Carnivale is the best Central American food I've had to date. The atmosphere is fun and flamboyant, from the vibrant decor to the music being played. The drinks are bright & potent. I've had an array of food choices here & none have disappointed.
*Some days you can catch live music, samba dancers & aerial performances.
The Capital Grille is a dimly lit, quiet atmosphere adorned with equestrian and stallion pieces mounted on the wall. The food is expensive but it's worth every penny. My personal favorites were the seared tenderloins with lobster, paired with Parmesan truffle fries, Lobster Mac & Cheese.
Geja's Cafe is a ritzy yet low-key version of The Melting Pot. Disclaimer: You prepare your own food! The atmosphere is very intimate with it's candle-lit centerpieces & low lighting. My favorite choice here is the Geja's Prince Premier dinner that includes: beef tenderloin, lobster, shrimp, gulf shrimp, sea scallops & chicken breasts. All Premier dinners include assorted vegetables and fondue based desserts. I've been here several times, and it's a wonderful experience each time.
Located in the heart of downtown, Grand Luxe Cafe has an urban lavish decorum with a laidback atmosphere. Imagine, a high end TGIF or Chilis. Their food is somewhat similar to those aforementioned except it's well prepared, fresh and extremely appetizing. My favorite here is the Parmesan crusted Pork Chop.
14 Parish is a BYOB modern chic Caribbean restaurant located in the south loop. The restaurant is a very bright open space, with plenty of seating to accommodate large groups. The walls are embellished with afrocentric art which actually compliments the lime colored accent walls. I had the “14 Parish Platter” that came with jerk wings, beef sliders, Jamaican Beef and Veggie Patty, Cajun island shrimp skewers, and plantains. This was hands down the best Jamaican food I’ve ever tasted & I’ve had my fair share.
Lokal is a hidden gem in Lincoln Park. The decor has a modern rustic feel to it but the atmosphere can get lit due to the contemporary hip hop music being played. There are two seating areas, one with bar seating & the other section offers a casual dining experience in a small cafesque area. With that being said, Lokal is compact, but there’s plenty of elbow room. Though they are open regular dining hours, I’ve only attended their brunch where they offer your choice of bottomless mimosas, bloody mary’s or champagne. In my recent visit, I chose the chorizo skillet but I’m extremely fond of their NY steak and eggs.* Brunch is served Saturdays & Sundays from 10 am to 3pm
Parlor Pizza in Wicker Park has a very lax atmosphere complimented by their timbered modern charm. Their restaurant-bar combo serves up gourmet neapolitan pizza made right in an open kitchen in the back of the restaurant. They have different assortments of pizza, creative cocktails and raved-about desserts. I had the Sgt. Pepper pizza which is made with San Marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala, Molinari pepperoni, and white truffle oil. It was delicious. The Prickly Pear Margarita was pleasing too, with the perfect balance of tequila and prickly pear juice.* Disclaimer * If you’re looking for deep dish pizza, you won’t find it here; Neapolitan pizza is extremely thin.
If you blink too fast, you might miss this gem. Tucked away on a bustling intersection, about 7 minutes way from O’Hare International airport sits this diner, that makes you feel like home. A friend and I lucked up on this spot looking for a quick bite to eat before she flew back east. And the word luck, was very much so intentional. Mac’s Restaurant has the ambiance of a small town diner , where locals frequent, and everybody knows everybody. For two city girls, we were received like old friends with speedy service and food that reminds you of something granny would make. I had the Country Skillet which was amazing down to the last forkful. If you’re in the Park Ridge area, or just looking for a super friendly atmosphere and filling food, I recommend this place. Be advised, their hours range from 5:30am to 2:30p and varies depending on the day of the week.
If you’re a Gossip Girl fan & ever wondered what it’s like to live and dine on the Upper East Side, 3 Arts Club Cafe will fill that void. 3 Arts Club Cafe rises 5 stories into the air, each floor filled with modern home decor** for specific rooms, so luxurious it’ll have you feeling like a Waldorf. At the top floor, there’s a charming rooftop garden where people can enjoy their a la carte drinks & the northside’s skyline. Due to it’s popularity the cafe will have a 30 to 45 minute wait list, but you can explore the floors and modern interior design in the meantime and they’ll send you a text when your table is ready. The ground floor is where the actual dining area is located and it is the star of the show. With it’s glass ceiling adorned with chandeliers of various sizes, foliage placed oppurtunely and a grand fountain settled in the center of the dining area, you’re sure to feel like you’re in wonderland. I ordered the shaved ribeye on garlic bread which was extremely delightful, well cooked and seasoned just right. The peach mimosa was proportioned to my liking with it’s champagne to juice ratio. All in all, if you’re looking for a grandiose adventure with charming food, 3 Arts Club Cafe is the place for you.
-xoxo Megan ;)
** All interior designs are compliments of RH a curating interior design company.
Kanela’s Breakfast Club is located in downtown’s Streeterville area, just a few minutes away from the Lakefront. Though it specializes in brunch, Kanela's offer an ideal array of options depending on what you may have a taste for. Whether it’s soup, salads, sandwiches or something savory or sweet, Kanela’s got you covered. Under the savory items listed , I had the “Lorraine Scramble” which consisted of peppered bacon, gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, charred scallions and toast which I topped off with the house’s strawberry-orange mimosa. It was the perfect pairing. For a Sunday, the atmosphere was extremely relaxed yet amiable. The seating arrangements are in close proximity to other patrons , but it still allows for intimate conversation within your party. Kanela's Breakfast Club hours of operation are Monday-Sunday from 7:00am-3pm
If I had to describe this place in one word, it would be: SOPHISTICATED. The Machine’s ambiance exudes avante-garde chicness, from it’s elegant marble bar paired with contemporary cognac leather barstools to its lofty timber dining tables with state-of the-art chairs. Machine offers two different dining menus that include brunch and dinner. From their brunch menu , I ordered the “Shrimp & Grits” which consisted of old bay seasoning, parmesan cheese, smoked bacon, 63° egg, crispy fried chicken skin and their Dutch Pancake served up with nutella and banana Bavarian cream. Each dish was very delightful but I must admit the Shrimp & Grits were my absolute fav. Their drink options are truly one of a kind, from the unique vessels their served in to the opportunity to be able to smash through a hard candy coating to access your cocktail. I ordererd the “Hey, Smash Me” cocktail which was comprised of lemon hangar 1 vodka, riesling, honey, lemon, greek yogurt, lemon candy. This place also has a florist on hand, that will hand deliver fresh flowers to your table ; with options to construct your own flower crowns. So if you're feeling fancy , Machine: Engineered Drinks and Dining is the place for you.
Feeling nostalgic about the late 90’s and early 2000s? JoJo’s Milk Bar is your one stop shop for great food, fancy milkshakes and quirky drinks. Located discreetly on Hubbard street, JoJo’s is nestled amongst fancy restaurants and first class bars. This Milk Bar instantly gives you fun vibes as soon as you walk in, with their friendly staff and radiant, neon accented bar immediately to your right. The eating area of JoJo’s gives you a diner-like charm with it’s tiled walls adorned with various murals, wooden booths and benches while the music easily transports you to simpler times of genies in bottles & chasing waterfalls. From their menu, I had the Honey-Fried Chicken with waffle fries. I’m not really a chicken sandwich kind of person, but this was worth every bite. I ordered the Champagne Sangria which had more ‘pagne than ‘gria, but I am not complaining. My crew and I, also indulged in their decadent boozy “throwback” shots; I had the Sundae Funday shot along with the Chocolate Milk shot. JoJo’s Milk bar is a great place to go to if you’re looking for something chill & fun. It’s also kid friendly!