Jai Yen | Chicago

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Service: Fine.

Booze: BYOB.

Food:

Homemade Ginger Ale | regular, pomegrante or lime $ 3.50

Thai Iced Coffee | $ 3 

Coconut Shrimp | with side salad 

Cubby Roll | salmon, cream cheese, spicy mayo, avocado and masago outside $ 8.95 

Ocean Roll | hamachi, seared super white tuna, flounder, seabass, strawberry, jalapeno, masago, chili sauce and scallion $ 14.95

Tomago | egg $ 2 

Unagi | freshwater eel $ 3 

Amazing coconut shimp, but so-so sushi. The nigiri were huge; however, I’d rather receive two smaller pieces, and the tomago had an odd texture. Plus the straws were too short for the extra tall drinks. That’s just annoying.

Overall: Nothing was bad; it tasted fresh, just not impressive.

jai-yen.com
3736 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60613

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Lillie’s Q | Chicago

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Service: Exceptional. Server had a great personality.

Booze: Oh yeah, baby. They have all the ‘shine and beer your little heart could desire alongside some smoked meat.

Food:

Fried Pickles | beer battered, homemade ranch $ 6

Taste of LQ | hot link, tri-tip and pulled pork $ 20 

Baby Back Ribs | carolina dirt, apple glaze, eight bones $ 15

Stone Ground Grits | house-made bacon $ 5

Cornbread | pepper jelly butter $ 4

Mac & Cheese | classic $ 5

Best fried pickles I’ve ever had the pleasure of consuming. And the ranch. Oh, the ranch. I’ll cut to the chase on the ribs; they were disappointing. Amazing flavor, but a bit tough honestly. Ribs are hard to perfect so it could have been an off day but with tri-tip like THIS, who needs ribs?! I was almost MAD that the meat was so tender and juicy and well-seasoned due to their delicious sauce lineup… I didn’t want sauce! [I obviously had some. Carolina Gold mixed with a dab of E.N.C., please.] The pulled pork was great–almost on par with the beef—but the hot link was unimpressive. However, creamy bacon-topped grits had me questioning, “is this real life?” down to the moment I sucked the last drop of oil from the cast iron. Then reality hit. It was real life. They really were that good. And they were gone. Luckily there was cornbread with fantastic pepper jelly butter. The mac & cheese, while better than average, unfortunately lacked pizzaz. I would rather have twice the grits.

Overall: It’s a little pricy for BBQ, but it’s trendy and hip. The ambience is nice. Some of the menu items are completely worth it and the drinks are unique.

lilliesq.com
1856 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

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Shoefly Public House

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Service: Friendly, fast.

Booze: Incredible, lengthy list of beers. It took me five minutes to decide. Not only limited to the ever popular IPAs, wheats and stouts; they offer my favorite Belgian varieties like quad, farmhouse, kölsch, and tripel style ales. Many 22oz and 750ml bottles. Unlike some restaurants that only focus on craft beer, they also offer big name domestics for anyone that wants to keep it… simple.

Food:

Duck Wings | garlic parmesan, chimichurri, hickory dijon, or zesty orange, half order $ 6

Pat’s Philly Pretzels | nuggets with BIER cheese $ 8

Lamb Sandwich | with onions, poblanos, and mozzarella on a french roll $ 12

Fish & Chips | BIER battered walleye with potato fries and tartar sauce, lunch portion $ 11

Escarole & Beans | endive greens with white beans $ 5 

Gravy & Dumplings | chicken gravy with vegetables $ 5

Large, tender duck wings—more flavorful and fatty than chicken—were fried very crisp and drizzled with thick chimichurri. I prefer tasting meat and sauce separately versus completely drenched breading. A huge portion of lightly salted, chewy pretzel nuggets were served with garlicky BIER cheese for dipping. Amazing flavor, however the cheese was a bit thin. The thick and flakey BIER-battered walleye was outstanding—hot and fresh out of the fryer. Nice crunch with strong beer flavor made it good fish; tangy homemade tartar sauce made it a memorable experience to rave about. Bad tartar sauce will destroy an otherwise decent meal. While the fries had wonderful flavor, they could have been more crisp. Maybe they soaked up some oil from the fish? Obviously I ordered a side of hickory dijon for dipping… oh my. It was also served with a small side of slaw. Too acidic for my taste but my partner in crime took it like a shot and loved the red wine vinegar. The lamb sandwich was decently sized with good flavor and bread, but I wouldn’t order it again. While the bread and butter pickles were tasty, I definitely wouldn’t consider three to be a “side” as the menu stated; for $12 it should come with fries or another item. Both the beans and dumplings were alright—the only items that didn’t seem worth the price. Neither were my first (or second) choice: the man enjoyed them, only wishing the beans had a heartier taste.

Overall: Creative, fresh food in a wonderful, earthy but modern and airy space with awesome beer… and quite importantly, homemade sauces and condiments that absolutely blew me away. There were only a few blips in an otherwise perfect meal, and I can’t wait to try other dishes. Can I get a “what what!” for sweet potato fries in a cinnamon maple toss?! Or cuban pork with green tomato chutney on a cheddar waffle, boursin mac & cheese, sage and goat cheese polenta, brownie batter wontons, etc. The list goes on… and the thought alone is making me hungry!

shoeflypublichouse.com
122 E 22nd St
Indianapolis, IN 46202

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Eggshell Bistro

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Service: So nice! Our server was very pleasant—not too hard on the eyes either—and the owner was preparing food over a small stove in a tiny kitchen. Our service was timely, but if you have to wait a while for your food, that’s why. It’s thoughtfully crafted food, not mass produced Denny’s. He and his wife chatted with us for a while after our meal, and also gave a complimentary slice of Linzer torte—from the oldest recipe known to date.

Food:

New Orleans Iced Coffee | blend of coffee is cold brewed for 14 hours with roasted French chicory and sweetened with organic cane sugar. the result is a potent concentrate that we cut with organic milk— sweet, creamy, award-winning $ 5.50 

Polar Opposite | an unusual drink of hot & cold stratified layers including: crema, Hayes Valley espresso by Blue Bottle, sweet organic milk, and roasted organic French chicory simple syrup $ 5.50 

Truffled Egg Brioche | sous-vide poached farm egg, asparagus, preserved lemon, bottarga, fontina $ 12 

Potato Frittata | rosemary-roasted heirloom potato varieties, roasted garlic, sauted baby spinach, goat cheese $ 11

Lamb Bacon | smoked $ 4.50

Most importantly, the coffee served here is out of this world. It’s worth a visit for the New Orleans iced coffee or a polar opposite alone. Or Both. Weekly.  Or everyday. If only I lived nearby… Both sweet and creamy, yet incredibly bold and full of flavor. It’s the best damn coffee I’ve had since visiting Cafe Trieste.

The aroma of truffle wafted over the table as the first dish arrived. Flakey, chewy, sweet brioche bread topped with nutty melted fontina, fresh asparagus, and poached egg provided a balanced, yet unique gustatory experience. A hint of lemon was very refreshing. The frittata was nice as well, with meaty chunks of rosemary heirloom potatoes. How can you go wrong with freshly roasted garlic tomatoes and goat cheese on top of eggs?! Or… a side of lamb bacon? (Hint: You can’t.)

Kudos: The FRUIT. I almost ordered fruit because it looked so good at another table, but I didn’t. After sampling some berries with the complimentary torte, I regretted this decision. Best raspberry I’ve ever eaten.

Overall: I’m in love with this place: the adorable decor, the coffee, the friendly staff, the food. Even the straws are cute? European influenced gourmet fusion without pretension. Did I mention the coffee? I almost never venture to Carmel; that needs to change. I’m already anticipating a specific dish…

eggshellbistro.com
51 City Center Dr
Carmel, IN 46032

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BARcelona | Revisit

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Food:

Tres Leches | spanish three milk cake topped with cream and caramel $ 6.25

Café Negro | short spanish espresso $ 2.95

{ We drove from 131st street to N. Delaware for the cake. That says it all. }

The full-length review can be seen here

 

Thunderbird

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Service: Slow start receiving menus and drinks, which can be attributed to arriving 20 minutes after they opened. Once things got rolling, the service was quick and excellent. The girl serving us was a doll, the owner Josh stopped by to introduce himself, and everyone pitching in was personable. Waters were never below half full and the alcohol kept flowing. Clean silverware was delivered with each dish—a small, but exceptional touch that is often overlooked.

Booze: Wide variety of delicious craft and signature cocktails. After sampling 8, it’s safe to say there’s no wrong choice.

Food:

Fried Golden Beets | goat cheese, radicchio, pears, pistachio, stone ground mustard vinaigrette $ 10

Shrimp and Grits | butter poached shrimp, white cheddar grits, salsa verde $ 10

Chicken and Hoecake Sandwich | fried buttermilk chicken thigh, smoked cheddar, bacon honey butter $ 10 

Biscuit and Gravy | duck gravy, house biscuit, fried egg $ 10 

French Toast | daily preparation $ 4

The beet salad was very tasty once the goat cheese was discovered hiding underneath. Sneaky goat cheese. However, I wouldn’t recommend it over the other dishes available. Highlight of the meal: Buttery, melt-in-your-mouth, cheesy grits that made me say, “Ohhhh” on the first bite, “Mmyy” on the second, and “Noooo” on the last. (As someone who typically dislikes grits.) The creamy concoction was topped with perfectly poached shrimp, salsa verde and delicious, lemony micro-cilantro; a very unique Latin spin. Second favorite was the indulgent and juicy fried chicken between two moist hoecakes. Nice smokey flavor from the cheddar and bacon butter, with accompanying pickled vegetables offering a tangy bite. For another reinvented southern classic, bring on the biscuits and gravy! Topped with a fried egg, these large doughy biscuits slathered in rich duck gravy were dense and satisfying. Every dish was well seasoned and thoughtfully prepared. Finally, the french toast came highly recommended as dessert. Crisp bread with a chewy center was layered with tart, marinated berries and bourbon whipped cream. Different and delicious.

Kudos: They were playing primarily Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Motörhead.

Overall: It’s soul food—with a modern, gourmet twist—from an industrial, sophisticated Rock ‘n Roll bar with inventive cocktails. I’m so giddy I could belt out show tunes from the Sound of Music (Cue: “My Favorite Things.”) The prices are also quite reasonable for the experience. I’m looking forward to soon savoring the other half of the food and drink menu!

thunderbirdindy.com
1127 Shelby Street
Indianapolis, IN 46203

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Boathouse Grill

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Service: We always go during the afternoon, and the bartender usually carries the entire floor. The service is still very personable and quick, but you may not be checked on often. Do yourself and the staff a favor: make sure you’re set when they’re at the table.

Booze: Full bar.

Food:

Soup | bowl of homemade new england clam chowder $ 5.50 

Bait Strips | strips of new england clams, battered and deep fried, served with cole slaw and cocktail sauce $ 8.95 

Spinnaker Dip | tasty blend of spinach, artichokes, and blended cheese served with tortilla chips and pita triangles $ 6.95

Burger | certified angus beef with your choice of toppings $ 6.50 

Fish Submarine | ale battered whitefish, deep fried to a golden brown. served on a toasted hoagie roll with lettuce, tomato, onion and tarter sauce $ 7.25 

Creamy, indulgent clam chowder—with a plethora of actual clams—was delicious and hearty, just as it should be. The fried clam strips were tasty, too; I only wish the cocktail sauce had a bit more kick. Luckily hot sauce was on the table. As for the spinach dip, this steaming cream cheese overload was full of large artichoke chunks, topped with tomatoes and parmesan, and served with both chips and pita, so every dipper’s preference is satisfied. The burger was unfortunately mediocre. Moving on… piping hot, oversized, beer-battered fish on a toasty baguette, anyone? One of the best I’ve had in in town. Messy due to its size, but never soggy or greasy. Pro-tip: Crispy onion petals are the perfect match. If your preference is chips, these homemade crisps won’t disappoint either.

Overall: Nice pub to grab a drink and a bite. Has a very local neighborhood, but still welcoming feel.

6225 W. 56th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46254

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3 Sisters Cafe

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Service: Friendly, upbeat staff. It’s small; don’t go during peak hours unless you want to stand in a cramped hallway right by the door and wait.

Booze: Nope.

Food:

Omelette | choice of 5 ingredients, served with toast or english muffin $ 8.50, add goat cheese $ 1

Breakfast Burrito | eggs + choice of 5 ingredients, topped with guacamole, salsa and sour cream $ 9.50

Calico Hashbrowns | yellow and sweet potatoes, small $ 3

Powerhouse Potatoes | tofu, onions, garlic, parsley, and cheddar with a side of salsa, large $ 4

Caramelized Bacon & Chocolate Pie | with homemade whipped cream

First of all, five toppings with no extra charge?! Absurd. And they don’t skimp on fresh, quality ingredients, with even coverage and nice egg-to-insides ratio. This is important. Omelettes are science. (The egg itself could’ve been a tad fluffier, but it was very close.) With fillers like avocado, sweet peppers, mixed squash, eggplant and a multitude of cheeses including brie and chèvre, customizing the perfect one is easy. Same goes for the over-stuffed breakfast burrito. It was topped with hearty red salsa, tangy salsa verde, sour cream and chunky guac. Skip the hash browns—flavorless, a bit soggy, disappointing—and go for the powerhouse potatoes. If you’re on the fence about bread, the English muffin is the way to go. It was large, toasted, extra spongey and perfectly buttered. Really yum.

For dessert, a healthy slice of caramelized bacon chocolate pie was over-the-top, indulgent, unneeded, sinful, and… really freakin’ good. Homemade whipped cream, too. Luckily they serve great espresso, which balanced the richness of the pie.

Kudos: Half of the menu is vegan/vegetarian, plus gluten-free options.

Overall: Good food, cozy atmosphere. Secluded from the hubbub of the avenue, the porch is very enjoyable and relaxing in warmer seasons.

 

3sisterscafein.com
6360 Guilford Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46220

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Burger Bar | Chicago

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Service: We showed up on a “busier than usual” Sunday around 3PM and it was a madhouse, but our server handled it pretty well. Food arrived as fast as you can expect during a peak hour.

Booze: If you’re a scotch drinker, don’t bother. Order a beer, they have those. Then finish your dinner with a bourbon milkshake, mm.

Food:

Poutine | fresh cut fries, cheese curds + pan gravy 8

Smokehouse | beef burger, house-smoked brisket, white cheddar, fried pickles + country coleslaw $ 16 

Belly Up | beef burger, cider-braised pork belly, apple slaw + roasted garlic aioli $ 15

Burger of the Month | venison burger, chili, cheddar cheese, jalapeño + house-made fritos 

Malted Milk Ball Madness | milkshake $ 6 + a shot of bourbon $ 3

If variety is the spice of life, Burger Bar is extra spicy. Elk, venison and shrimp burgers, oh my! And such fresh ingredients used. All of the burgers had great flavor, were cooked to the correct temperature ordered and served on fluffy, toasted buns. The smokehouse would have been much better without an excess of BBQ sauce; as a pork purist, I prefer my smoked swine dry and I expected it as so. Poor assumptions aside, it remained a pretty damn good burger. The belly up won best in show. If I weren’t so torn between every single menu item, I’d order it next time. For those sweet potato fanatics, skip the fries and get the tots. 

I almost forgot; the poutine was righteous. Thank you, Quebec.

Kudos: Mug club.

Overall: Better than Kuma’s.

burgerbarchicago.com
1578 n. Clybourn
Chicago, Il 60642

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Mr. Gyro’s

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Service: Order/pick-up at the counter.

Food:

1/2lb Double Cheeseburger Special | topped with gyro meat, lettuce, onion, tomato and tzatziki, with fries and a drink $ 6.50

Decent bite, extremely fast, huge portion, super cheap.

Overall: It’s Greek fast food.

5358 W 38th St
Indianapolis, IN 46254

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