Chicago Eats: Monnie Burke's | 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!

We kicked off our brunch with the Fate Intervenes (Fonseca bin 27 port, sotol, Suze, earl grey & lemon) and the Little Village Paloma (Lunazul tequila, carciofo, grapefruit & maqui berry).

I was enjoying my perfectly done Paloma when the manager brought out a sample of the Frozen Chicha Morada (tequila, pisco, purple corn, fall spice & citrus) that he insisted we must try. Holy YES!! I fell head over heels for this amazing cocktail - all others immediately fell by the wayside. I happily slurped my way through one in about 10 minutes and seriously contemplated a second and a third (too bad I was driving 😭). As Jess said, this cocktail tastes like the best parts of fall in a glass!

As I've mentioned before, there's really nothing better on a cold day than a bowl of steamy mussels and these Red Thai Curry Mussels with beech mushrooms and grilled focaccia are especially fantastic. We devoured every perfectly done mussel and then soaked up every last drop of the super flavorful broth. While it's listed as an appetizer, I will absolutely order this amazing dish as my entrée the next time I'm there!

Just as I always say yes to mussels, I will never turn down a Soft Pretzel, especially when it's served with smoked gouda and truffle fondue. Their pretzels are so soft and buttery with just the right amount of salt... and really, the fondue is just 🤤🤤🤤.

Luckily, we just so happened to have stopped by on a day in which they were serving their special off-menu Snake River Farms Waygu Carpaccio with Parmesan crisps. This paper-thin tender beef has a pure meaty flavor and the delicate and crunchy Parmesan bites give it an interesting textural contrast. If this is available when you visit, definitely add it to your order!

While I'm generally not a fan of cauliflower (it's one of those veggies I can take or leave), Jess loves it and always forces me to try new versions. While I'm still not completely sold, this Roasted Cauliflower with Marcona almonds, dates, and sherry vinaigrette is definitely some of the best I've ever had (and yes, Jess, aka the cauliflower fan, loved it!).

Seeing as we've tried so many versions of it, Jess and I both heavily judge a restaurant by its Chicken & Waffles - we definitely were not disappointed by Monnie Burke's interpretation! The waffles are akin to a crispy funnel cake and topped with crispy chicken, habanero honey butter, and maple syrup. We absolutely loved the addition of the habanero honey butter, as it gave the dish a bit of heat and perfectly complemented the sweet elements.

Of course, we couldn't leave without sampling their Cheeseburger with Butterkase cheese, bacon, and grilled red onions. As a former Wisconsinite, I have a serious soft spot for Butterkase (a semi-soft creamy butter cheese popular in WI), so this burger made me very, very happy.

If you're looking for a welcoming atmosphere, fantastic food, and one of the best cocktails in the city, you definitely need to make your way over to Pilsen to check out Monnie Burke's. Bonus: it's right down the street from Thalia Hall, so it's a perfect pre/post-show spot!

You can try all of this deliciousness and more at Monnie Burke's: 1163 W. 18th St., Chicago, IL. 

ETA: This restaurant has closed.

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