My squeeze and I headed to Chicago for a quick trip to visit friends and check out Thom Yorke’s new project, Atoms for Peace. In my five years living there, I had the good fortune to encounter some amazing restaurants, big and small. We always hit up a couple of my old favorites when we come to town. This trip we even tried some that became instant NEW favorites.
Here’s a quick peek into our whirlwind weekend in Chicago, that kicked off with one of our favorites.
We pulled into the city around 6:30 p.m. Central Time and headed straight to Handlebar on North Avenue in Wicker Park. I had eaten there a handful of times during my time living there, including once for brunch with Daniel. Then on my last night in town, we went there for dinner. Until this weekend, neither of us has ordered anything different than we did that night, just over two years ago.
Handlebar, a restaurant and bar with a great back patio, has a menu full of vegetarian, vegan and seafood items, a great selection of interesting foreign and domestic beer, and one of the friendliest waitstaff’s I’ve ever encountered. Its name refers to the city’s bicycle messengers and cyclists it caters to.
Daniel’s standard is the Ground Nut Stew, which he said was a little off this time for some reason, but still delicious. It comes in a large bowl with brown rice and includes sweet potatoes, kale, peanuts, toasted coconut and zucchini.
Daniel so graciously allows me to sneak bites every time without stabbing me with his fork. See how happy he is waiting for its arrival? (And notice the beer in the left corner? That’s a ginger-infused beer from Left Hand Brewing Company. It was amazing.)
My standard is the Black Beans Maduro, a ridiculous mess of crispy plantains, rice, hot sauce, spicy black beans and deliciousness. I love, love, love it. BUT, considering the massive quantities of beans, rice and plantains I’ve consumed in the last few weeks, I decided to stray.
I ordered a special. I’m not sure exactly what was in it, because the waiter never came back to ask us if we wanted dessert. I was going to ask to see the menu, so I could spy on the back where the specials were. What I do know was that it was lemon risotto with asparagus, grilled tofu, a vinegary/pickly salad on top and an herb sauce/vinaigrette around the outside (I just couldn’t remember or figure out what herb was in it).
It was good, and definitely grew on me as the meal went on — but do we really want food to grow on us? It was good, but I just wouldn’t order it again. I can’t beat the Black Beans Maduro I guess!
I realize I never have pictures of myself on my blog (A: I’m always taking the pictures. B) Clearly I don’t belong on the other side of the camera. Can you sense the awkwardness?), but here I am about to dive in.
If you live there or are in town, check them out. Meat-eater or not, the food is GOOD and there are lots of choices. (And if you’re vegan/veg – you’re in luck! So many choices!) Take a look at their menu here.
By the time it was all said and done we were stuffed to the gills and ready to make it down to our friend’s new amazing pad in the South Loop and later to some hilarity that is Improv Olympic’s The Cupid Players. So, as often is the case, there was no room for dessert!