Posted by Krista on October 8, 2012
After my Big Shoulders experience the other day, I decided to check out the source of all Unicorn Blood — I mean Dark Matter Coffee — and try out the Star Lounge.
It’s an interesting space…it must have been a real bar at some point, but now it’s a coffee bar full of kids with Mac Book Airs mooching off the free wifi. This furthers my notion that what Chicago really needs is an Internet pub. A true pub with beer, but with lots of outlets and super fast wifi too. Anyone want to go in on this one with me?
The guy next to me was doing Bayesian equations. I was just drinking a cappuccino, staring off into space.
It was a good cappuccino. $4.25 worth of cappuccino Dark Matter is a fruity blend. Based on my limited experience, I currently like Big Shoulders better, but this will be determined by a repeat visit to Big Shoulders in, oh, about 15 minutes.
The Verdict: Good stuff. A little hot inside and the staff is a bit distant and slow. But an interesting experience nonetheless.
Posted in Chicago, Coffee, United States, West Town | 3 Comments
Posted by Krista on October 5, 2012
I gave up coffee for a while. But now I am back on the sauce. Especially now, TODAY. Because I’ve finally found decent replacements for my loves of London loves, Monmouth Coffee and Prufrock Coffee. My new Chicago loves are Dark Matter Coffee. And Big Shoulders Coffee. I’ll thank Wendy for Dark Matter — she laughed at one of my Starbucks trip one day and advised that I take myself to Do Rite for some Dark Matter. (They have a coffee called UNICORN BLOOD.) But I’ll give myself all the credit for “finding” Big Shoulders. (Not hard to find, right there at the corner of Chicago and Milwaukee.) I THINK I like Big Shoulders better. I think. But I will need some caffeine to decide for sure.
I particularly like the vibe at Big Shoulders. It’s all clean and neat and white, and they’ve got a big TV showing approaching train and bus times, which is awesome. You should go here. Take the bus!
P.S. I took this photo with my iPhone 5. It’s so awesome. I love it so much.
Posted in Chicago, Coffee, United States, West Town | 2 Comments
Posted by Krista on October 4, 2012
Does anyone really enjoy weighing themselves? I hope not. I have been forcing myself to do this more often. It’s painful. I hate it. I hate my scale and I hate exercising and I hate not eating carbs.
America has been bad to me. I don’t walk as much as I used to. The portion sizes are ridiculously huge, and everything is fried. I AM FRIED. I am tired and I am fried.
So I bought a new scale. Personal responsibility and all of that. And what I bought is the Fitbit Aria. You might remember I wrote about my love for my Fitbit pedometer recently. Well, now I have the scale too. So every morning, I wake up and I weigh myself and my weight and percentage body fat (!!!) automatically transmit to some big server in the sky somewhere and end up on Fitbit’s website.
And there is a reckoning.
I like the Fitbit Aria. A lot. If you too feel that America has made you fat, you should buy one. It’s not cheap — I got mine for $129 on Amazon — but right now, it’s worth it.
Posted in Miscellaneous, United States | 3 Comments
Posted by Krista on October 3, 2012
I live by this little taco stand. I used to walk by it and think it looked a little sketchy. But then one day when the taco cravings hit, I went in. And I had the tacos al pastor and they were so gosh darn wonderful that I think I ate them three times that week. I like the staff. I like the service. I like that they give you a real hunk of lime and not just a little sliver and that they use corn tortillas, not flour. The interior decor — what there is of it given that there are really only about eight stools — could use a lot of work, but lately, they’ve spruced up the outside, so that’s nice. Oh, and did I mention that, besides for being super delicious, Taqueria Traspasada is also super, super cheap?
The Verdict: You should go here. Like really.
The Question: Where are you favorite tacos?
Posted in Chicago, Mexican, United States, West Town | 2 Comments
Posted by Krista on October 2, 2012
I was all over the great state of Florida last month. Three hotels in three nights. It was a combination of vacation, phase one of my mom’s surgery, and what ended up being a bit of a travel nightmare because I got terribly ill and wasn’t allowed anywhere near my mother after her surgery.
It’s interesting, staying in three hotels in three nights. You notice things you might normally not once you get to the second hotel. And by the time you get to the third hotel, you’ve got a little bit of a routine going.
The first hotel, The Crowne Plaza Z Ocean in Miami Beach. I stayed here on points, and well, while many people might like it here, it just wasn’t for me. The staff was spacey — they checked me into someone else’s room and then they forgot to clean my room two days in a row — and the hallways were pretty dingy and knocked up. Plus, they had signs like this.
If you’re going to provide something that looks like a refrigerator, why not just make it a refrigerator?
Oh, and then this drove me crazy. The real refrigerator door opened one way, while the cabinet door opened the other way. Designed by a man, I’m sure. (Sorry, men.) Ah, and the bed has some sort of plastic wrap on it, and they forgot to give me toilet paper and one of the TVs didn’t work. Oh, and the front desk staff kept calling me “Honey.” Honey? SHUT IT.
Then, I flew to Gainesville, in northern Florida, during an electrical storm. On a super small plane. Everyone on the plane screamed in unison at one point. That wasn’t fun. But we survived, and I checked into the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center and it was pretty amazingly nice for a basic hotel. Check-in was seriously the fastest I’ve ever encountered, there was free wifi all over, and the restaurant served some pretty tasty (albeit not creative) food. My Uncle George said the burger he had in the bar was the best he’s ever had, and my Uncle George is 75 years old, so that means something to me. I was so ill at this point that all I did was sleep, so no pictures for you. Sorry! But I can tell you that the bath products were surprisingly nice, and the sheets were surprisingly soft.
After I was told to leave Gainesville, I had to find my way back to Orlando by myself. (My original plan was to head home with my mom to West Palm and take care of her for a few days. The doctors said NO WAY once they picked up on how sick I was.) I took a BUS to Orlando because it was cheaper than renting a car, and I was kinda excited about this because they promised free wifi on the bus. Well, there was no free wifi, and when I finally got to the bus depot in Orlando, there was a big sign that said, “We will not refund your ticket if the wifi didn”t work.” (Couldn’t get a photo.) Seriously people…if you have to make a sign that says that, doesn’t that tell you that THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG. And why do you put pictures of business people working on their laptops all over your buses if you can’t delivery on your branding? Red Coach USA, I am looking at YOU.
And then I found myself at the Hyatt Orlando Airport. The staff was amazingly cheerful and lovely, which I needed after all the planes, trains and automobiles. And MY ROOM OVERLOOKED THE RUNWAY, which was kinda awesome. (I love airports, remember.) Oh, and then the hotel is attached to the airport, so you could wander around the food court and shops which was fun for a while, until my cold medicine ran out. This is a super high volume property — you can tell. But the staff and the bits like the runway made it a star for me. Not a star? The $52 I spent on room service. Gah.
So…my trip to Florida didn’t turn out like anything I planned. I wish I had thought to load my iPad up with movies and stuff because I definitely spent a lot of time traveling around. And I wish I had brought more practical clothing than little sundresses because I was freezing half of the time on planes and buses. I also wish I had status on American Airlines because let me tell you — checking in at Miami Airport totally sucks. Actually, Miami Airport just totally sucks in general.
Let’s just say I’m glad to be home and I like my own bed!
Posted in Florida, Hotels | 1 Comment
Posted by Krista on October 1, 2012
I like gyros. 1994: me, Santorini, a moped, and $1 gyros for every meal. Good memories. (Bad memories: the ferry from Corfu to Santorini and the terrible chop and my terrible seasickness.) I like gyros so much, I can forgive a Chipotle knock-off. Because that’s what Covo, the new Greek fast food place in Wicker Park, is. A total and complete knock-off of a certain salty and popular Mexican assembly-line burrito chain. (Roti, the Mediterranean chain, also falls into this category, but their menu is a bit larger so it’s different. Sort of.) I mean honestly, it’s like Covo is NOT EVEN TRYING TO HIDE IT.
I can forgive Covo the Copycat because I’ve been jonesing for a gyro these last few months. Covo is cheap, it’s fast, it’s pretty good, and they use an iPad for their cash register. Oh, and they use Square Up for transactions, so you don’t need to be carrying around a wallet full of those pesky “Buy 10 get one free” cards. And, well, I kinda want to steal their lighting. (Are you sensing a theme here?)
Oh–and the sparkling white wine they have on offer! Now that’s new and different!
The Verdict: Good. Get the wine! Covet the lighting.
Posted in Chicago, Greek, United States, Wicker Park | 1 Comment
Posted by Krista on September 29, 2012
I love tortilla soup. And my new iPhone 5 which let me take this awesome photo of tortilla soup while I was at a pretty average sports bar in Ravenswood in Chicago last weekend.
That’s the thing with tortilla soup. I’ve NEVER had a bad bowl, even at the crappiest of crappy sports bars. It’s seemingly impossible to get wrong. Why is that? Chicken broth, shredded chicken, diced tomatoes, old dried-out tortillas, maybe some black beans…they all come together in some glorious sludge that I could happily drown in.
Someone throw me an avocado and a lime. I’ll be a while.
I had my tortilla soup at Brownstone in Chicago. It’s fine if you like to watch sports on TV.
Posted in Chicago, Mexican, United States | 3 Comments
Posted by Krista on September 27, 2012
I’ve been eating a lot of tacos lately.
A lot. (Non sequitor: Two words, people. TWO WORDS.)
And especially, the fish tacos at Antique Taco in Chicago. OK, sure, Antique Taco is a little hipster. But I TOTALLY want to steal all their cloth napkins. Like all of them.
Yo, it’s the fish tacos. With spicy, creamy tartar. I want corn tortillas, not flour. But this particular over-aging hipster, she can deal.
Corn salad!!! Corn salad, corn salad. This is the type of dish that makes me feel slothy. Because shurely I could make this. But I don’t. So I go to Antique Taco once a week and I eat it there. And I give thanks.
And contemplate and stare at their napkins. Like really, literally stare.
The Verdict: Go, you little hipster you! Go!
Posted in Chicago, Mexican, United States, Wicker Park | 5 Comments
Posted by Krista on September 12, 2012
Yes, I’m alive. Funny, I was reading this blog post yesterday — another tiring post on “How to Start a Food Blog” by a successful blogging couple with an exhausting amount of energy — and one of their “suggestions” is “You have to publish high quality content every single day.”
Well, good luck with that. (And this coming from someone in the old days who published five days a week, pretty consistently.) I’ll post when I post and when I want to post, and if you read it, that’s great. And if you don’t, well, I hope you were doing something fun otherwise.
Because frankly speaking, I AM EXHAUSTED. I should have blogged from the road last week while I was playing planes, trains, and automobiles all over the Great State of Florida. Because it was truly amazing, how much geography I covered, and how really, I NEVER GOT ANYWHERE. If you ever thought “Oh TRAVEL IS JUST SO GLAMOROUS,” you would have enjoyed my stay at the Orlando Airport Hyatt while I waited for my flight to Chicago the next day.
Sorry for the shouty caps.
Let’s talk about the Jibarito instead. It’s a Chicago invention! But it’s Puerto Rican! It uses FRIED GREEN PLANTAINS instead of BREAD. It’s full of garlicky mayo. AND STEAK. And it cost me $7 at a small, clean family run restaurant called Papa Cache Sabroso in Chicago’s Humboldt Park.
And it was good. Good, not great. But good. (The steak was a little tough and there could have been more of it.) Oddly, what was really good was the side of garlic bread that came with my sandwich. Very garlicky.
What I really want to do is go back to Papa Cache’s for their roast chicken. It’s supposed to be fab. It looked fab. I’m trying to get out more, explore more, you know…instead of sitting home and writing blog posts…so I hope to be back soon.
Posted in Chicago, Humboldt Park, Puerto Rican, United States | 6 Comments
Posted by Krista on August 13, 2012
Gourmet donuts, gourmet donuts. I feel like it’s still five years ago, but that’s fine. I’ll eat the gourmet donuts. I’ll play along. Even though I’m really not supposed to be eating carbs these days.
So first I went to Glazed & Infused. A good excuse for a nice walk. And I ordered my donut, a coconut one, and it was freaking $3.05. What has happened to the world when a DONUT is $3.05? It was, in my opinion, dry and uninspiring. And it was a honker. Plus there a certain smug-hipster vibe about the entire experience. And no sneeze guards. Now, let me be clear. I went to the window. I did not go inside. I think things are different inside. But really, I don’t want to pay $3.05 FOR A DONUT. The Verdict: MEH. 1533 N. Damen
And then I went to Do Rite Donuts downtown. And in contrast, the staff were perky, the sneeze guards were present, and the donuts were CHEAP. I remember it was south of $2.00. $1.67 maybe? And it was MOIST. Delicious. Sadly, I cannot remember what sort of taste it had (hey, I never professed to be professional about this), but I remember thinking “Better price, better quality than that other place up north. I’ll come back here.) The Verdict: Good. Do Rite is at 50 W Randolph.
So on Twitter, when I talked about this, everyone told me that I really needed to go to the Donut Vault. Once my bike is tuned up, I’ll be heading that way. Watch for it.
Posted in Bucktown, Chicago, Desserts & Sweets, Loop | 2 Comments
Posted by Krista on June 23, 2012
Ohh controversy. I’m about to tell you that I’ve had some pretty underwhelming and crap food in Chicago lately. I’ll take the blame. I just showed up; I didn’t do any research. I just went where I was told to go and ate the food that was put in front of me. A lot of people eat like this.
But it was all crap. Crappity crap crap crap. One of the photos I’m about to post might make you lose your faith in humanity. Who does this to food? WHO? And why do we, people who live in this land of plenty, why why why do we insist on putting this processed, greasy shit into our bodies?
America, if you wonder why we’re all lard-asses, you need look no further than the nachos at John Barleycorn’s in Wrigleyville. (Look away! Look away!)
In the immortal words of Mr. Gordon Ramsay, “FUCK ME.”
Then I went to Heaven on Seven, a Chicago classic. (The original Wabash location.) I am not an expert on Canjun food whatsoever, but My fried catfish po’ boy was dry and underwhelming, and my gumbo was a cup of indeterminate brown sludge and white rice. (I checked out many gumbo images and couldn’t find anything that looked like what I had. Although I did not take a photo myself, my gumbo looked just like this one on Flickr .) What I remember most about Heaven on Seven though is how my feet stuck to the floor and my elbows stuck to the table. I am a fan of peanuts on the floor at any fine establishment but…
I did like the display of hot sauces though.
And then…pizza at Pizza Serio on Belmont in West Lakeview. While not offensive or terrible, the soft floppy crust and the mess it made of our various toppings left me depressed, when I had been so very excited about their brick oven. Also problematic: our server was largely missing for most of our meal.
So given these three meals plus a myriad of others (La Pasadita, anyone?) I’m in a funk about food and Chicago at the moment, especially after returning from a week in London where each meal was better than the next, at all points along the price spectrum. Maybe I need to get out more. Maybe I need to make better choices and do more research. Maybe it’s the economy or maybe I need to find new friends! I don’t know what it is. But something’s not right. And putting cheese and salt on it isn’t helping.
Someone, help me redeem these meals. Please.
Posted in Chicago, Lakeview, Loop, United States | 7 Comments
Posted by Krista on May 16, 2012
There. I’ve said it. I could happily eat falafel all day, every day. I don’t know why. I just like it. Texture? Hummus? Hot sauce? Yes.
I was lucky today. I had an errand to run and the shopkeeper told me to come back in 30 minutes. So I went in search of tacos to kill some time. I thought for sure I’d find tacos somewhere.
But instead I found Chickpea, just west of Damen on Chicago Ave. So I paid $4 (!!!) and had the best falafel I’ve had since Hoxton Beach on Whitecross Street in London. And that’s saying a lot because Hoxton Beach is sort of awesome.
The vibe at Chickpea was pretty great too. All old action movie posters, in Arabic. And cool dangly lights. I liked it. I think you will too.
The Verdict: Go!
Posted in Chicago, Middle Eastern, Ukrainian Village, United States, West Town | 2 Comments