6 Chicago restaurant news bytes for spring 2019

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Hubbard Inn “Mad Men” martinis

Well, we’re getting our first tastes of spring out there – the beginning of the best season for fun in this great city full of patios and decks and rooftop venues. But whether you’re inside or out, it’s a great time to celebrate the return of this joyous season – however brief it may be. So here are a few party and celebration ideas to get you started.

Estelle’s, 2013 W. North Ave. in Wicker Park, is hosting a Pre-Earth Day Fundraiser on Friday, April 19 starting at 5pm. Enjoy drink specials and a raffle with $1 from all drinks sold being donated to the Gardeneers, the only Chicago-based nonprofit providing school garden programs that give communities equal access to healthy food and food education. Try Estelle’s special $10 themed cocktail, The Green Thumb and munch on “green” menu items like Fried Pickles Spears ($7) and Southern Style Green Beans ($6.50), both served with chipotle ranch, while you play at the Earth Day DIY seed activity table from 6 to 9pm (while supplies last).

Hubbard Inn, 110 W. Hubbard. Happy hour every Monday – Friday from 4 to 7pm. If you’ve got a yen to relive the 60s, come bask in the bar’s “Mad Men”-themed happy hour. Watch 1960’s movies like James Bond, The Graduate, Sound of Music, West Side Story and The Good The Bad and the Ugly. Or sing along with 60s music favorites like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, The Beach Boys and Bob Dylan. Ad agency employees (proof of employment, please) enjoy 15% off their total bill. Other specials include:

  • $1 oysters on-the-half-shell or shucked clams
  • $2 shrimp cocktail, scallop crudo, or king crab legs
  • $3 oyster shooter
  • $5 Manhattans and Martinis
Jake Melnick makes craveable stuff

Jake Melnick’s, 41 E. Superior, is sporting Music Bar Bingo. Instead of reading off letters and numbers, listen to clips of popular songs. The music ranges from the 50’s to today’s top hits including fun themed rounds like 80’s rock, 90’s hits, and more. Music Bingo is free but pays out in real prizes every time. Jake’s partners with several beer companies for samples and awesome prices for upcoming Bar Bingo dates: April 9 & 23 (partnering with Half Acre); May 14, 28 (partnering with Lagunitas); June 11, 25 (partnering with 21st Amendment). Try these April specials while you’re playing or just enjoy: the Buffalo Chicken ($16.95); the Fiesta Wings ($13.95); Sriracha Chicken Mac ($12.95).

Kizuki, 1457 N. Halsted and 1482 N. Milwaukee, welcomes patrons on Monday, April 15 with a Tax Day special on all-you-can-eat unlimited refills of noodles added to any ramen order. Choose noodle type Chuka, Tonk, Tsukemen, Shirataki or Kale. Happy Hour from 5 to 7pm. A few Tax Day specials include: – $1 beers, one per person, with a signature ramen purchase (ask your server for specifics);- $3 Sake Bomb, $5 House sake; $5 House red/white wine; $7 Daily special sangria, $7 Momotoro, and several food specials.

Remedy Bar, 1910 N. Milwaukee, supports Earth Day on Monday, April 22, with an $8 “Sprouts Honor” gin cocktail. Bring friends, sip and watch episodes of Planet Earth on TV throughout the evening. A portion of proceeds from each cocktail will be donated to help kids become better students using project-based learning for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects via Project SYNCERE.

Wings galore! Throw calorie caution to the winds and come sample from dozens of wing experts at the 20th annual Chicago’s Best WingFest on Saturday, April 13, 2019 from 12 to 4pm. Watch Chicago Police Dept and Chicago Fire Dept contestants compete to eat the most. Credit Union 1 Arena (formerly known as UIC Pavilion at 525 S. Racine Ave.). After party! Elliot Bambrough is hosting it for $50 a person at 551 Live (551 N. Ogden Ave.), a new live music venue featuring Live Band Karaoke from 5 to 8 p.m. with $4 drink specials and a 551 Live swag giveaway. VIP tix also available. Visit https://wingfest.net.

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Greek family dining, Dr. Seuss party, and macarons for Special Olympics Chicago

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Always fun goings-on in the world of Chicago food and drink. Always a spotlight shining on some international holiday or special occasion or worthy cause. Below are three such items for your consideration. Happy can’t-make-up-its-mind weather!

Avli Taverna Barbeque Thursday

Avli Taverna, 1335 W. Wrightwood, is celebrating the annual Greek tradition of Tsiknopempti, otherwise known as “Barbeque Thursday,” on February 28 with a family-style dinner with seating’s at 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Tsiknopempti always takes place on the Thursday of the week known as Kreatini, when large amounts of meat are traditionally grilled before the fasting leading up to Easter. The event is $60 per person and includes a welcome drink; appetizers including Santorini-Style Tomato Fritters; a family-style Grilled Meat Platter with Greek Sausage, Ouzo and Cumin Chicken Skewers, Lollipop Lamb Chops and Gourounopoulo (Rotisserie Pork);Bourani, a tomato risotto side dish; Kataifi Ekmek, a custard dessert; and three Kir-Yianni wines with dinner. To view the full menu and purchase tickets, visit the Eventbrite here.

Yolk Test Kitchen, 1767 N Milwaukee Ave., honors the birthday of beloved Dr. Suess on March 2. From 7am to 3pm, Yolk will serve for the first time a mini version of their regular fan-favorite menu item Green Eggs and Ham – free for children ages 12 and younger. Yolk Founder and Owner Taki Kastanis said they are constantly pushing the envelope with new and creative breakfasts, specialty juices and their own private label premium coffee in urban, upscale settings. Besides pancakes, Yolk puts its signature on dishes like gourmet five-egg rolled omelet, eggs Benedict, a wide range of skillets and scramblers, frittatas, crepes and many more scrumptious options, along with all-star menu items from the restaurant’s inventive Test Kitchen. For more information or to reserve at any Chicago location, visit www.eatyolk.com, download the Yolk app, or connect on Instagram and Facebook.

Vanille’s Special Olympics Chicago macaron

Vanille Patisserie (see their four locations) celebrates National Macaron Day on Wednesday, March 20 – the first day of spring. Ten percent of all in-store and online sales will benefit Special Olympics Chicago. Mention #BreakingDownBarriers at any Vanille location on National Macaron Day for a free French macaron. Check out Vanille’s new “Champion Box” of 12 macarons that includes a gold one (like the winning medal) and others that are embossed with the Special Olympics Chicago logo and inspirational words from the special athletes. Order beginning March 1 for shipping nationally and/or for delivery the week of March 20. For more information, vanillepatisserie.com or call a Patisserie Specialist at (773) 868-4574.

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News for lovers of BBQ, friends, chocolates and kids

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SWWAN celebrates Galentine’s Day!

Maybe you have a fun day/night planned with your SO for Valentine’s Day – there are a million places to celebrate in Chicago. But we also love the trend these days to call Valentine’s Day by another name – Galentine’s Day, in honor of all the fabulous single women who deserve holidays, too. See more about that at SWWAN.org (the Single Working Women’s Affiliate Network). And in further acknowledgement of the increasing number of people who are loving life on their own, some restaurants even do what they call Anti-VDay celebrations. And of course, there are always worthy fund-raising events to lift your spirit. So here is a small selection of events to consider for your dead-of-winter enjoyment.

BARBEQUE VALENTINE
Chicago q, 1160 N. Dearborn St., known for its mouthwatering house-smoked meats and effervescent Southern charm, will be serving something extra special on February 14. Celebrity chef Art Smith is offering a special Valentine’s Day Chef’s Board for Two: 1) Choice of appetizer (options like Fried Green Tomatoes with Habanero Ranch, Brisket Meatballs with Grits and Spray Fried Shallots and Creole Fried Alligator served with Greens and a housemade Remoulade.) Next up is a bountiful board featuring a variety of smoked meats plus two sides. Round out your dining experience with a decadent dessert and two complimentary cocktails for $100.

ANTI-VALENTINE’S DAY
To celebrate “one of the most romantic holidays [of the year],” Columbus Tap, 200 N Columbus Dr, is hosting an Anti-VDay Party Thursday, February 14, until 11:30pm. The elevated gastropub located at the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park will offer a specialty menu and a 14% discount off any single person’s bill. Try these: The Burger for One, $21: Juicy Lucie – Cheddar stuffed 8oz patty, caramelized onion, lettuce, tomato, pickles, garlic aioli; Stupid Cupid Wings, $14: Honey Sriracha glazed chicken wings; or Non-Conversational Tart Heart, $10: Lemon candy coated, raspberry jelly filling, no bake cheesecake.

Fannie Mae Pixies – perfect for Galentine’s Day!

CHOCOLATES
At Fannie May’s flagship location, 343 N Michigan Ave. Master Chocolatier, Elliot Callahan creates over 100 different confections. Personalize your Valentine’s chocolate heart by selecting your favorites from over 60 different chocolate confections: e.g., Pixies – buttery smooth caramel and fresh pecans drenched in rich chocolate; Dixies, – buttery smooth caramel covered in pecans. And more, like Trinidads® and their most popular buttercreams, toffees and crunch nut clusters. Consider pairing chocolates and libations, and meanwhile, a couple of suggestions from their experts on that topic:

  • Be Adventurous: If you’re a whisky drinker, many bourbons and ryes feature oaky vanilla notes and baking spice flavors that pair well with caramel confections such as Pixies®. Prefer cocktails? Try a White Russian – it’s sweet, potent, and assertive which makes for a fun match with a May Cream or Trinidad®. Valentine’s Day is a sensual occasion, so indulge the senses.
  • Perfect Match: While many wines pair well with savory foods, the same rules don’t apply with chocolate. If you prefer white wine, try an ice wine or a sweet sparkling such as a Moscato d’Asti. These styles pair well with white chocolate and Vanilla Butter Creams. If you prefer red wine, try a port, sherry, or a sparkling red wine such as a Lambrusco that will stand up to richer confections like Trinidads®, May Creams, and Pixies®.
One North Pole is partying for critically ill kids

CHEFS PARTY FOR LOCAL KIDS’ CAUSE
Winter Wonderland party brings together 30+ celebrity chefs on Monday, March 4, 6:30 to 10:30pm, for demonstrations and food tastings in support of One North Pole’s mission to serve children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, and raise funds for the organization’s annual Winter Wonderland event. Location: Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Rd., Rosemont. Chefs include NFL and MLB All-Star Bo Jackson from Bo Jackson’s Signature Foods, 2019 Jean Banchet Award winner, Chef Michael Lachowicz from George Trois and Michelin Star Chefs Don Young and Sam Plotneck of Temporis.

TIckets are general admission or discounted group packages. VIP tickets also include a special early-access event from 5:30 to 6:30pm. Purchase tickets here. For more about ONP’s mission and how to volunteer or donate, visit www.operationnorthpole.org.

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Still looking? Consider these Chicago spots for NYE/NYD 2019

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Always fun to consider the possibilities for New Year’s Eve, even if you never actually go anywhere (like some of us). But it’s kind of exciting to read about all the things you could be doing if you actually stayed up that late… And then there’s all the cool places to eat and drink on New Year’s Day. Here are a few for your edification – starting with the most expensive and randomly afterwards in vague alphabetical order, but then there’s the big list of LEYE venues that starts a new alphabet. Best approach: look first for addresses that seem like where you’d like to go.

BTW, we are just publishing this without fine editing because, darn it, it’s already early New Year’s Eve and we wanna give you some time to peruse. If you find an error or something that needs to be fixed, apologies ahead of time.

STK and SNL Experience team up, 9 W. Kinzie (near 360 N. State St.) for a Chicago NYE experience. With the purchase of a general admission ticket ($150), you get access to The Museum of Broadcast on the 4th floor of 9 W. Kinzie Street from 9pm – 1am on Dec. 31. DJ Mach 1 will be spinning from the set of SNL and attendees can enjoy an open bar, STK hors d’oeuvres and a champagne toast while watching a live stream of the famed NYC ball drop. Say you want to be a bit extra and cap off 2018 in style, bottle service packages for you and your crew on NYE include:

  • Second City Table package ($1,000, up to 6 guests per table):
    Brooklyn and/or Queens Table package ($4,000, up to 8 guests per table)
  • Live from NY and Chicago Stage package ($5,000, up to 8 guests per table)
  • Turd Ferguson Here Is Jeopardy Stage package ($6,000, exclusive stage party for 12)

Eataly Chicago, 43 E. Ohio St., is hosting its annual all-inclusive New Year’s Eve Party on December 31st from 9pm – 12:30am. Your ticket includes food from three of Eataly’s restaurants, including the seasonal Alpine restaurant, BAITA. Think: unlimited fresh pasta & risotto, pizza napoletana, arancini, mozzarella, and focaccia alongside bottomless red, white and sparkling Italian wines. There will also be tons of panettone and pandoro, pans of tiramisu and more. A live band and DJ will perform throughout the evening, and at midnight, a toast to ring in 2019!

aliveOne, 2683 N. Halsted. Monday, December 31 – $75 per person before December 15; $80 per person after December 15. FREE Admission to front bar only. Ring in the new year with an all-inclusive package from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. The package includes access to aliveOne’s private back room, a drink package with top shelf liquor, beer, wine and Red Bull, and a food buffet. Guests will enjoy a champagne toast at midnight and DJ sets from Boathouse all night. The front room at aliveOne will be open with no cover all night. For NYE tickets, visit http://aliveone.com/event/aliveones-new-years-eve-party/.

Arun’s Thai Restaurant, 4156 N. Kedzie. Monday, December 31; open at 5 p.m. $150 per person for 12-courses (food only). Enjoy a flavorful and visually stunning multi-course New Year’s Eve dinner of 12 artfully crafted Thai delicacies and a pour of champagne preceded by a complimentary amuse-bouche in the kitchen with world-renowned and James Beard award-winning chef Chef Arun Sampanthavivat. Enjoy bubbly cocktails in addition to their Thai-influenced drink program – $15 cocktails like the Black Thai Affair (muddle blackberries and Thai basil, Lillet Blanc, Caorunn Gin, lemonade, topped with prosecco and garnished with blackberry and Thai basil). $10 mocktails like the Seasonal Virgin Sour (cucumber and watermelon puree, house-made sour mix, egg white, lavender and melon kombucha) and more. RSVP by calling (773) 539-1909, on OpenTable or by visiting www.arunsthai.com.

HERE’S THE BEYOND PART…
Carnivale, 701 W. Fulton, located in prime West Loop territory, has a week-after-New Year’s Day brunch idea – come in your PJs!! How fun is that? Skip the craziness for NYD and come out on Sunday January 6, 10:30am – 3pm. Come with your brunch squad dressed in your Sunday Best PJs (you get a complimentary mimosa if you do!) and indulge in comfort food and drink for the annual Pajama Brunch! Enjoy signature brunch items including Pork Belly Benedict – Bay’s English muffin, spinach, poached eggs, red eye hollandaise, papas bravas, smoked pork belly and Skirt ‘n Eggs – Wood grilled skirt steak, two farm fresh fried eggs, chimichurri. A kid-friendly menu is also available. Adults (21+) can warm up at the Hot Chocolate Station featuring Kahlua, Frangelico and Baileys Irish Cream.

Commonwealth Tavern, 2000 W Roscoe St. in Roscoe Village. Monday, December 31 from 8pm to 1am. New Year’s Eve party for $60 per person includes microbrew drafts, domestic bottles, call drinks, wine, an appetizer buffet, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. For tickets, visit here.

The Crystal Gardens, 700 E. Grand Ave. at Navy Pier. Monday, December 31 from 9pm to 1:30am. Admission starts at $99 per person; VIP Tickets start at $149. Reserved Guaranteed VIP Tables start at $199 per person. Enjoy one of the city’s best New Year’s Eve venues with its opulent setting featuring a one-acre botanical garden inside a six-story glass atrium. General Admission tickets include premium top shelf drinks and a Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants food station from 9pm to 1:30am with 20+ premium liquor bars, red carpet with step and repeat, party favors, and a champagne toast at midnight. Enjoy music from Chicago’s DJ Dante as well a premier view of the midnight fireworks show from a private terrace for guests of the Crystal Gardens only. Party-goers will also receive an official after-party wristband.

Guests can opt for VIP tickets, starting at $149, to enjoy all the benefits of general admission tickets plus express admission at 8:30 p.m., separate VIP express entry line, first chance to get tables, a special gift and more. Reserved Guaranteed VIP tables start at $199 per person and guests receive a VIP ticket plus a guaranteed table for two to eight people and one to four bottles of champagne based on the table size purchased. To purchase tickets, visit here.

EASY BAR, 1944 W Division St., Monday, December 31 ring in the new year with an all-inclusive package from 8pm to 1am. Includes a midnight toast featuring Taco Bell tacos paired with a glass of champagne. Includes private access to the back room, top shelf liquor, beer, wine, Red Bull, food buffet, and a DJ all night. Get tickets here – $75 per person until December 15 ($80 after December 15). The front bar at Easy Bar will be FREE and open to the public from 8pm to 2am with no dress code.

ESTELLE’S, 2013 W North Ave. Come for free on Monday, Dec. 31 (5pm to 4am with no cover or dress code). Optional drink package (7pm to 1am) for $65 per person until Dec. 15 ($70 per person after Dec. 15) includes top shelf liquor, beer, wine and Red Bull. Estelle’s will have DJ Dan Maloney spinning tunes and a champagne toast at midnight. Estelle’s menu will be available a la carte all night. Limited table reservations are available. Get tickets here.

Hubbard Inn, 110 W. Hubbard. Monday, Dec. 31 ring in the new year in River North with complimentary champagne from 8 – 9pm, a hosted bar from 9pm to 1am, passed hors d’oeuvres, DJ, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. Tickets here (starting at $50 per person)

Joy District, 112 W. Hubbard. Party here for NYE and receive a complimentary brunch next day to celebrate the new year. General admission (starting at $75 and going higher as the date nears) premium bar package (9pm to 1am). Enjoy passed hors d’oeuvres from Executive Chef Jason Hedin, access to a hosted champagne bar from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., access to both floors including the nightclub, live music from Chicago’s top DJ’s, a champagne toast at midnight, and more. VIP tables with bottle service are also available. For complete ticket information and pricing, visit https://www.eventstand.com/events/joynye2019. For information on VIP tables or rooftop igloo reservations, email nye@joychicago.com. All guests who purchase tickets will receive complimentary brunch at Parlay on Tuesday, January 1.

Kizuki Ramen and Izakaya, 1482 N Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park, offers a $1 sake bomb special up to New Year’s Eve. Pair yours with over 10 bowls of ramen. Highlights include Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen (rich pork broth flavored with Yamaguchi soy sauce, topped with black garlic oil), and Yuzu Shio Ramen (French sea salt, kelp and Japanese citrus based).

Remedy, 1910 N. Milwaukee, right between Bucktown and Logan Square, presents a New Year’s all-inclusive package from 7pm to 1am. The $80 package includes top shelf liquor, beer, wine, Red Bull, a food buffet, a champagne toast at midnight and a DJ Delayney spinning all night. For tickets, visit http://remedybarchicago.com/event/remedys-new-years-eve-party/. Starting at 1 a.m., Remedy will open to the public for the New Year’s after party until 4 a.m.

Roanoke Restaurant, 135 W. Madison St. in the heart of the Loop, invites you to celebrate on Monday, December 31 from 3pm until 11 for only $44 per person. Indulge in a festive three-course menu created by Executive Chef Greg Elliott, including a Supper Club Prime Rib, Herb Crusted Pork Chop, Linguine Puttanesca and more. Featured wines for the evening will include J Vineyard Pinot Noir ($12 glass, $48 bottle), Wente Cabernet ($13 glass, $52 bottle), Martin Codax Albarino ($10 glass, $40 bottle), plus a complimentary champagne toast at midnight.

The Owl, 2521 N. Milwaukee, is open to the public on New Year’s Eve from 6pm to 4am with no cover. Optional all-inclusive $75 package from 7pm to 1am includes top shelf liquor, beer, wine, Red Bull and a food buffet, plus a compimentary champagne toast at midnight as well as DJ Adam Luksetich spinning all night. For tickets,
http://owlbarchicago.com/event/owls-new-years-eve-party/.

Tuscany, 1014 W. Taylor, offers New Year’s Eve dinner specials created by Executive Chef Victorio Padilla, plus complimentary party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. The regular menu will also be available and reservations are highly recommended.

Victory Tap, 1416 S. Michigan Ave. and Victory Italian, 434 W. Ontario, offer their regular menu and a huge welcome to NYE diners – as perfect for couples as it is for groups of friends/family.

Weber Grill, 539 N. State St., offers $45 to $80 food and drink Chef specials for pre-party dinner on New Year’s Eve. Consider Winter Green Salad (caramelized apples, dried cranberries, blue cheese, candied pecans, white balsamic vinaigrette; $6), Grilled NY Strip with Wild Mushrooms (12-ounce center cut, miso butter, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, broccolini; $34), Lamb Chops Provencal (rib chops, seasoned bread crumbs, red wine demi glaze, asparagus, parmesan truffle mashed potatoes; $36), Grilled Gulf Shrimp (ancho chile butter sauce, fried garlic, crispy marble potatoes, cebollitas, grilled bread; $26). For dessert, indulge in an Eggnog Cheesecake (bourbon caramel sauce, fresh whipped cream; $6).

LEYE is always giving Frequent Diners chances to earn extra points.
NYE or NY celebrations at LEYE spots are another great opportunity!

New Year’s Eve

Aba, 302 N. Green St. 3rd floor. Toast to 2019 from 4pm – 12 am (bar open til 2am) with craft cocktails and wines served alongside festive dinner specials including Lamb Osso Bucco with hand rolled saffron couscous and Greek Orzo with winter black truffles. Keep the celebrations going until midnight with complimentary pours of champagne. Aba menu.

Booth One – Hot Doug’s New Year’s Eve Party in Library Bar, 1301 N. State Parkway. For one night only from 4pm – 9pm, Hot Doug’s is popping up at the Library Bar at the Ambassador Chicago for a “no jackets” party! Ring in 2019 with legendary Chicago sausage connoisseur, Doug Sohn of Hot Doug’s and the team at Booth One. Enjoy a night of unlimited gourmet sausages including the signature Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli and Foie Gras Mousse, the legendary duck fat fries from Hot Doug’s, plus creations like the Alligator Sausage with Crayfish Remoulade and Jarlsberg Cheese, a cash bar with all cocktails, wine and beer under $10 and a live DJ set with a playlist curated by Doug. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Intonation Music Workshop, which supports music education for Chicago youth. Price: $100 per person, plus tax (gratuity not included)

Booth One – Dinner & Disco Party (Booth One Dining Room), 1301 N. State Parkway. 5-8pm and 9-11pm, take your pick of two New Year’s Eve dinner parties. Groups will be treated to a prix-fixe menu packed with our top dishes from 2018, plus new menu additions. Start your night with a Seafood Collection Tower, proceed to entrées like the Dover Sole with Sauce Americaine. The early dinner seating at 5pm will also have a live jazz ensemble. The later dinner seating at 9pm includes a disco party with party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. Price: Early Dinner Seating at 5:00 PM is $65 per person, Later Dinner Seating at 9:00 PM is $105 per person

Bub City – River North, 435 N. Clark St. Brunch 10am – 3pm; NYE Party 9pm – 2am. BBQ brunch from 10am – 3pm and dinner from 5pm – 9pm. Starting at 9pm, enjoy beer-and-wing specials plus a live performance by Jake Dodds. Celebrating with a group? Nab one of the booth packages (limited availability) that includes premium drinks, a bottle of Prosecco, BBQ favorites and festive party favors. Bub City menu.

Nacional 27, 325 W. Huron. Dine, drink and dance your way to the new year from 5:30pm to 2am. Savor a Brazilian Churrascaria feast featuring dishes like BBQ’d Lamb Tacos, Roasted Corn Fundido and Grilled Steak, Shrimp and Scallop Skewers. Dance and toast to 2019 with a midnight balloon drop – plus the sultry sounds salsa, bachata and meringue by DJ X until 2am. Price: $39.99 plus tax (gratuity not included) for the seating from 6pm – 7:30pm / $99 plus tax (gratuity not included) for a seating from 7:30pm – 10pm which includes a champagne toast. Nacional 27 menu.

Naoki Sushi, 2300 N. Lincoln Park West, Suite N. Celebrate from 5pm – 10:30pm with the full menu of Japanese small plates, nigiri, rolls, plus a selection of Naoki-style sashimi like, Scallop, black truffle, yuzo or Toro Tartare, caviar. Chef Naoki will feature Japanese specialties including Beef Filet with wasabi chimichurri and Roasted Halibut with wasabi miso. Dinner includes a special amuse and Champagne toast. Naoki Sushi menu.

Ramen-san – River North & Fulton Market. New Year’s Eve, 11am – 1am (last seating at 12am),  come for the beef in the form of the ultra-special Wagyu & Black Truffle Ramen. Enjoy bowls of piping hot noodles, perfectly chilled Asahi beer and a complimentary sake bomb waterfall at midnight. Ramen-san menu.

Shaw’s Crab House – Chicago, 21 E. Hubbard. Bid 2018 goodbye from 9am – 12am at Shaw’s: brunch from 9am – 2pm enjoy a full seafood spread of oysters, sushi, king crab legs and more. Dinner in the Main Dining Room from 4:30pm – 12am, treat yourself to their Signature Whole Maine Lobster Dinner big enough for two: 5-pound, hard-shelled Maine Lobster served tableside along with au gratin potatoes and creamed spinach. The Oyster Bar will be open for dinner from 1pm – 12am. Price: Brunch is $75 for adults, $15 for kids ages 7 – 12 plus tax (gratuity not included) and free for kids under 6; Whole Maine Lobster Dinner is $170 plus tax (gratuity not included)

Studio Paris, 59 W. Hubbard. NYE party from 9pm – 2am. Dress to the nines and ring in the New Year at Studio Paris Nightclub. Enjoy a DJ set by special guest Jerzy, nosh on a lavish dinner of passed heavy hors d’oeuvres, indulge in a premium bar package and mingle with other black-tie partygoers. Studio Paris’ New Year’s Eve party.

Three Dots and a Dash, 435 N. Clark St. (but enter through the back alley) to get to this tiki hideaway. Ring in 2019 with a tropical luau featuring signature cocktails and music by DJ Lani Love. Opt for a GA ticket, which includes guaranteed entry plus five tiki cocktails, or reserve a table or booth that adds on appetizers for your party. 9pm – 1am. Three Dots New Year’s Eve party

New Year’s Day

Beatrix River North, Streeterville & Fulton Market. Both locations feature the Beatrix brunch from 8am – 3pm. Order up a Spicy Bloody Mary or Boozy Banana Joe and enjoy brunch favorites like Green Chili Enchiladas, House-Made Belgian Style Waffles, the Mushroom & Quinoa Burger and a side of Brown Sugar Bacon. Beatrix menu.

Bub City – River North. Kick off 2019 than with Bub City’s daytime brunch and late-night karaoke! First, enjoy the classic Southern brunch menu, build-your-own Bloody Mary Bar and live music from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM, plus wing specials and $15 pitchers of Modelo and Bud Light all day. Keep the New Year party going into the late-night hours with Industry Karaoke starting at 10pm – 2am. Bub City menu.

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!, 2024 N. Halsted. NYD from 9am – 10pm you can start 2019 with their Build-Your-Own-Bloody Mary Bar! From 9am -3pm, dine in your pajamas and receive a Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! gift card equal to the price of your meal plus tax (gratuity not included), to use on a future visit. Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! menu.

Hub 51, 51 W. Hubbard. From 10am to 3pm recover from the New Year’s festivities with an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet featuring brunch classics (think Brioche French Toast), more modern takes like chilaquiles and a sushi station, plus a Craft Bloody Mary & Mimosa Bar for $8 per trip. Price: $36 per person ($15 for children 12 and under), plus tax (gratuity not included). Hub 51 menu.

Mon Ami Gabi – Chicago, 2300 N. Lincoln Park West. NYD dinner from 4pm – 8:30pm come enjoy your first meal of 2019 from their  tantalizing French dinner with menu items like the Prime Steak Frites and fresh seafood favorites like Mussels Mariniér and Trout Almondine drenched in brown butter. Toast the new year from their signature rolling wine cart that features over 80 boutique French wines served by the glass or bottle. Mon Ami Gabi – Chicago menu.

Ramen-san – River North & Fulton Market. Both locations offer steaming bowls of ramen on NYD from 11am to 12am to nurse yourself back to health after New Year’s Eve . Enjoy Japanese-inspired cocktails and a selection of ramen while listening to ‘90s throwback jams. For those not ready to leave your couch, let Ramen-san bring the meal to you! Ramen-san menu.

Shaw’s Crab House – Chicago, 21 E. Hubbard St. From 10am – 3pm
nurse your New Year’s Eve hangover with $6 Bloody Mary’s (normally priced at $15). All brunch diners will receive a gift card for $20.19 to be used towards a future visit. Price: $75 for adults, $15 for kids ages 7 – 12 plus tax (gratuity not included) and free for kids under 6.

Stella Barra Pizzeria, 1954 N. Halsted, from 9am – 2pm, dine in your pajamas and receive a gift card equal to the price of your meal (minus tax and gratuity) to use on a future visit. It’s the best way to start 2019: Endless Egg Enchiladas, Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding, Smokey Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Short Rib Hash and more along with $5 Bloody Marys, Mimosas and Bellinis. Stella Barra menu.

Tokio Pub, 1900 E. Higgins Rd., Schaumburg, is serving New Year’s Day lunch and dinner. Nosh on Pork Belly Steamed Buns with hoisin glaze, Bahn mi slaw, and Fresno pepper or the Steak Tacos made with soy garlic-marinated sirloin, roasted tomato salsa, and pickled ginger. In addition, New Year’s Day is our monthly Check Match Promotion! Receive a gift card in the amount of your food and beverage portion of your meal to be used on a future visit. View Tokio Pub NYE Lobster Bash menu.

New Year’s Eve – Monday, Dec. 31

Ada St., 1664 N. Ada St.–, offers “Guilty Pleasures” from 9pm to 1am. Celebrate 2019 with a night of “luxury, gluttony and guilty pleasures.” $85 each ticket includes general admission with passed hors d’oeuvres and a welcome cocktail. Prepared by Executive Chef Ryan Bair, passed offerings will include crispy potato blinis with creme fraiche and Hackleback caviar; fried pacific oyster banh mi with daikon, carrot and kimchee; North Atlantic salmon gravlax with mustard dill sauce and brioche; foie gras torchon with apricot, fleur de sel and country bread; duck confit macaroni and cheese; and roasted beef tenderloin with horseradish cream and truffle mashed potatoes, among other offerings. Brie, bacon and apricot grilled cheese sandwiches will be served as an after-midnight snack. For tickets, visit the event page here. (773-697-7069)

DMK Burger Bar Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave, rings in the New Year with Navy Pier’s extravagant firework displays for all guests who can celebrate from 7pm to 1am. $45 per adult and $25 per child includes general admission and access to the restaurant’s “Best of Chicago” buffet featuring Chicago-style mini hot dogs; Italian beef sandwiches; Polish sausage and hot link bites; Chicago-style fried shrimp served with horseradish cocktail sauce; DMK cheeseburger sliders; salt & pepper French fries; pretzels with Merkts cheddar and brown mustard; and County BBQ’s smoked chicken wings.  Call for tickets 312-624-8017. The web page link to buy has disappeared.

Fish Bar, 2956 N. Sheffield Ave. in Lakeview will welcome the New Year with a prix-fixe dinner and a champagne toast, priced at $55 per person. Appetizer selections will include five oysters served on half shell or shrimp scampi served with garlic bruschetta. The second course is an option between New England clam chowder or winter salad, served with hearty greens, sundried tomato vinaigrette, goat cheese and almonds. For the entrée, guests may choose between fish & chips, served with Icelandic beer battered cod, French fries, tartar sauce and coleslaw; a lobster roll, served with tater tots and coleslaw, for an additional $10; or the Alaskan King Crab, served with potatoes and Brussels sprouts, for an additional $15. Dessert options include key lime pie or pecan pie. Attendees may choose to dine at 6 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. and tickets are available by visiting the event page. (773-687-8177)

Henry’s and The Rec Room, located in River North, will host a New Year’s Eve celebration from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Starting at $65, general admission tickets include a “bottomless cup,” as well as dancing, party favors and a midnight buffet. The Bottomless Blue package includes unlimited draft beer, red wine and white wine, priced at $65 a ticket; the Bottomless Red package includes unlimited draft cocktails, draft beer, red wine and white wine, priced at $80 a ticket; and the Bottomless Yellow package includes unlimited mixed and house spirits, draft cocktails, draft beer, red wine and white wine, priced at $100. Table reservations, starting at $400, include guaranteed seating and bottle service with Tito’s vodka and prosecco. Table packages sold separately. General admission tickets required for all guests . To reserve a table, email events@dmkrestaurants.com, and to purchase general admission tickets, visit the event page. (312-955-8018)

Marshall’s Landing, 18 W. Hubbard St., located inside the MART, will kick off 2019 with a New Year’s Eve celebration starting at 9 p.m. In collaboration with Green Curtain Events, the party will offer premium drink packages, food prepared by Chef Michal Kornick, party favors, a celebratory champagne toast with a midnight countdown to be enjoyed with views of Chicago’s river and skyline, dancing, music by Kysia Live, a DJ and more. General admission tickets start at $80 per person, with table packages starting at $250. Food selections will include an array of passed hors d’oeuvres, in addition to a pasta bar featuring cheese tortellini with alfredo sauce and mint pesto; baked penne arrabbiata with mushrooms, parmesan and basil; and “make your own” bruschetta with tomato and basil, marinated mushrooms and mozzarella with Calabrian chiles and parsley. Guests may also opt for the gourmet taco bar featuring chicken with cilantro and steak with onion, served with poblano chilis, mushrooms, bell peppers, chipotle pepper salsa and tomatillo salsa verde. For dessert, fresh Rice Krispie Treats and blondies will be served. To purchase a general admission ticket, visit MarshallsLanding.com, and for table reservations and packages, call 312.579.3637 or reach out to Matt@greencurtainevents.com. (222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza/312-610-8050)

County BBQ, 1352 W. Taylor St. offers dinner in a more casual setting, serving its popular smoked barbeque selections and cocktails. (312-929-2528)

New Year’s Day – Tuesday, Jan. 1

DMK Burger Bar Lakeview, 2954 N. Sheffield Ave. – New Year’s Day beginning at 10am, kick off 2019 with a pajama brunch. In addition to DMK’s regular menu, a special brunch menu will include the Waffle Burger, made with a sausage patty, fried egg and maple syrup; poutine with fries, cheddar cheese curds and pork carnitas gravy; and a fried egg sandwich with cheese, bacon and sausage, among other offerings. Bottomless mimosas, sparkling wine cocktails, raspberry bellinis and Cape Cod-style Bloody Marys will also be available. (773-360-8686)

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Food product reviews 2018: chocolate, food storage and vegan sauces

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Giving gifts can be a huge challenge. Here are a couple of products to consider for your chocoholic friends, your kitchen-neatnik pals, and your vegan-only-please circle, Or for you if the shoe fits.

American Heritage Chocolate makes old-fashioned chocolate, and the company behind it is the Mars Wrigley Confectionary Company, so you know they know what they’re doing. Yes,  delicious chocolate in grated, chunk and other forms, as well as things with chocolate in them, like hot cocoa and bark and so on. Their downloadable original recipes for both savory and sweet chocolate treats.are good to make for your holiday guests , or pass them on to your giftees so they can make the most of your gift of chocolate. The company has even established a historical research grant. Launched in 2013, the Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Chocolate History Research Grant, named after the company’s owner, awards grant funds for projects that investigate/educate the public on the history of chocolate or the chocolate making process from one or more cultural, historic or scientific perspectives. A good reason to gift friends and loved ones with chocolate, especially when it’s artisan-made and you can get 20% off (coupon on their website) from Amazon.

Wellslock single-snap storage containers. The container portions are made of a really sturdy, super clear, freezer and microwave safe plastic (but don’t put it in there empty), and their unique locking lid is leak-proof with one double-snap. Took us a bit to figure out how to get the lids off smoothly. Sometimes the closure was so firmly seated that we had to use a sharp knife to pry it open – which we were pretty sure was not the right approach. But once we figured it out, they come off pretty easily. The trick is to push/slide the lid to the opposite side once you release the double-snap closure tab. We love the sizes and shapes these come in – several interesting ones that you don’t typically find in storage containers. One configuration, for example, is perfect for holding two partially cut lemons or limes or a cut avocado, notoriously difficult-fit items. And happily, these actually are airtight. Some containers claim to be but then fail. These are great for storing food items and, really, for anything you want to be able to see into the containers to identify. No cloudy plastic to confuse the issue. The lids are made of regular somewhat cloudy plastic, but the containers themselves are almost as clear as glass, without the weight or the breakability factors. Don’t know how much scratching will happen over time with using knives and forks in the dishes. So far no sign of that. Prices start at $9.99 for a single large container and then up to $29.99 for the 22-piece set. BPA free, freezer and microwave safe. Great gift for the foodie or crafty types on your gift list.

Just Sauces. This collection comes with mayo, Ranch, Chipotle and others. These are lower-calorie, vegan options for dressing salads, fish or whatever. You’ll need to test out the flavors for yourself; opinions seem to vary widely. Our tasters thought the taste and appearance were somewhat artificial (it does contain modified food starch and canola oil – said to be genetically modified), so it doesn’t feel like a “whole food” kind of product. But then, it’s vegan. Many of us meat-poulty-fish-egg-eaters might feel that way about anything vegan. And as many Amazon reviewers complained about their purchases, our samples arrived with imminent expiration dates. This line of products is a great idea but seems not to have thoroughly overcome its birthing pains yet, so do your research.

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Cookies, food and fun at 13 Chicago holiday connections

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Carnevale Restaurant is here to get you in the holiday spirit. Mark your calendar for these fun events: Sundays, December 9 and 16, bring the family and join Mr. & Mrs. Claus and Christmas carolers for a holiday brunch buffet 10:30 – 3pm. Buffet stations include paella, meat carving, tacos, desserts & more. Adults $45, kids 5 to 12 $15 each. December 31 ring in the New Year with The Greatest Showman Celebration. $85 prix fixe menu. Reservations here (required for New Year’s Eve).

Warm Belly tin o’ cookies

Cookies? Yes! Warm Belly Bakery (West Loop and Lincoln Park) just launched its Monster cookie for the holiday. Even bigger than their regular, really big 1/4-lb cookies, the Monster is a 1/2-lb sugar cookie – made with Chef/Owner Joe Dela Pena’s secret “How’d you get it to taste like cookie dough?” recipe – with bits of Snickers®, Twix®, M&Ms® and Butterfingers®. In partnership with Big Monster Toys Company (on Racine Ave. right around the corner from WBB’s West Loop location at 1148 W. Monroe), Warm Belly is donating a portion of proceeds from the sale of all Monster cookies to help the toy company’s charitable efforts for kids at the University of Chicago’s Comer’s Children Hospital. Good reason to bust yourself on a Monster cookie this holiday. But don’t stop there. Buy a mixed dozen in a tin and try to keep from eating more than a 50-calorie bite at a time. We dare you.

More cookies! Publican Quality Meats lets you pick from a selection of chef-driven holiday cookies from the top pastry talents in the U.S. From December 10 to 24 a portion of the proceeds help local nonprofit Deborah’s Place provide interim and permanent supportive housing to women in need throughout Chicago.

Remington’s (20 N. Michigan Ave.) will host a Santa Brunch on Sunday, December 9 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Brunch options include Prime Rib Hash with two eggs over easy, peppers, cilantro and chipotle sour cream ($16) and Lobster Deviled Eggs with three halves loaded with lobster and lobster oil ($12). To view the full menu and make a reservation visit the website or call 312-782-6000.

Smoke Daddy brunch

Smoke Daddy (1804 W. Division St. and 3636 N. Clark St.) celebrates Santa Family-Style Brunch Sunday, Dec.16, 11 to 2pm. And try their holiday catering options: House-Smoked Whole Turkey (11 lb., $65; 20 lb., $9), Pulled Whole Turkey (1 lb., $16) and Glazed Ham, a bone-in, smoked ham with a sweet mojo glaze (half, $69). Sides include Cornbread Stuffing with sausage and spices ($10 per quart); Brussels Sprouts oven-roasted with a lemon butter sauce ($10 per quart); and Green Bean Casserole ($10 per quart). Desserts like Pecan Pie ($25) and Pumpkin Pie  ($19) round out the menu.  Christmas orders must be made by Wednesday, December 19. Items will be picked-up cold with re-heating instructions. Call 773-772-1697 to place an order for either location. Smoke Daddy is also offering its signature sauces and mix in gift sets ($18 or $35) that include BBQ sauces, Smokin’ Bloody Mary mix, Mojo Spice rub and a Smoke Daddy Koozie. Visit either location – Wicker Park or Wrigleyville to pick-up the sets or order online.

Tuco and Blondie (3358 N. Southport) has turned its patio into a festive Christmas tree farm with family-owned McCluskey Tree Farms now through Monday, December 25. Hours: Monday to Friday from 4 to 10pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 10pm. Prices range from $11 to $17 per foot depending on tree type. Saturday, December 8 from 9 to noon, meet the tree farmer Dan McCluskey and take pictures with Santa. Try a Tuco Hot Cider with apple cider, mezcal, butterscotch schnapps and agave ($8) to warm your spirit! 773-327-8226.

Bistronomic, 840 N. Wabash, celebrates Hanukkah from now through Monday, December 10 with a three-course, prix fixe dinner menu for $39. Choose from three select appetizers, entrees and desserts. Call 312-955-8400 or visit the website.

Chiya Chai will be at Chicago’s Christkindlmarket (50 W. Washington St.) at booth number 14 until Monday, December 24 serving their signature chai as well as Mini Chai Donuts (12 for $7); Chicken Masala and Kale Potato Savory Pies ($8.50); Apple, Blueberry and Pumpkin Spice Sweet Pies ($10); Masala Curry Fries ($5); and Chiya Chili Potatoes ($5).

Back at Chiya Chai’s home location, 2770 N. Milwaukee, look for nine-inch savory pies to-go, perfect for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Options include the Chicken Masala, Chicken Balti and Curried Kale and Potato. Pies are $20 – place your order by Thursday, December 20 and pick up at the café on Sunday, December 23. Order by calling 773-360-7541. Also consider a chai gift set for $35 (three bags of tea leaves and one bottle of concentrated chai). Pick up from 11am to 10pm any day. Call 773-360-7541 ahead to confirm availability.

Avli Taverna (1335 W. Wrightwood Ave.) Lincoln’s Park newly opened contemporary Greek restaurant, is offering a variety of Greek gift baskets perfect for the coffee lover, home chef or foodie in your life. Order by email info@avli.us either your prepared basket or your customized selections. Choose from Greek goods such as cookies, oregano, chickpeas, lentils, olive oils and sesame sticks, all also available at Avli Taverna as a part of their Agora To-Go program. Gift baskets include: Kalimera “Good Morning Basket” ($30), Deluxe version ($50). Make-Your-Own Lentil Soup Basket ($30). Make-Your-Own Yiouvetsi Basket (orzo, olive oil, tomato paste and recipe ($30), and more.

Brewpoint Coffee (124 W. Park Ave Elmhurst, IL; 617 N. York Ave., Elmhurst, IL) , a cafe and roastery, is offering a variety of gift sets including the Brewpoint Brewer Box featuring two 12-ounce coffee blends and a pour over brewer ($60-$75); the Eco-friendly Box featuring two 12-ounce coffee blends in bio-tre packaging, a metal straw and a Brewpoint tumbler ($60-75); the Female Empowerment Box featuring two 12-ounce coffee blends from women producers ($35); and the Brewpoint Flight Box featuring four of Brewpoint’s coffee blends including the Holiday Blend, Stargazer and two single origins ($65). Guests may order online at brewpointcoffee.com beginning Thursday, November 15. Call 224-254-7134.

Imperfect Produce, a delivery service that sells odd-looking but perfectly edible produce, is on a social mission to eliminate food waste, help farmers benefit from a full harvest and make healthy fruits and vegetables more accessible and affordable. The produce subscription is perfect for busy families, fitness enthusiasts, young professionals, vegetarians, meal prep lovers and more in the Chicagoland area. Each customized box is filled with a variety of organic or conventional ugly fruits and vegetables priced at 30 to 50 percent below grocery rates. To check Imperfect’s delivery areas visit imperfectproduce.com/join.

Acanto Restaurant + Wine Bar, 18 S. Michigan, celebrates the “Feast of the Seven Fishes” with specials from December 16-24. Also known as “The Vigil” (or fasting day), Italians abstain from eating red meat until Christmas Day and instead, eat an abundance of seafood leading up to the holiday. Check out Chef Chris Gawronski’s specials: grilled Spanish sardines imported from Holland; clams and mussels cooked to order stuffed in ravioli that offers a true taste of the ocean; spicy swordfish puttanesca; grilled lobster paired with a sweet passito wine sauce; and the Pulpo a la Siciliana, a popular Sicilian street cart snack turned gourmet with confit potato and Meyer lemon. Something different every day until December 22 (through December 24) – Zuppa dei sette pesci, served for two, $48.

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Food and drink news at 3 Chicago restaurants

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Broken Barrel Bar, is “SURving” up weekly Monday night watch parties for Season 7 of TV’s highest rated reality show Vanderpump Rules beginning Dec 3! Chef Bryant Anderson has created food and drink specials inspired by the drama-filled show. In addition to *Half Priced Bottles of Wine and Sangria Specials, try one of these: The Pumptini vodka, lime juice, mint, cranberry $10; Vanderpump Rosé $58/bottle*, $15/glass; Tequila Katie chilled tequila, simple syrup, lime juice, served as a shot $6; Fried Goat Cheese Balls with smoked tomato sauce and rosemary-truffle honey $11; “It’s Not About the Pasta” rotating pasta topped with house smoked meats $16. A portion of proceeds from all specials will benefit Lisa Vanderpump’s rescue and adoption center, Vanderpump Dogs.
 
Christmas mania at Frosty’s pop-up bar

WeLoveFrostys.com – a pop-up Christmas bar? Yep, 809 W. Evergreen (at Halsted). Open daily 6pm to 4am – just til the end of December. With three levels, four bars and endless holiday fun, Frosty’s is the ultimate Christmas Bar with everything from elaborate decorations, life-size toy soldiers, sexy Santas and a holiday soundtrack spinning until 4 a.m., Dress up and meet beloved characters from cherished Christmas movies, visit with Santa himself, and enjoy unforgettable Christmas garb, a real Elf on the Shelf, festive tunes and serious seasonal cocktails, plus pick your shot: I’ve been Nice or I’ve been Naughty. Purchase festive snacks like Christmas cookies, holiday popcorn and Aunt Bethany’s Christmas Vacation Jell-O Mold, as a shot of course. Tickets at WeLoveFrostys.com starting at $20. Book your holiday party or event today.

 
One of a Kind Hospitality announces the year-end opening of The Old Plank, 2700 N. Milwaukee in Logan Square. Craft beer and cocktails curated by beverage director Philip Smith (The Walk In, SABA, Boleo), and a Tex-Mex driven menu, The Old Plank, in the original home of Andes Mints at Sawyer and Milwaukee Ave, pays homage to the history of Logan Square. The more-than-100-year-old space is getting new life with plenty of open seating, private booths, multiple bars and an abundance of TVs. Several garage door-style openings let fresh air in, plus a sidewalk cafe and an outdoor patio with a firepit are perfect for spring and summer. When there are no big games to watch, local DJs will set weekends to music. Slated to open before the end of the year with dinner service and weekend brunch. Open on special game days an hour early so sports fans can get settled in to watch their team. Watch for the opening.
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Late fall news at these 6 Chicago restaurants – and more

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November 20, Yūgen, the highly anticipated Japanese Restaurant helmed by Chef Mari Katsumara…announces reservations now open to book for the opening on Tuesday, November 20! Guests will be able to book online reservations via Open Table to experience the restaurant’s tasting menu focusing on contemporary Japanese cuisine. Yūgen will be open for dinner service starting five nights a week (Tuesday through Thursday from 5-9:30pm and Friday through Saturday from 5-10:30pm) More information and reservations may be found by calling (312) 265-1008 or opentable.com.

November 12 – 27, in honor of Giving Tuesday (November 27th), Bar Allegro, named one of Michigan Avenue’s “Coolest Hotel Bars in Chicago,” will be shaking up a special fall cocktail, Autunno, for Snow City Arts (SCA). SCA is a non-profit that provides art therapy and instruction to children in hospitals. Enjoy the inspired “Autunno” hand-crafted cocktail for $12. $2 from each cocktail sold will be donated to SCA on Giving Tuesday. (Note: all other signature cocktails at Bar Allegro are priced at $13). Chic, Art Deco-inspired Allegro Bar is on the second floor lobby of the Kimpton Hotel Allegro at 171 W. Randolph. SCA will also pop-up during the hotel’s daily Wine Hour (5-6PM) on Giving Tuesday to sell artwork with proceeds donated to their non-profit.

Wednesday, November 21 the Korean restaurant Passerotto, home of fun, approachable small plates from Chef Jennifer Kim, is hosting a wine bar pop-up in lieu of their regular service. Podopop – from Korean for grape (podo) and pop-up – opens to the public at 5pm featuring wines from Beaujolais made with its local grape Gamay. 5 for $15 or individual wines by the glass, in addition to Passerotto’s regular selection. On December 2 they’ll be hosting a Winter Market at the restaurant from 12-7pm. Local artists (many of whom are also members of the Passerotto team) will be popping up in the space selling a variety of handmade wearables, jewelry, sculptures, artwork, stationary, floral arrangements, beauty products and food items. Neighboring wine shop, In Fine Spirits, will also be joining in on the fun and will be selling wine and hosting vendors in their shop. A full vendor list can be found at passerottochicago.com/events. And look for the Snaggletooth pop-up in the space from 12-4pm (or until the food runs out). The Passerotto team will be offering wine, coffee and tea for sale and Coquetel Spirits will be on site selling mulled wine.

Open now! Months in the making, Chicago Indoor RazzmatazzChicago is relaunching. The R39 restaurant’s new menu features signature burgers, hand-cut fries, a variety of salads, finger foods and desserts. Top mixologist Diana Cruz is creating a range of craft cocktails to please any palate. R39’s new Chief Operating Officer, Juan Valenzuela, says, ideal combination of “…young, hip residents, nightlife and a vibrant entertainment scene” that includes DJ Monroe’s original mixes and playing in the lounge area some old-school games like giant Jenga, Connect Four & retro board games.

Football and fine Italian food, Sunday at Armand’s Victory Tap, 1416 S. Michigan. Besides the food and the games, check out their virtual tour highlighting the handsome spaces and architectural details that take the ambiance to a higher level inside Victory Tap. For a video about Chef Joe Farina’s famous dish, click Mama’s Meatballs here. Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, game camaraderie and good food with friends or family.

Games and affordable menu options. When we city dwellers to head up the North Shore, we’re in for a treat when we take ourselves to Evanston to eat at The Barn Steakhouse. With the restaurant’s new daily specials menu on tap, designed by owner Amy Morton at more affordable prices, it’s a charming place to spend time with friends and family in the intimate dining room, or gathered around the outdoor firepit, or sitting around a table playing board games. Enjoy drinks and hearty dishes that make your mouth water just reading about them. Mafalda’s Lasagna (fresh mozzarella, sausage, fresh pasta), the Beef Wellington (puff pastry, beef tenderloin, mushroom duxelles) and the Chicken Pot Pie (creamy chicken velouté and flaky pastry crust). And for the first time this season, pasta to make your heart sing: Bison Bolognese (hand-dipped ricotta, red wine, warm spices, chitarra pasta) and Crab Spaghetti (jumbo lump crab, white wine, shallots, garlic, chili, Parmesan). Consider The Barn Steakhouse gift cards for the giftee who has everything – give a $100 gift card and receive an extra $20 gift card (good between January 1- March 31, 2019). Or try one of The Barn’s spectacular wine dinners. Reservations here for their December 5th dinner with Brewer-Clifton Winery.

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5 hot ways to enjoy Chicago this fall!

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From celebrating Halloween at any age, to flying the skies over Chicago, this great city has the food, the drinks and the fun to keep you hopping and happy this fall. Check out these 5 cool ways to make the most of this gorgeous time of year:

1. Halloween in Andersonville takes place Saturday, October 27 and Sunday, October 28 with over 100 businesses participating. Trick-or-Treat on Clark Street on Saturday from 12 to 3pm. Then on Sunday 2 to 5pm, take the Andersonville Sweetish Stroll (formerly the Dessert Crawl) produced by the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce (ACC).

Halloween in Andersonville

The Trick-or-Treat on Clark Street and Costume Contest invites families to come in costume and collect candy from any business with an Orange Pumpkin sign on its storefront door. Register your costume at AlleyCat Comics (5304 N. Clark) between 11:30am and 3pm. The winner will be announced at 3:30 p.m. Gus Giordano Dance School’s Zombie Dancers will also perform “Thriller” and “Monster Mash” at the corner of Clark and Farragut at 12:40pm during the Trick-or-Treat time frame.

Additional Saturday events include the 48th Ward and Edgewater Triangle Neighborhood Association Halloween Parade. Gather at Peirce Elementary School (1423 W. Bryn Mawr) at 10am. Parade kicks off at 11am and travels north on Glenwood Avenue to Gethsemane Garden Center (5739 N. Clark) for the annual Children’s Fall Fest (11am to 4pm). List of October/Halloween events in Andersonville here.

Jake Melnicks Detroit pan pizza looks good enough to eat!

2. Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap is bringing a slice of Detroit to Chicago with its new Detroit Pan Pizza ($15.95). The fluffy squared crust with caramelized cheese is topped with mozzarella, fresh tomato sauce, shaved Parmesan, and fresh Basil; choose artisan pepperoni or spicy Italian sausage. Jake’s is celebrating Halloween all month long with their Nightmare on Superior Street Burger ($16.95). Jake’s half-pound fresh beef patty is hand-packed with habanero and cheddar. Topped with lettuce, tomato, crispy jalapeno bottle caps, pepper jack cheese, and XXX mayo, plus a dash of ghost pepper dust, this burger is not for the faint of heart.

New piano siteline at Redhead

3. The Redhead Piano Bar, 16 W. Ontario, celebrates 25 years of business with over $1 million in renovations, a new Happy Hour and specialty Cigar Program. This swanky downtown establishment, which has long been attracting tourists and locals alike for its cocktails and sing-alongs, has revamped and expanded its wine and craft cocktail list. Now, Chicago’s creative studios, Studio CM and Urban Innovators, have designed a dramatic makeover that includes a new custom walk-in Humidor with over 150 types of cigars for purchase, a year-round covered and heated outdoor smoking lounge, a repositioned piano to improve sight lines, a new state of the art sound and lighting system, and more to come. The Redhead’s new Happy Hour and Cigar Program starts November 1, 2018. Every Friday 5 – 7pm enjoy live music along with half-off bottles of wine and signature cocktails. In the piano bar enjoy a Cigar Program that features three different tiers, each of which includes a free monthly cigar, discounted merchandise, complimentary reservations to specialty events and tastings, priority seating, and more. For more information, call (312) 640-1000.

4. Roka Akor, 456 N. Clark St. invites you to brush off the day at the Roka Bar – an elegant lounge with a sultry, moody atmosphere. The happy hour menu features tasty bites and drinks at happy hour prices. Sample $5 bite choices include: Robata Grilled Shisito Peppers with Ponzu and Bonito Flakes, Wagyu Beef and Kimchi Dumplings and more. Sample $6 bites: Signature Tataki Trio: Butterfish, Tuna and Yellowtail, Lobster & Shrimp Dumplings, Prime Beef Skewers with Chili Ginger Sauce, Vegetable Tempura Roll and more. $3 for Sapporo Drafts and $5 for select wines, sakes or a Specialty Cocktail.

CHE City Lights night ABOVE the town!

5. Chicago Helicopter Experience (CHE) is offering a truly unique alternative to a night out on the town? The City Lights Experience is a truly “bucket-list” experience that takes romance and fun to new heights. Like all of CHE’s tours in their luxury helicopters, it’s just one of the many CHE tours that provide breathtaking views high above Chicago’s brilliant skyline. and offer one-of-a-kind opportunities from private tours, to group events. The City Lights Experience, besides the breathtaking sky tour, includes a $100 credit for dinner and cocktails at the incomparable hot spot The Duck Inn. Vouchers can be purchased in advance, and guests can call to schedule their experience for whenever works for them. Limited pricing per couple is now available for only $347. Come on. You know you want to!

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Fall foodie news on 5 spots in and around Chicago

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Three Embers at the Marriott

Though we generally only cover the city itself, occasionally we get an itch to mention a place or two on the outskirts. Today’s one of those days. The first two items are out there, the next three are right here in our fair town. Take your pick and enjoy.

Three Embers, Ten Marriott Dr., inside the recently transformed Lincolnshire Marriott Resort, invites guests on Wed., Oct. 17, 6-8:30pm, for bourbon flights paired with bourbon-inspired courses around its lakeside patio fire pits and fire table. Taste and learn about the bourbon, including its lineage, barrel process and more from Jack Daniel’s and Woodford Reserve bourbon experts. $45/person (includes tax and gratuity). Reservations and more information including a sample menu can be found at Eventbrite.

Great Wolf Resorts – Chicago area Great Wolf Lodge, 1700 Nations Drive, Gurnee, IL, and all 16 other locations across North America’s largest family of indoor waterpark resorts will debut its first Junior Chef Council menu later this fall. Great Wolf’s youngest guests will enjoy an innovative and delicious menu – created by kids, for kids. The seven-person Junior Chef Council comprises the country’s top kid chefs and culinary tastemakers; the talented representatives include, among others, Chicago’s own Conrad Elliot (8) and Jed Elliot (6), sons of Chef Graham Elliot, Jed serves as the Council’s official taster, ensuring his brother and other members are delivering on the culinary goods. Read the rest here. The menu (here) features dishes like Pizza Burger with Fries, a mash-up of two culinary favorites; healthy Green Spaghetti and Chicken Meatballs, with zucchini noodles, angel hair pasta and meatballs; and the playful Build Your Own Parfait dessert.The new kids’ menu will initially be featured exclusively at full-service restaurants at Great Wolf Lodges.

By the way, our family makes at least one annual visit to Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee. Fun arcade, cool water activities, and we especially love the spacious, comfortable suites. Had my granddaughter’s 11th birthday there, and it was a smashing success with everyone.

Eataly, 43 E. Ohio St, is recreating the feel of the Italian Alps in Chicago with the debut of their all-new restaurant BAITA on Friday, October 19 making the ultimate winter destination through March 2019. The new 150-seat space on the second floor will make you feel like you just came off the slopes as you grab a glass of wine and cozy up and choose from gnoccheria serving pillowy potato gnocchi imported from Italy, melted raclette and grilled cheese, and spuntini snacks (Alpine-style finger food) along with specialty cocktails, boozy hot chocolate, warming wines, and more dishes inspired by the flavors of the Italian Alps. Eataly’s Fall Wine Passport on October 26 and 27 ($48 per person) gets you wine tastings from the 20 regions of Italy with 10 different bites from BAITA’s seasonal menu. Reservations for will open for the entire season on Friday, September 28, via OpenTable.

Wood Fire 1/4 dark w/ mac’n’cheese

French Market announces Wood Fire Counter has added to its menu of wood-fired chicken and low country sides, a full roster of smoked meats including Turkey, Pork Belly, Brisket and Ribs.Time Out magazine selected Wood Fire Counter Brisket as one of the top 3 best foods at the Taste of Chicago this summer. All meats are in-house dry rubbed and smoked over three types of wood, then you customize with your choice of four hand-crafted BBQ sauces (Wood Fire Original, Spicy, Carolina Gold or Habanero).

IT’SUGAR giant peanut butter cup

IT’SUGAR, the giant worldwide specialty candy retailer, will open in Chicago’s iconic Navy Pier late September. Enjoy an environment that draws inspiration from the historic Chicago location, including vintage candy advertisements that highlight Chicago’s candy history. The new 2,000-square-foot Navy Pier location in Chicago offers everything from over-the-top indulgences to ridiculously funny specialty items like an all-marshmallow cereal box. The “Taste of Chicago Box” is a collection of candies will feature products that originated in Chicago like Tootsie Rolls®, Razzles®, Baby Ruth®, Juicy Fruit®, Charleston Chew®, Sugar Daddy®, Chuckles®, and more.

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