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8 Spots to Fuel Up and Carbo Load for the Chicago Marathon

8 Spots to Fuel Up and Carbo Load for the Chicago Marathon

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Whether you’re racing or not, these restaurants have plenty of excellent pastas and carb specialties to keep you satisfied and energized

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Carbo Load for the Chicago Marathon @ Bistrnomic

Carbo Load for the Chicago Marathon @ Bistrnomic

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Dolce Italian: pre-game for the actual Marathon with a “Carb Marathon” at Dolce Italian. The restaurant features numerous wonderful pastas, like spaghetti alla pomodoro, ricotta cappelletti, lobster mezzalune, and squid ink taglioni. Then there’s the incredible pizzas, especially the Sunday Gravy with meatballs, spicy salami, and jalapeño, or the Primo Amore with Burrata, arugula, grape tomatoes and Parmigiano. Be sure and order one of your pizzas as the Dolce Stella, which folds some of the exterior crust into a pillowy star-shaped dough.

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Club Lucky: Bucktown’s venerable Club Lucky is known for its pasta in copious and comforting portions, which of course makes it a prime destination for pre-Marathon feasting. On Marathon Eve, head to the neighborhood gem to fuel up on fried calamari, sausage & peppers, stuffed artichokes and pasta e fagioli (only available Fridays and Saturdays). The rest of the pastas are homey and comforting, like something out of a classic red sauce Italian movie. Think linguine with fresh clams, ferrucine alfredo, and homemade lasagna.

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Pleasant House Pub: not all carbo-loading is about pasta. Don’t forget the savory meat pies! Considering Pleasant House Pub is right on the route in Pilsen, this makes for an apt spot to settle down, eat a little and watch the race on October 9, or of course dine the night before. The restaurant is hosting a special marathon party during the race, featuring special drinks, music, and breakfast specials.

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Tavern on Rush: brick-oven pizza and pasta are two of the most famous features of Tavern on Rush, which makes this Gold Coast fixture a prime spot to dine all weekend long. For thin-crust pizza, expect flavors like pepperoni, margherita, sausage, and more offbeat originals like “Matt’s Bacon Giardiniera.” For pastas, available in half or full portion, there’s pappardella alla bolognese, rigatoni with spicy Italian sausage, seafood linguini, and cavatappi corkscrew pasta.

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Bistronomic: all weekend long, Bistronomic has a handful of a la carte specials on deck for both pre- and post-Marathon chowing. These include handmade ravioli with Nichols Farm kohlrabi, mushrooms, and Parmesan shavings; hand-cut Yukon Gold gnocchi with confit of red and yellow peppers, goat cheese, and basil pistou; handmade fettuccine with Amish chicken breast, Nichols Farm celery root, watermelon radish and Gruyere; and homemade squid ink linguine with Gulf shrimp, broccoli, cauliflower, fine herbes, and saffron sauce. Pastas are available in both full and half portions.

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Park Grill: situated right on Michigan Avenue in Millennium Park, Park Grill is your prime destination for marathon dining. The restaurant is poised to host its fourth annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon pre-race dinner on Oct. 8. Situated under a tent at The Plaza at Millennium Park, the event features a glorious pasta buffet, a build-your-own pasta station, salads, desserts and beer and wine, all for $40 per person. The main seating for the event is at 6:00 p.m.

A10: it’s quality over quantity at A10, where the concise list of handmade pastas are some of the best in town. Try the bucatini carbonara, which skews classic, or get a little wilder with the spaghetti in beef heart bolognese. There’s also campanelle with lump crab, lemon beurre fondue, salmon roe, and pink peppercorn; and rotolo with stinging nettle ricotta, spring onion pesto, mushroom chips, and pea shoots.

Erie Cafe: at this iconic River North mainstay, indulgent pastas are just as prominent and renowned as the steaks. Classics are the order of the day here, from homemade cheese ravioli and spaghetti with meat sauce to linguini frutti di mare

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Milkshakes for a Good Cause, Sushi Sunday Suppers

Milkshakes for a Good Cause

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Milkshakes for a Good Cause

Milkshakes for a Good Cause

Milkshakes for a Good Cause

Milkshakes taste even better when they’re for a good cause. That’s why you should indulge freely through the end of the month at M Burger Skokie, which is helping support Misericordia by donating $1 from every mocha shake to the organization that supports people with mild to profound developmental disabilities. The milkshake is pretty darn delicious too, made with Midwest ice cream, chocolate and Intelligentsia Black Cat espresso.

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Sunday Supper at Naoki Sushi

Sunday Supper menus can be found all over Chicago, but it’s not too often they include sushi. And some of the best sushi in Chicago, to boot. Naoki is joining the Sunday Supper fray with a bargain presentation of fresh fish every week from 5:30 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. For $44 per person, diners receive tuna poke salad, salmon sashimi, chef’s selection of maki and nigiri, chashu pork udon, and sorbet for dessert. Special sake pours are also available for $5 per glass. Reservations can be made on Naoki’s website.

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Wine-centric Happy Hour at Swift & Sons

Swift & Sons takes happy hour seriously. So seriously that they’re pouring a considerable amount of effort into highlighting wine industry trailblazers for their new weekday happy hour that runs from 4:30 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. The wine-focused happy hour features a different rare wine by the glass poured from magnums at a discount price. This month’s happy hour wine is 2013 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley Selection for $10 per glass. Executive chef Chris Pandel has whipped up a paired bite of potted duck rillette with sour cherry gelee, pickled mushroom, hazelnut salad and housemade bread for $6. Additionally, Swift & Sons is also offering an exclusive bottle from the same vineyard for happy hour. For the rest of September, that bottle is the 2012 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir for $109 per bottle.

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Extended Happy Hour at The Promontory

Extended Happy Hour at The Promontory

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Extended Happy Hour at The Promontory

Another new happy hour is taking shape at The Promontory in Hyde Park, which is extending its Wednesday happy hour to make things even happier. On these days, the restaurant is extending its happy hour from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. with new DJ Du Jour, wherein guest DJs spin vinyls while guests enjoy discounted booze. Specials include $2 Hamm’s, 50% off cans of wine, and $6 cocktails.

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Weekday Aperitivos at La Storia

In a similar happy hour vein, La Storia Ristorante is spotlighting aperitivos on weekdays from 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. During this time, the Gold Coast Italian restaurant will feature a variety of small plates, wine, beer, and cocktails at a bargain price. And there’s plenty of selections to choose from too, like oysters by the half dozen, peach and prosciutto salad, crotini, Virtue Cider, Peroni Lager, Rosé Gimlets, sparkling wine, and Bill-Ini cocktails made with Lambrusco and seasonal berries.

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Cellar Beers at Saint Lou’s Assembly

In other booze news, Saint Lou’s Assembly is serving up some specialty brews on Mondays to help you get into the weekday groove. Every Monday evening, the West Loop restaurant is featuring a special case of beer from the cellar starting at 5:00 p.m. Expect rarer beer, old staples, and new specialty beers, all which cost just $3 during the promo, which makes for a fantastic way to indulge your craft beer obsession.

4 Restaurants to Visit During Oktoberfest in Chicago

Autumn is upon us, and with the changing seasons comes the onset of one of September and October’s most beloved festivities: Oktoberfest. This beer-centric celebration, which runs through early next month, features a variety of European-inspired specials at bars and restaurants throughout Chicago.

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Oktoberfest in Chicago at the Gage

Oktoberfest in Chicago at the Gage

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The Gage: If their St. Patrick’s Day specials are any indication, The Gage is one of the best spots for consistently inventive and delicious fare for holidays and celebrations. Oktoberfest is certainly no different, and the downtown restaurant is featuring a special menu that runs daily for the occasion from September 19 through October 2. Courtesy of executive chef Chris Gawronski and executive pastry chef Kym DeLost, the special Oktoberfest menu contains items like smoked chicken salad, veal schnitzel, beer-braised pork shank, and German chocolate cake. Additionally, The Gage has stacked up a variety of drink specials, both beer and wine.

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Dusek’s Board & Beer: Oktoberfest adapts a Chicago accent at Dusek’s Board & Beer’s 2nd annual “Blocktoberfest.” Taking place September 25, Blocktoberfest is an open-to-the-public, family-friendly block party situated in front of Thalia Hall from noon until 10:00 pm. Attendees can look forward to sausages and other German-inspired dishes, German beers, Space Juice for Jared Punch from Punch House, bocce ball, face painting, and DJs. Food on deck for the event includes rye pretzel rolls with Hook’s 1-year sharp cheddar and the Pilsen Black Forest parfait with charred cinnamon panna cotta, bittersweet chocolate cake and mezcal-soaked cherries.

Oktoberfest in Chicago

Roots Handmade Pizza: With Oktoberfest underway, now is an apt time to order one of the signature pizzas at Roots. “The German, Eh?” features a curiously addictive combo of Canadian bacon, sauerkraut, pizza sauce, and Quad Cities mozzarella blend. It’s a fixture on the menu, so you can even extend your own little Oktoberfest celebration whenever you crave.

4 Restaurants to Visit During Oktoberfest in Chicago

Hannah’s Bretzel: As we mentioned last week, Hannah’s Bretzel is getting in on the Oktoberfest action with a special themed sandwich available now through October 14 at all locations. Inspired by traditional German flavors, the aptly dubbed Oktüberfest sandwich contains German-style bratwurst in organic bretzel baguette with honey whole-grain mustard, caramelized onions and housemade sauerkraut.

Weekly Planner: Best Burgers Galore, Caravan Art Festival

Best Burgers Galore

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National Cheeseburger Day at BomboBar

September 18 also is basically Christmas for burger junkies, considering the day marks National Cheeseburger Day. At Bar Siena, the BomboBar walkup window is celebrating the holiday in style with bargain burgers all day long. The “secret menu item” from chef Fabio Viviani is quite the spectacle too, made with sharp American cheese, braised onions, Dijonnaise and garlic butter pickles on an Italian doughnut “bun.” For the holiday, burgers are $5 for a single and $7 for a double.

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Best Burger at BomboBar

Best Burger at BomboBar

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Best Burgers Galore: Caravan Art Festival at Band of Bohemia

After a season chock full of festivals, there’s still one you won’t want to miss. From the masterful minds of Band of Bohemia, the first annual Caravan Art Festival is taking place in the Ravenswood brewery and restaurant’s private parking lot on September 18 from 11:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Expect food, beer and music aplenty, aptly at the very beginning of Oktoberfest too. Situated at tents around the parking lot, Band of Bohemia will be serving its own beers and food, along with a collaboration brew with Half Acre and coffee from Dark Matter. Music-wise, the Band has tapped a lineup of “gypsy-jazz” tunes to play between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Other theatrics include a growler ring toss game, a walking magician and other carnival games. It’s open to the public and costs a $5 entry fee.

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Best Burgers Galore: National Cheeseburger Day at BomboBar

September 18 also is basically Christmas for burger junkies, considering the day marks National Cheeseburger Day. At Bar Siena, the BomboBar walkup window is celebrating the holiday in style with bargain burgers all day long. The “secret menu item” from chef Fabio Viviani is quite the spectacle too, made with sharp American cheese, braised onions, Dijonnaise and garlic butter pickles on an Italian doughnut “bun.” For the holiday, burgers are $5 for a single and $7 for a double.

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Breaking the House Rules at The Violet Hour

A cool new guest bar takeover is coming to The Violet Hour, taking place once a season with a different crew from across the country. For each occasion, the guest bartenders will be whipping up their own menus and the “house rules” at The Violet Hour will be suspended for the evening. First up is Sugar House from Detroit, set to land at the Wicker Park bar September 19. From 6:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m., head bartenders Jason Troy and Yani Moraitis Frye will be serving some of Sugar House’s signature cocktails, like the Blackfoot Old Fashioned, Fist Fight, Detective Inspector, Room Key, and more. The event is first come, first served, and guests are encouraged to arrive early.

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Oktüberfest Sandwich at Hannah’s Bretzel

In honor of impending Oktoberfest, Hannah’s Bretzel is slinging a special sandwich now through October 14. Available at all six locations, the German-inspired sandwich features bratwurst on organic bretzel baguettes with honey whole-grain mustard, caramelized onions and housemade sauerkraut made from a recipe by the founder’s mother Nina.

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Oktüberfest Sandwich at Hannah’s Bretzel

Oktüberfest Sandwich at Hannah’s Bretzel

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Monday Night Football Specials at Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap

Late September also means the onset of football season, and the weekly tradition of Monday Night Football. Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap is getting in on the action with a fresh crop of weekly specials, dubbed “4 after 4.” While the game is played, the River North bar will feature specials after 4:00 p.m. like $4 Great Lakes drafts and Jameson drinks. Both pair perfectly with any of those wings that Jake Melnick’s is so famous for.

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Burger Thursdays at Johnny’s Grill

After you’ve had your fill of National Cheeseburger Day, keep the party going through the week at Johnny’s Grill, which just rolled out a new Burger Thursdays promo. The massively acclaimed burgers take the stage each week, courtesy of chef/owner Sarah Jordan, who will be creating different varieties every Thursday for the series. Available from 11:00 a.m. until close, guests can expect unique creations like the Lamburger made with olive spread, harissa yogurt, pickled shallots, and greens; the Freaky Tzatziki falafel burger with tomato, watercress, and cucumber; and the Jalapeño Business, beef sliders with caramelized onions and jalapeños.

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Teacher Appreciation at Baker & Nosh

With students back to school and teachers out in full force for the year, Baker & Nosh is giving back to the teaching community all month long, to show support for all their hard work. Through the rest of the month, the Uptown bakery and cafe is offering 15% discounts to teachers for the entire menu. They’ll probably need the coffee, so this comes in particularly handy.

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A hamburger (or cheeseburger when served with a slice of cheese) is a sandwich consisting of one or more cookedpatties of ground meat, usually beef, placed inside a sliced bread roll or bun. Hamburgers may be cooked in a variety of ways, including pan-frying, barbecuing, and flame-broiling. Hamburgers are often served with cheese, lettuce, tomato,bacon, onion, pickles, and condiments such as mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, and chiles.[1]

The term “burger” can also be applied to the meat patty on its own, especially in the UK where the term “patty” is rarely used. The term may be prefixed with the type of meat or meat substitute used, as in “turkey burger”, “bison burger”, or “veggie burger“.

Hamburgers are sold at fast-food restaurants, diners, and specialty and high-end restaurants (where burgers may sell for several times the cost of a fast-food burger). There are many international and regional variations of the hamburger.

Chicago’s Best and Brightest Crudite Plates

Chicago’s Best and Brightest Crudite Plates

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Chicago's Best and Brightest Crudite Plates ( Bar Marta)

Chicago’s Best and Brightest Crudite Plates ( Bar Marta)

 

Cafe Marie-Jeanne: Everybody loves sour cream and onion dip. At Cafe Marie-Jeanne, chef Mike Simmons freshens up the iconic party dip with a whole garden’s worth of fresh veggies. The housemade sour cream and onion dip, made with fresh cheese and creme fraiche, comes with whatever assorted items are in season at Green City Market items. On any given night, even during the same week, the roster of crudite provisions may be different. Examples include wild ferns, fennel frond, asparagus, turnip, radish and apple.

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Bar Marta: Cottage cheese has never been cooler than at Bar Marta. This Humboldt Park hot spot makes its own buttermilk cottage cheese as the crudite centerpiece for a beautiful melange of summer vegetables, from slivered summer squashes to cucumbers.

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barmarta_pressimage_071216-1

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Ēma: Brand new to River North’s restaurant scene, Ēma couldn’t have emerged at a better time. The Mediterranean-accented restaurant from CJ Jacobson features a variety of light and fresh creations, including a vegetable crudite served with za’atar-spiced hummus

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Stella Barra Pizzeria: Before you dig into Stella Barra’s famed pizzas, an apt starter would be the restaurant’s colorful crudite. Shaved radishes, cucumbers, carrots, jicama and sweet bell peppers are served with cauliflower hummus and arugula pesto, making for one of the best and brightest renditions in town.

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Acanto: Who says crudite can’t be decadent? One surefire way to up the comfort food factor with fresh vegetables is by serving them with parmigiana crema, like the version being served at Acanto. Along with a melange of tomatoes, carrots and radishes, the crema is accented with lemon oil and red pepper.

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Chop Shop: This Bucktown butcher shop/restaurant/bar may have a reputation for meat, but the kitchen is just as adept at seasonal vegetables. For instance, a smoked pea hummus crudite platter is just as alluring as Chop Shop’s famous charcuterie spreads, outfitted with assorted vegetables and flatbread pieces.

The Rise of Fine Casual Dining

The Rise of Fine Casual Dining

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Fine Casual Dining at Brown Bag Seafood

Fine Casual Dining at Brown Bag Seafood

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As of late, Chicago has welcomed a slate of restaurants that toe the line between fast casual and upscale dining. It’s a win-win situation for diners looking for affordable, quick food with an eye for design, detail, and quality. Here’s a roundup of some of Chicago’s best fine casual eateries.

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Borrowing inspiration from the coasts, Brown Bag Seafood brought a taste of the oceans to Lakeshore East, in a fast casual setting that serves to transport guests to the shores of the Atlantic and Pacific. The sunny, beachy counter-service spot features fish and seafood every which way, fresh as can be, from broiled or blackened to fried and crispy. Diners can order their fish in taco form, sandwich form, salad form, or platter. And while the food is pristine, the immaculate space is just as impressive, designed to replicate a dockside diner lined with provisions and nautical paraphernalia.

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All the way from South Africa comes Nando’s Peri-Peri, a rotisserie chicken concept that has rapidly caught fire in Chicago. The original location opened in the West Loop on Randolph Street, followed by locations in Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and soon the Loop. The ordering process may be casual, what with counter-service and all, but the food and beverages are anything but. Heaping platters of succulent chicken adjoined by savorous sides like mashed peas, flame-grilled corn, and Portuguese rice make for a wholly unique experience. To drink, there’s pitchers of sangria, plus beer and wine aplenty. The space is highly unique as well, resplendent in bright, warm colors indicative of South African landscapes.

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Stylish and zen, Glaze Teriyaki in Lakeview is a Seattle-style eatery hinged on Japanese-inspired proteins, salads, and sides. It’s a cuisine that harkens to the 1970’s, when Seattle saw a huge influx of Japanese and Korean immigrants, bringing their cooking techniques to the Pacific Northwest, where the finest ingredients were in ample supply. The dining room at this Lakeview eatery is bright, slick, and relaxing, with a concise menu of wholesome, sustainably sourced goods geared towards clean eating.

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Not too long ago, Chicago welcomed its first two locations of ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, the Southeast Asian-inspired restaurant from the folks behind Chipotle Mexican Grill. The customizable dining format is similar to that of Chipotle, but with an Asian accent and an emphasis on  noodles and rice dishes. Once diners choose their base, with options like jasmine rice, brown rice, chilled rice noodles, and salad, they can opt for proteins like grilled chicken satay, steak laab, pork and chicken meatballs, and organic tofu. Sauces like peanut sauce, green curry, spicy red curry, and tamarind vinaigrette lend a splash of flavor, along with garnishes and final touches of toasted rice, crushed peanuts, Thai chilies, or crispy garlic.

Weekly Planner: Mid-Autumn Festival at Shanghai Terrace

Weekly Planner: Mid-Autumn Festival at Shanghai Terrace, TWO Hosts CRUX, Late-summer Dining at Ampersand and More

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Festival at Shanghai Terrace

Festival at Shanghai Terrace

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Mid-Autumn Festival at Shanghai Terrace

Summer hasn’t even ended yet, but there’s a Mid-Autumn Festival taking place this week. Actually, it makes more sense when you consider the fact that it’s a Chinese festivity otherwise known as Moon Festival, and Shanghai Terrace is celebrating appropriately with a special showcase on September 15. The modern Chinese restaurant at The Peninsula Chicago will be selling mooncakes (round, adorable pastries filled with egg custard, made in-house by chef de cuisine Elmo Han) available for pickup. These mooncakes are as good as it gets in Chicago too. Han learned the precise recipe and formula from The Peninsula Hong Kong’s dim sum chef Yip Wing Wah, who developed them 30 years ago. Today, Shanghai Terrace has some of the most authentic versions, right down to the mold that Han picked up in Shanghai earlier this summer. Orders for mooncakes can be placed between now and September 15, either by phone or in-person. They cost $40 for a four-piece box or $78 for an eight-piece box. They’re also available on the menu at the restaurant for $8 a pop. The cakes can’t be shipped due to their delicate nature, so they need to be picked up in person

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CRUX Dinner in Chicago

Ever-roving, always-innovative CRUX is back in Chicago September 11 for a special dinner at TWO, as part of a four-leg Midwestern spree that’s taking chef Brandon Baltzley and his wife Laura-Higgins Baltzley to places like Detroit, Indianapolis and Columbus. Along with TWO’s host chef Kevin Cuddihee, other culinary names in tow are Jonathan Brooks and Kyle Paton of The Black Lodge and Grow Kitchen & Cafe in Ontario, Canada. There will be two seatings for the dinners, the first at 5:00 p.m. and the second at 8:00 p.m. Both begin with a cocktail hour featuring Virtue Cider, Rockmill Beer, or Middle West Spirits, followed by a five-course dinner. Tickets are $85 per person and can be purchased here.

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Two For Tuesday Tacos at Rojo Gusano’s Second Location

Another Tuesday, another taco. The second location of Rojo Gusano, which recently opened in Portage Park, is celebrating Taco Tuesday with a new weekly promo. Buy any of the restaurant’s killer tacos and receive the second of equal or lesser value for free. The tacos here are not to be missed, so it’s a great way to experience chef Dudley Nieto’s eclectic menu. Examples include a green curry shrimp taco and a charred butternut squash taco with farmers cheese.

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Music & Mimosas at Bohemian House

Brunch just got a lot more entertaining at Bohemian House. The River North restaurant just introduced “Music & Mimosas” during Saturday brunch, which features an acoustic performance from Carolyn Marcotte on September 10 from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. While listening to the music, guests are able to get their fill of the Build Your Own Mimosa bar and dishes like Bavarian pancakes, open-faced schnitzel sandwiches and lox & toast. The series is set to keep going through the fall, with performers to be announced closer to the dates.

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Late-summer Menu at Ampersand Wine Bar

Late-summer is one of the best times to dine, as seasonal ingredients are at their most vivid and abundant. This includes tomatoes, corn, eggplant, grapes, melons and much more. Celebrating the season in style, Ampersand Wine Bar just rolled out its latest menu, courtesy of executive chef Darren McGraw and chef de cuisine Tim Havidic. The menu starts with appetizers and salads like heirloom tomatoes with couscous salad and Burrata, and seared scallops with oxtail, chickpeas and red pepper jus. Heartier dishes and sides include braised beef cheeks with charred tomatillos and fresh corn pudding, roasted and marinated eggplant with baba ghanoush, cucumber and toasted pita, and sauteed sweet corn with kochujan butter and shaved Parmesan. For dessert, try the mille-feuille of caramelized puff pastry with summer berries and vanilla whipped cream, or the stone fruit tart with toasted granola and honey caramel yogurt.

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Tomatoes aplenty at Ampersand

Tomatoes aplenty at Ampersand

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Winemaker Event at Appellation

For the latest in Appellation’s ongoing wine events, Andrew Jones of Field Recordings is set to appear for a special winemaker event on September 16 from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Jones will be showcasing a special $20 flight from his winery, a personal library of the people and places he values the most. He’ll be on hand to meet-and-greet and discuss his wine selections for the evening. For more information, visit here.

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Pilot Light Partners With Between Bites

Two charitable organizations are joining forces on September 13, as Pilot Light partners with Between Bites for a special storytelling event. The former is an organization founded by several top Chicago chefs to empower children to develop a healthy relationship with food at school, while the latter is an ongoing culinary storytelling series that raises funds for different charitable organizations through its events. On September 13 at 7:00 p.m., the two team up for an evening of stories at The Hideout, featuring personal tales from the likes of Jason Hammel (Lula Cafe) and Joshua Kulp (Honey Butter Fried Chicken). The theme for the event is “Back to School,” which will weave its way through all the stories. Tickets are $40 and include heavy appetizers from Honey Butter, plus beer and wine. All proceeds go to Pilot Light and tickets can be purchased here. They’re cash only at the door.

Morton’s The Steakhouse Ups the Ante on Hospitality

Morton’s The Steakhouse

Morton’s The Steakhouse forges a new partnership with a downtown hotel
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Morton's The Steakhouse

Morton’s The Steakhouse

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With Chicago’s hotel scene at the best its ever been (and only getting hotter), one of the city’s most iconic steakhouses is getting in on the action with a new partnership. Morton’s The Steakhouse has been named the preferred dining partner for the Hampton Inn Chicago Downtown/N Loop/Michigan Ave hotel at 68 E. Wacker Place. This bodes well for travelers to downtown Chicago, and it’s sure to set a new standard for hotel dining.

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Located directly across the street from the Hampton Inn, Morton’s has signed on to cater all hotel property events, provide an exclusive bar bites menu in Jack’s Place, and deliver all in-room dining. Plus, the hotel will offer special dining rates for groups hosting holiday parties at the steakhouse.

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To celebrate the new partnership, Hampton Inn Chicago Downtown is offering new “City Escape Packages,” with rates starting at $209, which includes deluxe overnight accommodations in a king guest room with complimentary hot buffet breakfast, late checkout, and a $50 food and beverage credit at Morton’s.

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Morton’s The Steakhouse at Wacker Place is situated at the epicenter of some of Downtown Chicago’s most praised attractions and downtown inns. Strolling separation from the Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park and the Chicago Theater District, this steakhouse offers a great eating area for a business power lunch, after work beverages and little plate $5 Bar Bites, an extraordinary supper or even more than 4,000 square feet of private eating space in six private lounge areas.

Chicago Dessert

Chicago Dessert

Sweet of the Week column

Chicago Dessert @ Public House

Chicago Dessert @ Public House

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In the past, we’ve featured lots of Chicago desserts and confections, many of which have been highlighted in our ongoing Sweet of the Week column. But every once in a while, a dessert comes along that defies the norm, pushes the boundaries and commands attention well beyond the standard. Of late, that dessert is the brand new Cake Shakes at Public House.

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Cake shakes in general aren’t a complete novelty in and of themselves.Chicago desserts any Portillo’s fan can attest, cake-infused milkshakes are a special kind of comfort food. Even pie shakes and doughnut shakes have appeared in Chicago, in the form of Bang Bang Pie-infused custards at Shake Shack, and ones blended with Glazed & Infused doughnuts. But the cake shakes at Public House are on a whole new level.

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By smartly highlighting its proclivity for craft beer, River North’s Public House has whipped up an indulgent new boozy dessert option. The shakes are made with ice cream, beer, sprinkles, and an entire slice of cake as “garnish.” It’s basically the dessert version of one of those gigantic Bloody Marys garnished with skewered burgers and bacon.

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Chicago's Best Dessert @ Public House

Chicago’s Best Dessert @ Public House

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There are two flavors on deck to try, one made with chocolate porter beer, chocolate ice cream and a whopping wedge of fudgy chocolate cake. There’s also a Vanilla Stout version featuring JP’s Casper White Stout, vanilla ice cream, and a large slice of confetti buttercream cake.

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The game-changing new Chicago desserts are now available daily.

The West Loop is Chicago’s New Burger Capital

Chicago’s New Burger Capital

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The West Loop has never been beefier, as more and more hot burger options pop up throughout the neighborhood.

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The O.G.’s of the West Loop’s burger boom are Grange Hall Burger Bar and Au Cheval. The former is a modest, pastoral haven slinging homey fare you might expect to eat on an actual farm. It’s tranquil, sunny and wholesome, with food so fresh it actually feels healthy to polish off one of their beef burgers, though they have vegetarian and alternative options as well. Just down the block is the antithesis. Dark, loud, impossibly crowded, and often painfully difficult to get into, Au Cheval demands a lot from its customers. Including wait times that often clock around three hours. But once you’ve acquired a spot, the food makes it entirely worthwhile. This modern “diner” has a lot of indulgent food, including fried chicken and bologna sandwiches, but the single dish that catapulted Au Cheval into the national spotlight is its burger. This thing is a behemoth, stacked with double patties on insanely buttery buns. It’s bluntly beefy, rich, and bad for you in all the right ways. For quite a while now, Au Cheval has reigned handily as the leader of the burger pack in the West Loop, and the city at large for that matter. But that could all change, as the area experiences a massive shakeup of newcomers.

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Chief among those newcomers is The Loyalist, a casual neighborhood spot further west down Randolph from acclaimed husband-wife duo John Shields and Karen Urie Shields. With an upcoming fine dining spot Smyth still forthcoming on the second floor, The Loyalist makes for a nice and accessible foray into the West Loop dining scene for the couple, who recently moved back to Chicago from the East Coast. Here, the bill of fare is contemporary and highly elevated bar bites and shareable plates, along with burlier items like their namesake burger. Open mere weeks, the restaurant is already amassing substantial acclaim for their burger, and it’s easy to see why. Served on a toasted sesame seed bun, this thing is glorified Americana to the max, made with shaved onions, housemade American cheese, pickled cucumbers and onions and onion-infused mayo.

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Chicago's New Burger Capital (Au Cheval)

Chicago’s New Burger Capital (Au Cheval)

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Chicago's New Burger Capital (The Loyalist)

Chicago’s New Burger Capital (The Loyalist)

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Another new contender is Umami Burger, which added its second Chicago location on Randolph Street. Along with non-burger dishes like gochujang short rib sliders, Japanese wings and chicken sandwiches, Umami is really bringing their A game to the West Loop scene with this one. Exclusive to this location is the Monte Cristo burger, a behemoth of sweet and savory with vanilla custard-soaked fried buns, prosciutto, Gruyere fondue, powdered sugar, and a side of maple syrup. Of course, the heavy-hitting roster of beef and non-beef burgers are also available, like the signature Umami with Parmesan frico, shiitake mushroom, roasted tomato, caramelized onions and umami ketchup.

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Still to come are two big name burger spots honing in on the Fulton Market district a couple blocks north. Shake Shack is poised to open its fourth Chicagoland outpost (third in the city proper) on Morgan Street by Lake Street. This will be unique in that Shake Shack is the first quick service burger spot to land in the neighborhood, and considering the obsessive popularity of its other locations, this one should be a big hit. Then there’s Kuma’s Corner, the Avondale-based heavy metal-inspired burger joint popularized for their hulking and often controversial creations. For their third Chicago location, Kuma’s is looking to open inside the forthcoming Brooklyn Bowl, which is taking shape currently on Fulton across from The Publican.

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The West Loop has never been beefier.