Chicago Dining Guide for Local Fare

Chicago Dining Guide for Local Fare

This Chicago dining guide for local fare just highlights some of my favorite spots. If you are serious foodie like me and are spending the day in Chicago, I recommend adding these to your list to check out while visiting. Most of these places fill up quickly so it is best to get your reservation in at least a few days ahead of time if not weeks before dining.

Click on the restaurants link for directions, hours and menu information

Breakfast/Brunch: Farmhouse

The Farmhouse Chicago, Stuffed French Toast

The Farmhouse Chicago, Stuffed French Toast

This locally owned cafe is located a few minutes from downtown but feels like an old rustic small town cafe you might find in the middle of Iowa. The decor will take you back to your Grandma’s childhood kitchen with antique furnishings and appliances placed throughout the space. Dishes are prepared using local and seasonal ingredients from area producers as well as the restaurants owners farm.

Must try: Stuffed French Toast with extra syrup

Lunch: Fronterra Grill

Frontera Grill Sopecitos Rancheros

Fronterra Grill owned by Celebrity Chef Rick Bayless, is always on my list when visiting the windy city. The elevated Mexican fare is like non other. Rick is passionate about using produce and meats from local farms. The flavor combinations he uses in his dishes set Fronterra Grill apart from any other Mexican restaurants I have tried.

Must try: Sopecitos Rancheros

Snack: Garret’s Popcorn Shop

A visit to Chicago is not complete without a visit to the iconic Garrett’s Popcorn Shop. Once in the door the caramel corn aroma will have your mouth watering. I prefer the Almond Caramel Crisp, but the Garrett Mix that combines sweet Caramel Crisp with savory Cheese Corn is the most popular.

Must try: Garret’s Mix

Dinner: The Girl and The Goat

The Girl and The Goat

Get your reservation in early for The Girl and The Goat owned by celebrity chef Stephanie Izzard.  The dishes are served family style, which make them ideal for sharing. Most come in the “small plate” format so it is ideal to go with a group to try a variety of things. The restaurant serves only dinner and opens at 4:30 pm. This makes a great spot if you are need of dining late as it does not close until 11 pm Sunday – Thursday and 12 am Friday and Saturday.

Must try: Chickpea Fritter

The Girl and The Goat, Chickpea Fritter

The Girl and The Goat, Chickpea Fritter

 

MOD Pizza ~ Blue Springs, MO

MOD Pizza ~ Blue Springs, MO

Hey Kansa City! If you live in Blue Springs your lunch and dinner wait just got shorter!

MOD Pizza is a Seattle based fast casual pizzeria that allows customers to create their own pizza and salads with unlimited topping and is opening in their first location in Blue Springs on April 22. Pizza and salads are passed through a line by employees, named the MOD Squad, and customers can request toppings they would like added. Pizzas are then quickly cooked in a brick-style oven and called out for pick-up at the register when complete.

Below is more information and details from their official press release. I am set to visit later in May and will update with my take on the space so stay tuned!

“MOD offers a truly unique concept by serving customers their own, original creations, while still providing quick service. Everyone can get exactly what they want at no additional cost,” said Scott Womack, president of Womack Restaurants. “Beyond the great pizza, we’re passionate about building a company where we value lifting people up as our first goal.”

The 2,711-square foot location will feature MOD’s signature “Wall of Fame,” an assortment of photos from the community and customers, original artwork from local artists and a patio.

Dedicated to giving back, MOD will be donating 100 percent of their sales to the local non-profit, Drumm Farm, on opening day. The organization helps children in foster care, homeless young adults and those aging out of foster care build successful lives by providing programs and services that support forever family environments, emotional and physical well-being, educational opportunities and personal growth.

“We are honored to partner with MOD for the Blue Springs location opening,” said Brad Smith, executive director of Drumm Farm. “The proceeds will truly make a substantial positive impact on the lifelong success of children and young adults in need of a family and stable environment.”

MOD is known for providing job opportunities to former incarcerated individuals throughout their locations as a way of giving a “second chance” to those ready to integrate back into society.

For more information on the new Blue Springs location or to learn more about MOD Pizza, visit https://www.facebook.com/modpizzabluesprings/.

ABOUT MOD PIZZA

A pioneer of the fast-casual pizza segment, MOD Pizza was founded in Seattle in 2008 by entrepreneurs Scott and Ally Svenson. MOD’s individual artisan-style pizzas and salads are made on demand, letting customers choose whatever they like from over 30 toppings, all for one set price. At the core of MOD is a purpose-led culture that’s committed to being a force for good in the community – creating not only a cool place to eat, but an inspired place to work. MOD was recently ranked as America’s fastest growing chain restaurant by Technomic; earned a spot on the 2016 Inc. 500 list as one of America’s fastest-growing private companies; and was recognized by Fortune as one of the 20 best workplaces in retail for its progressive hiring practices and career-growth opportunities. MOD currently has over 220 locations across 20 states and the U.K. To learn more, visit modpizza.com.

About Womack Restaurants:

Womack Restaurants is a multi-concept restaurant franchise operator based in Terre Haute, IN with development markets in Kansas City, Tulsa, Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio. The Womack team has extensive development and finance experience, having developed nearly all of the IHOPs since 1990, in sometimes complex situations. Womack Restaurants divested its IHOP business in 2014 to focus on expansion of its Popeyes franchise and pursue other concepts. Womack Restaurants is committed to community engagement and partnership, as well as connecting with our country’s leadership.

Strawberry Walnut Spinach Salad

Strawberry Walnut Spinach Salad

This strawberry walnut spinach salad is the epitome of spring.  With fresh berries coming in to season and local farmers markets starting to open, you can get the ingredients at the peak of freshness and support you local farmer all at the same time.

I love the combination of the sweet strawberries with the salty goat cheese and the walnuts add a nice crunch. You can use plain walnuts or take a stab at making these maple glazed walnuts. They are sweet and salty and the perfect addition to this salad. They also make a great snack!

You can top it with any dressing you like.  I like using a balsamic or poppy seed but you can use whatever you like. This salad is great as a side or add a little chicken or protein of choice to make it heartier.

It is absolutely fabulous to serve to a big crowd as you can just get the big one pound  package of spinach from Costco or wherever you shop.  They also have the best goat cheese! Throw in more berries, onion and walnuts and you will have the perfect salad for whatever event you are hosting. It also travels well so can be the perfect dish for a potluck or gathering.

Strawberry Walnut Spinach Salad
Serves 2
_______________________________________________________

1 6 oz Package Fresh Spinach
1/2 Cup Walnut Halves
1/2 Cup Crumbled Goat Cheese
1 Cup Fresh Sliced Strawberries
1/4 Cup Sliced Red Onion

Method:

Place Spinach in large serving bowl. Top with remaining ingredients. Toss and serve with dressing of choice.

 

 

Perfecting the Pizza Crust with Pizzeria Locale

Perfecting the Pizza Crust with Pizzeria Locale

The pizza crust at Pizzeria Locale is perfectly crispy and chewy thanks to the unique wood-fired oven used in the restaurant.

This method of cooking ensures the classic Neapolitan style pizza found in Italy.

Pizzeria Locale is the brainchild of Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey, who own Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado. The name Frasca comes from Italy where Frascas are what Italians call their neighborhood restaurants.

With the success of Frasca, Patterson and Stuckey opened Pizzeria Locale next door to Frasca and it became a successful full service restaurant as well. With the help of friend Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle, they figured out how to make it a fast casual concept while still preserving the old-world flavor.

Kansas City has benefitted from the success of the local Boulder chain as they have expanded by opening three locations in the KC metro. Two are in Overland Park and the other is in KC close to Waldo.

There a few secrets to getting the perfect Neapolitan style pizza in just minutes and the first starts with the pizza crust.

I was lucky enough to attend a dough making class at the135th Street location in Overland Park and had a blast.

Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson was there himself teaching us the tips and tricks to the perfect dough.

You will want to plan ahead for pizza night as once the dough is made it needs to sit overnight. You can find the pizza crust recipe here.

 

If you want to make homemade pizza but just don’t have the time to make made-from-scratch dough, just give the Pizzeria Locale that is closest to you a call and tell them you want some dough balls. They will hook you up with fresh pizza dough. If you get your dough to go, get your favorite pizza toppings together and follow steps 11 through 16.

I highly recommend grabbing some Nutella and take a stab at recreating their Nutella dessert pizza. It is so good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second secret to the amazing pizza at Pizzeria Locale is using top quality ingredients. They even have in house slicer that slices fresh prosciutto to order.

There are classic pizzas on the menu to order and mine is the spicy chicken, But with fresh basil, tomatoes, mozzarella and other fresh veggies and meats your choices are endless, allowing you to build your perfect pie!

Pizzeria Locale Menu

Lastly is the oven and method of baking. To achieve the wood-fired brick oven bake in just minutes, takes Pizzeria Locale’s state-of-the-art oven, engineered specifically for them. It simulates the cooking experience of old-world Italy, but in a way that meets the needs of a fast casual concept restaurant.

Pizzeria Locale’s Oven

The oven works by sending your made-to-order pizza on a journey around a center flame on a rotating hearth. This bakes the pizza on all sides and in three and a half minutes, your pizza is done!

Spicy Chicken Pizza

I was in Italy a few months ago and had my share of pizza. I have to say, the pizza at Pizzeria Locale is just as good as some I had in Florence and Pisa.

If you have not had the chance to check it out, I encourage you to stop in and create you perfect pie. Then take a stab at pizza night at home using their fabulous crust recipe.

Locations in KC include:

11875 W. 95TH STREET, OVERLAND PARK, KS
11AM-10PM DAILY (913) 438-9262

6455 W. 135TH STREET, OVERLAND PARK, KS
11AM-10PM DAILY (913) 851-5975

505 W. 75TH ST, KANSAS CITY, MO
11AM-10PM DAILY (816) 523-1161

In Good Taste,
Sharm

 

Peanut Butter and Strawberry Smoothie

Peanut Butter and Strawberry Smoothie

This Peanut Butter and Strawberry Smoothie uses powdered peanut butter which cuts down on calories without sacrificing that yummy peanut butter taste.

Peanut butter powder can be found pretty regularly anymore.  Some common brands are PB & Me, PB2, PB Fit and Honeyville.

Packed with protein this smoothie will jump start your day and make you feel like a kid again with it’s classic PB&J taste! I like making it after I work out. It is so yummy and makes me feel like I am eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I use almond milk but you can use any kind of milk you like.  Fresh strawberries can be used as well, just throw in a few ice cubes.

Peanut Butter and Strawberry Smoothie

 

Peanut Butter and Strawberry Smoothie
Makes 16 ounces
____________________________________________________________________________

1 Cup Almond Milk or Milk of Choice
1/4 Cup Water
1 Cup Frozen Strawberries
1 Serving Protein Powder of Choice
2 Tablespoons Powdered Peanut Butter

Pour liquids into blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Strawberry Smoothie

Dockum ~ Wichita, KS

Dockum ~ Wichita, KS

The Pharmacist will see you now at Dockum and is sure to cure what ails you with a special hand crafted elixir. Dockum is Wichita’s only underground speakeasy in the area that I know of and has whetted my appetite for the craft cocktails I have grown to love in Kansa City.

Prior to moving to Wichita I would frequent my nieces speakeasy The W in Lee’s Summit, Missouri which is part of the KC metro area. I of course am biased, due to the nature of the owners but have found that the Dockum here in Wichita is wonderful at creating amazing craft cocktails as well and am so glad to have a new place to hang out.

I absolutely love craft cocktails as they are made with fresh ingredients and premium liquors allowing the real flavors to shine. No sugary mixes allowed!  I urge you to gather some friends and spend an evening at Dockum. Not only will you have amazing drinks and a great time, you will be supporting a local Wichita business! If you happen to be in KC make a reservation at The W and tell them Aunt Sharmy sent you!

The history of Dockum dates back to 1958 where Dockum Drug Store was located on the main level of what is now the Ambassador Hotel. Dockum is now located in the basement of the Ambassador Hotel and the only sign that it exists the RX symbol on the staircase.

Photo Credit: @DockumWichita Instagram

As you make your way down the stairs it is clear that this in no ordinary bar. Though no password is required to get in, you will have to knock on the solid wood door that will stand between you and hand crafted elixirs. Once in, the pharmacist can offer you the perfect remedy to cure what ails you.

I have found the the El Kabaong is the best remedy for my current condition. This concoction features Don Q Coconut Rum, Aloe, Pineapple Cream and Habanero Syrup.  The sweet combination of the pineapple and coconut gives me the feeling of being by the ocean enjoying a tropical breeze while watching the palm trees sway.

El Kabong Cocktail

Although, the Peruvian Princess featuring Barsol Pisco, Fig Syrup, Lemon, Rosemary, Foam and Cardamom Bitters is not quite as sweet as the El Kabong it pairs well with the Dockums house-made onion dip and potato crisps when the script is suggested you take with food.

Peruvian Princess

The orange essence and real smoke flavor from the Old Smokin’ Cody is an intoxicating adventure for both taste and smell featuring Cody Road Rye, Cracked Pepper, Cherry Balsamic Shrub, Angostura Bitters and Orange Bitters.

There are quite a few other prescriptions to choose from so you are sure to find a cure for whatever is causing you trouble. If it must be taken with food, in addition to the onion dip and crisps, there are some other small plate options featuring charcuterie, roasted nuts, olives and lebna with pita.

Prior to being the Amabassador Hotel or Dockum Drug Store the building was home to the Union National Bank and in the basement where this speakeasy is located, you will find the original brick walls and the banks vault giving the Dockum a sleek and rustic feel. Candle lit tables and the dark wood bar add to ambiance of stepping back in time. The Vault as it is called,  adds a little sexiness to the space and can and be reserved for small parties wishing for a more intimate private setting.

Photo Credit: @DockumWichita Instagram

Reservations are not required unless you are reserving The Vault but there are a few rules you must follow. Seats at the bar are on a first come, first serve bases and as the patient you must have patience, as your elixir is quite labor intensive to make and may take some time. There are some other rules to follow when consuming you elixir at Dockum including  no ball caps, do not disturb others, discreet cell phone use and of course, taking two and calling them in the morning.