Authentic Texas BBQ Deep in the Heart of…Chicago?

Best BBQ in Chicago

There was a void in my mouth, stomach and life after coming back from Texas a few months ago. Like most travelers, food is toward the top of the attractions list when visiting a new city. Similar to other BBQ meccas, barbecue is a way of life in Texas. To get food at the best spots in Texas, diners line up hours before the restaurant opens. Once the food is sold, that’s it. Returning home, I have been on a quest to find the best Chicago BBQ.

Chicago has some good BBQ spots, but after touring a few I noticed there was something missing. I expected a big smoker out back, but was surprised to find large electric smokers that resembled phone booths. The electric smokers are called Southern Comforts and allow you to regulate temperature and get smoke flavor from wood pellets instead of wood logs. Continue reading Authentic Texas BBQ Deep in the Heart of…Chicago?

The Lux Life – Grand Lux Café Review

Grand Lux Cafe Entree |

Sitting on the plush bench waiting for the clock to strike 6PM, I peered into the kitchen to see what the chefs were creating. As I looked around the soaring ceilings and funky chandeliers, I was reminded of another restaurant’s decor. The color palette and plush feel was reminiscent of Cheesecake Factory. Sure enough, I later discovered that Grand Lux Cafe is owned by the same company that produces the never-ending menu and restaurant that is Cheesecake Factory.

I was invited to sample the new menu at Grand Lux Café (600 N. Michigan Ave.) along with other food and lifestyle bloggers in Chicago. Before sharing highlights from the new menu and drinks, I wanted to share a bit of insider info on what it’s like to dine with food bloggers if you don’t know one. I have learned through dating and generally being alive and dining with normal people that I break important etiquette rules when dining.

  • My phone is usually on the table.
  • I take photos. Several of them. From different angles. At times, the food has gone cold by the time I got “the shot.”
  • I occasionally take photos of my girlfriend’s or friend’s dinner.

I would argue that I’m still present during the dinner. I rarely have my phone out to text friends or see what other people are doing on social networks. Continue reading The Lux Life – Grand Lux Café Review

Democracy (In)Action

Democracy in Action |

If voting is your civic duty, what does that make volunteering to work the polls on election day?

“Thank you for your service.” That’s what a few voters said as the exited the empty middle school gymnasium.

I didn’t really think of it as service. We were being paid a flat rate of $175 in exchange for our labor. When I first saw the sum I thought of how many al pastor burritos that would buy (16). Watching my stocks undulate like a fish performing its mating dance, this was the closest thing to a get rich quick scheme I could find. It’s more of a get teen rich excruciatingly slowly sort of scheme. Continue reading Democracy (In)Action

Lunch at 65


I meant to share this photo earlier.

It won’t win any awards, but the sight of this restaurant sparked a chain of memories from nearly a decade ago.

Marcel, my former journalism professor, told me of this spot (not this exact location). Eight years ago I was interning downtown for a major group of radio stations. Still on a student budget, I rarely ate out. But for some reason, likely I didn’t have time to pack a lunch or I ran out of bread, I had received the advice to lunch at 65. As I think back, I only ate there once and, prior to my moonlighting as a food critic on Yelp, penned the feedback “not bad” to Marcel.

I barely knew my way around the city. I looked up the location in Google and ventured into the sultry concrete jungle. I walked in the wrong direction, then right and wrong again before eventually finding it. The sequence of streets between my office and the train is something I know. I can navigate based on address and point tourists in the right direction 74% of the time. Now, eight years and many city adventures later, I don’t ask for directions, but I still pack a sandwich.

What are restaurant sightings that spark your memories?

Farmhouse: Roof to Table


My heart was thumping into my chest bone as I grasped for the next rung. Then the next as my feet trailed behind. One at a time, I thought.

There was no stopping.

Outside of the restaurant, the night was still and the eclectic mix of music piped through Farmhouse’s speakers was replaced with the incalzando tempo of my heart in my ears.

Why did I ever watch Vertigo? I really should work out more.  Are my hands normally this moist? For my biography, is this considered adventurous? Was that my last meal? These are the thoughts that race through your brain as you climb a ladder into the heavens at 9 o’clock on a school night. Continue reading Farmhouse: Roof to Table

Bacon and Veggie Frittata

Bacon and Veggie Frittata

Bachelor Basic: Don’t cook topless, especially if you’re meal includes frying bacon. If you’re not careful you’ll burn your frittatas off.

I have yet to buy meat other than cold cuts since moving. Having my own place may turn me into a vegetarian. As there becomes less I have to do each night after work, I hope I’ll resume cooking more. I have been walking to and from the train each day this month creating both a fatigue and insatiable hunger when I get in the door. Continue reading Bacon and Veggie Frittata

Valentine by default


There they were.

Under the sink.

A whole box of them minding their own business. But I wasn’t.

I had gone out with her and mutual friends the night before, not planning to have a slumber party. There was only one issue, that night before was February 13th. We had two beers at her place before going to the bar and having a few more. One thing led to another and before the clock struck one she was passed out on her couch as her dog scowled at me.

Not having much experience with comatose women, I wasn’t sure what to do. Was she faking it? Did she legitimately pass out from 4 beers in a night? Was her dog interested in taking things to the next level?

So, I did what anyone would. I texted a few friends asking for advice. The think tank was split between my options.

I could have left and gone about my blissfully lonely life. That would have meant leaving her in an unlocked apartment in the city.

Or, I could have stayed the night. I hadn’t packed my jammies or sleepover essentials like contact solution. This is the plight of the myopic. Plus, I’m notoriously bad at sleeping in other people’s homes.

Should I stay or should I go?

With her slumped in the middle of the couch, there wasn’t enough room for us both to pass out there. That left only one other place to sleep. Her bed. I can’t say I’ve slept in many women’s beds, but when I did, they weren’t in them.

I put a blanket over her and turned off the tv before retiring to her bedroom. The drinks started their assault on my digestive system. I may not like sleeping at people’s places, but my bowels sure fancy foreign toilets. At this point, I was sitting on her toilet questioning my life choices. I reached for toilet paper and discovered there were four squares left, one of which was coated in glue. This is when I reached over to the sink vanity in search of another roll. Had I left, I wouldn’t have seen what was under the sink.

On the outside of the large pink box was a picture and the text “First Response Pregnancy Test.” Realizing I couldn’t wipe my ass with those, I found a roll of TP.

My paranoid mind started to wander. Why would you need the economy box? The next 10 minutes were excruciating. What had I gotten myself into? How did I end up here?

Then, I looked down at the stick and saw that I was not pregnant.

With the ebullience of a man finding out he’s not the father on Maury, I got into her bed with her dog and fell asleep.

I woke up early the next morning and ran to the grocery. Selfishly, I was hungry and she didn’t have food. I grabbed a pack of bagels and two roses. One for her and one for her unborn. Returning to her apartment, she had woken up and changed into pajamas. I gave her the flowers, we had a bagel and I wished her a happy Valentine’s Day before I went on my way.