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First Taste: Shake Shack vs. Umami Burger

First Taste: Shake Shack vs. Umami Burger


First Taste: Shake Shack vs. Umami Burger

First Taste: Shake Shack vs. Umami Burger

First Taste: Shake Shack vs. Umami Burger



A lot of people have been buzzing lately about the forthcoming Batman vs. Superman movie, which has been filming around town in Chicago, amassing fanfare. But let’s be real. The rivalry we’re all actually interested in has less to do with spandex superheroes and more to do with ground beef. While comic book titans duke it out on the streets of Gotham or whatever, Umami Burger and Shake Shack are grappling for our appetites and our love. The two burger juggernauts, based in Los Angeles and New York City respectively, both recently set up shop with their inaugural Chicago locations (both with more to come). But which one has what it takes to reign supreme in our fair city? Let’s investigate.……………CONTINUE:

Happy Chino Milkshake at Mercadito Counter: Sweet of the Week

Happy Chino Milkshake:

(Happy Chino milkshake at Mercadito Counter)

(Happy Chino milkshake at Mercadito Counter)



If there’s one ingredient I’m passionate about, it’s (aptly) passion fruit. There’s just something about the tangy-sweet, rainbow-bright fruit that’s irresistible to me. If I see it on a menu, I’m likely to order it. Not many ingredients can boast such influence over my life. The only unfortunate thing is that, since I don’t live in Hawaii, passion fruit dishes and drinks are woefully rare compared to many other things. And when they are available, it’s typically in the same formulaic types of preparations. All this being said, you can imagine my jaw-hitting-the-floor moment of glee when I discovered Mercadito Counter had passion fruit milkshakes whimsically dubbed Happy Chinos. One thick sip and you’ll be happy as well……………CONTINUE:




  1. Passion fruit
  2. Passiflora edulis is a vine species of passion flower that is native to Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina. Its common names include passion fruit, passionfruit, and purple granadilla. Wikipedia


Primehouse Bar Bakes Up Holiday Market

Primehouse Bar:


Primehouse Bar Bakes Up Holiday Market

Tis the season for a lot of things. ‘Tis the season for egg nog. ‘Tis the season for shopping. ‘Tis the season for family. ‘Tis the season for the term “’tis the season.” Also, it’s the season for holiday markets, a glimmering beacon of hope and excitement amidst the stressful fray of family get-togethers, home cooking, and Black Fridaying. And no better holiday market than one oriented around desserts.

Jove T. Hubbard, executive pastry chef of David Burke’s Primehouse and gentleman whose name sounds like he should be a Clue character, has conceptualized a crafty new holiday market this season, running weekly from November 29 through December 20. Unlike many holiday markets filled with gaudy trinkets, this one is focused right where it should be: on sweets. The impending holiday market at Primehouse Bar serves as a showcase for Hubbard’s most adored holiday confections, each one directly inspired by holiday dessert memories and recipes……CONTINUE:




To-go Thanksgiving Dining Guide

To-go Thanksgiving Dining Guide:

To-go Thanksgiving Dining Guide at Shaws Crab House

To-go Thanksgiving Dining Guide at Shaws Crab House

OK OK OK. Despite restaurants being open and serving Thanksgiving dinner, it’s true that Thanksgiving is a homey holiday ideally spent around a home dining table with family members. We feel you. So if going out to dinner is not something you’d enjoy for some soul-sucking reason, you can still enjoy a restaurant-caliber meal at home thanks to a bevy of takeout and catering options. Here are a few top picks this year……CONTINUE:


Strong Cheeses: Exploring The Scale of

Strong Cheeses:


Exploring The Scale of Strong Cheeses

The Scale of Strong Cheeses



Strong Cheeses:

Strong Cheeses: Like wine, the world of cheese can be an intimidating and confusing one for neophytes. With so many variables that run the gamut from flavor to texture, customers shopping for or ordering cheese may feel a bit in over their head. And understandably so. That’s why you need a reputable, whip-smart shop like Lush Wine and Spirits to help you navigate the cheesy seas. Herewith, Chicago’s preeminent wine and cheese shop shares their definitive guide to cheeses by strength. Ranked from mildest to stinkiest, Lush also recommends starting with hard cheese and finishing with softer cheeses, seeing as softer and creamier versions tend to coat and overwhelm the palate. With each cheese below, the shop lists recommended beer and wine pairings……CONTINUE:

According to ancient records passed down through the centuries, the making of cheese dates back more than 4,000 years.

No one really knows who made the first cheese. According to an ancient legend, it was made accidentally by an Arabian merchant who put his supply of milk into a pouch made from a sheep’s stomach, as he set out on a day’s journey across the desert. The rennet in the lining of the pouch, combined with the heat of the sun, caused the milk to separate into curd and whey. That night he found that the whey satisfied his thirst, and the cheese (curd) had a delightful flavor which satisfied his hunger.

Travelers from Asia are believed to have brought the art of cheesemaking to Europe. In fact, cheese was made in many parts of the Roman Empire when it was at its height. The Romans, in turn, introduced cheesemaking to England. During the Middle Ages-from the decline of the Roman Empire until the discovery of America-cheese was made and improved by the monks in the monasteries of Europe. For example, Gorgonzola was made in the Po Valley in Italy in 879 A.D., and Italy became the cheesemaking center of Europe during the 10th Century. Roquefort was also mentioned in the ancient records of the monastery at Conques, France as early as 1070.

Thanksgiving Dining Guide 2014

Thanksgiving Dining:  Guide 2014


Thanksgiving Dining at Jake Melnick's

Thanksgiving Dining at Jake Melnick’s

Thanksgiving Dining: Where to dine out in Chicago restaurants this Thanksgiving.
Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap: If “tipsy turkey platters” sound like things you’d like to eat on Thanksgiving, head to Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap for a casual alternative to the overwrought holiday spread. Available from 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. on November 27, the platters contain beer-brined smoked turkey, country-style peppercorn gravy, and cornbread muffins, with sides such as roasted garlic mashed potatoes, bourbon-glazed carrots, and cornbread stuffing. There’s also pecan pie with bourbon maple whipped cream on hand, because you need that. To drink, Jake’s will be pouring out New Belgium Brewery’s Pumkick and cranberry-spiced sangria. Additionally, Jake Melnick’s November burger of the month is dubbed the Holiday Turkey Burger, a behemoth of turkey patty, cornbread stuffing, cranberry relish, and rosemary mayo on a brioche bun. Be thankful.


Margarita Monday, Meat + Drink Night Sauced Night Market: Weekday Planner

Margarita Monday: Mangalitsa Pig Dinner

Margarita Monday

Margarita Monday

Dining Chicago Weekday Planner: Weekday food and drink planner for Chicago: November 17-21.


Margarita Mondays

Margaritas are a fine way to kick off the week in a non-depressing way. While you’re waiting for Taco Tuesdays, indulge in Margarita Mondays at Tallboy Taco every Monday this month. Available from……CONTINUE:


The margarita is a cocktail consisting of tequila, triple sec (such as Cointreau) and lime or lemon juice, often served with salt on the rim of the glass. It is the most common tequila-based cocktail in the United States. The drink is served shaken with ice (on the rocks), blended with ice (frozen margarita), or without ice (straight up). Although it has become acceptable to serve a margarita in a wide variety of glass types, ranging from martini and wine glasses to pint glasses and even large schooners, the drink is traditionally served in the eponymous margarita glass, a stepped-diameter variant of a cocktail glass or champagne coupe somewhat resembling an inverted sombrero.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Tequila (Spanish pronunciation: [teˈkila]) is a regional specific name for a distilled beverage made from the blue agaveplant, primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila, 65 km (40 mi) northwest of Guadalajara, and in the highlands (Los Altos) of the north western Mexican state of Jalisco. Although tequila is a kind of mezcal, modern tequila differs somewhat in the method of its production, in the use of only blue agave plants, as well as in its regional specificity.

The red volcanic soil in the surrounding region is particularly well suited to the growing of the blue agave, and more than 300 million of the plants are harvested there each year.[1] Agave tequila grows differently depending on the region. Blue agaves grown in the highlands region are larger in size and sweeter in aroma and taste. Agaves harvested in the lowlands, on the other hand, have a more herbaceous fragrance and flavor.[2]

Mexican laws state that tequila can be produced only in the state of Jalisco and limited regions in the states ofGuanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas.[3] The United States officially recognizes that spirits called “tequila” can only be produced in Mexico, although by agreement bulk amounts can be shipped to be bottled in the U.S.[4]

Tequila is most often made at a 38–40% alcohol content (76–80 proof), but can be produced between 31 and 55% alcohol content (62 and 110 proof).[5]

The Dawson and Parson’s Chicken and Fish: Brunch Bites

The Dawson:

(The Smokehouse Bloody Mary at The Dawson)

(The Smokehouse Bloody Mary at The Dawson. Photo: Nicole Ess)


Brunch is a booming business in Chicago, and it can be hard to navigate the ins and outs, especially when so many strollers are blocking the way. Each week we highlight some of the most notable brunch news and dining happenings around town. Here are your latest brunch bites.



In this week’s batch of brunch bites, Parson’s Chicken & Fish makes brunch a daily option and The Dawson pours out a mean (and meaty) Bloody Mary.

In case all that wasn’t an ample dose of cold-weather comfort, head to The Dawson for a burly Bloody. One of the city’s most impressive brunch libations, the Smokehouse Bloody Mary at The Dawson is a thing of beauty, poised and ready to thwart any and all hangovers and seasonal woes. Far beyond the typical Bloody Mary fixins, this one is infused with liquid smoke made from smoked meat drippings, which are combined with vodka and The Dawson’s house Bloody Mary mix. It’s all capped off with house-smoked brisket, cheddar, pickled onion, and jalapeno. Altogether, it tastes like a weekend trip to Austin, Texas, and that’s a very good thing.



The sad news:……CONTINUE:

Italian Edition: Weekend Planner

Italian Edition:

Italian Edition: Weekend Planner: (Panettone and pandora at Eataly)

Italian Edition: Weekend Planner:
(Panettone and pandora at Eataly)

Weekend Planner November 14-16: No matter the time of year, there is always lots to do, eat, and drink in Chicago. Here are some of the hottest happenings this weekend.



Eat Panettone at Eataly

Starbucks cups have morphed red, so you know it’s officially holiday season. And along with eggnog and gingerbread and excess family time, that also means panettone, Italy’s wonderful “fruitcake” that makes American fruitcake taste like doorstops. In honor of the panettone season, Eataly is filling up its shelves with varieties of the dessert bread, each one emblazoned in illustrious gift boxes perfect for giving. Not only is now an apt time to go wild at Eataly, but the store is offering vouchers for $15 off future purchases of $50 or more in the month of January when guests purchase panettone or pandoro between November 8 and December 31.

Eat Truffles at Davanti Enoteca


Travel to Tuscany for Sunday Supper

First Taste: El Metro

El Metro:

First Taste: (Tacos at El Metro)

(Tacos at El Metro)

El Metro brings yet another taco option to the tortilla-packed Wicker Park/Ukrainian Village/West Town area.

In the Ukrainian Village area, taco spots are about as prominent as beards and ironic plaid. Good news for me, since I could live off tacos and if there was some sort of taco equivalent for a Willy Wonka-type factory, I’d be the first one in line to break into the factory and fall into a waterfall of tomatillo salsa. But I digress. The recent opening of El Metro at the corner of Chicago and Damen adds yet another taco option to the local fray. It’s a risky endeavor in that if not executed properly, the restaurant could quickly disappear off the wayside, losing luster to more deserving options nearby. But El Metro manages to succeed in more ways than one……….……CONTINUE: