Friday, May 21, 2010

West Loop Nail & Spa

I don't usually review other vendors in Chicago but this one is so good I had to.  Plus it's located right in my neighborhood and I always like to get the word out about local businesses.  Not only are they convenient for me, they help my property values!

West Loop Nail & Spa is fantastic.  A mani/pedi is $35, $32 if you go Monday - Wednesday.  The place is brand new so everything is in good condition, neat, and clean.  The pedicure chairs are top notch and give a great back massage.  I've been several times and they've always done a great job.  My manicures from there have lasted nearly 12 days.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sushi Samba Rio

Sushi Samba Rio has a great brunch deal on Sunday mornings.  For $16 per person, you receive the choose of one item off the specialty, sandwich, or salad menus along with 3 mimosas, bloody marys, caipiroskas, or mocktails for those who want a non-alcoholic drink.  The mocktails are orange juice, tomato juice, or a berry smash.  Considering on the menu, each mimosa or bloody mary is $8, it's like I actually saved money by eating there.

A group of four of us went and tried four different dishes.  We were all thrilled with our choices.  Unfortunately, the service sucked.  I know brunch isn't the big tip maker of the day, but our server had a major attitude problem.  She also forgot our drinks and was slow with the others.  I've never been to dinner (only to the bar for cocktails) but I hope it's better.

For brunch we had the asian pear pancakes with maple syrup and fresh fruit compote, the cast iron baked eggs with roasted tomato, soft white polenta, manchego cheese, the eggs benedict with aji panca hollandaise, toasted brioche, and daikon sprouts, and the tuna and avocado salad with key lime, virgin olive oil, and micro chives.

This was fancy brunch food at a not fancy price.  I'll definitely be back to sit out on the patio on another Sunday morning.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ko Phi Phi - Sunset Bar

The Holiday Inn has a bar on the other side of the peninsula from the beach on a hill overlooking the sunset.  Perfect for a before dinner drink.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ko Phi Phi - Hotel

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Phi Phi Island.  The grounds were beautiful and very green.  They had a lovely pool, several open air bars, an open air restaurant right on the sand, and an additional restaurant.  All the bungalows had nice decks for reading and sunning.  It would have been a great place to spend several days if we had the time.

Tractor to get to the hotel from the dock
Bar/check-in area.  They have people waiting for you upon check-in as everyone arrives at one of two times a day when the ferry comes.
Pool area

Pool deck
The rooms were a little outdated.  Nothing terrible, they just felt like little cabins from the 1970s.  There aren't many choices to choose from on Ko Phi Phi.  That's good on one hand as it's pretty uninhabited.  It's also bad as there aren't very many choices.  The Holiday Inn is supposedly one of the nicest hotels on the island.

Hotel room

Nick is a camera genius so this bathroom was not nearly as nice as it looks in the picture

Another view of the hotel room

Beautiful deck

We ate at the hotel both nights as there was more rain and more rain.  One night we were basically stranded in the bar it was raining so hard and we couldn't get back to our room.  Worse things have happened except there was a singing group for entertainment that was so completely out of tune.  The first night we ate at the outdoor restaurant.  The second night we ate at the indoor restaurant.  Both were good although not outstanding.  However, Ko Phi Phi is not known for it's fine dining choices.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ko Phi Phi - Boat Tour

The one full day that we were in Ko Phi Phi we hired a longtail boat for several hours to take us around the island and to the smaller islands surrounding.  We hired our boat through the hotel but you can also hire through the sea gypsy village down the beach.  We started early to beat the crowds that daytrip from Phuket and Krabi.

We went to Maya Bay (where the movie The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed), Monkey Bay, Mosquito Island, Bamboo Island, and more.  We snorkeled, walked along the beach, and enjoyed sunning ourselves in the boat while flying through the water.  The snorkeling was awesome and the water was so clear.  If you are able to make it to Ko Phi Phi, renting a private boat is an absolute must-do.  It was one of my favorite things the whole trip.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ko Phi Phi - Beach

Our last stop in Thailand was the island of Ko Phi Phi.  Getting to Ko Phi Phi required a 45 minute transfer to Phuket Town, a 3 hour ferry ride, a transfer to a long tail boat, and then a quick tractor ride to our hotel.

Our only regret was that we didn't stay longer.  Two nights was not enough at all considering all the work to get there and back.  We picked the less occupied part of the island to stay on and it was gorgeous.  Quiet and deserted with a beautiful beach right outside our door.  Here's some pictures of the beach at our hotel.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Havana has moved into the old location of one of our favorite restaurants, Mambo Grill, on Clark Street.

My department at work went there on Cinco de Mayo because it was the closest place to the office that serves margaritas.  Cuban food will do.  I'm actually not sure what made this place Cuban versus Mexican versus just Latin.  There were tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and quesadillas on the menu which to me says Mexican.

This was a great place for lunch that's close enough to downtown that you can walk, yet far enough to get out of the crowds.  We were all very pleased with our lunches.  Prices were very reasonable at $8 or $9 for everything on the lunch menu.

The menu is very similar to the old Mambo Grill, just not quite as good in my opinion.  The chips came with a trio of salsas and guacamoles, just like Mambo Grill.  The dish I ordered for lunch came in a poblano cream sauce, just like my favorite Mambo Grill dish, yet not as amazing as the chicken dish.

Let's just call Havana Mambo Grill Lite.  It was a reasonable lunch option near the office but I won't put it at the top of my list to return to for dinner with all the other options in the neighborhood.