Three Meals, Three Neighborhoods: Restaurants I Loved This Winter

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Chicago restaurant review, and since I wasn’t cooking much in February (see previous post for explanation), I thought this would be the perfect time to share three new restaurants I tried and absolutely looooved this winter.

If you know me or follow me on Instagram, you probably know by now that one of my favorite activities is exploring new neighborhoods and trying new restaurants – whether they’re new to me, or new to the market. These past few months, I had the chance to check out a couple different new places, but my absolute favorites were: Bernie’s Lunch & Supper in River North, Big Jones in Andersonville, and the ultra-cool Dusek’s in Pilsen.

1. Bernie’s Lunch & Supper, River North 

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I picked this casual but trendy new River North spot for my husband’s birthday dinner in January based on a friend’s recommendation. I was seriously skeptical at first–Mediterranean small plates at a place called Bernie’s?–but walked out raving about the food. Along with everyone else in our dinner party. It’s rare that every single item brought out to a group of critical diners receives such a stunningly positive response, but that’s exactly what Bernie’s was for us. Everything was absolutely amazing. My personal favorites: the Komorebi cocktail (Japanese whiskey, ginger liquer, orange flower water, honey, and lemon, mmm!), the lamb hashwi, pork shoulder confit and belly (pictured above), beets and burrata, and veal meatballs. Dying to go back for the cheeseburger and paella.

2. Big Jones, Andersonville 

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Big Jones was another birthday excursion for my birthday boy. I organized a whiskey tour at KOVAL Distillery in the afternoon which is pretty far up north, so we thought it would be fun to hang out and brunch in Andersonville before, a neighborhood we don’t often get a chance to explore. We randomly walked by Big Jones and thought it looked cute from the outside–plus, my husband is obsessed with anything and everything New Orleans-themed. So glad we decided to wait for a table, because the food at Big Jones was fantastic. We shared the cornbread muffins (oozing with butter) and the Bayou Teche omelette, which was packed with crawfish, spicy smoked andouille and cream cheese, and topped with bearnaise sauce and scallions. So freaking delicious. Definitely worth a trip out to Andersonville for a brunch date here!

3. Dusek’s, Pilsen

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Dusek’s has been on my list for a while, and I finally snagged some reservations last Friday night. Longman & Eagle is quite possibly my favorite restaurant in Chicago (though it’s so hard to pick just one) and Dusek’s is headed by the same team, so expectations were high. It’s also always fun to check out a new neighborhood, and I’ve never really hung out in Pilsen. Dusek’s has a really really cool bohemian Moroccan vibe–it’s cozy, spacious, and the food was excellent. It doesn’t beat Longman & Eagle, but it’s still definitely worth checking out. The scallop appetizers were amazing and the desserts deserve special mention, so make sure you don’t stuff yourself too much during dinner. Make sure you order the Halawat Al Jibn: cardamom ice cream, blood orange curd, honey gel, golden raisin puree, honey bubbles olive oil, and honey toffee powder. Yup, pretty much heaven. After dinner, we headed downstairs to Punch House for some more strong cocktails and awesome old school hip hop music. Perfect night out!

So there you go – those were my faves this winter, but I’d love to hear what Chi-town restaurants you’ve checked out recently. I have a growing list of places to try, so send me your recs! 🙂

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