So much amazing food in Chicago

Some of you might have noticed that we like to eat. For a lot of people, eating is something they do to stay alive. They call it a necessity.

But for us, eating is a hobby.

Lucky for us, Chicago has a few places to indulge us. We’ve been pretty busy, and we’ll talk about some more of these in greater detail later, but for now, here’s a list of some of this city’s amazing food offerings we’ve enjoyed:

  • Uncle Sammy’s: Our first night in Chicago, we were having a horrible time finding a place to park a UHaul truck. At about midnight, we finally found a place and were walking home when we stumbled onto this gem. The Pilgrim is a very fine sandwich.
  • Kitchen Sink: Good, simple sandwiches.
  • Floriole: Adrienne loved it. I thought it was only OK. Quiche, apparently, is to die for.
  • Pasta Bowl: Delicious and affordable pasta.
  • Tzatziki Grill: Excellent Greek place that also has a pretty solid Italian Beef sandwich.
  • Margie’s Candies: It’s like time travel at Margie’s. Egg-salad sandwich and the Terrapin Sundae: Recommended.
  • Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria: Our favorite pizza in Chicago so far. Pizza in Chicago is like barbecue in other towns: Everyone has a very strong opinion. We loved Lou’s, but we’re still open to trying others.
  • Lito’s Empanadas: Delicious — and cheap. For $2.50, one of these little guys is great for a snack. Get two, and it’s lunch.
  • Del Seoul: Weird little Asian dumplings that are oddly addictive.
  • Paciugo: Gelato. Can’t go wrong with gelato.
  • Pret a Manger: This is Target’s cafe. Yes, I know. Why eat out at Target? But you see, here in Chicago, even going to Target is a dining experience.
  • Brown’s Chicken: Fried chicken place in one of the downtown pedways. Scenery wasn’t great, but loved the biscuits and mashed potatoes.
  • Bobtail Ice Cream: An almost-overwhelming amount of goodness.
  • The Edge: Cake!
  • The Grove: More time travel. Open-face turkey or meatloaf sandwich, with bottomless coffee.
  • Red Hen Bread: Tip: Get the day-old stuff for a little less money (same deliciousness, though).
  • Taco Joint: Best Mexican so far in Chicago. Lebanese Pork Taco: must have (available only on Thursdays).
  • Chicago’s Dog House: Our favorite dog place in Chicago so far. Good choices, good service, good prices.
  • Clark Street Dog:  Got caught in a storm and waited it out in here with a couple of dogs and a couple of beers. There are worse places to end up when it’s raining.
  • Red Hot Ranch: Our first hot dogs in Chicago. Our first experience with french fries on a hot dog. Interesting.
  • Big Star: Gourmet tacos. Service was only OK, but the decor was great. After Taco Joint, though, hard to compare.
  • Gibson’s Bar and Steakhouse: Best service of any of the restaurants we’ve been to. A shoutout to our server, who happens to be a Lincoln Park neighbor! Desserts are insane. And tall. You’ll need to share. Oh, and also: $$$
  • Filini: Ultra-modern, ultra-hip dining at the signature downtown building Aqua. Sotto Bosco pizza was impressive. As was the Carciofini spinach dip.
  • Rosebud: Best Italian so far in Chicago. Two must-tries: Penne Bolognese and their Cavatelli Alla Rosebud.
  • Toast: Great service. Outstanding breakfast burrito.
  • Stella’s: Delightful breakfast options.
  • The Bourgeois Pig Cafe: Carrot cake!
  • Goose Island Brewpub: We didn’t eat here, but for some great local brews, it’s worth a try.
  • Dunlays on Clark: $5 Cheeseburger special = delicious.
  • The Burwood Tap: One of the oldest continuously operating bars in Chicago. Really good free food Mondays through Thursdays (my fave was the chicken).
  • Smoque: Been having a hard time finding some barbecue out here, but this was fantastic.
  • Pizzeria Due: After a too-long wait at Malnati’s, we ended up here. Not quite as good as Lou Malnati’s, but if LMs is a 10, Pizzeria Due is a 9. Very good.
  • Portillo’s: Iconic. Worth it for the atmosphere. Still, Chicago’s Dog House wins out.
  • Potbelly Sandwich Shop: Grilled Chicken Mediterranean is a fine, fine sandwich.
  • Matisse: Did not expect deliciousness when we ordered the Reuben Potstickers. We were pleasantly surprised.
  • Do-Rite Donuts: You’ll find lots of Dunkin’ Donuts here, but few local places. These guys do donuts right.
  • Wow Bao: Quirky little place with neat little fluffy dumplings. A must-try.
  • Devil Dawgs: It’s worthwhile to try all of Chicago’s hot dogs.

So much food in this town — how do people here ever get anything done?

Sundaes, treats, floats. Plenty of tasty options at Margie's Candies.

 

If you're after treats, Bobtail is also an excellent choice.

 

What's this? A hot dog? Yes, I guess so. Underneath the french fries, anyway. Interesting technique, Red Hot Ranch.

 

The S'mores cake at The Edge. Cake did not last long.

 

The best Chicago hot dogs, in our opinion. Chicago's Dog House.

 

A very full meal at Smoque BBQ: Chicken, mac & cheese, baked beans, and cole slaw.

 

Carrot Cake! At the Bourgeois Pig.

 

We don't only take pictures of food. We are also capital-A Artists. Or, maybe this is the view after we'd eaten too much and had to lay on the floor. Hard to say.

 

 

Oinkety fave: La Baguette French Bistro, Colorado Springs

Every time I go to one of the La Baguette locations I say it’s my favorite. The downtown one was the first I went to, then I went to the one in Old Colorado City, and finally, we went to the one on Chestnut St.

The Chestnut St. location is open for dinner. It’s a really authentic French Bistro. But unlike a lot of French restaurants, it’s super affordable.

Cute French decor at La Baguette

Cute French decor at La Baguette

I had a Pastis, a very French licorice flavored drink, at La Baguette

I had a Pastis, a very French licorice flavored drink, at La Baguette

 

We’ve actually been there a couple times. Once for lunch and one for dinner. It was delightful both times.

Crocque Madame sandwich with fries for lunch. Ham, cheese, and a fried egg on delicious bread.

Crocque Madame sandwich with fries for lunch. Ham, cheese, and a fried egg on delicious bread.

Another view of the Crocque Madame.

Another view of the Crocque Madame.

The special steak lunch entree.

The special steak lunch entree.

When we went for dinner I had this awesome salad.

When we went for dinner I had this awesome salad.

 

Mike had the Boeuf Bourguignon, which he said was fabulous

Mike had the Boeuf Bourguignon, which he said was fabulous.

Mike's mom had the special veggie rice entree.

Mike's mom had the special veggie orzo entree.

For dessert we had a creamy cheesecake.

For dessert we had a creamy cheesecake.

And the cream puff, which was a delicious as it looks.

And the cream puff, which was a delicious as it looks.

 

La Baguette French Bistro is a great place for an authentic but affordable French meal with great service and fabulous food right in Colorado Springs. Check it out! Let us know what you think.

 

Gunning for second place

It’s that time of year again, where we shamelessly ask for your vote on The Independent’s annual Best of Colorado Springs survey.

Last year, we tied for third with then-Business Journal writer John Hazlehurst and decided that he must be destroyed. He has since moved to the Indy, which means that while he still pens a regular column, we have not seen any Hazlehurst-specific “blog.” Consider yourself destroyed, Mr. Hazlehurst.

The first-place winner was a coupon thing, so whatever with that. Who can compete with bargains? The second-place winner is a member of Big Media, and who can trust Big Media?

It’s time for Oinkety to be the Springs’ No. 2 blog.

You have to vote for at least 15 things for your ballot to count. Here’s a sampling of what we voted for:

  1. Best Wait Staff: Detz Cafe.
  2. Best Restaurant for Tourists: Paris Crepe.
  3. Best French Restaurant: La Baguette. The one on Chestnut.
  4. Best Patio Dining: Shuga’s.
  5. Best Middle Eastern Restaurant: Taste of Jerusalem.
  6. Best Food Truck: Phat Hattie’s.
  7. Best Burger: Drifter’s.
  8. Best Place for Ice Cream: Dogtooth Cafe.
  9. Best Local Beer for Winter: Bristol’s Venetucci Pumpkin Ale, of course good luck getting any.
  10. Best Breakfast: Smiley’s.
  11. Best Caterer: Blue Sage Catering.
  12. Best Place for an Over-the-Top Gift: Pink Kitty Studios.
  13. Best Photographer: Pink Kitty Studios.
  14. Best Naughty Business: Pink Kitty Studios.
  15. Best Local Twitterer: @barelyescape.
  16. Best Local Blogger: Oinkety!

Adrienne and I agreed on a few of the categories. But we disagreed on a bunch, too:

  1. Best Neighborhood Restaurant – West: Adrienne enjoys La Baguette, but I like Cucuru.
  2. Best Neighborhood Restaurant – Central: Adrienne went with Shuga’s, while I went with Detz.
  3. Best Restaurant for Dining Alone: Adrienne would rather go to Shuga’s alone, and I prefer Poor Richard’s.

In fact, for just about every category, Adrienne picked Shuga’s. Best Happy Hour; Best Patio; Best Place for a Wedding Reception; Best Appetizers; Best Soup; Best Bartender (Kevin); Best Place for a Fancy-Pants Cocktail. Someone has a Shuga’s addiction.

Vote for Oinkety or this cat will cry

We sometimes write about cats. That alone is worth your vote.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rocco’s, Colorado Springs

Awhile back I bought a coupon from restaurant.com for Rocco’s Italian Restaurant. I had heard good things about it. We’ve since decided we don’t really like restaurant.com but we still had this dumb coupon to use.

So we went on over to the dying Academy core and had some Eyetalian food. Mike had an Italian beer and I had a nice glass of chianti.

Typical Old School Italian restaurant decor at Rocco's, Colorado Springs.

Typical Old School Italian restaurant decor at Rocco's, Colorado Springs.

We started with the special appetizer — baked mushrooms with blue cheese. They were OK, a little salty and yet somehow a little bland. Very, very hot, too.

Baked mushrooms with blue cheese.
Baked mushrooms with blue cheese.
Mike had the special of the day, the pepper steak. It came with pasta primavera. He liked it. I didn’t try any.

Pepper steak with pasta primavera, Rocco's, Colorado Springs.

I had the homemade spaghetti and the not-homemade ravioli with marinara sauce and meatballs. It was decent but not amazing.

Homemade spaghetti and meatballs, Rocco's, Colorado Springs.

Homemade spaghetti and meatballs, Rocco's, Colorado Springs.

The homemade spaghetti is a little too thick and chewy for my taste.

Homemade spaghetti and meatballs at Rocco's in Colorado Springs.

Homemade spaghetti and meatballs at Rocco's in Colorado Springs.

We finished it off with a cannoli, which are hard to screw up. This one was really good.

Rocco's cannoli.

Rocco's cannoli.

The service was really great. The food was decent, like I said. We will probably go back because we have another coupon. But maybe we won’t. I don’t know. If we didn’t have a coupon, I can say we pretty sure wouldn’t. It’s a little far from home, it’s in a crappy part of town, and it wasn’t super awesome.  There’s other better Italian food in town.

It’s Restaurant Week in Colorado Springs

Starting tomorrow (Tuesday March 8 ) thru Sunday March 13 is Colorado Springs’ first Restaurant Week (I thought we had one last year but maybe that was something else).  You can get meals for two for either $35, $45, or $55, some even include adult beverages! Just mention Restaurant Week when you go. You might want to make a reservation because it’s going to be pretty popular. It’s going to be a great way to try out some of the more expensive restaurants in town!

The whole list of which restaurants are participating, what they’re serving, and how much it costs is here.  The ones we’re particularly interested in are:

THE BLUE STAR
1645 South Tejon Street
Colorado Springs
(719) 632-1086

3 course meal for $55 for dinner for two (not including tax and gratuity)

1st Course

  • Cup of Beehive Cheddar Soup or Endive Caesar w/ julienne snow pea, garlic croutons & parmesan

2nd Course

  • Petite crab cakes, jasmine rice, crunchy snap peas, wasabi mayo or Petite bacon “steak,” roasted tomato polenta, roasted Brussels, natural jus or Millefeuille of tomato concasse, spinach feta w/ creamy tapenade

3rd Course

  • The Corleone (Blue Star signature dessert) or 1 oz. portion of any of our daily cheeses
STEAKSMITH
3802 Maizeland Road
Colorado Springs
(719) 596-9300

$55 for two

  • 1st Course – Mini-Shrimp Cocktail
  • 2nd Course — Full Salad Bar or Bleu Cheese Wedge
  • 3rd Course — 10 oz. Prime Rib, prepared to your liking, including starch, bread and butter, Ice Tea or Coffee
  • 4th Course – Creamy smooth Lemon Snow Flake Dessert
COQUETTE BISTRO & BAKERY
915 Manitou Avenue
Manitou Springs
(719) 685-2420

Dinner for two for $35 (all gluten-free)

  • cup of soup
  • choice of entree w/side salad
    • Coquette: black forest ham, béchamel sauce, sautéed mushrooms, & Swiss cheese
    • Philadelphian: thinly sliced tri-tip steak, sautéed onion, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, & Swiss cheese
    • Cajun: pan seared shrimp, onion, tomato, & mushrooms in a Cajun cream sauce
  • cupcake of the day
RASTA PASTA
405 N. Tejon St
Colorado Springs
(P) 719-481-6888

Dinner for 2 for $35

  • unlimited soft drinks, coffee or tea
  • 2 beverages from the bar, choice of Rum Punch or Redstripe Beer
  • 2 dinner salads served with basket of garlic bread
  • 2 dinner entrees, choice of any on the menu
  • 1 ridiculously good dessert to share

Be sure to check it out and let us know where you went and how it was!