Matthew: I traveled to Chicago last weekend to visit my good friend Anna. I wasn’t exactly sure what she had in store for us, but I was delighted to find out that our plans were centered around eating really great food. We started on Friday by meeting Bridget at Sultan’s Market, where we all had the falafel. It was one of the best falafel I’ve had and it was really inexpensive.
The next morning for brunch, we ventured to Anne Sathers, a Swedish-themed restaurant known for their cinnamon rolls. I had the Swedish waffles, which were good, although paled in comparison to the cinnamon roll which was perfectly tender and sweet, just out of the oven.
The highlight meal of the trip was definitely our dinner at XOCO, Rick Bayless’ new restaurant that features Mexican street food. Anna and I shared a salad with carnitas, crispy tortilla strips, and an avocado-lime dressing, and then a torta called ahodaga which was a sandwich with carnitas in a spicy tomato chile sauce. Both were delicious and we were happy with our decision to get carnitas twice. The meal was finished with churros and homemade soft serve. They were light on the inside, nicely crispy on the outside, and deliciously covered in cinnamon and sugar. The combination of fried dough and soft serve was perfect. To top off the whole experience, we saw Rick Bayless behind the counter, tasting the soups and just checking to make sure all of the food was up to his standards. This will be remembered as one of the top meals of my life so far!
To end my weekend, we visited Lula Cafe, one of Anna’s favorite brunch spots. I decided to try their strata with tapenade, roasted peppers, leeks, and french feta. This was from their rotating brunch special menu. I had never had a strata before, so I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was blown away by the combinations of textures and flavors. The egg layers were perfectly light and fluffy and contrasted by the various fillings inbetween and the slightly charred edges to the strata slice. I think I’m going to have to try and attempt a strata after discovering how delicious they can be!
So all-in-all, it was a great weekend of eating with exciting new dishes to try and reinventions of more familiar food.