January 2019 | chicago foodie girl


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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