I recently had a slew of disappointing dining experiences. You know that sunken feeling in your stomach after everyone on Instagram hyped up the restaurant and you found yourself scratching your head wondering what the big deal was? Then realizing you were deceived because of sponsorships and superficial realities like that. I cautiously entered Etta wondering if it was actually going to be a delicious dining experience or whether it was going to be yet another hyped up disappointment fueled by Instagram. Etta (the E is lower case) was nowhere near a disappointment.
I feel like there’s a plethora of delicious taco joints throughout Chicago, but I have a hard time finding delicious Enchiladas in the city. Maybe I’m just not going to the right places, but the more authentic places tend to not have the best vegetarian options for their enchiladas even though their sauces are phenomenal. They are always vibrant and flavorful. One of my favorite “Mexican” dishes are enchiladas because of how saucy they are…
Bellemore is the less traditional, let your hair out sibling of Boca. While Boca is fine-dining and more traditional, Bellemore is a little more experimental and hip with similar price-points and a similar level of refinement and deliciousness. The layout and aesthetic reminded me of Proxi, another favorite restaurant of mine that is across the street from Bellemore. I wonder if Proxi’s aesthetic influenced Bellemore’s style or if it’s a mere coincidence. The lighting was just right without it being too dimly lit but not too overly bright where you feel like you’re in a mall.
I was inspired to cook Szechuan Eggplant after purchasing some Japanese eggplant from the farmers market. While I have cooked with regular eggplant many times, Japanese eggplant is long, lean, and purple. It’s absolutely beautiful. Szechuan eggplant is also quite simple to make, but you do need to baby the eggplant a bit since it is really easy to overcook and undercook it.
While Portland has plenty of dive bars located in unassuming street corners, it has quite a thriving international food scene. Not only do they have amazing vegan and vegetarian food, they have a prominent Indian and Vietnamese food scene. I also had Swedish food there, which is not really a popular European cuisine in the U.S., so that was refreshing. Did I fall in love with Portland the way I fell in love with Seattle? No. But I am so happy I was able to experience Portland in its sustainable, vegan glory.
Have you ever been to a vegan prix-fixe dinner? I hadn’t been or even heard of this amazing concept until I went to Seattle. Most prix-fixe restaurants in Chicago tend to be pretty meat-centric with a sprinkling of seafood and it’s kind of a pain to switch because you want to get your money’s worth. But we didn’t have to worry about this in Seattle. We could eat everything on the prix-fixe menu, as is, and not pay an arm and a leg at $65 per person. It is definitely a special occasion, but it is much more affordable than other prix-fixe experiences.
Mountains, evergreen trees, the Pacific Ocean, a haven for vegans – is the Pacific Northwest all its cracked out to be? Yes, it is, in every possible way. Is it the most racially diverse and cutting edge place? No. Is it celebrating sustainability and environmentalism? Yes…and they have a statue of Lenin. I didn’t know what to expect from Seattle and had grand expectations for Portland as a fan of Portlandia. I ended up falling in love with Seattle and as someone who isn’t an “outdoorsy” person, I fell in love with its gorgeous nature.
Lula has been part of the Logan Square community for 17 years prior to the more recent explosion of restaurants, bars, and cafes. I have had the pleasure of coming here for both brunch and dinner multiple times. While I am more of a fan of their dinner options, their brunch is also delicious and affordable. The environment is quaint and cute within a somewhat eclectic and charming space. Their patio is always packed full of diners on balmy summer nights. Their service has always been accommodating and the servers are knowledgeable and proud of their food.