Celebrity chefs, Cuisine - Mexican, Places - Chicago

Prez stops at Rick Bayless restaurant in Chicago

I have this huge fascination with Rick Bayless. I LOVE LOVE LOVE his PBS show “Mexico: One Plate At A Time.” I haven’t yet had the chance to dine at his Chicago restaurants Frontera Grill or Topolobampo, so I do the next best thing. I follow him on Twitter.

And Saturday night, he had the biggest diner of all come to Topolo. President Obama and the Secret Service stopped at the Clark Street restaurant for a bite to eat. They even stopped for photos with the kitchen staff.

So what did the Commander-in-Chief order? Lobster and scallops in a roasted tomatillo-corn sauce with sweet corn tamales.

According to a Tweet from Bayless:

When the President arrived, they closed off our block on Clark Street. I counted 13 vehicles filling the 3 lanes.

Want more from Rick Bayless? Follow him on Twitter @Rick_Bayless. Check out his PBS show, too. You’ll LOVE it!

Cuisine - American, Places - Chicago

Destination Chicago: Yolk

Yolk - Downtown Chicago signOne of the best tips I can offer anyone who is in an unfamiliar city is to ask a local where to find the best eats. We were in downtown Chicago the weekend of the Chicago Marathon on our recent trip, so we knew wherever we went was going to be full. But we wanted to try something different, yet offered a high-quality breakfast to get us through a day at The Field Museum.

As I mentioned in the review of Gino’s East, we stayed in Chicago’s Theatre District at Hotel Allegro. The hotel has its own restaurant but we wanted something on the way to the museum campus. A hotel concierge or front desk staff are a great resource when you’re away from home. Never hesitate to ask them for a recommendation.

Our concierge recommended Yolk, located on Michigan Ave. in Chicago’s South Loop, and just a quick stroll from The Field Museum, Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium.

The restaurant’s menu is expansive, eclectic and amazing. Portions are huge, service is awesome and they have Nutella!

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Cuisine - Italian, Cuisine - Pizza, Places - Chicago

Destination Chicago: Gino’s East

Gino’s East has been a Chicago pizza staple since 1966. And with two convenient downtown Windy City locations, it’s easy to get your deep-dish fix after shopping on the Magnificent Mile or a long day at one of the great museums.

On a recent weekend in Chicago, my husband and I (usually devoted Lou Malnati’s diners) decided to go out of our pizza comfort zone and try another version of the classic deep-dish pizza. We were staying fairly close at the lovely Hotel Allegro and walked about a half-mile to the restaurant on the corner of Ontario and Wells Streets.

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Cuisine - Chinese

The dim sum experience

Boston's Chinatown gate

Boston's Chinatown gate

I have a soft spot in my heart for Boston’s Chinatown. During my second year of grad school, my documentary class produced a film about the gentrification of Chinatown’s across the U.S. It’s a sad state with how poor communities of people are forced from their homes because of the capitalistic nature of condo companies and 21st century growth. I was lucky enough to be introduced to one of the last great Chinatowns in this country. (If you want to view that film we produced, click here.) Every time I return back to Boston, I must return.

China Pearl, Boston, Mass.

The outside of the China Pearl.

Back home in Milwaukee, we don’t have the luxury of a true Chinese dim sum experience like the great Chinatowns have. It can be hard to make it to Chicago to enjoy their dim sum on a weekend. The thing about dim sum – it’s a family thing. You go on weekends to enjoy the company, the fellowship of being with your loved ones. However, if you want to experience a feast that will both pique your senses and introduce you to a new way of eating, then I highly recommend this experience.

One of my favorite haunts in Boston’s Chinatown is the China Pearl. Once you go up the red vinyl staircase you enter a completely different world. On weekends, expect to wait for more than an hour. During the week, you might be able to walk right in at lunch. You’re met with a mix of native Chinese speakers, tourists and area college students and business people. You could sit at a table with your entire family or you could be mixed with people you’re never met. That’s all part of the fun!

But, the best part about the dim sum experience is picking the food out. Servers cart around selections and stop at each table. You can select whatever you’d like. If you select something from the cart, the server stamps your receipt. You’re only charged for what you take from a cart.

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