Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I'm a naughty girl

I should stop reading travel blogs. Every time I see a good last minute deal from Chicago I want to book immediately. Today's close call? Flights for $500 to Venice for the weekend. I'd only have to take 1.5 days off of work! I started itching to book. Luckily we're hosting a party this weekend at Casa HaveShoes so I wasn't too tempted. I will admit there was one minute that I thought hell let's go to Italy and cancel the party.

We already cancelled a weekend trip this past month because I was overwhelmed with grad school and we thought The Husband would be travelling for work and I just found out a trip I was planning for a bachelorette party in June was cancelled.

I can't believe I have to wait until July to go somewhere when I'll be headed to Colorado for a friend's wedding.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Art Institute of Chicago

The new Renzo Piano designed modern wing of the Art Institute has it's official opening this weekend on Saturday, May 16. To celebrate, the Art Institute is offering free admission May 16 - May 22. After that, the current admission price jumps from $12 to an outrageous $18. Free admission is still available on Thursday from 5-8 pm and in the summer Fridays are also free from 5-8 pm. Residents of the City of Chicago should check out the Chicago Public Library museum passes available free of charge at your local library that allow free admission to Chicago museums.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Score for a SF Hotel

Being the stalker of travel deals that I am, I was searching expedia for a better deal on our hotel for Labor Day weekend. I found a room at Le Meridien for $90 per night. When I went to the website to book I found they have a Lowest Price Guarantee. If the price I get on their website is less than a price offered somewhere else they will match the price plus give you a 10% discount off of the low price. You can also elect to get 2000 Starwood points instead of an additional 10% off. So we will be paying $81/night plus tax for a total of about $281 for 3 nights in an extremely expensive city.

El Barco

I went to El Barco (corner of Cortez & Ashland) last week for a friend's birthday. It's a fairly small place and they managed to squeeze our party of 14 in fairly quickly with two tables right next to each other. It also happened to be Cinco de Mayo.

We started with some hard taco shells and three different salsas. Damn was the salsa spicy. Do not try it unless you have a glass of water in front of you.

Most people at our table split the margarita pitchers which were a great deal. Since I don't like tequila I went with a strawberry daiquiri. It was monster-sized and strong. Driving afterwards not recommended. Take the bus home.

I had the carne asada tostados for dinner. A little messy but excellent. A lot of cheese on them (I hate when places are stingy with cheese). The steak was delicious though. I highly recommend.

El Barco is known for their seafood and everyone who ordered it said it was excellent.

The only downside was service was pretty slow and they messed up our bill at the end but I'd still return.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Vivo is another favorite restaurant of ours, partly because of it's close proximity to our condo and our ability to walk there. We went again this past Saturday.

We had a little bit of a wait on Saturday night and the manager got us a free round of drinks. Score.

The main reason I go to Vivo is for their fresh mozzarella. It's the best I've had outside of Italy and I think I've tried it at every restaurant I've been to. Their Caprese salad is delicious and made with sun-dried tomatoes.

The second reason I go is the bellinis. I'm a sucker for any drink made with champagne and this one is perfect. Not too sweet.

I typically order either the Gnochi Gratinati or the sea scallops. Both delicious. The Husband orders Rigatoni alla Butara which is rigatoni in a goat cheese tomato sauce with Italian sausage and cheese. What can I say, we're creatures of habit.

Also, we love the atmosphere. It's small and intimate with brick walls, modern without being too hip.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cafe BaBaReeba

Cafe BaBaReeba is one of my favorite restaurants and we are frequent visitors. I really can't recommend it enough. We went again last weekend when my inlaws were in town.

They offer several different types of sangria, passion fruit, sparkling cava, and black raspberry. The cava was the best followed by the black raspberry. The passion fruit was a little too sweet.

Some of our favorite tapas are the baked goat cheese, rioja short ribs, beef tenderloin medallions (our absolute favorite), baked crab & shrimp dip, and the cheese plate.

Because drinks are pretty cheap ($18-20/pitcher of sangria which is plenty for 2), the bill is never too high either.

Greek Town and Little Italy

The Husband and I continued with our walks in the neighborhoods of Chicago today with two neighborhoods that are close to us - Greek Town and Little Italy. Unfortunately not much remains of the ethnic part of these neighborhoods except for a handful of restaurants but it was still a nice walk and we got some good pictures.

Old Town & Michigan Avenue Sculpture

A few pictures of the Michigan Avenue Sculpture with the tulips finally in bloom...

And some pictures from Old Town since we forgot our camera last time we were there...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Randolph Wine Cellars

I realized I've been slacking with my restaurant reviews and with my blog in general. Unfortunately I haven't had my camera with me to take pictures of the food as nearly all my recent dining out experiences have been last minute and unexpected. And I desperately need a new camera since mine is 5 years old!

The in-laws were in town. The Husband desperately wanted to grab at drink at Market, a new bar in our neighborhood with a sports theme. Market is owned by one of the players on the Chicago White Sox. I won't pretend to know who any of them are. It has a beer garden on the ground level next to it and a roof top lounge area that is supposed to have cabanas and a great view of the city. Plus I checked out their menu online and they have a whole section devoted to fizzy bubbly champagne drinks. Sign me up! This was Market's first weekend to be open however when we stopped by we found out they hadn't gotten their liquor license yet but were only serving food. Heck no, I need my Friday evening cocktail. On the way home we saw people carrying cases of Miller Lite and PBR outside so I'm guessing it was BYOB for now. Although why you'd want to BYOB to a bar is beyond me.

So we headed down to Randolph Wine Cellars. Their top floor has a nice view of the city. Since it was only about 5:15, the place was empty. (We were on old people time since we were with The Husband's parents). We were the only ones on the top floor for a while, even though a large number of tables had been reserved. Definitely make a reservation if you're going later in the evening. What I love about this place is the wine flights. For some reason I just love wine flights. You can also order small tasting portions for $3 or $4 of wines instead of a glass and make your own flight. I had the champagne flight and was very happy with it. Everyone else seemed to like their flights too.

I think their menu changed from last time and not for the better. Last time I was there they had more appetizer platter choices which were perfect to pair with the wine if you weren't there for a meal. A lot of cheese plates and charcuterie plates. The five of us shared the Piave Cheese Fondue and enjoyed it though. They had a nice selection of dipping things such as chicken, several kinds of bread, red peppers, and potatoes. You can also order a full meal there but I like it best for drinks and snacks.