I love diners. So no wonder Stephanie Izard’s new hotspot Little Goat is now my favorite restaurant. I have a deep, emotional attachment to diners. My family moved to Arkansas when I was 9 from the east coast, so trips back to New York City always featured a visit to Waverly Diner near our old apartment in the Village. The mid-South simply doesn’t have a culture conducive to diners. Diners represent equality like no other eating establishment. In violent movies & TV shows diners are often used to create a ‘Switzerland’ environment for the characters to host détentes. Think about Breaking Bad, When Harry Met Sally, Seinfeld, etc…
The most epic diner scene of all time… Pulp Fiction
On New Year’s Day I went with a pal, just three days after the diner officially opened. Although there was a waitlist for booths and tables, they offered us a spot at the bar with no wait. We snatched up the opportunity and sat next to none other than Steve ‘Hungry Hound’ Dolinsky. I didn’t recognize him, not even the seven plates of food arrayed in front of him was enough to jog my memory. I knew he was a food critic (duh), but it wasn’t until a fan came up to introduce herself that I realized it was him. Let me just say, that man can eat an insane amount of food.
Parathas Burrito with avocado-bean salad
I went dramatically outside my comfort zone and ordered the Parathas Burrito. I have food allergies and sensitivities severe enough that I carry an Epipen and prednisone in case I experience anaphylaxis… again. I know what I’m allergic to, but you just never know – especially in more complex dishes. I timidly took a bite of the parathas slathered in hot sauce and waited, just to be sure. All good! The burrito was excellent, because it combined two of my favorite things – dippy eggs and indian food. Brilliant. Plus, the little ‘mom’ inside me was proud of myself for not ordering the most boring (read: SAFE) item on the menu, which is what I usually do at new restaurants.
The holy grail of breakfast food
The second time I went I ordered the Corned Beef Hash and I can say – without risking a U-Turn accusation of ‘being hyperbolic’ – that it was the single greatest breakfast dish I have ever eaten in my 26 years. Ever.
Little Goat adventure numero tres was all about the Tomato Apple Soup with ‘yay toast’ and several bites off my friend’s The Fat Club sandwich, which was epic in size. And the bread? Yeah, Stephanie replaced butter in the recipe with duck fat drippings. If Ron Swanson was a real person, this is the only kind of toast he’d eat. Oh, and as if Anthony Bourdain wasn’t already in love with her food, she went and made bread with the ‘nectar of the gods’…
820 West Randolph Street
Open 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Photos courtesy of Lyric Opera
What does a trip to Lyric Opera and dancing to Poolside at Primary Nightclub until 2 a.m. have in common? They’re both awesome. Last Friday my friend Erinn and I hit up the Lyric Opera’s performance of Hansel & Gretel. The opera was a blast, if only for the sheer genius of watching adults dress up like children. Soaring arias in German are performed inside of a Pink Floyd’s The Wall meets Bahaus set. I said this last time I wrote about the opera – you’ll never hear people sing this well without microphones. Anywhere. Opera singers are the best in the world, and Chicagoans are so lucky to have such a highly prized cultural institution that supports singers of this caliber. Trust me when I tell you to go see it – you’ve never seen anything this weirdly brilliant.
Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonalds
One of the great mysteries of the universe. Why does fast food taste so good after fancy events?
After laughing uncontrollably with Erinn over ketchup-smothered french fries (that’s usually how we roll), I headed off to Primary Nightclub to meet up with my pal Frazier from Soundfuse Online Magazine to catch Poolside perform. I try to avoid being near the Viagra Triangle after 8 p.m. as a rule of thumb. Sorry Rush/Division crowd, it’s just not my scene. Maybe there are places around there cooler than Mother’s Too or Detention, but I have yet to see them. I loved to go to Sonotheque, but it closed shortly after I moved to Chicago. When I go out at night I go to shows. I don’t drink alcohol, so standing around a crowded bar listening to the Top 40 hits while sipping tonic water is an exquisitely painful form of Chinese Water Torture. I only go out for live electronica or a well-recommended DJ, so that tends to restrict me to places that are more venue than bar like Smartbar, Congress, and Metro etc.
Poolside came on after a few great opening DJs (including REDUX). Filip and Jeffrey slid right into the gooey, relaxing ‘daytime disco’ for which they’ve developed a cult following – including me. I love listening to Poolside while street-style hunting and traveling around the city. Typically I love any dream-like music on the spectrum from nightmare (Hybrid) to ambient fantasy (Sigur Ros). I danced for over three hours in heels, so that alone should tell you how magnetic Poolside is. I’m not a music critic, but I know what I like. Hours breezed past as I lost myself in the sounds. The crowd oscillated around me, and I could tell from the energy that everyone was transported to a different state by the music.
Aside from the mildly unflattering angle, I do love this photo of my Zara smoke-print dress.
Photo via Soundfuse
When I left around 2 a.m., I walked past several bars overflowing with Jersey Shore wannabes, blaring non-ironically bad music like Darude. There’s a new gem on Division Street, and they have no idea what they’re missing, I thought to myself as I watched cops break up a drunken brawl spilling out of a nondescript bar. All the better for people like me who truly appreciate electronica and want to celebrate the Chicago roots of House music.
Division Street, I was wrong about you..
Nothing screams Christmas in Chicago like watching the CTA Holiday Train pull into your L station, especially if you’re least expecting it. Yesterday, I spotted the train on my way home from street-style hunting and it made me so happy! Delightfully tacky and full of Christmas cheer, the Holiday Train is covered in Christmas lights and features an open-bed car with Santa Claus in sleigh drawn by reindeer. The inside looks like the North Pole on LSD and even features cinnamon scent pumped through the ventilation system so the train smells like Christmas.
The Holiday Train is an iconic tradition in Chicago, and every year tons of CTA employees volunteer 100% of the time and money needed to decorate and run the train – just so all you grinches out there know your public tax dollars weren’t wasted. In fact, the real purpose of the train (aside from spreading joy, obviously) is to bring food baskets donations by CTA employees to charities across the city.