Recent Foodie Finds | chicago foodie girl


Recent Foodie Finds

Happy Tuesday! I hope everyone is having a fantastic summer. Can you believe we're already heading toward the end of July?! It feels like only a few short weeks ago, I was staring down a seemingly never-ending pile of spring portfolios, special assessment projects, and final grades... and now I'm already starting to think about my fall classes (but no, I haven't actually moved beyond the thinking phase, as I'm still firmly settled into vacation mode!).

Speaking of vacation mode, I didn't intentionally take a vacation from the blog, but life got a bit overwhelming during the spring, as it was the final semester of my graduate program (yay!). I am officially done with my second master's degree and am ready to move on to my doctoral program next year (I decided to defer it, as I really need a break from juggling my simultaneous professor and full-time student roles). I have to admit that I am looking forward to not spending every weekend in homework mode (although the grading will still be there... grading never ever ends!).

Now that I've finally recovered from the mental stress of last semester, it's time to get down to the most important business of all: food! If you follow me on Instagram, you know that along with eating my way through the city and 'burbs, I also managed to fit in two major trips over the last few months. Over spring break, Diana and I made our way down to Nashville for a week and fell in love with that city. The food, the culture, the people, the cuteness - we both absolutely loved it! And just a few weeks ago, Mario and I took a cruise to the Caribbean, where I had some of the best seafood of my life (and yes, I also drank my weight in fruity cocktails). I had such a fantastic time on both trips, and I can't wait to share all of my travel foodie finds with you.

In the meantime, here's a bit of what I've been up to over the last few months (follow me on Instagram or Facebook for even more)...

Diana and I made our way out to Barrington to check out Southern Belles Pancake House, where I ended up falling hard for their fantastic sandwich The Gobbler: smoked turkey, cranberry pecan pesto, Granny Smith apples, and arugula on fresh-baked bread. Yes, Southern Belles specializes in pancakes, and yes, they are delicious (the CinnaBomb pancakes are especially good), but this sandwich was the showstopper for me, thanks to the Thanksgiving-esque flavor combination, and the fact that it's texturally interesting, which really makes it fun to eat.

Speaking of awesome suburban spots, if you're into BIG and flavorful smoked meats, Rack House Kitchen & Tavern in Arlington Heights is definitely a spot that should be on your list! The BAM is completely ridiculous and completely awesome (emphasis on the awesome!). This sharable signature Bloody Mary is made with a liter of Two Brothers Brewing Company vodka and topped with smoked wings, andouille sausage, pulled pork, brisket sliders, beer-battered fried shrimp, cheese, Nutella brownies, fresh yeast donuts, smoked ribs, spicy Nashville hot chicken tenders, and fried pockets. It's also served with two pints of beer! 😵

If you have room after making your way through all of the meats and vodka, it's also work checking out Rack House's super tasty Hangover Sandwich with hickory-smoked brisket, fried egg, Merkt's cheddar, chipotle mayo, arugula, tomato, onion, and pickles piled high on a toasted pretzel bun. This mammoth sandwich may look a bit overwhelming, but it's incredibly balanced with the smokey and slightly fruity moist brisket and sharp cheese.

After years with barely any choices for poké in the Midwest, the craze has taken over the city and suburbs; one of the newest ones to join the lineup is Pono Ono Poké in Evanston. Pono Ono differs from most of the other options, as they eliminated the BYO model used in most other restaurants in the area to focus on more authentic Hawaiian ingredients and flavors. While the bowls are slightly more expensive than other options, the quality of the fish and the interesting flavor combinations really make this place stand out from the rest. My current favorite is their signature Spicy Tuna Bowl with avocado, tobiko, cucumber, sweet onion, and chili mayo.

Speaking of standouts, the Motor City Derby pizza with sausage, spinach, chevre, tomato, and chili roasted garlic from Longacre is so ridiculously good, I really don't know how I ever lived without it! Okay, I'm being a wee bit dramatic, but seriously, this is some damn good pizza. While Neapolitan and tavern-style pizzas are my favorites, Detroit-style isn't far behind. If you've never had this type of pizza before, Longacre is definitely a fantastic place to dive in, as it's the most authentic I've had outside of Michigan.
One of the most frequent questions I get on Instagram has to do with which brunch buffets are actually worth the money. I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of most of the buffet options here, as they're so underwhelming, but Maple & Ash is one of the few that manages to buck the trend.  Their Sunday brunch includes a variety of stations (the hand-carved filet station is always a favorite), along with several dishes that are served tableside (the fire-roasted seafood tower is fantastic!). Bonus: Maple & Ash is also a gorgeous restaurant with prime people-watching.

I've also recently gotten tons of questions about brunch spots on the Riverwalk. While there are so many fab new restaurants down there, I always highly recommend checking out the Blues & Brunch at River Roast (from James Beard winner and Chicago favorite Tony Mantuano). If you're firmly on Team AC, you can snag a seat by the windows and enjoy the view of the river while enjoying the indoor performance. If you're all about that summer al fresco life, you can sit right on the river on their private patio. One of my longtime favorites from their brunch menu is the Fried Chicken Sandwich with Sriracha pickles, spicy remoulade, and butter lettuce on brioche.

If you're like me and always on the lookout for fun twists on mac and cheese, you definitely need to stop by Mad Social for their Havarti Mac and Cheese with sweet corn, wild mushrooms, crispy brussels sprouts, and a butter crumb crust. I really cannot say enough good things about this dish - it's creamy, cheesy, gooey, crunchy, savory, and so satisfying!

I have to admit that I tend to avoid the Michigan Ave. dinner scene (especially during the summer, as there are so many tourists), but I recently made my way down to Michael Jordan's Steakhouse to check out their unique cuts offerings in honor of National Steakhouse Month. While the restaurant does pay homage to MJ through its decor and various menu items (e.g. the 23-layer cake), the food itself does not rest on the laurels of Michael's Jordan's alone. I was impressed by the ambiance, consistent service, and food, especially this perfectly done 45-Day-Dry-Aged Tomahawk. 

The aforementioned 23-Layer Chocolate Cake from Michael Jordan's Steakhouse. This bad boy is chocolate, chocolate, and even more chocolate (and yes, we counted to make sure there were exactly 23 layers!).

Ever since Ashley introduced me to Pizzeria Bebu last fall, I've been thinking about it (and eating it!) an absurd amount. Its super thin crispy crust, fresh ingredients, and inventive flavor combinations made it love at first bite for me! You really can't go wrong with any of their pies (even the simple pepperoni is a standout), but hands down, the Ode to Rubirosa (vodka sauce, nutless pesto, fresh mozzarella) is the absolute best.

How sexy is the Mexican Hot Chocolate topped with a gingerbread churro, Cookie Crisp, gold marshmallows, and gold stardust glitter from La Bodega del Barrio?! While this was a seasonal offering, all of their drinks are gorgeous, indulgent, and delicious AF!

Widely known for having some of the best vegetarian and vegan dishes in the city, the recently reopened Bad Hunter is knocking it out of the park with their new brunch service! The standouts include the Chicken Friend Hen-of-the-Woods Mushrooms and the Ramp Pesto Pinwheel. For carnivores, the 'Nduja Salumi Toast with kimchi slaw and chili oil is a must-order!

If you're in the mood for an incredibly indulgent and super chocolatey and boozy dessert, you must stop by Brickhouse Tavern (next to Wrigley Field at Gallagher Way) for the Old Fashioned Cake Shake. When you want to go all-in with dessert, this cake shake is definitely an utterly delicious way to do it! 

Finally, Sweet Mandy B's really needs no introduction, as it has been one of the most popular bakeries in Chicago since 2002. However, if you've never been there before, put it on your ist immediately - everything there is super cutesy, nostalgic, and oh-so-sweet! My all-time favorite treats from SMB's are their super buttery Iced Sugar Cookies loaded with frosting and sprinkles.

ETA: Longacre, Rack House, La Bodega del Barrio, and Bad Hunter have closed.



  1. I wish you well with classes, and yes, Summer is going fast again, but I am taking advantage of the warm weather checking out places in the City and Burbs, and I would sample the garnish on that Bloody Mary, the drink itself not so much

    1. I'm totally the same way - the garnishes are where it's at!


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