When you make your way to Bar Marta, you will experience a series of thoughts and conversations that will go something like this:
- Why don’t Uber X drivers know where they’re going and why is their GPS always off? We are in the middle of nowhere.
- Oh, no we’re here. I see the sign. Okay, we’re fine.
- Wait, it’s closed. All the windows are blacked out.
- Oh I get it. They don’t need to be noticed. They’re being avant garde. They are open.
- This place is too cool for me.
So you’re settled. Cocktail in hand, food ready to be ordered. The smallish menu makes it easy to order lots to share, and with four people, we made sure that we did.
The baked oysters are a take on Oysters Rockefeller and they were a literal flavor explosion in your mouth. We ordered a second round and had to hold ourselves back from ordering more.
The meatballs were classic and dense. We devoured these quickly and awaited our three pasta dishes. It was Friday, after all.
Cacio E Pepe is everywhere now, but there is a science to it. The pasta has to be made in house, the sauce needs to be creamy, but not too thick, and there needs to be just the right amount of pepper. If it’s too peppery, the dish is ruined. Luckily, this one passed the test. It was unanimously our favorite pasta.
Grilled Halibut Nicoise
Crudite with Buttermilk Cottage Cheese Dip
Not Our Favorites
-Garganelli with Pork Ragu
Davanti Enoteca is one of those restaurants that is consistently delicious no matter when you go. Although I personally favor the Taylor Street location, their River North hub is often my go-to, because of its proximity from my apartment. Oh, and it may also have something to do with the Glazed and Infused attached to it.
-Ricotta and Honeycomb Vasi-(mini mason jar served with toast)
-Truffle Egg Toast-with fontina and asparagus
-Focaccia di Recco-Ligurian style baked focaccia + fresh soft cow cheese
-Roasted beet salad-with walnuts, creme fraiche and pistachios
Too much bread? Is there really such a thing? Listen, you wanted my favorites. I’m not saying I don’t order the calamari to offset the focaccia, but is that my favorite dish? I think not.
As a child, I remember spending hours upon hours with my grandparents waiting in line at the original Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami. We would basically order everything on the menu, including the liver and onions for my grandfather.
As an adult, I still love it, both in Chicago and Miami.
I do abide by one rule though. You only order stone crab during stone crab season.
Even though the restaurant serves them year round (cryogenically freezing them is the method; think Walt Disney), they are not the same. Trust me. In season. Select. Done deal.
–Joe’s Chopped Salad: Tomato, cucumber, carrot, black olives, feta, honey roasted peanuts and Joe’s vinaigrette. The peanuts give it a nice crunch and sweetness. A perfect starter.
–Select Stone Crab: Dunked, not drowned in mustard sauce.
–Crispy Onion Strings: I wouldn’t plan a make out session after these, but really nothing beats making out with a fistful of fried onions.
–Grilled Tomatoes with creamed spinach and broiled American cheese: They aren’t on the menu. The grilled tomatoes on the menu are different. Just give them a wink.
–Key Lime Pie: The peanut butter and banana cream are also fabulous, but the classic key lime is the show stopper.
Benchmark is one of my favorite neighborhood spots for a consistently delicious lunch or dinner. It kicks the standard bar slider and pizza puff menu up several notches, and it has a retractable roof that makes it perfect for mild weather.
- Hot Soft Pretzels: These are hands down my favorite menu item. They are perfect for sharing; or not.
- Sriracha Chicken Sliders: A relatively new addition to the menu. I love the slight kick of sriracha paired with a bite-sized Hawaiian bun.
- Fish Tacos-You can mix and match cod, tilapia and shrimp. I usually do the shrimp and cod.
- Mediterranean Plate- A good sampler platter with a healthy variety of grilled chicken, quinoa tabbouleh, roasted red pepper and eggplant dip, pita and avocado yogurt.
There is only one dessert and you will love and hate yourself for it at the same time. The skillet cookie is perfect. My friends and I smelled it from two tables away the last time I was there. We came close to asking for a helping.
For my second addition of Menu Musts, I decided to share one of my all time favorite spots. The menu at Little Goat is extensive, and I used to have trouble with it because every single item appeals to me. #Storyofmylife. Anyway, I have been enough times now that I think I have it down. Breakfast is served all the time, which is always a good thing, and you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. That said, there are definitely some serious favorites that I want every time I’m there.
Precursor: This is not a place I go when I’m counting calories, however, I have dabbled in the healthy options once or twice and they are also solid choices.
- Parathas Burrito- indian flatbread . sunny side eggs . avocado-bean salad . chili pepper sauce . sheep’s milk cheddar
2. Fish Tostadas – crisp whitefish. shallot aioli . chickpeas onion salad . harissa vinaigrette
3. Goat Chili-sour cream, cheddar, pizza poofs
4. Machos Nachos – house masa chips . bbq pork . beans . pickled peppers . cheddar . sour cream . avocado
5. Sourdough Pancakes with Dark Chocolate Chips