30 July 2014

handlebar.

at the end of june / beginning of july, i took a few days off of work for a little staycation. josh & i mostly just puttered around ... but one day, i got to pick all the activities. unfortunately for josh, that included brunch at an all vegetarian & vegan place : handlebar in wicker park. ... in addition to a trip to the outlet mall. #oops

about this awesome place : "handlebar serves made-from-scratch vegetarian & vegan comfort food for breakfast, lunch & dinner seven days a week." come on. can you ask for anything more??

here's what i had ...

pepita scramble :
tofu, sweet potatoes, red peppers, kale, poblanos, pumpkin seed pesto & crispy onions ... served with breakfast potatoes & multigrain toast.
i've been into the tofu scramble lately, so i was pumped about this. plus, hi, it involves kale. OH, and the pumpkin seed pesto was amazingggg.

biscuits & gravy :
whole wheat biscuits & seitan sausage gravy.
we decided to order a side of #vegan biscuits & gravy since i've never had it before. it was also delicious. josh even liked it -- although he did comment on how he feels bad that my taste buds have never gotten to experience non-vegan biscuits & gravy.

since handlebar was so amazing for brunch, i can only imagine how great it is at lunch/dinner time ... i'm sure i'll be back there soon! 

--
handlebar
2311 w. north avenue
chicago, il 60647

27 July 2014

crosby's kitchen : dinner.

a couple of fridays ago, josh & i decided to do a date night ... and walk down the street to crosby's kitchen, located right on southport.

even though crosby's is approximately 3 seconds away from my house, i've only been once before. and my last visit was for brunch. so this was a completely different menu / experience. we sat outside, sipped wine & ate some really great food.

here's what i had ...

grilled artichoke :
love me some artichokes. lil salt, lil peppah, lil evooooo. you're all set.
just remember to ask for no butter.

brussels sprouts salad :
 lightly blanched sprouts tossed in a lemon vinaigrette w/ dried blueberries & almonds. added avocado & tomatoes. 
i know i've said this before, but is this a salad or is this a salad?! first, the colors are bright & vibrant, so you know all the veggies are super fresh. second, dried blueberries are now a favorite of mine for salads ... even though it's summer & i'm really into fresh fruit on salad, dried is also great and will be perfect in winter! can you tell i'm excited about the dried blues? and lastly, it was just overall delicious. and huge. i didn't finish it all & i wasn't even hungry after!

basically, crosby's kitchen is a major win. it's especially great for a outdoor summer dining ... and with a salad that good, you can't go wrong.

--
crosby's kitchen
3455 n. southport avenue
chicago, il 60657

23 July 2014

blue agave.

remember how i said i hate not liking places? well, i really don't ...

but ... i recently went to blue agave, the one right off the viagra triangle. it wasn't all bad, but it wasn't all good either.

the blue agave tag line? : "where your adventure is about to begin!" since i was there with a huge group for a birthday celebration (hbd, jenny!), it kind of was an adventure.

birthday! 
jenny, me, erin ... work budz. <3

and now, the food. here's what i had ...

chunky guacamole :
fresh avocados mixed with diced tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalapeños & a squeeze of lime juice.
apologies for the blue hue, but we were at blue agave, come on. okay, i don't want to be too negative, but this guacamole just was not good. maybe we had it on an off day, but it just wasn't. i truly hate bad guacamole, because i just don't get it. it's not hard to make amazing guacamole, so when a mexican restaurant messes up ... again, i just don't get it. #ohwell.

fajitas : 
veggies! 
perfectly fine fajitas. hot, tasty, fresh.

listen. i know my opinion of the fajitas was tainted because of the no bueno guacamole ... but that's just what happened. lo siento. maybe next time, blue agave.

--
blue agave
1050 n. state street
chicago, il 60610

20 July 2014

dimo's pizza.

guys, get ready. ultra legit vegan pizza. coming right up ...

i think i've noted this before, but sometimes when i can't figure out what i want for dinner, i just type "vegan" into the grubhub search and see what comes up. i've seen dimo's pizza on there a billion times, but i generally go for lou's when i'm in a pizza mood.

so one night, i decided to actually click on the menu and take a peek. UM. woah. actual vegan pizzas? with vegan cheese & all?

you see, at dimo's : "we see pizza as our crispy, chewy, edible passion -- a platform on which we can imagine all our culinary ambitions." welp, a vegan pizza is just as good a platform as a non-vegan one! 

here's what i had ...

vegan dimo florentine :
roma tomatoes, sauteed spinach & artichokes on a marinara based, topped with mozzarella teese.
i would say that this is a fab vegan version of a veggie lover pizza. to be honest, it was really really good. but my issue is that i was super into the non-typical pizza offerings from dimo's. see below. 

vegan philly :
mozzarella teese, upton's chorizo sausage, red onions & bell peppers on a vegan ranch base.
did you read that correctly? vegan ranch base. WHAT. that's it. that's all i've got to say.

since i took these pictures about two months ago, i've ordered dimo's not once, not twice, but three times. the vegan philly is my absolute fave ... my other fave? the VEGAN MAC & TEESE PIZZA. next time i get it, which i am certain will be soon, i'll share a pic on instagram. (follow me!) because i know you'll want to see/eat/experience that for yourself. 

--
dimo's pizza
3463 n. clark street
chicago, il 60657

16 July 2014

doc b's fresh kitchen.

get ready, y'all. you're about to learn about the.best.salad.in.the.world.

doc b's fresh kitchen entered into my life about two months ago ... during a day of shopping, obviously food needs to be consumed. have you seen those shopping is my cardio tees? a girl's gotta restore those calories after a hard shop, ya dig?

anyway, here's a bit about doc b's : "by using fresh & mindful ingredients, doc b’s helps to maintain your balanced lifestyle ... it is our pledge to you to always provide food that is responsibly sourced & healthfully prepared." sign me up.

here's what i had ...

the california salad :
kale, avocado, pistacho, dried cranberries, wasabi peas, roasted sweet potato, tofu & carrot/ginger dressing.
do i even need to explain why this is amazing? just look at the ingredients list ... i mean, come on. seriously. oh, and perfectly prepared tofu ... subbed out non-vegan dressing for a really delicious vegan one (which i have since successfully replicated at home). really, just can't say enough good things about this salad. i could eat it everyday. for real.

vegans ... i strongly suggest you head to doc b's immediately. it's just so good.

--
doc b's fresh kitchen
100 e. walton street
chicago, il 60611

13 July 2014

tandoor char house.

let me start off this post by saying ... josh loves indian food. like love loves. anytime we are trying to decide what to order for dinner, he always suggests indian. and i love indian, too. just not as much.

well, sometimes i like to be a nice wife. so one saturday night date night, i searched out a nearby indian place where we could actually go and eat at a table like humans. (instead of on our couch in front of the tv while watching pawn stars or something equally terrible.)

so off we went to tandoor char house, an indian & pakistani restaurant located right on halsted in lincoln park.

here's what i had ...

salad :
off to a fresh & lovely start.

vegetarian pakoras :
 onions, jalapeños & potatoes drenched in homemade batter & fried.
fried goodness. hot, crispy & great flavor. what more can you ask for?

chana masala & roti :
 chickpeas, onions & tomatoes sauteed with an assortment of herbs & spices.
as i've probably said before, the standard by which i judge indian food. tandoor's version was awesomeeee. i had several helpings and still had plenty leftover for lunch the next morning. okay, breakfast. who am i kidding?

besides having really fantastic food (and plenty of other vegan options besides what i tried), tandoor char house is by far the most reasonably priced indian food we've ever had. so ... i almost didn't want to share how great this place is as to not increase their popularity even further, but that would be unfair. so enjoy!

--
tandoor char house
2652 n. halsted street
chicago, il 60614

09 July 2014

lahaina, maui (hawaii) : lahaina grill.

finally!! the last hawaii post!! 

for our final night in maui, our hotel recommended our last stop on the food tour be one of the best restaurants on the island : lahaina grill, right off of front street.

the deets : "featuring innvoative, new american cuisine, lahaina grill uses techniques & flavors from around the world, all perfectly blended with the freshest ingredients cultivated by maui's local farms, dairies & surrounding waters." b-e-a-utiful.

while the menu was definitely limited for vegans ... the restaurant and our server were extremely accommodating, as you'll soon see.

here's what i had ...

local mixed baby greens :
maui onion, beets, red & yellow bell peppers, baby heirloom tomatoes with southwestern vinaigrette.
my final local produce salad ... and it was a really lovely one! even if it didn't photograph very well. oops.

tomato risotto :
tomatoes, corn, cauliflower, garlic & onions. 
okay, so this isn't even on the menu. there is one vegetarian entree (a polenta dish), but it couldn't be prepared vegan ... i was about ready to ask for a big version of the above salad, when our server came back over with great news from the kitchen : they would make me a risotto.

1. okay, risotto = way better than polenta. in my book.
2. look at all those fresh ingredients!! ok, the corn was maybe a little weird, but it tasted great, so who cares. plus, tomatoes are the ish, so ...
3. i finished the whole thing. 

as i said, the menu at lahaina grill is definitely limited for vegans. but obviously (see above), that doesn't matter. the staff is amazing and the food is even better. a perfect spot for any vacationers.

--
lahaina grill
127 lahainaluna road
lahaina, maui, hawaii 96761

06 July 2014

mercadito.

aaaah, cinco de mayo ... one of the booziest of holidays. this year, mis amigas & i skipped out on the celebration ... mainly due to it being a monday.

so we decided to have our own belated cinco de mayo dinner & drinks out ... starting with comida & margaritas at mercadito in river north.

mercadito : "the best authentic upscale mexican restaurant in chicago with flavors created by world renowned chef patricio sandoval." que bueno.

here's what i had ...

guacamoles :
tradicional : tomatillo pico de gallo, jalapeño, garlic, key lime & cilantro.
 toreado : sauteed chile serrano, garlic oregano, tomatillo pico de gallo. 
for a mexican place, i wasn't uhb-sessed with the guac. it was good, but not great. and i was really looking forward to eating the toreado, too. part of the issue could be that the tortilla chips are cooked in the same fryer as the fish ... so no chippies for vegans, sub jicama sticks = buzzkill. 

carrot & squash tacos :
chile de árbol salsa & grilled pineapple. 
guys, some of the best vegan tacos i've ever had. the flavor of the chile salsa was just amazing. not kidding. i was iffy on the pineapple, but i even loved that. overall, just super super tasty. oh, and surprisingly filling. but that could have been the jicama talking.

these might be my new favorite vegan tacos. i know, i say that a lot. but it really might be true. so definitely worth a trip ... plus, their jalapeño margarita is en punto

--
mercadito
108 w. kinzie street
chicago, il 60654

02 July 2014

lahaina, maui (hawaii) : leilani's on the beach.

i really don't like not liking places.

and while leilani's on the beach had a few vegan options, it wasn't that good ...

but anyway, leilani's boasts "the perfect vantage point for viewing amazing sunsets framed by the islands of lanai & molokai." we went for lunch, so we didn't get to see that ... but i'd believe it! they also focus a lot of steaks & seafood ... which could be another reason for my lack of love.

here's what i had ...

hummus trio :
edamame, roasted red pepper & macadamia with herb flatbread.
i feel like i ate a lot of edamame spread in maui ... this version was okay ... the macadamia was good ... the red pepper was a little bland. sorry, i'm a downer.

kale salad :
pomegranite seeds, figs, pickled golden beets & sesame yuzu vinaigrette.
i generally eat kale 6x a week. (yup, i'm that person.) ... so on this trip, i was surriously missing it. even though i didn't really like this salad and thought the flavors were weird, the kale saved it. and i ate every last bite. 

oh, leilani's. i had high hopes. i was super excited for the hummus trio &, duh, the kale salad ... but we also had not so good service. so that could have contributed to me not liking it that much ... for an easy bite on the water & in a tourist-y area, i'm not going to say don't go ... there is vegan food, so you can count on that.

--
leilani's on the beach
2435 kaanapali parkway
lahaina, maui, hawaii 96761