2019 | chicago foodie girl


Travel Eats: Morelia en Boca

After my very first visit to Mexico back in 2017, I caught the travel bug for that beautiful country. As you may remember, the experience I had in Riviera Maya was absolutely amazing; however, it was limited in the sense that it was just a tiny taste of Mexican culture, as seen through a luxurious all-inclusive resort... but it was definitely enough to pique my interest. That first taste of Mexico set me down the path to a return trip in 2018 in which I ended up discovering my love for the gorgeous city of Morelia, a place that quickly earned a spot on my list of favorite cities in the world!

Located in the central part of the state of Michoacán in central Mexico, the capital city of Morelia is one of the oldest and most culturally rich areas in the country (as well as a designated UNESCO World Heritage site). Founded in 1541, the city was originally a result of Spanish invasion/colonialism, but it eventually grew into one of the most important centers of knowledge as the birthplace of the Mexican independence movement. These days, Morelia is renowned as a city of significant history, art, distinctive architecture... and just as importantly, amazing food! Thanks to the intermixing of northern and southern cuisines, the city is home to some of the most diverse food in all of Mexico. One of the best places to get a taste of everything from Michoacán’s traditional cuisine to the inventive flavors and techniques being used in modern Mexican cooking is the annual Morelia en Boca festival.


Travel Guide: The Edgewater in Madison, WI

I spent most of my free time during my senior year of college (oh so many years ago) exploring everything that Madison, WI had to offer. I went to a small school about an hour outside of the city and while I got a fantastic education and really loved so many things about the environment, it wasn't exactly the epicenter of culture. Comparatively, Madison had a funky vibe and the diversity I craved - I loved it so much that I thought I might even move there post-college. While I ultimately ended up in Chicago, as it was a better fit personally and professionally, Madison is still one of those places that hold a special place in my heart.

All these years later, I still try to visit Madison at least once a year: fall trips involve hours spent outdoors leisurely perusing every stand at the most amazing farmers market, summer and spring visits focus on exploring all of the newest restaurants and shops, and winter weekend visits are spent decompressing at boutique hotels complete with plenty of roaring fireplaces, stunning lake views, and decadent comfort food options. Recently, at the end of a particularly stressful stretch at work for both of us, Mario and I packed our warmest sweaters and headed up to Madison for one of those long winter weekends that involve no plans other than relaxing; as we discovered during this trip, hands down, The Edgewater is absolutely the best place in the city to do just so. After spending years hotel-hopping, I am 100% a convert to this fantastic spot and honestly cannot see myself choosing to anywhere else again!


Chicago Eats: Monnie Burke's

I can't even begin to tell you how many times over the years people have asked me what I do with all of my free time during my semester break. Well, throwing out the actual work part (that's the dirty secret of being in academia - you're never truly off, as the next semester is always lurking) and the holiday hoopla, I really spend most of my winter break meeting up with all of my friends and eating all the delicious foods. It's the time of year in which I crave cozy afternoons with friends filled with comfort foods, laughter, and really good booze. While my summer breaks are mostly filled with major writing/teaching projects and travel plans, winter breaks are all about unwinding and enjoying myself. As I discovered a few weeks ago, the beautiful Monnie Burke's in Pilsen is the perfect place to do just so.

Open since last spring, co-owners Margi Abu-Taleb and Anan Abu-Taleb (of the fantastic Maya Del Sol in Oak Park) named the restaurant after Margi's late aunt, a social worker and activist involved in Cesar Chavez’s 1960s farm worker movement. The couple had her fun-loving and adventurous spirit in mind when they designed this modern and unpretentious spot focused on new American/seasonal cuisine. Jess and I stopped by for a late brunch on a cold Saturday afternoon and immediately fell in love with the space - the warm woods and twinkly lights made it super inviting and just a glimpse of their massive patio (replete with cute umbrella-topped tables and a gas-powered fire pit) got us super excited for the warmer months!


Chicago Eats: Taureaux Tavern

While I haven't mentioned it much over here (I definitely need to rectify that soon!), Cochon Volant Brasserie has been one of my favorite restaurants in the Loop practically since the day it opened in 2015. Between the charming space reminiscent of a Parisienne cafe and the perfectly executed dishes, it's such a great spot for everything from a leisurely breakfast with friends to an afternoon coffee break to a mouthwatering pre-theatre dinner. So, it should come as no surprise that as soon as I heard the owners of Cochon Volant were opening another French restaurant, Taureaux Tavern, I immediately added it to my must-try list.

Tucked into the Financial District, the massive two-story restaurant offers diners an elevated but still inviting environment with multiple areas of service, including a year-round covered patio (a rarity in that area!), and a gorgeous decor with cute nods to the district. With Chef Mike Sherrin (formerly of Blackbird) at the helm, Taureaux Tavern offers a variety of French-inspired fare, ranging from classic dishes such as escargot and steak frites to lighter options such as smoked whitefish salad.



Suburban Eats: Brunch at Bonefish Grill

As I've mentioned several times over the last few years, I have a serious love for Bonefish Grill. Considering I live in a city in which the food options are plentiful (and we have some of the best chefs in the country!) there aren't many chain restaurants that I can say I actually crave/keep me coming back for more, but Bonefish is the exception. Ever since Ashley introduced me to the awesomeness of Bang Bang Shrimp, I've been hooked!

Recently, Bonefish introduced a new weekend brunch menu focusing on classic brunch dishes with a twist paired with endless bubbles options. Due to his ever-changing work schedule, it's rare that Mario (another Bonefish super fan!) can join me for weekend brunch, but as soon as I mentioned the new menu to him, he managed to make some scheduling magic happen... it's amazing what a little Bang Bang Shrimp motivation can do, right?! 😉


Chicago Eats: D&D's Place

While once upon a time I was a fan of all donuts (every donut was a good donut, even the ones that were kind of bad), I've turned into a bit of a donut snob. No longer am I satisfied with just anything that's raised and glazed. I need my donuts not only to have a good structure and flavor, but also a filling/glaze that complements the flavor of the donut, isn't overly sweet, doesn't have a fake/chemical taste, and doesn't leave a film in my mouth from too many oils. Based on those criteria alone, there are a lot of mediocre to truly terrible donuts out there in the Chicago-area alone; the ones that are truly awesome have developed a cult-like following, including those at D&D's Place in the Ashburn neighborhood.

When a coworker of Mario's contacted me a few weeks ago to recommend his favorite donut shop/best in Chicago, I was immediately intrigued. As a fellow donut aficionado (and self-proclaimed snob), he mentioned that having traveled extensively and sampled donuts at just about every stop, he firmly believes the donuts at D&D's to be amongst the best in the nation. In fact, he believes in them so much that he does marketing and PR for the shop on a volunteer basis. But he's not the only one with a massive love for D&D's, as the shop took home the coveted 2018 People’s Choice trophy in just its first year at Donut Fest Chicago, beating out numerous other long-established and super popular donut shops. As someone who's always in search of fantastic donuts, how could I possibly resist a visit to this small, family-run South Side spot?!
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