Restaurant of The Week: Big Star

IMG_2204When I moved to Chicago two years ago people constantly bombarded me with all things Chicago, as if I would somehow vanish into thin air if I didn’t try Chicago deep-dish pizza. Over time I started to realize that many of the places that had been recommended to me were places that were well known throughout the city, which doesn’t always mean that the food is the best in the city. From past experience I’ve found that it’s places off the beaten path that will surprise you most. After only a few months of living in Chicago I had been up to my neck in places that people recommended, so when a friend told me how amazing Big Star was, I just added it to the long list of “great restaurants that I just have to try.”

IMG_2194Over time I’ve heard more and more people talk about how fantastic Big star is, but for some reason I was still unconvinced. I’ve walked past the restaurant on several occasions and have seen endless amounts of people waiting to order at the walk up window, but still this didn’t convince me that it was worth trying. Anytime that my friends and I go out in the wicker pack area they like to finish off the night with a trip to Big Star. In the past I’ve always made an excuse as to why I wasn’t going to eat, but this time my friend Felipe didn’t let me off the hook. After much deliberation I didn’t decided to try the Taco De Panza (pork belly). I figured that I would have one taco and then never have to deal with my friends pestering me about trying the tacos. But to my surprise the $3 taco was amazing!  Right away my friends could see the look of satisfaction on my face, and they seemed to have the look of “I told you so on their faces”. Rather than waiting around for them to tell me what I figured was just minutes away from coming out of one of their mouth, I decided to head back to the window. This time I ordered two Taco De Pescado (fish taco). Again, with every bite I felt as if I was  tasting a little piece of heaven. Within a few seconds both tacos were gone! I could help feeling like I had been missing out this whole time. I hope that you don’t! Leave a comment telling us what you think about Big Star

Restaurant of the Week: Smoque BBQ

smoque bbq

The weather here in Chicago has been up and down for the majority of the winter. Two weeks ago the temperature reached 60 degrees. For the entire day all I could think about was summer time here in the city and all the wonderful things that come along with that remarkable time of year. Yup! I’m talking about North Avenue beach, running along the lake, the endless amount of street festivals, and last but not least barbecue!  The first place that came to mind, as I took a trip done memory lane was Smoque’s BBQ. Smoque BBQ is located at 3800 North Pulaski in a small brick building. Two summers ago a few friends and I set out to find the very best barbecue in the city. We visited about seven barbecue restaurants and even went to Ribfest

smoque-bbq-02searching for that perfect BBQ flavor. We were all very satisfied with many of the barbecue restaurants that we visited, but still felt as if we had yet to find the best in the city. My friend Josh was talking to a co-worker the week following Ribfest and was encouraged to take a trip to Smoque BBQ. Once Josh told me about this place, I knew that going the very next weekend was a must. Once we walked up to the restaurant I noticed a line of people wrapped around the side of the building. Complete shock is the best way to describe my feelings after seeing the long line. We jumped in line to start what seemed like a never-ending wait. During the entire wait, the fantastic aroma that was oozing from the restaurant teased us.  About forty minutes later we were finally able to order our food. By this time I was so hungry that everything on the menu was screaming EAT ME! I ended up getting a full slab of St. Louis Style ribs, mac and cheese, and brisket chili. The ribs were very meaty and filled with a tremendous burst of savory flavor, the mac and cheese was baked to perfection with just the right amount of cheese. All of my friends looked to be enjoying their meals just as much as me, which made it that much better. After finishing our meals, each of us agreed that Smoque’s BBQ was by far the best that we’ve had since starting on our quest. You would think that after the amount of barbecue we consumed up to that point that we wouldn’t eat anymore for the rest of the summer.  Well think again! We went back the very next weekend.  Leave a comment telling us about your experience at Smoque’s.

Why Go: The BBQ is the very best! Employees are friendly.

Recommendations: Try to get there early, get the St. Louis Style Ribs, and its BYOB:)

A Taste to Remember

wormholeA few weeks ago I decided to purchase a coffeepot because I’ve been spending an absurd amount of money at Starbucks and could no longer justify doing so. There is nothing like a venti size triple gingerbread latte upside down, but I was sure that I would learn to love coffee made from home.

Of course the only way that I would completely enjoy homemade coffee is if the coffeepot was top of the line. Since I knew absolutely nothing about coffee pots the first thing that I did was look at reviews online. If you get a second, type coffee pots in to the Google search bar and you’ll quickly realize just how difficult this process was for me. Anyhow, after a few hours I narrowed it to the one that I decided to purchase.Making coffee at home is a great way to save money, and in most instances you can get the same quality as Starbucks offer.
coffee cupA week ago I met a friend for coffee at my favorite coffee shop, The WormHole. I’ve gone to The WormHole  a few times a month for at least two years  before buying my cool new coffee pot and consider it one of the best coffee shops in the city. Everything about this place will remind you of the 80’s. There is an old school television with a Nintendo hooked up to keep you hanging around for hours, a ton of cool 80’s posters on the walls and I’m sure you’ll truly enjoy the DeLorean that’s parked right inside the shop. All of the things that I just mentioned are great, but I’ve intentionally saved the best for last, which is the amazingly tasty  coffee! I wish I could go on some long rant about the type of beans that are used, but there is no need for that… Just take my word for it. If you’re walking down Milwaukee Ave and find yourself in need of a pick me up, stop into The WormHole Coffee shop. Good Luck! And Feel Free to leave a comment telling everyone about your experience or recommendations for us.

Why Go:  Excellent coffee at a great price, Nintendo games for days, and fantastic enviroment

Recommendtion: Get the Coo Coo Puffs!

Bar of the Week: Headquarters Beercade

Headquarters-BeercadeLooking for a cool bar to call home? Well You’re in for a treat with this weeks bar of the week. Headquarters is located at 950 W. Wolfram and just blocks from the brown line stop.

A good friend of mine came across Headquarters a few months back and decided that blessing this place with a guy’s night out was a must. Unlike Dave & Busters,  Headquarters has more of a old school arcade feel to it. After walking in, I felt as if I’d just went trough a time warp back to the 90’s. there are about 30 televisions perfectly placed around the bar. All of which were playing reruns of WWF Summer Slam! IMG_0286By the time that the excitement started to subside I realized that all of the arcade games were free! Yes, this means endless amounts of Pac-Man, Contra, and Street Fighters just to name a few. There were about five bartenders on duty, two servers walking around taking drink orders, and a very short wait at the bar. One of the first things that stood out to me after looking over the menu was the beer selection. Headquarters    beer list  features a large amount of premium beers, which I found to be amazing because trying new beers is something that I love doing. My friends and I spent about four hours trying all types of beer, playing games, and watching WWF Summer Slam before deciding that it was time to call it a night.  Headquarters is the type of bar that you’ll go into and lose track of time, meet new friends, and relive some of those childhood memory’s. Since that night, I’ve returned or three separate occasions and the place just keeps getting better and better each time.

Why Go: All Games are free, Great beer selection, Friendly bartenders

Recommendations: Try the Wake up Dead, or Founders Keeper

Restaurant of the Week: Gyu Kaku-Chicago

gyu kaku 2

Looking for a great place to relax with friends? Look no further, because I got you covered. Gyu-Kaku can be found at 210 East Ohio Street. There is a tremendous amount of space, which means that reservations won’t be necessary. Very friendly waiting staff, management will find ways of  accommodating your needs (must be reasonable of course), and more importantly  the food is great.

While walking down Michigan Ave. with a friend this past summer Gyu-Kaku caught our attention. Though it was the summer time and people tend to find  reasons for getting out of the house, we were both still very surprised at the amount of people at the restaurant because it was 2:00pm on a sunday. After walking in the front door we were greeted by a gang of happy workers and quickly seated at a very unique table. This was the first time that I’ve been to a restaurant with this type of concept and had no idea what to expect. gyu kakuI’m not a fan of chain restaurants and had low expectations, before realizing that we would be cooking our own food right at the table. This means that the only person to blame if your food isn’t cooked exactly the way that you would like is yourself. Lucky for us we made it just in time to take full advantage of the happy hour menu.  One of the most appealing things about Gyu-Kaku to me, is the fact that happy hour is from 11am-3pm, 3pm-6pm, and 9pm- close! Half priced food and reasonably priced alcohol kept me and my friend at the restaurant for about three hours. Since the first time visiting Gyu-Kaku back in June it has been my go-to restaurant here in Chicago.  Rather I’m looking to get drinks before heading out on the town, relaxing with my girlfriend, or just having a guy’s night out, Gyu-Kaku tends to be my first choose and I hope that it becomes yours!

Why Go:Gyu-KaKu   features an all day happy hour menu – cheap drinks  – friendly waiting staff – short wait on most days  – clean environment. 

My Recommendation:  – Great place for dates – The Kobe Beef  is a must try – If you are feeling adventurous try the Gyu-Tan (beef tongue) -The Filet Tail is my favorite -Ask your server for the rewards card if you plan on returning. (for every $500.00 you spend, you’ll get $25.00 off your meal).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  –Cheers