📍joe's brewery; champaign
my favorite burgers😋 anyone who knew me in college knows i'll be found eating here on tuesdays, thursdays, saturdays for their half off burger deals. joe's made some changes to the outside patio space as i graduated. i was a little scared that they would change up the food menu, after a few years, but the burgers and fries are the same!!
my order - california burger with no onions and side of fries. besides the essential burger patty and lettuce. the burger is stacked with the best burger toppings - fried egg, guacamole, bacon, provolone. this burger takes like little bits of heaven, making me wish all burgers comes with a fried egg. the buns are so soft, but keeps its shape. the fries are golden sticks of crunchy goodness.
glad to see that your food hasn't changed, joe's.
📍murphy's pub; champaign
murphy's is a beloved campus bar with the typical bar food - burgers, wings, mozzarella sticks. but the best item they serve is the irish nachos! you need at least four people to finish this giant platter. or a really hungry college student haha
they use waffle fries as nachos. cheese is sprinkled all through out and melted in the oven/microwave. topped off with bacon bites, jalapenos, diced tomato, and olives. served with salsa and sour-cream on the side. the waffle fries are golden, crispy outsides and fluffy, soft insides.
for a year, i had weekly meetings here over irish nachos and beers. best meeting location ever.
📍merry ann's diner; urbana
🍳classic combination #2 ~~
if merry ann's was a person - it would be the grandpa that has endless stories and never stops talking and the grandma that always make you food. this 24/7 diner has been there for me many times - from 3am food run for an all nighter to d***k food after a night out. a campus stable.
they've got all your classic diner favorites - breakfast, hamburgers, hot dogs, pies. the pie a la mode is amazing! i just got a classic breakfast combination of 2 scrambled eggs, patties, and toast. the portion of eggs seemed larger than just 2, hash browns are crispy yet soft. i made a mini breakfast sandwich with the toast.
the service is always polite, fast, and the food is cooked very fast. there is also a jukebox that have played well into the night. they have three locations all over champaign/urbana, one of the locations closed this past summer. i'm hoping for all the best for this college town stable.
📍maize mexican grill; on campus, champaign
🌮carne asada tacos & chicken burrito
during my junior and senior year in college, i lived two blocks away from here. i would come here at least twice a week. it's a small restaurant with about 15 seats inside and two tables outside, people usually order take out. they do get slammed during lunch and dinner times.
you always get complimentary chips. they have two types of salsa - molacajete and tomatillo. my favorite is the tomatillo, spicier of the two, the red pepper flake adds little heat. cubed skirt steak, onion, and cilantro sit on top of fresh hand made corn tortillas. squeeze some lime juice on top or some salsa, lot of flavor! the burrito tortilla hugs grilled chicken, beans, lettuce, tomato, sour cream and cheese. although, sometimes a certain ingredient would be gathered rather than spread out through the burrito. the portion and taste is always consistence.
honestly - can't do wrong with getting anything here.
📍gabutto burger; rolling meadow
🍔crispy chicken carbonara burger & thai curry chicken naan burger & paripari wings & frittos
i've had japanese burgers in the bay area, but i'm always down to try some fusion food. the restaurant has bright walls and tv screens playing different anime marathons and lots of anime merchandise on the walls.
the burgers are creative and unique combinations - i had their two august specials burgers. thai curry chicken naan burger has naan bread for the buns. the sandwich is well balanced - chicken is crispy and moist, with thai curry sauce on top. crispy chicken carbonara burger has fluffy, heavenly buns. crispy chicken b****t topped with creamy italian style sauce with bacon, onion, mushroom, and parmigiano-reggiano cheese. although the carbonara sauce was really salty. just be warned - have some napkins ready, the sandwiches may get a bit messy.
the shoestring fries comes dry, but there is a fry seasoning station where you can flavor your own fries. in addition to ketchup, they also have wasabi mayo and spicy mayo for condiments. i'm not sure how the wings are made - they are tender, but way too salty. could not finish them, and my tongue even started tingling. lucky they provide water cups and i sure did took advantage of it.
📍lou malnati's pizzeria; west loop, chicago
🍕large malnati chicago classic & medium "lou"
chicago is a city with a a rich history. a city of people with strong opinions and many rivalries - north side vs. south side, cubs vs. white sox, giordano’s vs. lou malnati’s. lou's is home to the best deep dish in chicago. of course it is on my list of places to eat at! i met up with some old classmates and good friends here for dinner. there were eight of us and the two pizza ended up being more than enough.
we got two pizzas - veggie and meat. the veggie has spinach, mushrooms and sliced roma tomatoes covered with blend of mozzarella, romano and cheddar cheese. the lean sausage offers a more savory option. the sweet, tangy, tomato sauce on top the pie is a nice contrast to the heaviness of the cheese. the crust has the perfect texture - flaky without being weak, and crispy without being hard.
although there are paxti's pizza and blue line pizza in the bay area, deep dish from chicago just tastes so much better! lou malnati's can ship frozen pizzas nationwide within two business days. i might just take them up on that offer the next time i'm craving some chicago style pizza!
📍portillo's; west loop, chicago
🌭2 hot dogs & large cheese fries & chocolate cake slice
hot dogs in chicago are a big deal. portillo's is a fast restaurant that serves a classic chicago-style hot dog and much more. each portillo's location is decked out in the theme of a different decade.
the chicago style dog is absolutely perfect. immersed in a soft-steamed poppy seed bun is a dog with a great snap. the ripe tomato softens the acidity from the sport pepper and kosher pickle, with the chopped onions offering some bite. celery salt sprinkled over the whole dog. delicious. ketchup need not apply. the fries are certainly crispy, with the crinkle cut texture offering the perfect vessel to sop up the creamy, salty cheese dip. the chocolate cake is essential and must be experienced in life at least once. the moist double-layer chocolate cake is generously iced with rich, chocolate frosting. very chocolatey, but not too sweet.
sorry i forgot about the fry stache, i was so excited to be reunited with all the flavors of portillos. i'm begging for them to open a location in the bay area!
📍tuco and blondie; chicago
🌮ground beef taco platter & classic frozen margarita pitcher
i came here to meet up with some friends for dinner after a cubs game. walking distance from the ballpark, southport has tons of restaurants to choose from. our palate was craving some margarita. we sat in the back patio of the restaurant. there are fun decorations and colors everywhere. lots of instagram-able walls.
the complimentary chips and salsa are very satisfying. the salsa has just enough heat. the frozen margarita is well balanced and has a kick. the pitcher serve five glasses. the platter comes with three taco, plus rice and beans. the food itself was ok, coming from a spoiled california. the beef is ground up into small pieces, they have a dark brown color to them. there were alot of oil on my tortilla/plate from the ground beef. they rice is yummy, but the beans are too salty.
when i picked up my fork to eat the rice - the first thing i noticed was how nice their silverware is!! the fork has a elongated handle. the weight so light, it doesn't feel like i'm holding anything at all! the designer in me geeked out to friends at the excellent choice of silverware option.
📍potbelly sandwich shop; southport avenue, chicago
🥪chicken salad sandwich, original, with hot peppers, lettuce, tomato, and pickles &
zapp's new orleans kettle salt & vinegar chips
potbelly (one of my favorite) sandwich shops. i need to have a potbelly sandwich whenever i visit a city where they have a location. i first had their sandwich during college, there is one on campus across from work. one of my friends worked there - i would visit/see him at work and grab a sandwich for myself, k**l two birds with one stone. i have tried other sandwiches of theirs, but i always go back to the chicken salad sandwich.
the bread is slightly toasted, giving it a nice crunch. the salad sits on top of a layer of chicken. hot pepper adds a spiciness to the sandwich. pickles are thinly sliced. besides delicious sandwiches, they also have zapp's new orleans kettle-style potato chips. i've been on the salt and vinegar crave, also of course i had to grab some chips for my sandwich as well.
there is also a potbelly at the chicago midway airport. when i fly out of there, i always pick up a sandwich for the flight. when do you think a bay area location is going to open up?
📍american airlines flight; august 2018
🌯chicken arugula wrap & hummus box
hi friends! i took a trip to chicago last week! the next few posts will be what i had during my travels. i had an afternoon flight out that left around 3pm. although i had some lunch, my tummy needed some snacks to hold it over. i'm so glad i did because the flight ended up arriving into chicago around 1:30am - that’s a whole different story i won’t get into. huge shout out to the pilot(s) that kept us safe.
the wrap was pretty good honestly, but wish there was a little more for a $10 wrap. the lavash was thin and held together the grilled chicken, arugula, and roasted red pepper hummus. served with balsamic vinaigrette on the side, adds to the flavor of the wrap. it reminds of the wraps at trader joe's. the hummus box was a snack box that consists of three different items - primizie flatbread crisps, simply salted; dipin, classic hummus; fannie may, 70% dark chocolate. i enjoyed the chips the most! as a chip enthusiast, i'm disappointed in myself that i did not know about these chips. i need to starting looking for these crispy snacks the next time i go to a grocery store!!
📍alpine inn beer garden; portola valley
🍔alpine burger & cheeseburger & basket of fries
nestled up in the mountains near palo alto, you'll find portola valley. where arastradero road meets alpine road is a 165 year old beer garden. came here for dinner after a cruise in the hills on a sunny, saturday afternoon. when inside, on the right is a bar and the ordering station, on the left are wooden picnic tables with decades worth of initials carved into them. there is also an outdoor area with lots more wooden picnic tables and trees for shade.
the alpine burger is stacked high with 1/2 lb patty, american cheese, bacon. the cheeseburger has a 1/4 lb patty. and american cheese they both also come with your typical burger topping - lettuce, tomatoes, onions. with each bite i could taste richness of the sesame on the toasted buns. i wish every burger comes on sesame buns. crinkle cut fries are so underrated, wish more restaurant used crinkle fries as their standard. they are the perfect combination of crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside!
perfect place to stop by after hiking or during a drive!
📍gorilla barbeque; pacifica
🍴2 meat combo with ribs, brisket, potato salad, mac 'n' cheese & 2 meat combo with ribs, chicken, coleslaw, mac 'n' cheese
my favorite bbq spot? gorilla bbq. located right on highway 1. they always give such generous portions. the two meat combos is more than enough for two people.
my favorite thing to order is the ribs! the meat is so tender, it just falls right off bone. smoked to pack in the flavors. the brisket was a bit too fatty this time, but the meat is tender. this was my first time getting the chicken, moist and tasty. all the meat comes sauce-less, the bbq sauce comes on the side for your own dipping pleasure. it's spicy, tangy, perfect addition for any meat! with the two sides, you also get beans and rice, so you basically get three sides. i wasn't a fan of coleslaw til this meal actually. in between bites of bbq, the coleslaw is really refreshing. i now appreciate you, coleslaw, thank you for existing.
although they don't provide seating inside, people often enjoy their meals in their car or sitting on the planter ledges in the parking lot. i usually take my food down to the beach to enjoy with a view.