Category Archives: holidays

Mago Grill & Cantina rings in Hanukkah & holidays with Mexican flair

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The holidays for many ethnic groups are fast approaching. and Mago Grill & Cantina has the perfect addition to any celebration table. Mago is featuring a full size (9”) Eggnog Tres Leches and Pumpkin Cream Cheese Flan inspired by Chef Juan’s late grandmother’s holiday recipes, both $35, through December 31. They are both available with just 24-hour notice at any Mago Grill & Cantina location (Chicago, Arlington Heights, Bowlingbrook or South Barrington). Perfect for those last-minute Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas dessert needs!

Mago Grill & Cantina fabulous holiday desserts

You might be surprised to learn there is a large Mexican-Jewish community in Chicago that draws influences from both cuisines. To honor this group, Mago decided to combine traditional Hanukkah dishes with a Latin flare, thus culinarily fusing Mexican and Jewish culture. Hanukkah Menu Items  available only 12/12/17 – 12/20/17)

Playing off the traditional Hanukkah short rib meal, Mago will offer a limited-time Beef Short Rib entrée for $26 (Pulque braised, fork tender beef short rib served with Mole de Manzana, or Apple Mole and cilantro potato latkes). Or try Roasted Half Chicken for $20 (wild mushroom huitlacoche cream, roasted Yukon gold potatoes).

Honoring the Jewish tradition of eating apples with honey during Rosh HaShanah, Guava and Apple Crisp dessert for $8 (Baked granny smith apples with guava topped with a cinnamon crumble). Apples in the cocktail line: La Manzanita cocktail for $13 (Apple & cinnamon infused Patron Blanco Tequila, apple cider, fresh lime juice).

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Celebrate the season at a few of these 13 Chicago restaurants

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Chicago holiday restaurant delights

Chicago is a magnificent place to celebrate the holiday season – the lights downtown alone are magical. Not surprisingly, then, that  around this time of year you can find a sleighload of restaurants that offer special featured food items, family brunches with Santa, Christmas Eve brunch, prix fixe menus and more. Take a gander at these and make your reservations now.

  1. Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap, 41 E. Superior, invites you to indulge in The 12 Wings of Christmas (LOL!).  Now through December 12, Jake Melnick’s is offerings a different special wing of the day to get in the holiday spirit. Chef Nick Santangelo has come up with some interesting flavor combinations such as Apricot Siracha, Aaron’s Coconut Red Curry and Grilled Maple Mustard wings ($13.95). You get a punch card with your first wing order – get the card punched for 4 out of the 12 days and get a $50 gift card. Check out the rest of Jake’s fun and funky wing flavors here.
  2. Shaw’s Crab House, 21 E. Hubbard, can make your holiday meals easier with their own dishes for your table. Choose from a variety of sides, appetizers, soup, salads, sushi and desserts – all Shaw’s classics – now available for pickup or delivery during regular business hours. Order at least 24 hours in advance for appetizers and sides and 48 hours for desserts.For more information or to order items, 312.527.2722. Also, Santa is coming for brunch, pictures and visit to Shaw’s Chicago for Christmas Eve brunch starting at 9am. $75 adults, $20 kids.
  3. Ella Elli, 1349 W. Cornelia Ave., will be open for a pre-Christmas brunch on Friday, December 22 and Saturday, December 23 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for Christmas Eve brunch on Sunday, December 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Guests can enjoy items such as the Bakery Board with fresh a croissant, housemade everything bagel, local pastries, preserves and seasoned whipped butter ($10); Stuffed Brioche French Toast with chocolate, berries and cardamom powdered sugar ($12); and Prosciutto Flatbread with farm eggs, arugula and crispy potatoes ($14). Drinks including Mimosa Bottle Service with a bottle of Caposaldo Prosecco and a trio of fresh juices ($42); and Rose Sangria with Rose, Pampelmousse, Lime Cordial and fresh fruit ($10) will also be available. Reservations are recommended 773-935-3552.
  4. Tuco and Blondie (3358 N. Southport Ave) will be open for a pre-Christmas brunch on Friday, December 22 and Saturday, December 23 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. “Mexifun” menu items available include the El Sombrero Benedict with chorizo, poached eggs, black beans, hollandaise and pico de gallo ($13); and Chilaquiles with roasted chicken, over easy eggs, salsa verde, Chihuahua cheese, sour cream and pico de gallo ($12). Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 773-327-8226.
  5. Crosby’s Kitchen (3455 N. Southport Ave) will be open for a pre-Christmas brunch on Friday, December 22 and Saturday, December 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for Christmas Eve brunch on Sunday, December 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Crosby’s Kitchen will offer menu favorites including the Chicken Chili Benedict with black bean chili, cornbread, poached eggs, cheddar cheese and scallions ($12); Crosby’s Omelet with mozzarella, bacon, wild mushrooms and spinach hollandaise ($11); and the Chicken Dip Sandwich with rotisserie chicken, jack cheese, mayo, tomato, onion, arugula and chicken au jus ($12). Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 773-883-2525.
  6. Dunlays on Clark (2600 N. Clark St) and Dunlays on the Square (3137 W. Logan Blvd) will be open for a pre-Christmas brunch on Friday, December 22 and Saturday, December 23 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Guests can enjoy brunch menu classics such as French Toast with crunchy French bread dipped in eggs, cinnamon, vanilla and orange liqueur ($9); and the Dunz Omelet with sundried tomato, basil pesto and smoked provolone cheese ($10). Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling Dunlays on Clark at 773-883-6000 and Dunlays on the Square at 773-227-2400.
  7. Frasca Pizzeria and Wine Bar (3358 N. Paulina St) will be open for a pre-Christmas brunch on Friday, December 22 and Saturday, December 23 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Guests can enjoy menu favorites including Breakfast Pizza with three over easy eggs, sausage, bacon and cheese atop housemade crust ($14); and the Roscoe St. Omelet with three eggs, mozzarella, provolone, Italian sausage, bacon and caramelized onion. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 773-248-5222.
  8. Smoke Daddy (1804 W. Division St) will be open for a pre-Christmas brunch on Friday, December 22 and Saturday, December 23 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Guests can enjoy house specialties including the Pulled Pork Benedict with pulled pork and chipotle hollandaise served with fresh fruit or hash browns ($12); and the Fried Egg Sandwich with two eggs over easy, cheddar, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo on rye bread ($10). Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 773-772-6656.
  9. Remington’s (20 N. Michigan) will be open for a pre-Christmas brunch on Friday, December 22 and Saturday, December 23 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and on Christmas Eve from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Remington’s will offer classic American menu favorites include The Remington 18-oz dry aged prime bone in strip; Short Rib with roasted heirloom carrots and braised cipolinni onion; and the Chicken Dip Sandwich with rotisserie chicken, jack cheese, mayo, tomato, onion, arugula and chicken au jus. The last dinner reservation is at 7 p.m. and can be made by calling 312-782-6000.
  10. The Windsor (160 E. Huron St) will be open for a pre-Christmas brunch on Friday, December 22 and Saturday, December 23 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Guests can enjoy classic menu items including The Windsor Club with ham, turkey, bacon, truffle aioli, tomato and basil ($13); and signature Monkey Bread with cream cheese frosting ($10). Reservations are recommended 312.943.7777.The Windsor is also hosting a Santa Brunch on Sunday, December 10 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Stop in after holiday shopping to enjoy a delicious brunch and watch as kids visit Santa and receive a festive gift bag. The visit with Santa is free and parents are encouraged to bring their camera for the perfect holiday photo.
  11. The Smoke Daddy (1804 W. Division St.), BBQ in Wicker Park is offering holiday catering. House-Smoked Whole Turkey (11 lb., $65; 20 lb., $90), Pulled Whole Turkey (1 lb., $16) and Glazed Ham, a partial bone-in, smoked ham with a sweet mojo glaze (half., $69; whole $129). Sides such as Cornbread Stuffing with sausage and spices ($10 per quart); Brussels Sprouts oven-roasted with a lemon butter sauce ($10 per quart); Green Bean Casserole ($10 per quart); and desserts such as Apple Pie ($22) and Pumpkin Pie ($20) are available. Items will be picked up cold with re-heating instructions.
  12. Bistronomic (840 N. Wabash), the contemporary French bistro, will offer brunch and a three-course prix fixe dinner menu on Christmas Eve (10am to 2:30pm; 5 to 10pm) and on Christmas Day (noon to 8pm). Brunch favorites include Quiche Lorraine ($13.95); Brioche crème brulee French Toast ($11.95); and Croque Madame with handcut French fries ($14.95). Bottomless mimosas ($18.95 for 1.5 hours) when you purchase a brunch entrée or sandwich.Dinner both evenings is $70 per adult ($20 for a two-course children’s menu) plus tax and gratuity. The three-course prix fixe dinners include vegetarian options and feature produce from the Green City Market. Cauliflower Velouté with glazed chestnut, Everton cheese, truffle oil and brown butter; Homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Maine lobster, baby broccoli, star anise and tarragon lobster emulsion; Prime Beef Short Ribs with butternut squash pureé, glazed cranberry, French beans, almond and Aigre Doux sauce; Winter Wild Mushroom Ravioli with seasonal mushrooms, roasted hazelnut, Jerusalem artichoke pureé and leek nage; Baked Alaska with poached pear, brioche, and bittersweet chocolate sauce, and more. To view the full menu, visit the website. Reservations are recommended and can be made on OpenTable.
  13. Harvest, inside The Chicago Marriott Magnificent Mile (540 N. Michigan), is offering a festive menu on Christmas Day from noon to 8pm. The menu includes Slow Roasted Prime Rib, House-Smoked Ham, Housemade Sausage, Sage Cornbread Stuffing, Cheese and Charcuterie, Shrimp Cocktail, Miniature Sweets and more. $40 per person and $20 for kids 10 and under, plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are recommended (312) 836-6334.
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3 Saturday/weekend fun events at Chicago restaurants

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Fizz Eatery & Soda Fountain in Belmont Heights (out west near Oak Park) this Saturday, 11/11 honors National Sundae Day with “buy one, get one free house sundaes” from 10 to 3pm. Banana Split ($7.50), Turtle Sundaes with Wisconsin-made ice cream ($4.95-$6.15), or Build Your Own Sundaes (2 or 3 scoops of ice cream, whipped cream, a cherry, and your choice of 2 toppings ($4.95-$6.15). Kids 12 and under who come in to celebrate National Sundae Day will be entered to win an ice cream social for up to 12 people!
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Chicago Brewseum Hot Dog Fest. An intimate, low- to no-wait beer event – only 300 tickets will be sold. Saturday November 18, 1 to 5pm at Theater on the Lake, 2401 N. Lake Shore Dr.  It’s all about Chicago, hotdogs, beer and fun! Support the The Chicago Brewseum, a non-profit organization aiming to build the country’s first museum dedicated to telling the story of beer. What you get: A welcome beer courtesy of Old Style; 3 oz tastings of all the specialty beers; a Chicago style hot dog courtesy of Ball Park (vegetarian/vegan option available); access to the newly reopened Theater on the Lake; outdoor games (weather permitting); vinyl spins courtesy of DJ Charlie;  hot dog themed art for purchase; access to the secret and illicit speakeasy.  Tickets from $25 to $100.
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Hot toddies and deep-fried Oreos at Jake Melnick’s

Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap. The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival returns November 17 and one of the best places to warm up and enjoy special food & beverage offerings is Jake Melnick’s. Consider this: a Hot Toddy made with either Spiked Hot Chocolate and/or Irish Coffee PLUS incredible, batter-dipped, deep-fried Oreos for $15. Get ’em while they’re hot – special price only on November 17 + 18, 2017.

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4 Chicago places to eat and drink for September celebrations

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Sepia private dining decor

Sepia, 123 N. Jefferson St., over the years has become a popular venue for discerning Chicagoans celebrating milestones. Now, you are invited to celebrate a milestone with them – their 10th anniversary. From September 8 to 17, they will feature a special commemorative tasting menu, older-vintage wine pairings, and cocktail selections from among past stars of their acclaimed bar program. Book your reservation today on OpenTable or by calling 312-441-1920.

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Attention, beer lovers! Vice District Brewing in the South Loop is celebrating its 3rd anniversary over Labor Day weekend with three days of Beer and swag and music.
Thursday, Aug. 31, three breweries (Pollyanna, One Trick Pony and Twisted Hippo) will pour three of their own beers from 7 to 9:30pm. There will also be someone onsite to talk about each of the beers and to hand out some swag.
Friday, Sept. 1, Vice District will release a new beer in the Kitchen Sink Series, a Belgian Black IPA called Unforgivably Black.  Groove to Vibing with Vice, which features both old school and modern day hip hop music.
Saturday, Sept. 2, Vice District will open at 10 a.m. to kick off the first day as the official Iowa Hawkeyes game watch location for the South Loop. The party will also celebrate co-owner Curtis Tarver’s birthday and Vice District Brewing’s third anniversary.
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Bistronomic’s Riosh Hashanah menu

Bistronomic, 840 N. Wabash, is offering for Rosh Hashanah a special menu that features a delectable assortment of French-inspired dishes featuring seasonal, local and sustainable ingredients. From Wednesday, Sept. 20 through Friday, Sept. 22, enjoy a three-course, prix fixe menu for dinner from 5 to 10:30 p.m. for $39 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. Reservations are recommended and may be made via OpenTable on the website.

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Skydeck pizza PIe in the Skyk

Skydeck Chicago on the 99th and 103rd floors of Willis Tower, not only provides breathtaking views of 50 miles and 4 states, but also offers 3 different party packages:

1) Pie in the Sky VIP Dinner. Guests will essentially have the Skydeck to themselves with an exclusive dining experience at 10:30pm, after the after Skydeck Chicago closes to the public. At $100 per person, this three-course meal is catered by Giordano’s Pizza. Only nine reservations are available to ensure a VIP experience.
2) Pie in the Sky VIP Lunch. The Pie in the Sky VIP Lunch is the perfect way to close out summer. At $80 per person, guests can enjoy lunch at 12pm on the 99th floor, experiencing a spectacular view of four states. Pricing includes Fast Pass entry, a visit to the 103rd floor Ledge, and a three-course lunch. A maximum of ten reservations are available.
3) Breakfast in the Sky for those looking to elevate their brunch experience. Catered by The Metropolitan Club at $125 per person, breakfast is available Monday through Friday. A full menu is available here.
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Celebrate The Sandwich – pick from these 14 Chicago restaurants

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August is National Sandwich Month. And who among us doesn’t love the glorious carb-loaded deliciousness of a serious sandwich? Good time to indulge your bread-and-filling  sensors in some new and unique ways at the following new and tried-and-true Chicago restaurants:
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Big Jones5347 N. Clark St. An Andersonville destination, Big Jones’ historically-inspired sandwiches are as delicious as they sound. The Carolina Shrimp Burger features Key West pink shrimp ground and seasoned high, topped with cayenne mayonnaise, chow-chow, butter lettuce and a side of creamy grits. The famous Fat Jones Burger brings together Slagel Farm beef griddled with onions and served on a soft egg bun with oyster remoulade, crisp bacon, lettuce and tomato, with a side of ham fat fries. This southern comfort spot is not to be missed for celebrating sandwiches.
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Bonci applies its pizza expertise to sandwiches

Bonci Pizza161 N. Sangamon St. Beginning mid-August, esteemed Rome-based Chef Gabriele Bonci brings Chicagoans his very first American location of Bonci Pizzeria in the West Loop, offering artisanal, seasonally-inspired pizzas, salads and of course – sandwiches! Guests find mouthwatering selections crafted with house made bread for National Sandwich Month including: Meatball with Mozzarella Cheese, Ricotta and Mortadella, Eggplant or Spinach, Sheep Cheese and Spicy Salami.

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Café Robey2018 W. North Ave. Situated at the high traffic intersection of Milwaukee, North, and Damen in the trendy Wicker Park neighborhood, Café Robey promises one of the most mouthwatering fried chicken sandwiches in the city. Featuring an oh-so-juicy chicken thigh breaded and fried, house made tangy pickles, mayo, and Tabasco, it’s no wonder this sandwich has been Instagrammed regularly since the restaurant opened in December.
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Cupital makes fab subs

Cupitol455 E. Illinois St. Chicago  or 812 Grove St. Evanston. Cupitol has the sandwich game covered. The all-day eatery offers a variety of mouthwatering handhelds on house-made bread at both locations. Try the Roast Beef sandwich, with spiced horseradish and au jus on a French baguette, the Falafel Burger with paprika yogurt and cabbage relish on a sesame brioche bun, or the Shroomed Patty Melt with prime beef, wild mushrooms, Wisconsin sharp cheddar and onion compote on rye.

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The Fifty/502047 W. Division St. The Fifty/50’s all-star sandwich, The Four Courser, piles on slow-smoked, hand-pulled pork shoulder tossed in Gouda Béchamel, fried jalapeños, sweet potato chips, a mac ’n’ cheese waffle and smokey BBQ sauce on a pretzel bun. This sandwich masterpiece can be paired with the diner’s choice of waffle, sweet potato or French fries – the perfect complement sure to satisfy every sandwich quest.
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Filini Bar and Restaurant221 N. Columbus Dr. The Double Griddle Burger is everything you’ll want in a hamburger from the moment you take your first bite. With two smashed beef patties, house made bread and butter pickles, a brioche bun and a secret fancy sauce, Filini’s burger is what summer hamburger dreams are made of. Adding to the summer fun is Filini’s dog-friendly patio for pups wanting some sandwich action too.  There’s a Canine Cuisine menu to investigate as well!
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The Florentine151 W. Adams St. For an Italian twist on National Sandwich Month, guests can head over to The Florentine in The Loop to enjoy a variety of delicious, seasonal sandwiches perfect for lunchtime, whether shopping downtown, sightseeing around the city or grabbing a quick bite with colleagues during the week. Crafted by Executive Chef Zach Walrath, sandwich highlights from the menu include:
  • Soft-shell Crab: fried soft-shell, summer slaw, heirloom tomato, lemon aioli, ciabatta
  • Chicken Panini: smoked mozzarella, peperonata, basil, sourdough
  • Veggie Burger: garbanzo beans, quinoa, kale, avocado, peperonata aioli, whole wheat bun
  • Americano Burger: charred onion, house fry sauce, pickles, American cheese, sesame seed bun
  • BLT Burger: smoked bacon, bibb lettuce, tomato, onion, calabrian chili, havarti cheese, brioche
  • Tomato Brisket: tomato braised beef, red onion, provolone, horseradish, rye
Hewn features serious bread in its sandwiches

Hewn810 Dempster St. Hewn serves up the best thing since sliced bread! Evanston’s premier bakery for fresh, heritage grain bread, offers house-made, grilled to order sandwiches. Using entirely local ingredients, made-daily bread, and seasonal produce, these sandwiches showcase an array of flavors in every bite. Each sandwich is grab-and-go, and can be warmed up by the Hewn bakers for instant enjoyment, or tucked away for a tasty meal later in the day. Menu standouts include Turkey on Country with pickled red onions and turkey from local Amish farmers sandwiched between naturally fermented sourdough bread using all-organic wheat, Reuben with Butcher and Larder’s corned beef with Swiss cheese, house made sauerkraut, and house made thousand island dressing served on whole wheat or caramelized onion bread, and Elementary Grilled Cheesefeaturing white sharp cheddar, Parmigiano Reggiano, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and pickled onions served on rotating breads.

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Michael Jordan’s Steak House505 N. Michigan Ave. Steakhouse lunching done right. Michael Jordan’s Steak House features a variety of hefty sandwiches to satiate the hungriest of appetites. Try the classic Italian Beef with hot giardiniera and provolone, or the Chicken Sandwich on flatbread, with cilantro and harissa yogurt. Need steak for every meal? Dive into the Steak Sandwich with provolone, pickled onion and giardiniera aioli atop a pretzel bun. Add hand-cut, beef-fat fries and lunch is complete.
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Pork and Mindy’s stacked

Pork & Mindy’s1623 N. Milwaukee Ave. Pork & Mindy’s is celebrating National Sandwich Month with the launch of new ’sangwiches’, developed by Food Network Star and Executive Chef, Jeff Mauro. Working with the Sandwich King himself, Pork & Mindy’s is redefining the local BBQ scene incorporating exciting tastes into new world-class creations at the flagship Wicker Park eatery. With handcrafted new menu items for carnivores and vegetarians, there is a ‘sangwich’ for everyone at the creative BBQ destination. Menu highlights include:

  • Pastramindy Reuben: This griddled take on a Rueben combines Pork & Mindy’s house-cured, smoked, and hand-cut pastrami with P&M Mustard sauce and spicy pickles on a marble rye roll, hitting all the important points for a crunchy, gooey, smoky and cheesy sandwich.
  • Crunchy Pork ‘Sangwich’: This ‘sangwich’ features brined, all-natural pork lion, lightly pounded and hand breaded with a craggily, crispy crust. When that crispy hot pork hits the fresh lettuce and spicy apricot habanero mayo, magic happens.
  • Buffalo Cauli: A vegetarian’s dream come true, this ‘sangwich’ is filled with crispy smoked cauliflower steak, tossed in house-made buffalo sauce to bring the heat. It’s then topped with Gorgonzola and creamy buttermilk dill ranch. This revolutionary ingredient combo will make carnivores forget they ever liked meat!
Roots does it all

Roots Handmade Pizza1924 W. Chicago Ave. and 200 W. Lawerence Ave. The mouthwatering textures of pizza meet the culinary magic of sandwiches for a delicious combination with the Foldovers at Roots Handmade Pizza. Foldovers feature the restaurant’s signature malt crust pizza dough stuffed with high quality ingredients, baked for a melty and tasty one-of-a-kind sandwich. Folderovers you can’t miss include:

  • The Fat Eddie: salami, Canadian bacon, Quad Cities mozzarella, shaved parmesan cheese, marinara sauce, French dressing, diced red onions and chopped romaine
  • The Rock Island Arsenal: specially-seasoned Italian sausage patty, two award-winning and scratch-made mozzarella sticks and marinara sauce
  • Chicken Caesar: marinated, grilled and sliced chicken breast, Quad Cities mozzarella cheese blend, shaved parmesan cheese, Caesar dressing and chopped romaine
 Seven Lions, 130 S. Michigan Ave. A sandwich that appeals to visitors and locals alike, the Michigan Avenue staple is offering a Crispy Chicken Sandwich to satisfy the highest of cravings! With the option of enjoying the sandwich slathered in spicy buffalo sauce, the crispy chicken is topped with buttermilk dressed greens and sweet pickles before being smashed between a delicious bun. Not as hungry? Share the Crispy Chicken Sliders with other sandwich lovers, available during Happy Hour.
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Steadfast120 W. Monroe St. The culinary art of sandwiches goes elegant at the chic downtown escape, Steadfast. Decadent sandwiches available on its lunch menu include the Lobster Roll with east coast lobster tail, Old Bay aioli and trout roe, the Portobello Panini with tomato preserves, buffalo mozzarella, basil pistou and roasted portobello mushroom and the Grilled Chicken Torta with brined and smoked chicken breast, cranberry goat cheese, frisee and crispy shallots.
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The Terrace401 N. Wabash Ave. Indulge in pure decadence with The Benjamin Burger, a Wagyu beef burger stuffed with foie gras served with tomato compote, onion jam, truffle aioli, frisee, 10-year aged cheddar, on a gold bun with fries. Guests can enjoy the complimentary accompanying Fat Elvis Milkshake to finish-swirled peanut butter and smoked vanilla milk shake, roasted banana compote, gilded peanuts, and candied bacon. For $100, it’s the perfect date-night sandwich coupled with the stunning views of the city, Lake Michigan and Chicago River. Enjoy on a Wednesday or Saturday for a truly perfect evening with the best view in town of the Navy Pier Fireworks.
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Eat hearty in July at Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap

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July Mac of the Month

Mac and Cheese Day – 7/14: Get cheesed with Spin Dip Mac at Jake Melnick’s. Jake’s Creamy house-made mac n’ cheese is tossed with their creamy spinach artichoke dip, topped with cheddar and Swiss cheese then baked until golden. Garnished with fresh tomato, Parmesan, pita chips and Sriracha crema.

Ice Cream Day – 7/19: Treat yourself to Jake Melnick’s Hot Fudge Sundae ($6.25) after a “fish” dinner.

July Ahi Tuna Burger

The Asian B.L.T.T. is the perfect summer burger featuring a hand-packed Ahi Tuna burger, topped with smoked teriyaki bacon, wasabi ranch salad and crispy wontons. The salad is on the burger so it counts, right? BTW, July is Ice Cream Month so don’t hold yourself back from celebrating all month long!

 
July Pina Colada Wings

International Chicken Wing Day – 7/29Grab a basket of the Spicy Pina Colada Wings, the perfect celebration flavor. Jake’s jumbo wings are fried until crispy, tossed in their house-made spicy pina colada sauce and garnished with toasted coconut. Served with Ranch dressing.

Oh, and just in case you don’t have enough carbs, it’s also National French Fry day on Friday, 7/14. Jake’s will be selling $5 specialty baskets this Friday, the 14th including the Breakfast and Street Fries.
Go and consume in peace and happiness.
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6 cool Chicago summer fun ideas

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Never a shortage of fun places to go and things to do in Chicago in the summer. Check these out for now and later – and notice that a few of them have stuff going on TODAY!
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Angelo’s Wine Bar, 3026 W. Montrose Ave., known inside for its rich, warm wood modern interior, now boasts a cozy, fairy-light illuminated patio where you can enjoy appetizers, pasta, pizza and small plates perfect for sharing with tablemates. From Burrata Mostarda ($14) and seasonal Spring Risotto ($16). Spaghetti generously tossed with Pecorino Romano cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano and olive oil. Pizzas, P.E.I. Mussels in Brodo ($10), Roasted Skin on Salmon ($14) and Smoked Bone in Short Rib ($19) are just a few entree items. Patio hours are 4-11pm M-Th and 11am-11pm F-Su.

TODAY: Angelo’s Wine Bar’s neighborhood block party with live music, food, games, complimentary beer and wine (while supplies last) to celebrating the community. Proceeds from the optional $5 cover will be donated for neighborhood improvement. 4–10:30pm
Saturday, July 1, 2017. Free parking in the Angelo’s parking lot across the street.

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Pitchfork Music FestivalJuly 14 to 16, welcomes some of the most trusted voices in music this year, with a lineup of not-to-miss sips and bites. While you’re there look for the John Dewar & Sons Traveling Whisky Emporium, the immersive, one-of-a-kind “whisky tiny house.”  Taste specially-crafted DEWAR’S 12 Blended Scotch Whisky cocktails, tastings of unique single malts Aberfeldy and Craigellachie, and sample custom scotch eggs created by former Top Chef winner, Chef Michael Voltaggio.

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FireFin Poké Shop, a fast-casual food concept, is opening its 4th location (with a few others under development). Open Monday – Friday at Ogilvie Train Station, the healthy and chef-driven restaurant will serve a limited menu featuring nine poké favorites, with customizable options available to foodies, busy commuters and Loop lunchers.

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The Patio at Café Brauer’s Dog Days of Summer event on Sunday, July 23. Bring your pooch to the Lincoln Park Zoo’s al fresco restaurant and bar, overlooking the zoo’s scenic Nature Boardwalk, for a fun brunch fit for both you and your pup. There will be goody bags for the dogs and a kiddie pool available for the pups. And Cafe Brauer is a lovely place to enjoy the view and sip a glass of wine or a cocktail with your lunch or snack.

TODAY and Sunday, July 1 and 2, Skydeck Chicago opens one hour early, at 8am, to allow tourists and Chicagoans extra time to experience the spectacular views of up to 50 miles and four states from the 103rd floor of Willis Tower. Imagine snapping an Instagram sensation on the projecting glass boxes known as The Ledge that is 1,353 feet up and extends 4.3 feet out from the skyscraper. Skydeck Chicago attracts more than 1.7 million visitors annually; it’s an ideal family activity for those looking for a fun outing this holiday weekend.

Furious Spoon Ramen Shop, known for handmade noodles at its multiple locations around Chicago, brings back for the month of July the chance for you to eat your way through the menu of ramen bowls. All You Can Eat Ramen for just $18 means you can eat as many bowls as you like during 1 visit (no sharing allowed). The promotion is valid at all locations, during all business hours. Guests who eat 5+ bowls will win a $25 gift card and be entered to win a hands-on noodle class for 4 (valued at nearly $500).

 

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Pre-summer food, music and wine

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Pre-summer blooms off Michigan Ave.

Summer is at hand, people. No reason not to start right now enjoying the music, food and fun that are always on offer throughout our great city from spring through late fall. Here are a few opportunities to get you rolling…

Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival, on Sheffield from Belmont to Roscoe St. Sun. May 27 – Mon. May 28, 2017 – noon to 10pm.  And don’t fail to check out Trader Todd’s karaoke stage and contest – try out for best singer and look forward  to the award ceremonies in June at Trader Todd’s tiki bar, 3216 N. Sheffield. Check out our review on Trader Todd’s brunch here.
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Happy 40thbirthday, Potbelly! Thursday, June 1, they’re giving a $40,000 donation to One Summer Chicago. Check out the limited-time Potbelly birthday menu items,  and enjoy 40% off Originals sandwiches in-shop at Potbelly nationwide between 11am-3pm. Find your nearest Chicago Potbelly location and go enjoy.
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Dog-friendly, burger/beer specials. Burger + Beer promotion at The Patio at Café Brauer. From May 26 – May 29, get a juicy, succulent burger and a domestic beer for $15.95 all Memorial Day weekend. Read our rave review of Cafe Brauer here.
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English: Band shell in Millennium Park by Fran...
English: Band shell in Millennium Park by Frank Gehry – Pritzker, from across Michigan Avenue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Music at Pritzker Pavillion. Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer – two weeks before the Grant Park Music Festival season begins. To celebrate, order a One Night Pass and get a reserved seat close to the stage for any Festival concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. And when you order online this weekend, you’ll save 25% on select seats for any concert in June! Use promo code MEMORIAL when you order online at gpmf.org. Offer expires Monday,  May 29 at 11:59 PM. Or,  explore our entire 2017 season. Choose any four concerts (excluding Beethoven Symphony No. 9 on August 18 and 19) with a Choose Your Own membership and we’ll add the Festival’s Independence Day Salute as our way of saying thank you.

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Rich and rewarding Black Stallion Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

For home barbeques or hostess gifts, consider one of these excellent wines from Black Stallion Estate Vineyards. Black Stallion Chardonnay 2015, Black Stallion Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, and Black Stallion Sauvignon Blanc 2015 are deliciously complex and rich tasting. Perfect companions to grilled shrimp or lobster, super-marbled steak cooked a pointe on the grill, and any favorite traditional accompaniments like mustard potato salad, veggie pastasauteed fresh garlic asparagus or superb sauteed mushrooms.  Get your Black Stallion wines from these Chicago area retailers: SavWay Wine & Spirits, Garfield’s Beverage Warehouse, Sunset Foods, Woodman’s, Heinen’s, or talk to your friendly Binny’s folks.

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And if you’re into  higher-end wines, here’s a list of special Black Stallion wines that have garnered serious recognition lately:

  • Wine & Spirits magazine “100 Best Buys of the Year” – 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: 92 Points
  • James Suckling’s list of “Top 100 Reds of Napa Valley 2016” – 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: 93 Points
  • Decanter: 2013 Barrel Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Highly recommended, 91 pts; 2013 Transcendent Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon; Highly recommended, 91 pts;  2013 Gaspare Estate Vineyard, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Highly recommended, 90 pts; 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Highly recommended, 90 pts;
  • Wine Enthusiast: 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: 90 pts; 2014 Los Carneros Pinot Noir: 90 pts
  • Robert M. Parker, Jr. / Wine Advocate (Barrel samples): 2014 Bucephalus Red Blend: (91-93); 2014 Barrel Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: (90-92); 2014 Transcendent Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: (90-92)
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Kentucky Derby parties and specials around Chicago

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Michigan Ave. spring tulips

Okay, spring is here for sure and tomorrow’s the first big day to celebrate. My daughter’s been giving an annual Derby party for some years now, and Kentucky ain’t got nothin’ on us. Everybody loves dressing up in outrageous hats and fancy duds, drinking champagne, juleps and whatever, and picking horses by lottery.

But whether you study racing stats and place big bets, or you just love looking at those gorgeous horses, the Kentucky Derby is always an excellent excuse to go out and imbibe and eat with friends. And in Chicago there’s never a shortage of places to do that. Here are a few to consider for your drinking and dining pleasure:

Brando’s Speakeasy & The Essaness Room, 343 S Dearborn St., Monday, May 1 through Saturday, May 6, from 3pm: $6 Mint Juleps and FREE fried chicken. on Derby Day (May 6) beginning at 6pm (while supplies last).

Commonwealth Tavern Roscoe Village, 2000 W. Roscoe St., Saturday, May 6, open at 10am, drink specials $2, $4 and $6 Win Place Show special all day featuring $2 14-ounce Miller Lite drafts, $4 Blue Moon pints and $6 Buffalo Trace Mint Juleps. $7 to $14 food specials include a Kentucky Hot Brown (smoked turkey, bacon, tomato, parmesan, beer cheese, sourdough; $14). Watch the race on eight TVs including a 70-inch plasma.

Easy Bar, 1944 W. Division St., Saturday, May 6, from 3pm, $8 cocktail specials and a special Basil Mint Julep for $10 all day (while supplies last). Watch live coverage on TV.

Estelle’s, 2013 W. North Ave., Saturday, May 6, open at 5pm, $8 Mint Juleps. Plus get $1 off your first drink if you’re wearing a derby hat.

Kanela Breakfast Club, Saturday, May 6 from 7am to 3pm, $6 Mint Juleps and complimentary starters. Derby attire gets you a complimentary starter to share.* Kanela’s starter options include the Kanela Roll, Monkey Bread, Loukoumades, Chia Seed Pudding, Potato Pancakes, Mac and Cheese, Greek Yogurt, and Steel Cut Oatmeal. Locations – Andersonville: 5413 N. Clark St., Lakeview: 3231 N. Clark St; Old Town: 1552 N. Wells St.; Streeterville: 502 E. Illinois; Wicker Park: 1048 N. Milwaukee Ave. *Parties of two or more only. One per table.

Remedy Bar, 1910 N. Milwaukee, Saturday, May 6, from 4pm, $8 to $9 drink specials. $8 Maker’s Mark Mint Juleps as well as complimentary Kentucky Burgoo (traditional stew). Anyone dressed in derby hats or attire will receive $1 off drinks. Sound on!

Roanoke Restaurant, 135 W. Madison St. Saturday, May 6, from 10am. $18 to $22 food specials including a Hot Brown (rotisserie turkey, thick sliced house cured bacon, hearth toasted brioche, veal demi glaze, fried egg), Burgoo (confit of duck, rotisserie pork shoulder, rotisserie chicken, lima bean puree, wilted red cabbage, roast potatoes, Cipollini onions, carrots, tomato sauce and beef broth), Country Ham Sliders (house made buttermilk biscuits served with thick sliced true Southern-style country ham, oregano and orange butter, blackberry country mustard) as well as individual Bourbon Pecan Pies.

Tavern On Little Fort, 4128 N. Lincoln Ave., $7 Buffalo Trace Mint Juleps and $6 Kentucky Mules (Moscow Mule with bourbon). TVs in the bar and beer garden (weather permitting) with the sound on. “Best Derby Hat” contest. Large groups can book parties in the Beer Garden which accommodates up to 68 guests.

 

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3 Chicago restaurants with news for spring 2017

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Firecakes inside Lou and Grey

Firecakes Donuts will operate for two months a pop-up donut counter inside Lou & Grey, the contemporary women’s apparel store at 3442 N. Southport Ave. Locals and visitors alike are finding it a place to grab a great cup of coffee and a fabulous donut. Or visit Firecakes Lincoln Park store, 2453 N. Clark St. or its Hubbard Street location, 68 W Hubbard St.

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Firecakes Donuts also operates a Donut Truck in the Loop on weekday mornings and, in season, in the evenings and on weekends at various neighborhoods around Chicago. The Donut Truck also can be booked from private events and catering; please call 312-329-6500 for more information. Delivery, catering and pre-orders are available. Please place orders by 3 p.m. for next day pickup or Chicagoland delivery.  Firecakes also serves a giant birthday cake donut that serves 2-3 people and an ice cream donut sandwich. Firecakes Donuts serves coffee from La Colombe Roasters. Major cards are accepted. For more information, please call the stores at 312-329-6500 (W. Hubbard St.) and 773-666-5277 (N. Clark St.)
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Weber Grill Restaurant in Chicago
Weber Grill Restaurant in Chicago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Weber Grill Restaurant539 N. State St. (also Lombard, Schaumburg, Indianapolis), on Easter Sunday (April 16th) offers  grownups traditional holiday favorites, plus either Mimosa ($7) or Backyard Bloody Mary (Absolut vodka, housemade bloody Mary mix served with smoked sausage & Gouda skewer and a mini backyard brew 10.5). Along with their brunch plate, kids get Easter eggs filled with candy and special treats.

 
Brunch “A-la-carte” Features Served Until 2:00pm – Grilled Steak & Eggs Southwest Style Skirt Steak and Eggs Any Style Guajillo Salsa, Breakfast Potatoes ($17.50); Chocolate Cherry Pretzel Bread French Toast Fresh Strawberries, Whipped Cream ($10.50); Double Smoked Bourbon Glazed Ham Benedict, hollandaise, toasted English muffin grilled asparagus, breakfast potatoes ($14); Kid’s Brunch Plate (Twelve & Under), choice of scrambled eggs or pretzel bread French toast ($6.50).
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Weber’s full Dinner Menu served all day plus two specials: House Smoked Bourbon Glazed Ham, horseradish cream sauce, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus ($16); and Wood-Roasted Leg of Lamb, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus, rosemary jus ($20).
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Snap Kitchen is excited to introduce three internationally inspired dishes, each boasting a unique primary health benefit. With an obsession for food innovation and believing that eating healthy should be really fun, Snap Kitchen was inspired to create three incredible new Bowls with Benefits, available in store or for delivery. The product of the collaboration between Snap Kitchen’s research and development chefs and dietitian, each bowl is based on a super-flavorful take on cauliflower rice, topped with nutrient-rich ingredients. The lineup includes a Whole30-approved bowl and vegan option.
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The Tex-Mex Chicken Bowl is Snap Kitchen’s take on the classic burrito bowl, with anti-inflammatory ingredients and superfoods like turmeric and spirulina for a whole new spin. The Tex-Mex bowl contains:
  • Spanish cauliflower rice with a smoky flavor from smoked paprika and mega anti-inflammatory benefits from turmeric;
  • spirulina crema made from cashew, avocado, and spirulina that offers up healthy fats and B vitamins;
  • topped with fajita veggies and chicken, and homemade red salsa.
Meatball & Kimchi Stir Fry Bowl with natural probiotics and nourishing prebiotics to get your gut in check. This bowl features:
  • kimchi fried rice made from cauliflower rice stir fried with fresh garlic, ginger, and kimchi;
  • grass-fed beef meatballs made with sautéed ginger, onion, and mushrooms for a tender texture and veggie bonus;
  • kimchi with fermented cabbage and sea vegetables featuring naturally occurring probiotics;
  • plus organic edamame, stir fried veggies, and ginger sesame vinaigrette.
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Packed with plant-based ingredients full of antioxidants, the Mediterranean Mezze Bowl is the most beauty-full meal at Snap Kitchen yet. This bowl features:

  • kale and cauliflower tabbouleh with zucchini, onion, jalapeno, and garlic;
  • golden turmeric chickpeas full of nutrients from turmeric, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast;
  • vegan tzatziki that starts with cashew crema with chopped cucumber, lemon zest, mint, and dill for a tangy addition to the bowl’s flavor lineup;
  • beet hummus full of nutrients like betalains with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification benefits that give your skin a healthy glow;
  • plus roasted red bell pepper and eggplant, and Kalamata olives.
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Order ahead or get them for delivery on the new Snap Kitchen app for iOS – it’s a beautiful app with full color pics that’ll make you even hungrier.

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