Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Recent Chicago Restaurant Visits: Brunch & Lunch Edition

A lazy lunch or brunch is one of my favorite weekend activities. I think it feels particularly special since you have such a limited window to take advantage of it-- only on weekends and when you live in Chicago, really for only a few months of the year. I'm not usually psyched up to walk out for pancakes in our frigid January weather. Now that things are warming up in Chicago, we are brunching more frequently and I have a lot of new restaurant mini-reviews to share with you.

Butcher & the Burger
Lincoln Park

I have heard great things about this place for ever and have been wanting to try it, but we don't get to the Armitage area all that often. Butcher & the Burger is a casual old fashioned burger bar. The restaurant is small, but the atmosphere is really cute. More importantly, the burgers are fresh and the ingredients are high quality. I was happy to see bison burgers, goat cheese, and caramelized onions-- three of my favorite ingredients-- on the menu here. Alex had a traditional hamburger topped with bacon and BBQ and we both managed to polish them off pretty quickly. The burgers are served on little wooden cutting boards and-- at least when we were there-- the staff was singing along to some hits from the 80's, which I loved.
Butcher & The Burger on Urbanspoon

Wafel
Fulton River District

Wafel is a welcome addition to the neighborhood! I've been dying for a fun breakfast place aside from the standard coffee and doughnut chains around us and this fits the bill. They call it a "fold and go" waffle place-- perfectly cooked Belgian waffles are folded in half (imagine a waffle taco) and stuffed with a variety of different filling options-- both savory and sweet. And they have options for breakfast, for lunch and dinner, and for dessert. Alex tried a waffle filled with strawberry jelly while I had one stuffed with homemade pastry cream and blueberries. Everything was really fresh and delicious.
Wafel on Urbanspoon

Meli Cafe & Juice Bar
River North

This is one of my favorite brunch spots in the city. The menu is huge so I order something different every time I go and I am never disappointed. On this last visit I ordered the breakfast burrito which was enormous, spicy, and full of flavor. I have also had some amazing egg dishes here-- one with chicken sausage and apples and another with pancetta and figs. Perfect flavor combinations. Alex is a creature of habit and orders their crepes every time. He loves them!
Meli Cafe on Urbanspoon

The Goddess & Grocer
River North

G & G is a great little gourmet cafe and deli with a few locations around the city. They finally opened one in River North and we recently stopped in for a lazy breakfast. The menu here is simple-- mostly breakfast sandwiches, but everything is made fresh with really high quality ingredients. We have stopped in before for baked goods or snacks, but this was our first meal at Goddess. For the first time in history, Alex and I ordered the same meal: a flaky toasted croissant sandwich filled with scrambled eggs, roasted tomatoes, melty mozzarella, and bacon. Unbelievable. I'm thinking about it as I write this and I want another one. 
The Goddess and the Grocer on Urbanspoon

NYC Bagel Deli
River North

It's so lame that I am writing about a bagel deli, but really, I love this place. NYCBD makes great bagels and really great bagel sandwiches. I'm a lifelong tuna salad lover and NYCBD's lite tuna salad is one of my favorites. I'm not sure how "lite" it is, but it's great with veggies on a wheat bagel. And they also serve those delicious huge garlicky dill pickles alongside. Alex isn't a bagel lover, but he loves some pizza and the NYCBD in River North serves New York style slices too.
NYC Bagel Deli on Urbanspoon

Beaver's Coffee + Donuts
West Loop

I know I have mentioned that I'm not really a donut fan, which seems like a lie since I have also told you about a few great donut joints around Chicago. Well, here's another! Beaver's is in the French Market and they have a fun take on the typical donut shop: They serve fresh mini donuts with your choice of traditional or gourmet toppings. I love that they move beyond the regular powdered sugar or chocolate frosting here. We tried the Reese's (chocolate and peanut butter sauces) and Strawberry Bella (strawberry sauce and graham cracker crumbs). Both were tasty and the donuts were light and fresh and didn't leave me feeling heavy like a donut usually does.
Beavers Donuts on Urbanspoon
West End
West Loop

West End is a fun neighborhood bar in the West Loop. We love going there for drinks and appetizers on summer nights and have rung in the New Year here too. I love that it's off the beaten path-- further out on West Madison-- so it feels like a real neighborhood bar. Recently, Alex and I stopped in on a Sunday afternoon to find that it was surprisingly crowded with locals enjoying a leisurely weekend brunch. I love a good mimosa on a Sunday and I love them even more when they are made with a can of mini Sofia. It's just so cute! And the roasted vegetable pizza with manchego cheese? Surprisingly delicious!
West End Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

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