Menu Musts-Xoco

Xoco has been one of my favorite spots for quite sometime. I love everything on the menu, and dream about the Milanesa sandwich on a weekly basis. Recently, I visited their second location in Wicker Park, and was surprised that the menu is sufficiently more extensive. Although it took a lot of restraint to steer away from my longtime favorite, I forced myself to try something new and was not disappointed. Here are some of my go-to’s:

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Fully Dressed Guacamole

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Chilaquiles with a fried egg and chicken

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Woodland Mushroom Torta

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Churros with a chocolate shot

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My number one

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One of my favorite dining companions, enjoying his rice and beans.

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Mile High

 

Over the holidays, I spent a few days in Denver, Colorado visiting my brother and his girlfriend. I normally visit in the summer, so the sight of snow there was new to me. It was a low key trip, with some ventures to new neighborhoods, coupled with plenty of time relaxing and watching Seinfeld reruns. I hope you enjoy some highlights below!

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My brother’s dog bears a shockingly similar resemblance to Sully.

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Salmon Benedict and crispy fries at Beast & Bottle

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Crab bisque and stuffing prep for company on Christmas Day.

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View of Union Station from The Cooper Lounge

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Giant homemade everything bagel, made by my brother.

 

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Holiday spirit

Menu Musts: Pub Royale

Well Chicago, just when I thought you had every food genre covered, you proved me wrong. Indian bar food is where I’m categorizing Pub Royale, and I mean that in the best way possible. Small bites and big flavors unite at this ultra hipster Wicker Park spot and I am already dying for another pillowy salt cod samosa.

If you want to fit in with the Wicker Park crowd, consider growing a thick beard before going, because there was more than enough facial hair to go around.

Here’s what to get:


 

Lamb dumplings

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India hot chicken with crazy pickles and chewy naan

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Gobi Manchurian-crispy cauliflower with sweet and spicy Manchurian sauce, sesame seeds and cashews

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Salt cod samosa

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Not pictured: fries

Sweetstagram, Holiday edition

Even though I technically don’t celebrate Christmas, I love a Christmas treat as much as the next guy. Maybe even more than the next guy, depending on who that guy is.

It certainly is the season for sugary treats all over “The Gram,” (Broad City reference). Here are some of my favorites that I would not turn down in person.

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Swift and Sons

One thing I’ve learned from going to new restaurants too soon, is that it usually takes a while to to get things right. They run out of food, reservations run late, and there is too much lag time between courses. So, when my friend and I arrived to the newly opened Swift and Sons to find that they were running behind on reservations, I was admittedly skeptical. But, it was Saturday night after all, and killing time at the “un” stuffy bar wasn’t the worst option in the world.

A short wait with apologies from the hostess led us to a roomy booth, and all was forgotten. The waitress paid great attention to us and coursed out the menu with perfect recommendations. A slight delay between our salad and steak was a win with a mercy shrimp cocktail. Score!

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House baked rolls for days

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Ricotta dumplings with squash, mint, pomegranate seeds, and spiced yogurt

 

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Autumn chopped salad with tarragon vinaigrette

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Shrimp on ice

 

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Tartiflette potato, the star of the evening. Just do it.

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Filet medium rare, done and done.

There is no shortage of steakhouses in Chicago, and to stand out from the crowd takes uniqueness and quality. Swift and Sons does both of these things. Go for the atmosphere, stay for the food, leave in a state of satiated contentment.

Menu Musts: Davanti Enoteca

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.

My Musts:


 

-Ricotta and Honeycomb Vasi-(mini mason jar served with toast)

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-Truffle Egg Toast-with fontina and asparagus

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-Focaccia di Recco-Ligurian style baked focaccia + fresh soft cow cheese

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-Roasted beet salad-with walnuts, creme fraiche and pistachios

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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.

Heaven

Sunday mornings were made for bellinis, truffle butter grilled cheese and 5,000 dollar Chesterfield sofas.

Oh wait, they weren’t?

Life is about dreaming big, at least according to my friend Brooke, and the new Restoration Hardware design showroom and restaurant (3 Arts Club Cafe) is a good place to start.

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This might be a bold statement, but I think this past Sunday can go down as one of the best mornings of my life. Sure, I spent a semester in Spain and you know, went to a Billy Joel concert, but this.

We all know the kid in a candy store analogy. I was more like Oprah in a candy store. Or, me, in a candy store.

A twenty minute wait for the restaurant was just an excuse for my friend Lauren and I to snap pictures of exposed brick walls like they were Brad Pitt. “Excuse me, can you take a picture of me with this wall?”

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We also felt no humility in asking the hostess to move out of the way so we could get the perfect shot of the stone fountain and topiaries.

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Of course, the lunch was perfect. We all know how I feel about Hogsalt at this point. But based on the aforementioned statements, the grilled cheese could have been a box of Fig Newtons and I wouldn’t have noticed. But since I did notice, it was exactly as you would expect it to be.

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Grilled cheese with cheddar, truffle butter and fries

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RH Scramble with free range eggs, Texas, Toast, avocado and chives

And in true Sodikoff fashion, he found a way to slip in a Doughnut Vault spread in the too good to be true adjacent coffee shop. I knew he wouldn’t let me down!

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In our happy place. All photo credits to Lauren.

Five floors of perfection followed lunch.  Gallons of drool ensued as we traipsed through rooms filled with brass hardware, Belgian linens, steel coffee tables, and leather chairs more buttery than the grilled cheese.

Let’s face it. I have my priorities straight.

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