28 May 2014

lula cafe.

my first trip to lula cafe was literally (not figuratively) four years ago ... and since that day, i've been wanting to go back. not sure what took soooo long to get my ass in gear, but i finally made it for round two ... this time for a non-traditional easter dinner w/ mah family. sharing is caring. 

but since then ... "the menu at lula has grown into a kind of humble maturity, risky but grounded, a boheme bistro of the unclassifiable kind. we want you to come for all occasions... to taste through the seasons." a boheme bistro -- my kinda place.

here's what i had ...

beet bruschetta : 
 
marinated kale, smoked pecans & shaved red onion.
kale + beets + bread on a single plate. my version of heaven. 

chilled peanut satay noodles:

marinated tofu & seasonal pickles.
 another delicious dish. huge portion. obviously, much appreciated.

chickpea tagine :
sweet & sour sweet potato, green harissa, fennel & caraway cracker.
while the bruschetta & noodles were both fab, the tagine was my favorite. again, a big portion. hello, leftovers for lunch!

lula cafe is a logan square (and chicago!) staple ... and since returning, it's definitely made it onto my favorites list. there were a couple other menu items i'm dying to try. so i'll be back ... and vegans & non-vegans : get over there. now. 

--
2537 n. kedzie boulevard
chicago, il 60647

27 May 2014

paia, maui (hawaii) : charley's restaurant & saloon.

on our third day in maui, i decided to take a surf lesson. yup, you heard it. a surf lesson ... which began promptly at 7:30am. after that, we planned to drive a little way on the road to hana.

near the beginning of our trip ... we stopped in a super cute little town called paia, where we stumbled upon the perfect place to eat : charley's restaurant & saloon

about this joint : "charley’s is a reflection of the culture of maui, the essence of its foods & the warm spirit of entertainment & aloha." beautiful ... just what we were looking for.

here's what i had ...

tofu scramble :
with avocado, spinach, tomatoes & tempeh "bacon."
after an exhausting morning, this was just the meal i needed. light & delicious. i wasn't the hugest fan of the tempeh, but that's just me. the rest was top notch.

ok, the food was awesome. but the best part? charley's is named after a great dane! (!!!!!!!)

stained glass charley :

charley's juice stand :
the original.

great food + great dane = my kind of restaurant.

--
charley's restaurant & saloon
142 hana highway
paia, maui, hawaii 96779

21 May 2014

turquoise restaurant & cafe.

turquoise restaurant & cafe in roscoe village has been on my radar for a loooong time. but for whatever reason, it's taken me forever to get there.

so when a girl's dinner rolled around (hi, mavis!), we figured it was the perfect place to meet. i mean, come on. it is "mediterranean cuisine at its best." what more can you ask for?

here's what i had ...

patlican salatisi:
 smoked eggplant, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, scallion & roasted red bell pepper.
ultra, ultra, ultra garlicky. aka, i loved it. i got a special flat bread since the kind it comes with isn't vegan ... but the one i had was delicious & (i am guessing) better than the original.


turquoise salad:
romaine, cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, black olive & vinaigrette.
ya know. your usual greek salad. only this one was chopped! a big portion, even though it doesn't look it. i had leftovers for lunch the next day.

one thing about turquoise ... it's a much nicer restaurant than i originally thought. i mean, white table clothes & fancy water glasses. i think it'd be the perfect spot for an easy date night. 

--
turquoise restaurant & cafe
2147 w. roscoe street
chicago, il 60618

18 May 2014

lahaina, maui (hawaii) : mala ocean tavern.

aloha, gang! get ready for several posts coming all the way from maui. this was my first time in hawaii ... but luckily, a couple of my friends have been before -- and we got some fantastic restaurant recommendations from one of mah besties. (hi, blair!! thank you!!)

on our first night, we headed to dinner at mala ocean tavern, located right on the water. our cab driver told us we could have seen sea turtles hanging out in the ocean if the time of year had been right. it was not. boo.

anywho, mala is all about "small plates, organic whenever possible, whole grains, no preservatives, no hydrogenated oils & everything in proportion." perfect.

here's what i had ...

gado gado salad :
kula baby greens, tofu, brown rice, sugar snaps, tomatoes, chickpeas, cucumbers & coconut peanut sauce.
a clearly labeled vegan item on the menu. that's what i like to see! this salad was delicious. all super fresh ingredients, great flavor ... i saw this dish at a couple different restaurants throughout out our trip -- but i only tried the one from mala. since it was so good, i didn't want to ruin the memory with something worse. 

brussels sprouts :
sesame seeds, fresh mint & crispy wontons. 
brussels sprouts are so damn trendy right now ... no surprise they were on this menu. the mint added an unexpected, but really really great flavor. all in all, delicious! 

mala is definitely a must stop at any vegans traveling in maui. highly recommended! 

--
mala ocean tavern
1307 front street
lahaina, maui, hawaii 96791

14 May 2014

lyfe kitchen.

my obsession with top chef restaurants continues in full force (get ready for a biggie from maui) ... this time with lyfe kitchen, a restaurant created by chef art smith (featured on top chef masters, people) and located in river north.

lyfe literally stands for "love your food everyday" ... now this is a mantra i can get on board with. but wait, there's more ... "great food can do amazing things. it can make you feel better. it can support local farms. promo sustainability. reward environmentally sound businesses. give back to the community. and best of all, it will make you savor every single bite." #duh.

oh, & also ... there's a separate vegan menu. amazing.

here's what i had ...

vegan grilled artichokes :
with caper aioli.
hello delicious vegan caper aioli. the artichokes were, of course, great. but the aioli was really the star. i could put it on many, many items. i'm thinking, vegan blt.

tofu tacos :
marinated tofu, chayote slaw, avocado, cilantro, green onions & chipotle aioli on warm corn tortillas w/ a baby kale salad & salsa fresca.
not going to lie ... the best tofu tacos i've ever had. not the biggest fan of baby kale, so i kind of ignored that bit ... but the tacos? the tacos were amazing.

i have a feeling lyfe kitchen gets packed at lunch ... but at dinner, we had no problem. i know for certain i will be back ... you should check it out, too! 

--
lyfe kitchen
413 n. clark street
chicago, il 60654

11 May 2014

new york city (brooklyn) : fabiane's cafe & pastry.

as you know, on my last day in new york, we decided to spend the day in brooklyn. after a sugar crash from our experience at dun-well doughnuts, we needed some real food.

enter fabiane's cafe & pastry ... a super cute little spot on the corner of bedford & 5th. "is it france? is it brazil? is it williamsburg? you decide." i think it's in williamsburg. i could be wrong.

here's what i had ...

roasted vegetable sandwich :
roasted peppers & zucchini w/ black bean paste on 7 grain bread & a side salad.
this sammie was exactly what i needed after an all sweet breakfast. light, but filling. great flavors. and most importantly, healthy

for a quick bite, fabiane's is a great place to stop. especially when recovering from a sugar high. 

--
fabiane's cafe & pastry
142 n. 5th street
brooklyn, ny 11211

07 May 2014

rollapalooza.

hi, y'all! sorry, my southern accent is hanging around still from the one hour i spent in the dallas airport ... hey, did you guys know everything's bigger in texas?

anywho! let's get back to our regularly scheduled programming with a feature i like to call : yet another boring sushi post.

ok, i'm sorry. there is absolutely nothing wrong with lakeview's "contemporary sushi restaurant" : rollapalooza ... my rolls were great!

i just know people get bored with the same thing over & over again. but fear not! after this -- i've still got one fab nyc post coming up + some amazing chi-town restaurants + some amazingness all the way from maui! hello, sunshine! 

back to rollapalooza ... here's what i had ...

green arrow roll & avocado roll :
green arrow : cilantro, avocado, asparagus, radish sprouts, baby spring greens & green soy paper. 
avocado : the usual.
green arrow = delicious. avocado = delicious. you can't go wrong with either of these items when in the mood for something light & sushi-tastic.

so guys, rollapalooza is definitely worth checking out ... i ordered delivery (shocking!), so i can't attest to in-house dining. who wants to give it a try??

--
rollapalooza
3344 n. halsted street
chicago, il 60657

new york city : otto enoteca & pizzeria.

chef mario batali ... this guy has got a lot of restaurants. (see : eataly, for one.) and on my most recent visit to nyc, i got to visit another. this time? otto enoteca & pizzeria in greenwich village.

a bit about this fine establishment : "otto has combined the elegance of an italian enoteca with the fun bustle of a crowded italian train station ... otto is perfect for a quick snack, a lingering meal, a big group, a family night out..." sign me up.

here's what i had ...

olives :
gaeta, sicilian, alfonso.
mah gal pal melissa & i are not ones to reject a healthy plate of olives. so we obviously had to order this olive trio. my faves were the green ones.

favetta :
fava bean spread on bread.
melissa & i both agreed that this was our favorite part of the meal. just so incredibly good ... fresh favas, crunchy bread, little bit o' spice.

pasta alla norma :
tomato, roasted eggplant & basil. (no cheese.)
holy red sauce. this, too, was quite tasty. my only complaint was that the noodles weren't fully cooked! and trust, i know how pasta should be cooked. but since i am a fan of hard noodles (c'mon, get your minds out of the gutter), i still enjoyed this dish.

to sum up -- now that i've been to two of infinity mario batali restaurants, i absolutely must get to more. which is always a sign of good food. i'm already planning for my next nyc trip.

--
otto enoteca & pizzeria
one fifth avenue
new york, ny 10003