Goodbye for now!
After months of new dining, drinking, and attraction adventures, it has officially been 52 Weeks since we started this blog. We came up with the idea to try new things in Chicago after realizing last fall that we kept going to the same places over and over again. From only a few followers last year to almost 300 right now, it’s been great to have readers that are genuinely interested in what we’ve been doing and we sincerely appreciate all your support/reblogging/likes/etc. Hopefully, we’ve inspired you to step outside your comfort zones and try something new every once in awhile.
We’ve thrown around several new 52 Weeks-themed blog ideas, but for right now, we’re going to take a break from blogging. Keep following this blog if you’re on Tumblr though, because you never know when we might decide to come back with a new post. If you feel like you’re going to miss us too much, you can always check out our personal tumblrs linked down below. Thanks for reading!
-Anna and Rob
2568 N Clark St., Chicago, IL
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
Ever since it opened only a few months ago, Rob and I have heard nothing but rave reviews about Del Seoul, one of Chicago’s first Korean Street BBQ restaurants. After salivating over the menu, we knew we had to try it out for ourselves. We finally stopped there one weekend night—right before we were about to see a movie later, hence the not-so-glamorous car pictures below—and it completely lived up to our expectations. Rob got the BBQ chicken banh mi sandwich, which was huge but a great take on traditional banh mi sandwiches. I tried two sesame-chili shrimp tacos and one grilled beef short rib taco, all of which were excellent. I was concerned that the shrimp tacos would have too much spice, but fortunately I didn’t find them to be too overwhelming at all. Del Seoul’s free ingredients and ridiculously cheap prices will definitely have Rob and I coming back for seconds sometime soon.
Anna’s tacos: two shrimp and one beef short rib.
Rob’s spicy bbq chicken banh mi sandwich.
Owen and Engine
Owen and Engine
2700 N Western Ave., Chicago, IL
Neighborhood: Logan Square
Owen and Engine.
During the summer when Anna and I went to City North for a movie, we realized there was an interesting looking building going up on the corner of Western and Schubert. Flash forward a couple of months and that building is now Owen & Engine. The owners of Fat Willy’s Rib Shack are responsible for bringing this cozy two-level English countryside gastropub to Logan Square. Owen & Engine is truly beautiful inside and out, with finely detailed wood and leather decor throughout the pub. Anna and I visited Owen & Engine on a busy Friday night, so we were seated at the bar on the second floor, which was perfectly fine with us since the bartenders were so friendly and helpful in telling us what the pub had to offer. Anna loves seafood, so she went with the haddock fish and house cut chips that came with malt vinegar aioli. I went with the butter chicken that was really juicy and very flavorful, and I also had a side of aged cheddar mash. We topped off our meal with an apple cobbler for dessert that was incredible. It is worth noting that Owen & Engine also has four cask brews along with 20 other beers on tap, and they have many British, Belgian, and American craft bottled beers available as well. Overall, Owen & Engine is another great addition to Logan Square.
Anna’s fish and chips.
Rob’s butter chicken with cardamom scented basmati rice and chapatti bread.
Apple cobbler with a side of apple cider.
3247 W Fullerton Ave., Chicago, IL
Neighborhood: Logan Square
After reading earlier this week about the opening of a new “rock and roll general store” in Logan Square, Rob and I knew we had to check it out. Shake Shop had its grand opening this past Friday, and although that showed in the fact that they didn’t have a ton of merchandise when we visited on Saturday afternoon, it’s hard to find true faults in a store that is so unique and a welcome addition to our neighborhood. Run by local musician Tom Cassling, Shake Shop not only sells used records and books, but they also specialize in artwork made by local musicians and instrument repair. In all my years living in Chicago, I’ve never seen any other store with books priced as cheaply as Shake Shop’s. I bought three used books—albeit still in good condition—for $6.50 total. Yes, $6.50 for three gently used books! Rob bought a book as well, for $3.99. Shake Shop truly lives up to its “rock and roll general store” title and Rob and I will definitely be visiting it again sometime soon.
Rob browsing records at Shake Shop.
1414 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL
Neighborhood: Wicker Park
Cumin (photo courtesy of Yelp/Cesario Moza).
Anna and I randomly had a craving for some Indian food this weekend, so we decided to check out Cumin—a very modern Nepalese and Indian restaurant in Wicker Park—instead of venturing north to Devon Avenue like we usually do. Cumin opened earlier this summer and it is actually the first Indian restaurant in the Wicker Park neighborhood, and only the second Nepalese spot in all of Chicago. After arriving at Cumin, we were notified by our waiter that they had a lunch buffet for $12 and we decided to go for it. The buffet was nice because we were able to try a little bit of everything that Cumin has to offer, including chicken tikka masala, samosas, gorkhali khasi, and aalu tama ra bodi. All of the food at Cumin was very good and surprisingly tasted fresh, even though it was buffet style. If we decide to head over there again, we’d probably go for their dinner hours, and not their buffet, just so we’re able to have more of a choice of what we ate. Overall, Cumin is a nice addition to Wicker Park and proof that there is good Indian food in Chicago beyond Devon Avenue.
Cumin’s buffet set-up.
One of our buffet helpings.
Dessert at Cumin.
This week’s schedule, Chicago, IL
Neighborhood: all over the city!
On their website, Gaztro-Wagon describes their food truck as “A curbside solution to your hunger” with “hand-crafted, modern street fare with a focus on seasonal availability and local partnerships.” If all of that and the recent food truck craze that has swept major cities isn’t enough to interest you in the Gaztro-Wagon, keep reading. Due to our obsession with The Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network and food trucks in general, Rob and I read on Twitter this past weekend that the Gaztro-Wagon was going to be in Lincoln Square on Friday evening. Although Chicago food trucks aren’t allowed to actually cook aboard their trucks, that hasn’t stopped a handful of enterprising chefs from stocking their trucks full of gourmet treats and roaming the streets of Chicago. We hightailed it to Lincoln Square and were pleased to find the Gaztro-Wagon near Lincoln and Montrose with plenty of menu items still left on-board. I ordered the corn beef reuben with warm cabbage slaw and provolone and Rob had the braised lamb with queso panela, apricots, walnuts, and peppers. Both sandwiches were wrapped in a pita, not on bread, which was a welcome twist to ordinary sandwich cuisine and also kept the contents tasting fresh and warm. We also shared a bag of plantain chips, which were crispy and had just the right amount of salt on them. For $18, it was an inexpensive meal and a unique dining experience. Be sure to check out the Gaztro-Wagon’s schedule and see if they’ll be in a neighborhood near you.
Inside the Gaztro-Wagon.
Our plantain chips.
Rob’s braised lamb on the left and Anna’s reuben on the right.
Southport Grocery & Cafe
Southport Grocery & Cafe
3552 N Southport Ave., Chicago, IL
Southport Grocery & Cafe (photo courtesy of Yelp).
Anna and I have been meaning to try the Southport Grocery & Cafe out and finally had an opportunity to check it out this weekend. This boutique grocery store sells many upscale products for sale, but the real kicker is the fantastic cafe that offers breakfast and lunch all day long. The cafe is cozy and the menu offers comfort food that is made from scratch and features local ingredients. Anna had the sunflower dusted walleye pike sandwich that was topped with green tomato-sunflower sprouts and basil aioli. I opted to try Southport Grocery & Cafe’s take on the classic steak and eggs breakfast. My entrée included layered scrambled eggs, corn tortilla chips, black bean tomato salsa, queso fresco and of course steak that was cooked perfectly (tender, juicy). I also ordered a mocha that ended up being my favorite part of our brunch. After we finished eating, we browsed the market that was stocked full of gourmet treats like specialty olive oils, cheeses, pasta sauces, wine and many local food products direct from the city. If you’re a “foodie,” Southport Grocery & Cafe is the place for you.
Anna’s walleye pike sandwich.
Rob’s steak and eggs breakfast.
Black Dog Gelato
Black Dog Gelato
859 N Damen Ave., Chicago, IL
Neighborhood: Ukrainian Village
Black Dog Gelato.
For the past few months, Rob and I have noticed Black Dog Gelato’s name popping in a variety of places, from articles about Chicago restaurants to the Logan Square Farmer’s Market website. When we heard that owner Jessica Oloroso planned on opening an actual store this summer, we knew we had to make a point to check it out. Last weekend we stopped by and although they were out of the whiskey gelato bars we had read so much about and were really curious to try, we had a great experience. Rob ordered a cup of the mixed berry sorbet which had the right balance of sweetness and was very refreshing. Being the coffee enthusiast that I am, I tried a cup of the espresso gelato. The coffee flavor was excellent and it was definitely among the best gelato I’ve ever had in Chicago. If you’re in the mood for a cool treat before it gets too cold outside, be sure to stop by Black Dog Gelato for their traditional and adventurous (goat cheese cashew carmel gelato, anyone?) bold flavors.
Rob’s mixed berry sorbet on the left and Anna’s espresso gelato on the right.
The Book Cellar
The Book Cellar
4736 N Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL
Neighborhood: Lincoln Square
The Book Cellar is is an independently owned bookstore located in the heart of Lincoln Square. What makes The Book Cellar so unique is the wide selection of wines that are available in their cafe. This means you can browse the book shelves while having your a glass of pinot noir or merlot. If you’re not much of a wine fan, they also sell beer and coffee and a wide variety of sandwiches too. Unfortunately, Anna and I did not take advantage of their wine selection since we visited on a Sunday afternoon and weren’t in the mood to imbibe. However, I had a wonderful hazelnut iced mocha that was very delicious and refreshing. I also bought two books: The Motel Life by Willy Vlautin and an autographed copy of Will Leitch’s Are We Winning?. Anna bought a cool Sonic Youth biography that she’s looking forward to reading. It is also worth noting that The Book Cellar is very committed to the community of Lincoln Square, by sponsoring local author nights, hosting book clubs, and even collaborating with the Chicago Public Library. The Book Cellar is certainly dedicated to “enriching the literary culture” of Chicago, as they state on their website, and Anna and I will definitely make it a point to visit them again soon.
Inside The Book Cellar.
Original Rainbow Cone
Original Rainbow Cone
9233 S Western Ave., Chicago, IL
Original Rainbow Cone.
Although we’re technically cheating with this post a little bit since both Rob and I have been to the Original Rainbow Cone before, it’s too much of a perfect summer tradition to not profile on 52 Weeks. For those not in the know, the Original Rainbow Cone is a legendary south side institution and has been around since 1926. A “rainbow cone” consists of chocolate, strawberry, orange sherbet, palmer house (venetian vanilla with cherries and walnuts), and pistachio ice cream, all layered on top of one another. During our visit today, Rob got a small rainbow cone in a waffle cone and I got the same thing, but in a small bowl instead. As always, it was a delicious summer treat, and judging by the constant lines when we stopped by today, it doesn’t seem like the Original Rainbow Cone is going to be closing their doors anytime soon. Be sure to plan a visit to the Beverly neighborhood before the summer is over.
Rob holding our ice cream outside of the Original Rainbow Cone.