Italy: Taking a Food Tour in Rome

Best Rome Food Tour

Mr. P and I are all about food, especially when traveling.  A coworker recommended Eating Italy Tours to us, so I booked a Trastevere walking tour.  To be honest, I did zero research and just booked it.  I trust the foodies at my office.

Our Thoughts on the Food Tour

Come on an empty stomach.  We ate so. much. food.  Some places we had little bites.  At others, it was much more.  We sat down as a group and shared three platters of pasta and wine at one stop and sat at another restaurant for dessert at the end!

Best Rome Food Tour

We learned a lot about local food and how it’s made.  So many of the places we stopped at had been in business for decades or even generations.  The pride in their work was evident and the food was amazing.  At the porchetta shop, the owner’s 90+ year old mother still sits at the register.

Best Rome Food Tour

We learned how to tell real gelato from fake.  I consider this a necessary public service announcement so I wrote about it in its own separate post.

Best Rome Food Tour

Easy-going, good-sized group.  As you know, I don’t like tours generally.  I make exceptions for food tours and this one was great.  I didn’t feel like I was getting herded along.  It was nice, down to Earth, and with a good-sized group.

We went back to several places we visited.  Later on that same day, Mr. P had to go back and get a porchetta sandwich.  It was a real porchetta emergency.  We also had snacks and dinner at one of the other restaurants and had the best cacio e pepe of our time in Rome!

Best Rome Food Tour

You get a list of the stops at the end.  Don’t worry about writing everything down!

They helped us with restaurant reservations.  We passed by a restaurant that we’d been trying to get into for dinner.  Even though it wasn’t on the tour, the guide stepped in for us and got us dinner reservations!

In sum, I’m still dreaming about what we ate.  It was that good.

Best Rome Food Tour

Should You Go?

At 75€ per person, it’s a bit pricey but you get a huge amount of food and an English-speaking guide.  I wholeheartedly recommend it if you even remotely like food.  You don’t have to be a big foodie to enjoy it, it’s paced well, and you get to stop in places you never would have thought to check out.  It was time very well spent for us!  They cater to some food allergies/issues, so check it out!

Eating Italy Tours

Note, I am not listing our stops on the tour here as it would not be nice to the company.  I received zero compensation from the tour company for my thoughts here — they don’t even know I’m writing this review.  To the extent we visited any of the stops on our own, I will talk about those experiences in another post.

We traveled to Italy in May 2015.  Click here for all of my tips and things we wish we’d known before our trip!

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Italy: How to Tell Real Gelato from Fake

How to Tell Real from Fake Gelato in Italy

Did you know that most gelato you will see in Italy is fake?  Yes, fake as in made from a powder and pumped full of air.  80% of gelato in Rome is fake.

Don’t let the “artigianale” (artisinal) signs fool you.  We saw plenty of fake gelato that was labeled artigianale.

Look at the colors.  Real gelato will not have artificial colors.  Look closely at mint and banana.  Real mint gelato is white, not green.  Real banana is greyish and not yellow.  If you find green mint or yellow banana, it’s probably fake gelato.  The color of the gelato should exist in nature.

How to Tell Real from Fake Gelato in Italy

Look at how it’s displayed. Is the gelato piled up into pretty puffy mounds?  Then it’s probably fake.  The pretty mounds mean that the gelato has had air whipped into it and likely contains stabilizers.  Real gelato will be displayed very simply.  Some of the real gelato we saw was kept in covered containers!

Is it garnished? Are there piles of mint leaves on the mint or strawberries all over the strawberry gelato?  Then it might be fake.  Again, real gelato doesn’t need to advertise.

How to Tell Real from Fake Gelato in Italy

Yes, it can be challenging to avoid the fake stuff and find the real stuff.  On the plus side, if you avoid the fake gelato it will keep you from eating gelato every three seconds on your trip.

Even being careful to find the real stuff, I still averaged about 1.5 gelatos a day during our two week trip.  It can be done!

Italy: Tips for Eating Out in Rome

Eating Out in Rome by Natalie Parker

Eating out in Rome was actually stressful.  It’s something we weren’t expecting.

My thoughts below apply mostly to the Trastevere area, avoiding the tourist restaurants.  I’m sure there’s more to this and we could have spent more time in Rome to get to know it better, but I hope for the casual traveler, this will help soften the blow a bit.

Make reservations beforehand.  We called several days in advance to many places and were consistently told they had absolutely no availability at all for any of the days we were there.  Not early in the evening or late at night.  I honestly find that hard to believe but maybe I’m missing something.  Looking back, I would have tried to call a month ahead of time (which still kind of seems outrageous, we weren’t looking at five star restaurants).

Walk ups are possible, but you have to be forward or the staff will ignore you.  This was a bit of a shock to the system.  I’ve never experienced it before — in any country I’ve been in, even in famously “rude” France, someone at least acknowledges your presence when you are trying to get a table.  After having all restaurant staff ignore us, we had to physically flag someone down and ask if they had room.  We were mostly treated like a bother and that they were doing us a favor by even talking to us.  This wasn’t the case at every place we tried, and I’ll highlight those in a roundup of restaurants later.

We had some really great meals and not everyone was aloof or indifferent.  But, I think this is worth noting if you’re traveling to Rome just so you’re in the right mindset.  Again, expectations are everything when traveling, so if we’d known that eating out was going to be a contact sport, we’d have been in the right mindset for it.

Just like in Paris, not every place will do dishes justice.  While it’s easier to find a decent plate of pasta in Rome than soup a l’oignon in Paris, we still had some mediocre dishes.  For the times we had to dip into touristy restaurants, we had much better luck with the pizza (pizza is harder to mess up?).

Have you been to Rome before?  I’d love to know if our experience was unique.

Dublin: Where to Eat

Dublin Food by Natalie Parker

Hear this: good food all around in Dublin.  Really really good and really easy to access.

Dublin is a smallish city with a population of just over 500,000 as opposed to London’s 8 million.  Everything is very well contained and we walked to most of our meals.

I hate to think we have to maximize our meal opportunities on trips (it leads to a big letdown if we have a bad meal), but we totally did here.  We did not have even a mediocre meal!

Note: everything was a great value.  I was shocked sometimes at how much we got for the price.  It certainly helped that the euro was tanking during our trip, but even that aside, the food was a better value in Dublin than back home in Oakland.

Breakfast and Brunch

BROTHER HUBBARD

I’d read about this a few places and our apartment was next door!  No excuse not to go.  It was very busy and I can see why: the food is excellent.  I had the semolina pancakes with ricotta and berries (at the top of this post), while Mr. P had the beans and pulled pork.

Dublin Food by Natalie Parker

It’s a little small inside.  If you have more than two people, get there early.  While you wait for a table, you can get coffee next door (see below).  They also have a second location called Sister Sadie on Harrington Street.

Brother Hubbard, 153 Capel Street, Dublin 1 | Click here for map

LITTLE BROTHER

Next door to Brother Hubbard and owned by the same folks is Little Brother.   They have a few counter seats and serve the pastries, drinks, and other quick breakfast items from the restaurant.

Dublin Food by Natalie Parker

We dropped in for some tea and pastries before our Jameson tour — it’s about a 10 minute walk from there to the Old Jameson Distillery.

Little Brother, 153 Capel Street, Dublin 1 | Click here for map

MEETING HOUSE SQUARE FARMER’S MARKET

Instead of sitting for brunch, we decided to check out the Meeting House Square Market and it did not disappoint.  It’s a Saturday market and fit really nicely in our schedule!

The market is mostly prepared foods with a small bit of produce.  Not that I’m complaining — it’s small but everything looked excellent!

I started with a hot chocolate which could have been a meal in and of itself.  This is the way hot chocolate should be done: made from chocolate hand chopped on the spot and thick enough to double as a dipping sauce.

Dublin Food by Natalie Parker

Mr. P had a sausage roll (not pictured) and I had a vegetarian Indian dish (or 2 dishes, she let me get half of each): paneer with a tomato based sauce and a chickpea and veggie curry.  I had her go light on the rice since it was a ton of food.  Even with Mr. P helping, I couldn’t finish it and took it back to the apartment to finish later.  I think it was 6-ish euros for the whole thing — a bargain!

Dublin Food by Natalie Parker

A big attraction at the market were the oysters.  The oyster vendor had a long table set up for people to sit and enjoy oysters and wine.

Meeting House Square Farmer’s Market, Meeting House Square (Temple Bar), Dublin; Saturdays 10am – 4:30pm | Click here for map

Lunch

THE PIE MAN CAFE

Picture this: just landed, need food.  We walked across the river to Temple Bar and looked around.  This cafe is located in tourist/bar central, but was very good and just what we needed.

Dublin Food by Natalie Parker

It’s a cute quick eats place — they serve up the pies warm and hand them right over the counter.  I had the steak & Guinness pie with mushy peas and Mr. P had the chicken & whiskey with mash.  I think we spent just over €20 for two pies, sides, and two beers.

The Pie Man Cafe, 14A Crown Alley, Dublin 2 | Click here for map

FALLON & BYRNE FOOD COUNTER

Fallon & Bryne is a food hall plus a restaurant.  They have a prepared food counter inside the food hall and we popped in there for lunch on our second day.  The food counter is kind of like the prepared food counters at Whole Foods.

Dublin Food by Natalie Parker

The food hall wasn’t quite as big as others that I’m used to, but it was cute.  I wouldn’t make a special trip to the food counter (unless you are going for dessert, which looked amazing), but it was worth it to stop in before we headed to Guinness.

I had a onion and goat cheese tart and Mr. P had sausages and mash.  The tart was excellent!

Fallon & Byrne, 11-17 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2 | Click here for map

BRUXELLES

More on Bruxelles over in the drinking post, but Mr. P and I split an order of fish and chips there.  Two thumbs up on the whole plate, the mushy peas were done really well.  If you’re considering some classic pub food, go here!

Bruxelles, 7-8 Harry Street, Dublin 2 | Click here for map

Dinner

L. MULLIGAN GROCER

I made a reservation here for our first night in town.  The gastropub menu totally spoke to us — beer pairings for everything, including dessert!

Dublin Food by Natalie Parker

Dinner was good and dessert was excellent.  I had the mussels and Mr. P had the burger — he loved the house-made chili ketchup (and the man usually hates ketchup).

The real reason the menu spoke to us was because there was a cheese plate for 1 for dessert.  I love sweets for dessert, he loves cheese.  It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a cheese plate for 1!  He was smitten.  He also got the recommended whiskey pairing.  We were both pleased as punch and at that point, I thought this is going to be an awesome weekend.  Fun how a dish will do that to you.

Dublin Food by Natalie Parker

We had a 7pm reservation and the place was not full yet.  It started picking up around 8 and had a nice buzz.

L. Mulligan Grocer, 18 Stoneybatter, Dublin 7 | Click here for map

THE LARDER

We walked by this place after finishing at Guinness — such a gorgeous interior.  I didn’t get a picture of the massive flower arrangement in the window and am bummed about it.

Dublin Food by Natalie Parker

The Larder is a restaurant and a brewhouse (I know, sign us up!).  Mr. P imbibed in the excellent house beers.  Our favorite dish was actually the starter: jambalaya balls with gravy.

The Larder has two dinner seatings, one around 5-6pm and a second one at 8:15.  We were able to get a reservation for the 8:15pm seating when we popped in there at 6.  When we ate, the restaurant was full and abuzz, so I recommend booking if you can.

Dublin Food by Natalie Parker

The host gave us the excellent recommendation for the Porterhouse, which is just on the next block and a great place for pre-dinner drinks!

The Larder, 8 Parliament Street, Dublin 2 | Click here for map

THE PORT HOUSE PINXTO

Tapas and Spanish food are big in Dublin.  I wasn’t planning on trying them, but after a couple of days of solid heavy food, tapas sounded perfect.

Port House Pinxto is another place with a beautiful interior.  But, it’s dark inside which doesn’t lend itself to food photography.

Dublin Food by Natalie Parker

I can’t remember everything we ordered but it was excellent.  What I do remember was that we ordered five tapas dishes plus split a bottle of cava and the bill was less than €80.  I’d expect to pay well over $100 at home for as much food as we got.

The Port House Pinxto, 12 Eustace Street, Dublin 2 | Click here for map

FADE STREET SOCIAL

This was on my radar before we left and I made a reservation for our last night.  It’s a huge space with a restaurant, a bar, a tapas bar, and more.  The bar was buzzing but there was plenty of room in the restaurant when we were there.

We shared the beef braise for two: it was amazing and everything a good beef stew should be.  It has a light parsnip puree on top, which is why it looks white in the picture.

Dublin Food by Natalie Parker

On the side we split fries drizzled with truffled goat cheese and some peas and carrots to balance it out.  Both were just as excellent as the stew!

Fade Street Social, 4 Fade Street, Dublin 2 | Click here for map

Dessert & Snack

MURPHY’S ICE CREAM

We went here after our tapas dinner and I’m so happy we had time for it.  Murphy’s is a small artisinal maker and uses fresh local ingredients.  You won’t see these flavors elsewhere!

Dublin Food by Natalie Parker

I had the sea salt and the chocolate chip.  Mr. P had the caramelized brown bread.  Amazing.

Murphy’s Ice Cream, 27 Wicklow Street, Dublin 2 | Click here for map

SHERIDAN’S CHEESEMONGERS

Sheridan’s is very close to Grafton Street – a great place to stop and get a snack!  Mr. P wanted to get some cheddar to snack on and keep back at the apartment.  It’s a cute little shop with excellent service.  I think we were in, sampled cheese, and had our cheese wrapped to go within 10 minutes.

Dublin Food by Natalie Parker

Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, 11 South Anne Street, Dublin 2 | Click here for map

Let’s review: tons of excellent food, many walking distance from the center of town, and great values.  Go to Dublin!

Click here to see a photo index for all my posts on Ireland

Mr. P and I traveled to Dublin for a long weekend in March.  Learn how to plan a trip to Europe for the weekend (even coming all the way from California) here

Where to Eat the French Classics in Paris

French Classics by Natalie Parker

Now that you have some great tips on how to eat out, let’s put it to some good use.

I prefer cafe dining in Paris.  Yes, we’re big foodies, yes, there are some fabulous restaurants, and yes, we do eat at restaurants when we visit.  But whiling away my time in a Parisian cafe sipping wine and eating classic dishes is my idea of heaven.

Remember my hamburger analogy, not every cafe will do these dishes well.  Here are my absolute favorites.

Soupe a l’oignon – Le Comptoir des Saints-Pères

This was my first meal ever in Paris.  Looking back on it, I’m so very lucky that I happened to find a cafe serving soupe a l’oignon and it happened to be done very well.  More than other dishes, soupe a l’oignon can be mediocre at cafes.  Finding a good one is a treasure.  I’ll never leave Paris without stopping at Le Comptoir for soup.

Le Comptoir des Saints-Pères closes early (except when they do live jazz on Thursdays but we’ve never been).

French Classics by Natalie Parker

Le Comptoir des Saints-Pères, 6th Arrondissement
29 Rue des Saints-Pères, 75006 Paris, France

Steak Frites – Café des Musées

This is another dish that can be mediocre if you’re not careful.  I read about Café des Musées from David Lebovitz, then dragged Mr. P and our expat friend there when they were only semi-hungry.  The smell of cooking steak hits you when you walk in the door.  You can’t not order a steak when you smell it.  Reservations are recommended, but they do have a large downstairs to handle overflow if you walk in.

French Classics by Natalie Parker

Yes, I know Le Bistro Paul Bert is supposed to be the place for steak frites in Paris.  Every time I try to go there, something happens and it never works out.  Someday I’ll eat there and report back!

Café des Musées, 3rd Arrondissement
49 Rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris

Salade au Chevre Chaud – Le Saint-Séverin

Tucked in a lane with a ton of touristy, not-great eateries is this little gem of a cafe.  Mr. P and I first found it when we needed a place to duck out of the rain.  You can sit outside under the overhang, eat some excellent food, and watch throngs of people move about while you relax.

French Classics by Natalie Parker

What’s a salade au chevre chaud?  The best thing ever.  It’s a salad with warm goat cheese.  Le Saint-Séverin does theirs with an excellent vinagrette, tomatoes, two big pieces of ham, and two huge wheels of chevre.  Mr. P loves it when I order it because he always gets to have some of the cheese.

Le Saint-Séverin, 5th Arrondissement
5 Rue Saint-Séverin, 75005 Paris

Omelette Mixte – Le Comptoir des Saints-PÈres

Mr. P says this is one of the better omelettes he’s ever had in Paris and always has a tough time deciding whether to get this or the soupe a l’oignon.  It’s cooked perfectly, it’s buttery, and has excellent ham and cheese.

French Classics by Natalie Parker

Le Comptoir des Saints-Pères, 6th Arrondissement
29 Rue des Saints-Pères, 75006 Paris, France

Crepes – Creperie Oroyona

Crepe stands are everywhere in Paris and it’s fairly easy to find a good one.  Every so often, you’ll happen upon a great crepe stand.  There are a ton of creperies on Rue Mouffetard, but this one is our favorite.  We tried it late one night because it had the longest line.  The jamon et fromage (ham and cheese) and citron sucre (lemon juice and sugar) are always what we order.

French Classics by Natalie Parker

Creperie Oroyona, 5th Arrondissement
36 Rue Mouffetard, 75005 Paris

Boeuf Bourguignon – Le Nazir

Boeuf Bourguignon is not as ubiquitous on cafe menus.  I was thrilled when I found it on the menu here and even more thrilled when it was excellent.

French Classics by Natalie Parker

Le Nazir, 18th Arrondissement
56 Rue des Abbesses, 75018 Paris

Extra: Salads at Le Relais Gascon

I had to add this even though it’s unique and I haven’t seen salads like this elsewhere in Paris.  We were looking for a casual dinner one night and stumbled upon this place.  I was in the mood for chicken, but everyone was eating salads out of these huge earthenware bowls.  We got with the program and each ordered one.  There are a variety of salads on the menu, but they all come topped with potatoes.  So so so very good.

French Classics by Natalie Parker

Le Relais Gascon, 18th Arrondissement
6 Rue des Abbesses, 75018 Paris

You won’t find Salade Niçoise on the list.  We don’t like olives, so there.  I’m still on the hunt for a good sole meuniere so I can pretend that I’m Julia Child having her first meal in France.

Do you have a favorite place to eat in Paris?  Please share!

French Classics by Natalie Parker

How to Eat out in Paris: 11 tips

Paris Fall 2014 Snapshots by Natalie Parker

Eating is my favorite thing to do in Paris.  Mr. P and I usually have a first and second breakfast most days we’re there.

Here are my tips for eating out in Paris.  It’s a long list but eating out in Paris isn’t hard.  With the info below, you’ll feel a little more comfortable and look a teensy bit like a local!

Parisian food is more than just crepes and onion soup.  Paris is an international city with a cutting edge food scene.  You aren’t going to find crepes in every restaurant just like you won’t find a burger in every restaurant in the US.  Paris also has fantastic ethnic food.  But there’s nothing wrong with seeking out the classics.  I love eating the classics and I don’t care if it’s blasé.

Eating at Cafes.  The cafe culture is huge in Paris (it’s even nurtured by the government).  A cafe is different than a restaurant.  Cafes are where you will find the classics like steak frites, omelettes, and onion soup.  Most cafes serve their entire menu all day, so any time you are feeling like tucking in for soup a l’oignon, go for it!

Carte = menu, Menu = pre fixe.  The “carte” is what you would consider a menu.  If you see “menu” listed and a series of dishes underneath, it means a set pre fixe menu.  A menu can be a good deal so consider it!

Not all dishes will be awesome.  I’ve had some mind-blowing soup a l’oignon and I’ve had some terrible ones.  Just because a cafe has a classic dish on the menu doesn’t mean it will be amazing, even if it’s Paris.  Think about it this way:  hamburgers are a ubiquitous American food.  How often have you had a mediocre hamburger or fries?  The same goes is Paris.

Wine in all sizes, all the time.  The French have a steady wine intake, so why not be a local?  A glass with lunch or in the afternoon is very normal.  On most cafe menus, you’ll see wines offered by the glass (“verre”), a small carafe, a small pitcher (“pichet”), or a bottle (“bouteille”).  Wine is measured in centiliters or cL.  A bottle of wine is 75cL.

You have to ask for water.  They will not bring it by default.  If you’d like some basic tap water to go with your meal, just ask for “un pichet de l’eau” or “une carafe de l’eau.”

Ordering.  Say “je voudrais la/le . . .” and try to pronounce what you want and point to it.  If you forget that, just say what you want, point to it, and say “s’il vous plaît” (please).  Even if you butcher the French, attempt to pronounce it.  The waiter will probably repeat it back to you in English, but your attempt will be appreciated.

The servers will leave you alone.  Once the server takes and brings your order, you will be left alone.  No one is going to come see you mid-chew and ask you if you like your meal.  On the one hand, it can be difficult to get a waiter’s attention to ask for a refill on your wine.  On the other hand, you are left to enjoy yourself and can park at a table, especially at a cafe, for as long as you like.

Don’t yell “garçon” at the waiter.  It’s rude and you’ll look like a loud American who’s seen Pulp Fiction.  When you need something, just make eye contact with the server, smile, maybe raise a hand, and say “s’il vous plaît.”

You have to ask for the check.  See above.  Just make eye contact with the server and say “l’addition s’il vous plaît.”

Make sure to have cash.  Credit is widely accepted, but not everywhere.  It’s not uncommon to see a cash-only cafe.  Don’t expect market or street food vendors to have Square.  Trust me, they don’t.

Now, you may be thinking:  damn, those are a lot of rules.  You don’t have to remember everything.  But just like visiting any country with a different culture, it’s polite to attempt the social norms.  Even though it’s chock full of tourists, Paris is no exception.

Anything I missed?  Feel free to share your tips below!

MORE IN THIS SERIES:

Everyone’s Paris is Different
Best Tips for Visiting Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre

How to Ride the Paris Metro

Click here to view all of my travel posts.

How to Eat Out in Paris

What we Ate: Chicago

Chicago Food by Natalie Parker

There’s one common thread when Mr. P and I travel, whether it’s a long vacation or a weekend away: eat all the things.  We turn from the mild mannered couple who cooks small portion sizes to Homer Simpson in the land of chocolate.  We carefully plot how many meals we have and where to go.

We’re huge food fans, part Food TV junkies, and love street food just as much as being waited on.  We tend to like simple food done really well rather than what I like to call “precious” food (deconstructed items or things with foam, for example).

On our trip to Chicago, here’s how we made out.  Note: this wasn’t our first trip to Chicago, so we skipped the deep dish pizza this time.  We were bummed though when we got to the airport and realized we’d forgotten to try the Chicago Mix.  Next time!

Breakfast

Waffles Cafe: We’d heard of the wonut — a mix between a waffle and a donut and had to try it.  We were in a hurry, so we got birthday cake wonuts to go.  I’m sure they have the potential to be really good, but ours were room temperature and didn’t trill me.

Trenchermen: We saw this on Unique Eats and managed to get in for brunch.  The food?  Excellent.  There were fantastic pastries and main dishes, including the bacon flight which came with three types of bacon (though to be honest, you have to like non-crispy bacon to really enjoy the flight).  Mr. P says his biscuits with pepperoni gravy was the best thing he ate all weekend.  The menu changes often, so check in before your trip. Note they charge for last minute cancellations.

Chicago Food by Natalie Parker

Lunch

Mustard’s Last Stand (Evanston): Multiple Northwestern alumni told us to hit this place.  We stopped on our way to the tailgates — it’s located just outside the west lot of Ryan Field.  To me, it was a basic, pretty good hot dog.  It’s a good place to stop if you’ve never been and the people at the stand were really nice.  They were accommodating when Mr. P asked: “I see a cheese dog on the menu and a double dog.  What are the chances I can get both of those together?”

Publican Quality Meats:  Another place we saw on Unique Eats.  This place doubles as a butcher shop and a sandwich place.  Mr. P and I split a sandwich on naan with avocado crema, thinly sliced sausage, and pickled onions.  So good.  Then we shared a charcuterie platter.  It was a bit out of the way but definitely glad we made the trek.

Chicago FoChicago Food by Natalie Parkerod by Natalie Parker

Xoco: We found this place last time we were in Chicago and it was a must-do again on this trip.  If you want to try Rick Bayless’ food without sitting down at a restaurant, this is the place.  I’ve only ever had one dish: the torta Ahogada.  It’s carnitas with pickled onions on a sandwich served with a spicy tomato broth.  I still have dreams about it.  If you go, make sure to get an order of churros too with chocolate dipping sauce.  I may or may not have sipped some of the sauce after the churros were done.  Maybe.

Yes, I realize I’m from California and can get churros here anytime I want.  But listen, when fried dough is done really well, you don’t ask questions and just get it.  Okay?

Chicago Food by Natalie ParkerChicago Food by Natalie Parker

Dinner

David Burke’s Primehouse: I had no idea how many steakhouses there were in Chicago.  No idea.  A friend of ours made reservations here and to be honest, I wasn’t too enthused, thinking I can get a steak in any city.  But wow.  Everything here was absolutely fantastic.  Mr. P and I split a steak because they were huge.  It was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had.

Eataly: This could be brunch, lunch, dinner, or drinks really.  Or anytime of the day on a day that ends in “y.” It’s been on my list since Kelly Purkey raved about it.  It’s a giant Italian food emporium where you can shop or dine at 10+ food areas.  Since it’s all one big store, you can look around with a drink in hand.  Mr. P and I had a light dinner here one evening and I loved that you could have a quick bite at one of the standing tables.  We returned for pre-dinner drinks and snacks with friends a different night.  Definitely a must-see!

Chicago Food by Natalie Parker

Heaven on Seven: We saw this on an episode of Heat Seekers and it was perfect for a quick bite the night we got in.  The food wasn’t as spicy as I expected, but there’s a collection of hot sauces on the table that helped.  Definitely go for the gumbo.  The main dishes were pretty good but not memorable.

Piece Brewery & Pizzeria: We met up with some coworkers of one of our college friends here after the Cubs game.  This was really good pizza.  It’s not deep dish, just regular.  However, you pick your size, sauce, and toppings all a la carte.  It was fantastic and I’d definitely go back.  It also looks like a great place to watch a game with all the TV’s.

Drinks

Bat 17 (Evanston): Recommended by my Northwestern alumni coworkers, we stopped here before hitting the tailgates.  There is a restaurant next door owned by the same folks but we sat in the burger bar and just had drinks.  I was surprised at how quiet it was.  There were a ton of TV’s and it looked like a great place to pregame.  Perhaps it was because classes hadn’t started yet at Northwestern.  They had a great beer deal, a 105-ounce table tap for $35 which the guys really enjoyed.

Chicago Food by Natalie Parker

Mother Hubbard’s Sports Pub: We found this while looking for a place to get a beer and watch football.  It gets my enthusiastic thumbs up for the TV’s and the service, exactly what one wants at a sports bar.  We came back a second time with friends after the Cal game to have dinner.  It was basic bar food, not bad, but nothing to write home about.  I’d definitely go back to watch a game.

Murphy’s Bleachers: One of the Wrigleyville institutions.  Mr. P and I had been here before and chose it this time as our pregame meeting spot for our friends before the Cubs game.  It has a ton of space, including an outside with overhangs in case it’s raining.  It’s also right across the street from the bleacher entrance at Wrigley, so we could gauge how full it was getting before we headed in.  It’s also great for people watching as everyone makes their way to the game.

Chicago Food by Natalie Parker

If You Go

Bat 17, 1709 Benson Avenue, Evanston, IL
David Burke’s Primehouse
, 616 N Rush Street, Chicago, IL (inside the James Hotel)
Eataly, 43 E Ohio Street, Chicago, IL
Heaven on Seven, 600 N Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL (entrance on Rush Street)
Mother Hubbard’s Sports Pub, 5 W Hubbard Street, Chicago, IL
Murphy’s Bleachers, 3655 N Sheffield Avenue, Chicago, IL
Mustard’s Last Stand, 1613 Central Street, Evanston, IL
Piece Brewery & Pizzeria, 1927 W North Avenue, Chicago, IL
Publican Quality Meats, 825 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL
Trenchermen
, 2039 W North Avenue, Chicago, IL
Waffles Cafe, 203 E Ohio Street, Chicago, IL
Xoco, 449 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL

My work here with food is never done.  What did I miss?

Chicago Food by Natalie Parker