help for Sonoma/Napa wine country please!

Out of the three....which do you prefer for cab....corison, larkmead, pine ridge or Dutch Henry?

We also love syrahs and blends. A family friend makes Lillian syrah....you should try it if you have not....she worked for manfred Krankl at sine qua non....both wines fabulous. Any wineries for syrah we should visit.?

Also, of the pinots listed....most are aptmt only....which are your absolute favorites?

Aug 11, 2012
ljero in San Francisco Bay Area

Done my research on this board, etc and now need some help for Sonoma/Napa wine country please!

Maybe Howell mountain is better idea for us for our afternoon in napa? We went to ladera last time but have not Been to any other wineries there. Open to any recs. Also is Neal one of the best for smaller production high quality cabs? Or should we do Dutch Henry or Corison?

Re RRV, I do like dehlinger wines but it is not open for tastings until 2013.

What about the Sebastopol recs....is it worthwhile to travel thru there for littorai etc? Would love some recs for wine yards with food pairings etc....we enjoyed j winery's pairing and green valley ranch Pinot too.

Thanks for the recs.

Aug 11, 2012
ljero in San Francisco Bay Area

Done my research on this board, etc and now need some help for Sonoma/Napa wine country please!

We are traveling to Napa/Sonoma first weekend in October. Staying in Calistoga wed night at Solage and thinking about just dining at Solbar. Is that the best rec? On the drive from SFO to Calistoga we would like a few good stops, possibly on the Silverado trial? Husband and I are both very into wine, esp. reds. So, in Napa looking for great under the radar boutique wineries for cab/merlot. Just so you know the style we like, we enjoy Darioush, Shafer, Duckhorn but don't want to visit as too commercial; we prefer the more locally known big wine producers (for under $75 bottle) at smaller wineries. Last visit we went to Pride, Frank Family, August Briggs.

Thursday, lunch will be at Gotts Roadside and then driving over to Russian River Valley, staying at Farmhouse Inn for three nights. Thursday night dinner will be Scopa...unless you can recommend their new spot over it. So for thursday, a few wineries en route, or not too far off route.

We have Thursday, Friday and Saturday in RRV. Looking for 4 wineries per day and not so much into tours. We love pinots. Again, looking for more of the cult pinot producers, or local favorites for high-quality wine and fun/scenic wineries. We have been to and enjoyed: Lynmar, Iron Horse (great views and sparking), Martinelli, Rochioli (we love their pinot and enjoyed C. Donatiello as well), Porter Creek (did not like so much either time), Gary Farrell (too commercial), Arista, Woondenhead, Hartford (for a lovely wine dinner outside), A. Rafanelli (did not love), Merry Edwards. also for zin, we absolutely love Bella. We are on their wine list and love the experience of the wine caves there, etc.

One definite is Copain for the wines and picnic lunch. Looking for other RRV recommendations for great vineyards and wines. meals are taken care of as we will have wedding activities for a counsin fri night and sat night in sebastopol.

On Sunday, we have to attend the Windsor Farmer's Market for the fabulous hot off the smoker smoked salmon, then will drive down through Sebastapol back to SFO. We have the whole day. A bit ambitious, but I would like to stop at 3 wineries and then hit Hog Island Oyster Bar and Farm in Marshall. Is this worth the stop? For wineries, I really wanted to go to Freeman, Scherrer, and Littorai, but the only one to taste at of the three open is Littorai...any other recs in the surrounding areas other than Dutton Goldfield, which we enjoy?

Any help is greatly appreciated. Just starting to get itinerary together. thank you , thank you!

Aug 08, 2012
ljero in San Francisco Bay Area

Trenchermen

I wish we had had a similar experience. My friend, also a foodie (who went to culinary school), and I were equally disappointed. We did not like the pickle tots. She likened the chicken braesola to Carl Buddings meat purchased in gas stations. We enjoyed the scallop appetizer. Both entrees were subpar; the brisket entree was dry and chewy and the prok belly lacked flavor. As for dessert, the panna cotta was more whipped like a mousse than a custard. Portions were tiny.

Jul 30, 2012
ljero in Chicago Area

Places that serve sushi made with brown rice?

Union sushi and BBQ Bar has black rice, as well, which was great.

For my brown rice fix, I go to Whole Foods.

Jul 18, 2012
ljero in Chicago Area

one night only...with a catch

There are many options depending on the type of food you are looking for.

Balena in Lincoln Park is great--rustic, trendy and great Italian food.

Jul 16, 2012
ljero in Chicago Area

Trenchermen

Has anyone beeen yet, and if so, what were your thoughts/favorites?

We are dining there tonight, and the reviews have been mixed, which surprises me given that it is the Sheerin brothers.

Jul 16, 2012
ljero in Chicago Area