Why you need a Galena Escape at Eagle Ridge Resort

As we are winding down to the arrival of our baby girl, my husband and I knew we needed a quick weekend getaway from Chicago. A little time away before the lack of sleep and the craziness begins, right?! Galena, Illinois seemed like the perfect location. Being 150 miles west of Chicago, with rolling hills, a town filled with art galleries, restaurants and history, it was the perfect setting.

I had a few things I was looking for in my search for a hotel. I wanted a spa, several dining options, and a beautiful, quiet setting. This lead me to the discovery of Eagle Ridge Resort, located in The Galena Territory, just six miles from downtown Galena. We would be able to enjoy the amenities of the resort like the pool, spa and dining, but also head to town when we wanted. With a toddler at home, it was the ideal distance away from home while feeling a world away.

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My Mother’s Day Wish List

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Mother’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. Even before being a mom, I always felt like it was the kick off to summer and another excuse to get the family together (with lots of wine and food of course). Now it’s extra fun and I love it even more as a mom. Not sure about anyone else, but I get asked every year, “what do you want for Mother’s Day?”. I’ve learned I need to give a few ‘hints’ ahead of time. So if you are stuck and need some ideas either for yourself or some hints for the hubby, here are some of my favorites this year. Read more on my favorites Motherhood & Family

 

A Stroll down Southport Corridor (adults only)

The Southport Corridor may be known for strollers, moms and boutiques, but recently, there has been a surge in places for adults to play. So ditch those strollers, grab a glass of wine, and take a peek into some adult friendly places popping up on the Southport Corridor.

Coda Di Volpe-  Boasting Southern Italian fare like pizza, steak and seafood, they are most known for their Neapolitan pizza that comes with a side scissors to cut your own slices. Chef Thompson brings his own flair with a seasonal menu, house-cured meats, along with a contemporary vibe that all creates a great spot on Southport.

Coda has a great wine list (award winning in fact) and a creative cocktail menu.  As for starters, my absolute favorite appetizer is the goat cheese with beets appetizer (I am not sure this is on the menu anymore, sigh…) and the pork & prosciutto Meatballs.

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Goat Cheese and Beets Appetizer

Next, pizza! The Funghi and Diavolo pizza are both delicious, but really, they all look fantastic.  Thompson crafts traditional VPN-certified Neapolitan pizzas served with authentic pizza shears that adds an element of fun to the dining experience.

Next up, pasta. All the pastas are made in-house and available gluten free upon request. A stand out dish is the Trombette Trapanese made with Coda’s fennel sausage, tomato, almond, garlic, and basil. It’s also just beautiful to look at.

They are also now serve brunch on the weekend. It’s perfect for date night or a night out with the ladies.

Ella Elli- The newest addition to the 4 star restaurant group, is the wine bar, Ella Elli. This sexy, romantic spot is so swanky, I felt like I had been transported downtown to a fancy hotel in River North. The over sized lanterns, fireplace and couches, make for THE perfect date night spot.

 The wine list is extensive, but Pinot Noir Rose by Willamette Valley really paired nicely with our cheese board.  We also tried the creamy mushroom toast with creme faiche and thyme, this would make me come back. Everything is presented beautifully and our server paired everything really well with our wine.

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Ella Elli

They have pizza great for sharing, pasta and burgers. The burger is supposed to be outstanding, as well as their brunch menu  When I visited, we shared the charcuterie  and toasts, which really can be a meal in itself. Next time, the burger is on my list.

If you need a date night, Ella Elli should absolutely be on your list.

Tied House– Just opening in February 2018, this is brand new on Southport. The reviews are rolling in and everything about Tied House has been outstanding.

Schubas Tavern has been around for three decades, and now there is a new addition  with the opening of Tied House, the owners’ new restaurant next door. The modern architecture and the courtyard that separates the restaurant from Schubas with a giant outdoor fireplace just dazzles from the inside and out.

Schubas will continue to have the same menu, Tied House’s chef, Debbie Gold (who happens to be  James Beard Award-winning chef) to create her own menu, including short rib, crudo, porridge with beets and house made ice cream.

Tied House will be perfect for pre and post concerts and is a great addition to the area looking for more “adult” friendly dining.

With so many options now on Southport, there is really something for everyone.

Until next time.

Christine

 

National Margarita Day (but that could be any day really…)

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If you know anything about me, I enjoy two kinds of drinks: a glass of Cabernet and a margarita with salt.  But margaritas can be overly sweet, watered down, or just really, really bad. Whether it is Cinco de Mayo or a warm day in Chicago, a margarita is the perfect cocktail to sip on. To help you get your buzz on,  I have rounded up a few of my favorite marg’s around the city.

Big Star– This might be the most obvious choice, but their margaritas are really tasty. Either by the pitcher or glass, I prefer the Big Star mezcal rather than the Classic. The classic is made with blanco tequila, which doesn’t give the smoky taste I prefer like the Big Star. They have an amazing patio and it’s perfect for the warmer Chicago months, and of course, let’s not forget their tacos.

Masa Azul– This Logan Square Mexican and cocktail bar is a little gem that might have the best margaritas in the city. Seriously. Their margaritas are that good. With almost 20 cocktail options to choose from, all ranging from $6- $12 dollars, lots of tacos (lots of vegetarian options), this is my top 5 favorite Mexican places in Chicago. This is a bold statement, considering my husband’s discerning taste. With such a variety of options, there might be a margarita for everyone.

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The two margaritas I recommend are the Prickly Pear and Where there is smoke. This has mezcal joven with a Serrano Chile. Smoky with a little spice.  Pair it with their guacamole = perfect meal.

Crio Bar and Restaurant– Located in West Lincoln park on Clybourn Avenue, this Latin American gastropub has some really flavorful margaritas, great empanadas and drink specials throughout the week. On Tuesdays, Margaritas are only $6 dollars.

I have two go-to drinks here. First, the hibiscus marg is a delicious combination of sweet and spicy.  Second, they have a version of a Moscow mule, made with mezcal, which is really good. Plus, for all you instagrammers, the mural and flower wall make a great photo opportunity.

Del Toro– Located in Pilsen, this little gem is always packed and always worth the wait. The tacos are delicious, but the margaritas is make me coming back. My favorite is the  jalapeno margarita.  It literally comes with a flaming jalapeno which is not only entertaining, it makes for fun experience. It was also delicious – which is a double plus.

These are just a few places, but Chicago is full of so many amazing places to grab a margarita. I’d love to hear your go-to places!

Until next time…

Christine

Old is New Again: The Berghoff

My parents grew up going to The Berghoff in downtown Chicago. Most Chicagoan’s probably have. I used to go as a kid, but the last time I was there, I was in high school. In fact, I thought for the longest time it was closed. Recently, I had the opportunity to dine and tour the restaurant and was so impressed. Not only because of the history, but the revival of the menu.  The Berghoff is known for their German food like Weiner Schnitzel’s, bratwursts and giant Bavarian pretzels. Of course, those dishes are legendary, but there are new additions to the menu that are more modern and appealing to a younger generation. More contemporary dishes that even include certified gluten-free options. But first, let me tell you about the history and how it all began. 

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The Berghoff has been around since 1898, and is rich in Chicago history.  Herman Berghoff posted right outside the Chicago’s World Fair in 1893, similar to a pop-up cafe. His success from that, is how he made enough money to bring his family to Chicago and open his cafe.  

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End of Prohibition- 1935 (Photo Courtesy of The Berghoff)

During the prohibition, the bar remained opened by selling a “Near Beer” which contained less than 0.5% alcohol. This made it possible for Herman to sell and stay open. After prohibition ended, The Berghoff was issued Chicago’s first Liquor License. Chicago has honored this every year and they will always receive the first license.

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The Berghoff had a separate men’s only bar until 1969, when Gloria Steinem demanded service and this ended the male-only streak.

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Now for the food. We sampled a lot of everything, some classic dishes and contemporary ones. I also had the opportunity to meet Chef Matt and Chef Javier. Their love for not only the food, but their passion for working at the restaurant shined through. They have been at the restaurant for years and are dedicated to making great food. Chef Matt went into detail on how everything is made in house. With a bakery and 4 kitchens in the 50,000 square feet space, everything is made on site. That is something unique and many Chicago restaurants can’t claim. To take a closer look at the behind the scenes in the bakery, look here.

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With all that being said, my top 3 dishes are:

3. Red Velvet Cake- I am not usually one for dessert or sweets in general, but this red velvet cake is fluffy with the right amount of sweetness. Served with a side of vanilla ice cream, this dessert will make anyone go out of their way to dine here.

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2. Braised Short Ribs- This is fantastic. Melts in your mouth good. Served with a side of mashed potatoes and topped with fried onions. The textures are just right. Perfect comfort food during the cooler months.

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1.Butternut Squash Lasagna- Layered with diced butternut squash and Manchego, then topped with grilled asparagus and glazed walnuts, it is outstanding. The combination of the sweetness from the squash with the cheese is perfect. It is light enough to eat year-round and vegetarians should go crazy over it. Definitely a stand out dish.

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The Berghoff is also known for Oktoberfest. This runs from September 7th- October 7th. With live music and food specials, it will put you in the mood for the fall festivities ahead.

Whether you are from Chicago or here to visit, The Berghoff is a must stop for great food and some Chicago history.

Until next time…

Christine

 

Quest for the Best *Thin Pizza Only

There are a few things that can get me out of the house during winter hibernation or away from my summer Netflix and Chill; pizza,  wine and maybe a manicure. If I’m desperate enough.

There are so many good places in Chicago to eat a good slice, but I can’t stand deep dish. Except, maybe when I’m hungover. Or pregnant. One of those happens more than the other.  But really, I’m a thin crust kind of girl. I have narrowed it down to just three, but there are so many more options in the city. Read more at CGL Food

Getting Fresh Retro at Rhyme and Reason

Between sports bars and brunch spots, it’s difficult to stand out on Division Street. But, Le’Qoinne Rice and Zafer Genc are doing it with Rhyme or Reason, 1938 W. Division. Their 70’s themed interior, menu from Chef Chris de la Cueva, and live entertainment, all help bring a fun, retro vibe to the Wicker Park area.

Plush rugs, velvet couches and mirrors sets the mood for the 70’s eatery with shareable food and innovative cocktails. The mural around the base of the bar is by Jas Petersen, a Chicago visual artist and painter, which surrounds the circular bar. With an open kitchen, large windows, and an outdoor patio with seating up to 75 people, this is a perfect spot to spend the warm summer months ahead.

The Tuesday through Friday dinner menu has a touch of comfort food like fried oysters, lamb meatballs, wings, burgers and poutine, while the weekend brunch has some of my favorites.

On the brunch menu is a delicious edamame toast, an upgrade from avocado toast. For those who enjoy a little heat, the fried chicken and donuts topped with fresno chili is the perfect choice. Their Bloody Mary comes with a slice of house smoked bacon and mini grilled cheese sandwich. It’s like a meal before the meal or a side for your drinks of choice.

The $1 oysters as well as the bottomless mimosas for $18.95 with orange, hibiscus and grapefruit juices are more reasons for Rice’s and Genc’s Rhyme or Reason to be one of your favorite brunch spots too.

During happy hour from 4pm to 6pm, Tuesday through Friday, $5 dollars gets you bites like lamb sliders, fried oysters and the West Town pizzette. Wash it all down with Prosecco on tap and a glass of Retro Fruit Punch.

Tuesdays are special community giveback to Chicago Public Schools. CPS receives a donation of 15% off all sales.

Rhyme or Reason’s music scene is live Friday and Saturday and ranges from local funk to soul and disco. During the week, the vinyl only DJ booth is coolest and brings a unique quality to the venue.

Le’Qoinne Rice and Zafer Genc opened the business in February 2016 and have been friends for years. Rhyme or Reason reflects their relationship, coming from opposite backgrounds, but managed to develop a relationship and now business.

Whether you stop by for food, drink or music, you’ll find there is both rhyme and reason.

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Your Non-Hipster Guide To Pilsen

If you know anything about the various neighborhoods in Chicago, you would know that Pilsen has always been a predominately Mexican neighborhood. Recently, Pilsen has been slowly gentrifying as hipsters and young families move into the area, the culture is still very present. Although the restaurant scene is thriving with places like Michelin rated Dusek’s and Honky Tonk BBQ, there are still plenty of authentic, Mexican taqueria’s and bakeries. My husband’s family still lives in the area, so we know some less touristy places that might not be as well-known. Plus, he has a discerning taste 🙂

El Milagro (1927 S. Blue Island)- Cafeteria style dining and the only tortillas you should ever eat, El Milagro. I had chicken tacos, rice and beans. You will literally have an entire piece of chicken, bones and all. So good and such a unique dining experience.

Lupitas (1723 S.Ashland) This is a taqueria which serves breakfast all day and homemade FullSizeRender(1)menudo (cow stomach), which my husband had and loved (not so much my thing). I had steak tacos, huge portions and delicious. This mom and pop restaurant has grandma and mom cooking in the back and the daughter works the front. We stumbled upon while walking around the area and so glad we did. Very easy to miss, but definitely a must stop.

Bon Bon Bakery (1457 W. 18th Street)- TRES LECHES (3 milk cake) had me in tears. Seriously, the best in the city. Maybe world. A ittle bit more well known throughout the city, this original location is a must along your way.

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Bright doors and colorful street art

 

Nuevo Bakery (1634 W. 18th Street)- Currently, the restaurant is under construction from a fire they had recently, but the bakery has the best conchas (Mexican Bread). Best when dipped in coffee.

Try out the street food. Don’t be scared. We had some tamales from a lady on 18th street, right by the Pink line. They were fresh, delicious and really, it feels good to shop local and support small businesses.

Jump on the Pink line to 18th Street and do some exploring. Try the street food. Check out the National Museum of Mexican Art and all the street art. Do it. Let me know what you think!

Until next time,

~xoxo~

CGL