Food Fun Friday

Food Fun Friday

Well it has been an interesting week in the Chicago food scene – Food Truck law passed for better or worse, the Chick-fil-a thing has caused people to take a deep breathe on the interference of government in our values and Sam Toia became the head of the Illinois Restaurant Association. So Sam what do you think about this week? Mine has also been full of fun. Got in to a small tweet back and forth with my favorite headshot model over ethics, and tomorrow is the South Shore Triathlon, my first.

There are a TON of events that are coming…a lot of fun things to do before the summer ends!

BOBBY FLAY is Looking for America’s Best HOME COOK! In this exciting new series, teams of two will be given the opportunity to show chef Flay that they have what it takes to be crowned America’s Best Home Cook! We are looking for the best home cook duos in
HOW TO APPLY- Please email ASAP with the following:

  • Your name and the name of your teammate
  • Recent photos of you and your teammate
  • A short bio on you and your teammate (relationship, occupations, etc.)
  • Tell us why you are the best home cooks, please provide photos of your food
  • Tell us about the best parties you’ve thrown
  • Contact information and current location

If you are fiercely competitive, fantastically creative and truly believe you are the best home cooks around then we want to hear from you! For more information on the show please visit us at

Mercat a la Planxa (638 S. Michigan Ave.), the modern tapas restaurant inspired by Spain’s Catalan region, introduces its August summer wine dinner series menu. Offered on Thursday, August 2 and Thursday, August 16 from 5 to 11 p.m., guests will enjoy a festive, four course dinner created by Executive Chef Jose Garces. Inspired by Barcelona and Spain’s Catalan region, this month’s menu features seasonal cuisine and wine pairings of Tempranillo, reflecting the Iberian Peninsula of Spain. Offered in the restaurant’s main dining space, the Tempranillo menu is $85 per person. Reservations are required and may be made by calling 312.765.0524.

ut away your apron and grilling utensils and let Barrio’s Executive Chef Carlos Affron cook up a Mexican BBQ feast on Thursday, August 16. The restaurant will be hosting a Mexican BBQ with grilled dishes paired with the unique beers from 5 Rabbit Cerveceria. A representative from the brewery will be on hand to talk about how the flavors of passion fruit and ancho chiles in the featured beers pair perfectly with Mexican spices. $40 per person (not including tax and gratuity) includes appetizers, dinner and 5 Rabbit beer pairings. Reservations Recommended. Barrio Urban Taqueria - 714 W. Diversey Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60614, 773.360.8316

WET Deck at W Chicago Lakeshore
For those looking to avoid the crowds at this year's Air & Water Show while taking in unparalleled views and experiencing VIP treatment, the W Chicago Lakeshore's WET Deck viewing party is a can't-miss event. The recently opened outdoor sundeck, located on the 7th floor of the property, boasts unobstructed views of Navy Pier and Lake Michigan, allowing guests to capture every exciting moment. Guests during the weekend will enjoy a live DJ, specialty cocktails and summertime fare including hamburgers, hot dogs and portobello burgers from this chic, outdoor oasis.

$150 for adults, $25 for guests age 13-20, Free for children under 12 *Please note tickets are sold per day, not per weekend.
Tickets will be sold in advance and at the door. WET Deck at W Chicago Lakeshore - 644 North Lakeshore Drive- 7th Fl
Saturday, August 18 and Sunday, August 19 - 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Friday, August 17, guests can watch the practice viewing with WET Deck's regular a la carte menu.

On Wednesday, August 8, Ada St., (1664 N. Ada St.) welcomes Wild Ophelia chocolates for a spirited dinner benefitting The Healthy Schools Campaign, a non-profit organization whose mission is to advocate for policies and practices that allow all students, teachers and staff to learn and work in a healthy school environment. Beginning at 9:15 p.m., guests will gather in Ada St. 's backyard to enjoy a three-course dinner featuring seasonal and local ingredients by Chef/Owner Michael Kornick and Chef Zoe Schor, served with complementing wines and chocolates by Vosges founder Katrina Markoff's newest chocolate - Wild Ophelia. Tickets are $55 exclusive of tax and gratuity and must be purchased in advance by calling (773) 697-7069.

Chef/Partner Ryan Poli of Tavernita, Chicago's most vibrant, Spanish-inspired restaurant, now offers specialty paellas, the popular Valencian dish, to the first 10 tables that order after 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday night. Chef Poli's distinctive, flavorful paella pays homage to one of his favorite Spanish cities. Beating out the typical late night fare, and with plenty to share, each order can feed up to four hungry amigos. The first come, first serve dish will be available for $17 each. Recipes vary weekly, and may include combinations such as Spanish rice with saffron smoked paprika, seafood and chicken.

Additionally, Tavernita is now featuring "Buck a Shuck" Wednesdays. From 5 p.m. to 7p.m. on Wednesdays, oysters are available for only one dollar at the bar (Tavernita only). For reservations and more information, please call (312) 274-1111.

Michelin star-rated Sepia restaurant will partner with Prohibition-era whiskey company Templeton Rye to host a special spirited dinner on Tuesday, August 7 at Private Dining by Sepia. Head Bartender Josh Pearson has collaborated with the Templeton team to create a delectable list of rye-based libations to pair with James Beard-nominated Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman’s inventive seasonal cuisine for the event. The evening will begin with an hors d’oeuvre reception at 6:30 p.m. in Sepia’s private event space, featuring Pearson’s “Templeton Buck” with Templeton Rye, blackberries, lime, and ginger beer alongside small bites from Chef Zimmerman. Following the reception at 7:30 p.m., guests will enjoy a four-course tasting menu specially created by Chef Zimmerman and perfectly paired with Templeton Rye cocktails.

Templeton Rye Founder and Distiller Keith Kerkhoff and Founder Scott Bush will be in attendance to share the story of the resurrection of this historic American spirit brand, affectionately called “The Good Stuff,” and educate guests on the tasting method. The cost is $95 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 312.441.1920.

Table Fifty-Two, Chef Art Smith and Julie Latsko’s signature Gold Coast restaurant, is turning five this August first! To celebrate our anniversary, we are offering a special tasting menu of seasonally inspired Southern cuisine August 1st through 3rd, alongside an all-American wine pairing selected from some of the country’s very best wineries by Wine Director Mark Gallagher.
$50  per person & thirty-five for the wine pairing. Reservations are recommended.

BIN 36, in partnership with Time Out Chicago and Raved, today announces the launch of the first-annual “Real Men Drink Pink” breast cancer awareness campaign. From Friday, August 10 through Friday, August 17, Chicago’s top restaurants will join together in featuring specially-priced $10 rosé glass pours on their beverage menus to benefit Bright Pink, the only national breast cancer organization focusing on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women while providing support for high risk individuals.

Beginning on August 10 and running through August 17, the following restaurants will feature $10 rosé glass pours on their beverage menus in honor of Real Men Drink Pink: avec, BIN 36, Boka, Frontera, Naha, NoMI, Publican, Rockit, Sunda, Telegraph, Topolobampo, and Webster’s Wine Bar. All Real Men Drink Pink rosé product will be generously donated by distribution partners, with 100% of all proceeds benefitting the Bright Pink organization.

Enjoy the South of France at Le Bar this summer! Journey through the south of France with a celebration of music and food! Each night features cuisine by Chef Greg Biggers, wine and cocktails inspired from each of your favorite French summer destinations.
Soleil Thursdays this summer beginning at 5:30 p.m:

  • 8|9 – Basque region
  • 8|23 - Nice
  • 9|13 - Bordeaux

Relax and enjoy an eclectic DJ set featuring French house music. A hotel stay in the South of France with Accor Hotels will be given away at each event!  Le Bar -  20 East Chestnut Street, Chicago 60611
(312) 324-4063

Mercadito (108 W. Kinzie St) will offer River North party-goers a late night fix with the new Midnight Brunch menu available only on Friday and Saturday nights from midnight until close (Fridays at 2 a.m. and Saturdays at 3 a.m.) starting on Friday, July 20. Guests can refuel from dancing at Double A, Mercadito’s underground lounge, with the menu of Mercadito’s traditional Mexican brunch favorites. Reservations can be made by calling 312.329.9555.

On Sunday, August, 12th, Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, will welcome the second celebration of Street Food Artistry, an exploration and adventure of the arts for all ages, families, locals and visitors alike. Street Food Artistry will take place at the Zhou B. Art Center, located at 1029 W. 35th St., from 1PM - 7PM. The festival will include street art and face painting, photography exhibits with Chicago art lovers and gallery owners curators, a Food Truck Pavilion, a sound stage, mixology sessions featuring adult beverages for starters. Sponsors for the event include: Time Out Chicago, beverage partner, Coca-Cola (SmartWater and Fuze brands) and Whole Foods Market. All activities, food and beverage are included in a single ticket price with crafts and additional beverages available per purchase. Tickets for the festival are $35 (early bird) and $40 after July 1 for adults and $15 for children and available for purchase at

Kimpton’s five Chicago restaurants invite you on a culinary journey across the city with the introduction of the Kimpton Chicago Restaurant Passport. Dine at Sable Kitchen & Bar, South Water Kitchen, Encore Lunch Club & Liquid Lounge, Atwood Café and 312 Chicago to receive a stamp for each entrée purchased. Once guests fill their passport with one stamp from each restaurant, they are entered into a sweepstakes for amazing prizes like a five-course dinner at Atwood Cafe with an overnight stay at Kimpton’s historic Hotel Burnham or brunch for six prepared by Bravo Top Chef alum Chef Heather Terhune at Sable Kitchen & Bar.

Simply request a Passport upon the first visit to any Kimpton Chicago restaurant. At each subsequent restaurant visit, request a stamp for ordering one entrée. Once one stamp for each restaurant has been obtained, submit the completed Passport to a server, host or manager. Or go digital: simply post pictures of each entrée to the Foodspotting app for a digital stamp. Once one entrée from each restaurant has been “spotted,” the user will automatically be entered into the drawing.

Prize winners will be announced on September 4, 2012. Prizes include:

  • Five-course dinner for two at Atwood Café and an overnight stay at Kimpton’s Hotel Burnham
  • Four-course dinner for two prepared at 312 Chicago
  • Dinner for two at Sable Kitchen & Bar and an overnight stay at Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar
    And many more...

312 Chicago, 136 N. LaSalle Street, 312.696.2420
Encore Lunch Club & Liquid Lounge, 171 W Randolph Street, 312.338.3788
Atwood Café, 1 W. Washington Street, 312.368.1900
Sable Kitchen & Bar, 505 N. State Street, 312.755.9704
South Water Kitchen, 225 N. Wabash Avenue, 312.236.9300
Between NOW and September 3, 2012- Lunch or dinner

Barcito! - Amigos of Pintxo takes place every other Monday from 8 to 10 p.m. (with the exception of this coming Monday, June 11, which will begin at 9 p.m.). A portion of the sales from the series are donated to Common Threads - whose mission is to educate children on the importance of nutrition and physical well being, and to foster an appreciation of cultural diversity through cooking.

Chef Poli and Pintxo have confirmed the following lineup of Amigos through November:
• August 6- Jason Hammel of Lula Café and Nightwood
• August 20- Brian Huston of The Publican
• September 10- Andrew Brochu of Graham Elliot
• September 24- Dave Beran of Next Restaurant
• October 8 - Justin Large of Big Star
• October 22 - Matthias Merges of Yusho
• November 19 - Charlie McKenna of Lillie's Q

All are welcome to attend. Seating is available on a first-come-first serve basis.

Tavernita and Barcito are located in the heart of Chicago's River North neighborhood at 151 W. Erie St. Tavernita is open seven days a week. Lunch is available Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner is served Sunday through Tuesday from 5 to 11 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Late-night dining is available on Friday and Saturday until 2 a.m. Barcito is open Sunday and Monday from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

2 Sparrow, located in Lincoln Park 553 W. Diversey, is offering fans headed to Cubs games a complimentary house made doughnut by Chef Gregory Ellis! Guests just have to show their ticket and breakfast is served! 2 Sparrows serves a selection of delicious doughnuts such as maple bacon and strawberry chocolate.

Bistronomic - featuring Chef/Owner Martial Noguier's innovative interpretation of French bistro classics - will recognize Bastille Day, the national celebration of France, on Friday, July 13, Saturday, July 14, and Sunday, July 15, $39 Prix-Fixe Menu - Friday, July 13- Sunday, July 15 with a three-course menu for $39 per person (exclusive of tax and gratuity). Additionally, one of the desserts offered on the prix-fixe menu includes a Blue, White & Red Bistronomic Baked Alaska made with Blueberry Fruit Salad, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Nichols Farm Strawberry Coulis in honor of the colors of the French flag.

PL8 Simply Asian will celebrate a culinary tour of the Far East this summer with three events, each featuring a different Asian destination. Guests can experience summer food and wine with Far East flair without even leaving Chicago!

  • Journey to the South Pacific
    Thursday, August 9
    Guests visit the South Pacific Islands for a festive and dynamic celebration featuring Tiki-inspired libations such as Suffering Bastards, Mai-Tais, Zombies and the Tiki Puki Punch. PL8 will feature Polynesian theme appetizers including pu-pu platters filled with favorites such as BBQ Ribs, Rumaki, Crab Rangoon Chop Sticks, and other Polynesian specialties. Polynesian dancers will be performing to authentic island music.
  • Final Destination Singapore and the Philippine Islands
    Thursday, September 13
    PL8 will tantalize your taste buds with Singapore Slings, RumTinis and San Miguel Beers. Guests can sample an assortment of Malaysian and Philippine appetizers like Shanghai Lumpia, Kilaw Crisps, Curried Samosas and Ukoy. PL8 Chef Jose Galvan will demonstrate how to prepare a traditional dish at home using authentic ingredients and flavors.
    July 12, August 9 and September 13; 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
    $25 per person, all-inclusive for each event

PL8 Simply Asian - 736 West Northwest Highway, Barrington, IL 60010 - 847-382-1988

“Summer of ‘79”: From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Sullivan’s will feature a three-course menu for two for just $79. Guests can begin with one of Sullivan’s signature starters, including Chilled Asparagus Bisque with Jumbo Lump Crab & Chive Oil or their famous Iceberg Lettuce Wedge, then move on to a choice of Filet Mignon, Salmon Fillet, Roasted Chicken or Shrimp Francese paired with one of Sully’s signature house-made side dishes. Finish it off with a perennial dessert favorite such as Bananas Foster Bread Pudding, Key Lime Pie, Chocolate Mousse or New York-Style Cheesecake. Sullivan’s Steakhouse, 415 North Dearborn, Chicago (312) 527-3510

Weekend Saturday Brunch Spots
SUSHISAMBA rio: The Peruvian, Brazilian and Japanese River North hotspot is dishing up favorites like quinoa waffles, feijoada and lobster eggs benedict alongside brunch cocktails such as Bahia punch, rum lattes and sakegria, a sake take on sangria.

Lockwood: Located in the Palmer House Hilton, Lockwood serves a spectacular brunch with innovative takes on classics like a Benedict Oscar with poached eggs, sautéed spinach and fresh crab and Swedish breakfast of smoked salmon, lemon crepes and lingonberries and a wide variety of mimosa and Bloody Mary selections.

Mercadito: Guests can enjoy some spicy Mexican flair during the festive brunches all weekend at Mercadito. Choose from signature dishes like huevos ahogados served with crispy corn bread and chipotle hollandaise sauce or pancakes with manchego cheese, strawberries and cinnamon butter. Brunch sippers include cocktails like the Auntie Ox with green tea vodka, passion fruit, agave, orange and guajillo.

Estate: Get a hair of the dog with cocktails like the cereal milk martini and whiskey for breakfast while refueling over the lobster mac and cheese or buttermilk pancakes with blueberry-lavender maple syrup.

Markethouse: Chef Scott Walton dishes up fan favorites all weekend such as Biscuits and Beignets. What makes them unique are the flavor pairings: a roasted beet beignet with goat cheese and maple blis, a Meyer lemon ricotta beignet with salted butterscotch and honey crisp apples, and biscuits with a variety of gravy offerings such as foie gras and brisket “burnt ends” gravy.

Hash House A Go Go: Opening in late July, the twisted farm food restaurant will offer delicious dishes like sage fried chicken benedict, meatloaf has with roasted red peppers, fresh spinach and smoked mozzarella; and made-to-order Bloody Mary’s.

Picnic’s Yogi Bear would LOVE - HEY BooBoo
Steve's Deli delivers picnics just about anywhere Chicagoans gather in the summer
Just a few folks on your outing? Then everyone will need their own Sandwich Box. It comes with an overstuffed sandwich that can be selected off Steve’s carry out menu, a choice of potato salad, coleslaw or healthy coleslaw and a cookie or brownie…all for just $9.99.

  • Steve’s Trio Salad Picnic is great for groups of 5 or more and includes tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad or egg white salad. Plus it comes with tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, onions and pickles. Yes, there is healthy coleslaw, Swiss and Muenster cheese and a choice of bagels, rye, onion or Kaiser rolls. And it’s only $9.99 per person.
  • Steve’s Cold Cut Picnic includes roast turkey breast, lean corned beef, rare roast beef and turkey pastrami. It also comes with Swiss and American cheese as well as a choice of potato salad, coleslaw or healthy coleslaw. Pickles, mustard, Russian dressing and rye bread make it complete. And this is a deal at $7.99 per person and is recommended for groups of 5 or more.
  • Looking for something light on those hot summer days? Steve’s Cheese and Fruit Picnic is the perfect choice. Seasonal fruit including cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, red and green grapes, strawberries, watermelon and berries are accompanied with an assortment of cheeses, Parmesan bagel thins, crackers and pita chips. A cool $5.99 per person.

It’s recommended that picnic orders be made 24 hours in advance but, if possible, Steve’s will do same day orders. Contact: Steve’s Deli - 354 West Hubbard, between Orleans and Kingsbury - 312-467-6868

For the Oenophile in Nearby Millennium Park
Wine Totes from BIN 36 / Adjacent to Hotel Sax: Available in BIN 36’s retail Market, custom-stocked wine backpacks come in two sizes: two bottle totes for $22 and three bottle totes for $40. Each tote includes a wine key, two wine glasses, and a personalized selection of cheeses, snacks, and other picnic-perfect accompaniments hand-curated by the BIN 36 cheese experts. Also available for purchase at BIN 36 are ‘Picnic Stix,’ a $14 set of three wire stakes that can be easily planted into the ground to hold up wine glasses and bottles. (339 N. Dearborn St.; 312.755.9463)

For the Campesino in Nearby Grant Park
Spanish Demo and Picnic from Mercat a la Planxa / Adjacent to Blackstone Hotel: Chef de Cuisine Cory Morris will demo how to put a Spanish twist on traditional picnic favorites. Following each demo, the chef will pack picnic lunches for guests to enjoy, such as bocadillos like the El Ravel with Ortiz Tuna and Celery Caper Aioli as well as the La Baceloneta with North Country Bacon, Egg & Cheddar. Priced at $25 per guest, the demo and picnic are offered on the following Saturdays at 12 pm: Saturday, June 30; Saturday, July 14; Saturday, August 11; Saturday, August 25. (638 S. Michigan Ave., 312.765.0524)

For the Indecisive in Nearby Daley Plaza
‘PICKnic’ from Lobby Lounge at JW Marriott Chicago: Executive Chef Michael Reich of the landmark, luxury hotel has created a menu for hotel guests and Chicago locals alike. Priced at $30 for two people, guests can select three items from the “PICKnic” menu of locally-sourced, portable dishes and receive a JW Marriott Chicago branded picnic tote. Half bottles of Apaltagua Chardonnay or Pinot Noir can be added for an additional $14. Picnic regulars are invited to bring back their picnic tote and restock throughout the summer months for only $20, which represents over 30% savings. The ‘“PICKnic” menu will be available now until Labor Day. (151 W. Adams St., 312 660 8200)

For the Sausage King in Nearby Milton Olive Park
House made Sausages from Markethouse Restaurant / Adjacent to DoubleTree Magnificent Mile: Executive Chef Scott Walton will pack up a selection of house made specialty sausages (seafood, lamb merguez, veal and pork bratwurst, hot or sweet Italian pork, spiced apple chicken sausage), rolls, house made mustards (violet, apple cider or tarragon), and salads (Markethouse Chopped and Markethouse Garden Tomato, Cucumber and Basil). Priced at $12 per person, Markethouse will offer these picnics throughout the month of July in honor of National Picnic Month.
(611 N. Fairbanks Ct., 312.224.2200)

For the Foodie With Everything in Nearby Lakeshore East Park
Luxury Package from Filini Bar & Restaurant / Adjacent to Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago: This July, the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel will unveil a new luxury picnic package, featuring a lavish keepsake “basket” filled with an impressive presentation of the crème de la crème of canapés and caviar. Designed to make a romantic al fresco meal even more memorable, each dish will showcase the contemporary Italian flair of Filini’s Executive Chef Christian Fantoni. Price and additional details available upon request.
(221 N. Columbus Dr., 312.477.0234)

Joe Campagna is the Chicago Food Snob. A former restaurant General Manager, Server and Chef you can find him on twitter @chifoodsnob. You can reach him through email at Joe also contributes to Chicago and

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