It’s been a week since we got back from Chicago, and we’re pretty excited about going back there when the weather’s a lot warmer. Here’s a quick rundown of the rest of our Chicago trip.
Hot Chocolate offers a menu of comfort food from savory to sweet, but the savory dishes we had were disappointing. The mac and cheese tasted good, but the cheese was more soupy than cheesy. A hamburger with fried egg is one of my favorite things to eat, but Hot Chocolate’s was surprisingly boring. Also boring was the Lamb and Krema Kasa, which sounded great on paper: sourdough flatbread with housemade lamb sausage, Carr Valley Krema Kasa cheese, wild arugula, and oregano oil served with pickled beets.
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Despite this, I wholeheartedly recommend Hot Chocolate for their dessert and pastries. I had a coffee cocoa nib milkshake with my burger that was really good, and it was accompanied by cookies that were great for dipping. For dessert, my wife ordered the Chocolate Again (40 percent), a “milky” chocolate pot de créme served with peanut butter and concord grape jelly sandwich, peanut butter blondie, and milk chocolate peanut brittle, which was really good. I had a Mexican hot chocolate that was easily the best thing I ordered all night. It was a rich mix of 2/3 dark chocolate, 1/3 milk chocolate, and cinnamon, served with a housemade marshamallow. It was nice to see that Hot Chocolate lived up to its name.
Chicago-based Argo Tea offers a wide selection of teas, signature drinks, and food in a cool, hip setting, and two hours of free WiFi helps keep customers inside the shop when it’s cold outside. My wife’s Green Tea Ginger Twist was a bit heavy on the ginger, which she liked but I thought was undrinkable. I have no idea if expansion is in Chicago-based Argo’s future, but if they did, Argo could be the Starbucks of tea. I know I’d go at least for the free WiFi.
I’ve been a fan of Vosges for a long time, and came to love them more when they started selling Mo’s Bacon Bar, their notoriously awesome bacon chocolate bar. Luckily, Vosges is right across the street from Argo Tea, so we just had to stop by.
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They have a wide selection of their interesting truffles on hand, as well as every chocolate bar they make and some special gift sets that are great for any chocolate lover.
951 W. Armitage
Chicago, IL 60614 map
Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse
We were desperate for a nice place to eat near the Wyndham O’Hare, and someone in our party really wanted a steak. A quick Google Map search on the iPhone directed us toward Harry Caray’s, which was literally around the corner.
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Despite being an obvious tourist trap, Harry Caray’s is a really good steakhouse. They have a wide variety of steaks available, including grass-fed beef. I ordered the grass-fed filet, which was really nice. My wife’s scallops, were a tad bit overcooked but the dish as a whole was solid. Creamed spinach was also very good, but like most things, could have used a little bacon :-). The rest of our party was also very happy that we found Harry Caray’s. They took our last-minute party of six with ease, service was excellent, and they had no problems splitting up our check three ways.
I was up early on Sunday and IM-ing with another friend who’s from Chicago and suggested I hit up Culver’s for some frozen custard. Sure it was 27 degrees outside, but I’m always down for some frozen desserts. Plus, I knew my wife would want some too during a break from her convention. I picked up a pint of chocolate frozen custard that was really good, but what we really liked was the smooth texture.
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Culver’s also serves up butterburgers. Yes, that means burgers fried in butter, so you know I was going to order one. Overall, I thought the burger was good, but I also thought the bun was a bit large. It made what was between the bread look almost insignificant. The serve the burger with a pickle on top of the bun, which I thought was cute, but for people who hate pickles, they might be put off by pickles touching the bread.
Mr. Beef on North Harlem
On the our last day in town, I wanted to complete our eating tour of Chicago with some Italian beef, so we headed over to Mr. Beef on North Harlem before going to the airport.
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I got an Italian beef with peppers but made the mistake of not ordering it with mozzarella cheese, which would have rounded out the textures and flavors a lot better. Oh, well…next time. :-) My wife had a meatball sandwich that was so good she said it made her want to “vomit up every Subway meatball sub I’ve ever had.” I also ordered some chili that was pretty good, especially since it was so cold outside.
Overall, Italian beef is a good thing, and I’ll definitely try it again some day.
Mr. Beef on North Harlem
917 N Harlem Ave.
Chicago, IL 60634 map