Sunday Dinner at Bon Appétit’s Best New Restuarant – Mi Tocaya in Logan Square

Mi Tocaya is a cozy corner neighborhood restaurant with genuinely friendly service,  decorated in colorful tile with new takes on classic Mexican dishes from around the country. Family. Friends. Food. is their motto and it does feel like you are going to your friend’s house for dinner and drinks that happens to be an extraordinary chef.

Yes, they do have a burrito on the menu as well as tacos so those that don’t want to stray outside of their comfort zone will be happy here as well.

I was there for their Sunday Dinner, a scaled down version of the weeknight menu with new family plates.

The Antojitos (Mexican street food) starter was a beautifully presented elote. Just enough spice , minus the mayonnaise, and perfect amount of cheese so you can save room for everything else.

For the Familiries (family style plates) we had the Fried Chicken & Churros and the Cochinita Pibil – Yucatan style pork. As indicated these are ideal for sharing. The fried chicken was crispy with a nice touch of micro greens and sweet from the churros.

Best to make reservations, they do take walk-ins but get their early and budget time for a wait. ¡Buen provecho!
Mi Tocaya Reposado Margarita Chicago

 

 

 

Where to Drink, Eat, Stay, and Do in Austin, Texas

Austin City Guide

With its live music, thriving food scene and proximity to the gorgeous Hill County, Austin is must-visit city. It’s no wonder people are moving here in droves from tech companies to chefs to those fleeing colder climates and high rents.

Austin Terry Black's BBQ Beef Ribs

Food

This list is by no means exhaustive and unfortunately light on food trucks but a few highlights from my trip.

Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden for the Big Band Brunch every Sunday. 30 house made sausages + 100 beers on tap to enjoy in the beer garden + live music + surprisingly mellow crowd = perfect Sunday. Get there before 10:30am to avoid the line.

Torchy’s Tacos began as a food truck and is now an Austin institution with over 30 stores throughout Texas. Breakfast tacos are a must-try, particularly the Migas, packed with scrambled eggs, crisp corn tortilla strips and green chiles. Brisket is quintessential Texas and the smoked beef brisket with grilled onions and jalapeños will not let you down.

Juice Austin truck on South Congress is delicious antidote to meat-heavy meals. Fruit and vegetable juices as well as a satisfying kale salad in honey lime vinaigrette, avocado,carrots, sesame & sunflower seeds. Burro Cheese Kitchen sandwich truck is next door and will make your grilled cheese dreams come true. Build your own or try one of the favorites: Waylon & Willie sour dough, aged cheddar, gouda, carmelized onions, pepperocinis, spicy maple and bacon sauce.

Serving a proper Italian gelato in cute shop lined with plants, rustic white wood walls and bright yellow chairs, Dolce Neve has 18 handcrafted flavors made daily. Enjoy flavors like ricotta & pistachio, salted caramel & pretzel, and fromage blanc with strawberry while lounging on the patio.  The newly moved Lick has unique pairings like orange and Texas fennel, grapefruit and champagne marshmallows, and roasted beet and mint ice-cream all made from local family owned dairy in Texas and the waffle cones are made in-house. Vegan options as well.

Grab a Stumptown coffee and croissant from the French bakery or take a seat on the garden patio and settle into a breakfast Bánh Mì at Elizabeth St. Don’t be surprised if you have the urge to stay through lunch with a delicious bowl of phở.

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Do

Live music, festivals and events check out Austin Insider Blog.

Watch the largest Mexican free-tailed bat colony in North America emerge from the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge just before sunset every night for their feeding. Cold weather and rain keep the bats in but the warmer months draw more bats, up to 1.5 million. Get to the bridge early to secure a spot, About Austin has tips on peak bat time and sunset times throughout the year. You don’t want to miss this!

Enjoy the 10 miles of hiking and biking trails on the Ladybird Lake.

Since 1984 the Mexic-Arte Museum has been exhibiting Latino/a art on Congress Avenue with the current exhibit, “Obra Gráfica: Selections from the Mexic-Arte Museum Print Collection features the Museum’s growing contemporary print collection including new works by Alejandra Almuelle and Michael Menchaca.”

Hamilton Pool – A favorite Austin swimming hole with a majestic 50-foot limestone waterfall about 45 minutes drive from the city. Make sure you get there before 11am as they fill up quickly, $15/car. Reservations will be taken soon for mid-May and presumably through the summer.

The good news if you are turned away from Hamilton Pool you have Hill Country to explore. A mile up the road is Westcave with hiking trails, field trips and group canyon tours. Thirsty? Another mile up the road is Westcave Cellars. Reimers Ranch is perfect for swimming, fishing, biking and rock climbing.

AO Austin has  “Austin + Hill Country in 90 Minutes” tour that is a great way to see and learn history of Austin neighborhoods as well as get a sense of what Hill County has to offer, all in a very comfortable 14-passenger Mercedes van.

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Stay

Hotel Van Zandt is a beautiful ode to music, from the record bird installation in the lobby to live music Monday through Saturday at Geraldine’s. The rooftop pool has incredible views and fire-place to keep you cozy in the evenings. The many restaurant and bars on Rainey Street are a block away.

The newly built JW Marriott is close to Rainey Street, 6th Street, Ladybird Lake path, and South Congress Avenue. A block away you can catch the 100 bus to the airport ($1.75) and you only have to walk two blocks away to the Congress Avenue bridge to jockey for space to watch the bats come out every night.

Bungalow-style converted motel, Hotel San Jose is minimalist, trendy, and popular live music venue in the heart of South Congress Avenue.

The historic and luxurious Driskill Hotel is on the famous 6th street (on the west-end of “dirty sixth”). Come for a drink in the lobby at the Driskill Bar to see the stained-glass dome and marble floors without having to splurge for a room.

Quiet and cozy boutique Hotel Saint Cecilla with a view of downtown and close to South Congress but is so pretty and relaxing you might find it hard to leave this urban oasis.

Superica – Mex-Tex in Atlanta

Superica Sign Atlanta

Staying true to their Texan roots, the chefs at Superica created a Mex-Tex menu in a beautifully designed space housed in the Krog St. Market food hall. This place has everything, bar, dining room, stage for live music, huge patio with a laid-back vibe. Nods to Texas include Shiner Bock logo mirrors, giant Red Stars, stuffed steer above the kitchen punctuated with cow skulls and bright yellow metal hanging fixtures.

The bar has ample seating and a more refined side with a bit less kitsch and a view of the wonderful light streaming through all of the amber-colored liquor bottles that line the full glass wall of windows and to the left, a gorgeous wall of mirrors and paintings that is Anthropologie meets Austin.

The same dedication and time to design is given to the Mex-Tex menu. Noon on vacation means you can drink at lunch – I opted for the Texas Star, it had a refreshing zing from the ruby-red grapefruit and lime and great floral flavors from the hibiscus infused Centenario Rosangel tequila mixed with St. Germain.

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Little Bad Wolf – Andersonville, Chicago

Little Bad Wolf Chicago Mural

Little Bad Wolf is the type of neighborhood bar/restaurant that is a “perfect for” spot. It’s cozy with communal wooden tables yet cool with wolf artwork and teal button tufted back booth –– along with the great vibe, music, food and cocktails make LBW perfect for:

Casual drink at the bar
First/casual date
First meeting place for a drink/bite before going out
Dinner with a couple of friends
Small plates
Late night bite

Have a peek inside:

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Dose Market – Chicago

Dose Market is one of my favorite markets in Chicago ––they feature a creative mix of local food, clothing, chefs, artists and designers. The market on Sunday was held during the FX Summit in the beautiful Chicago Cultural Center. It’s a fun way to spend your Sunday, meeting up with friends to discover the Chicago vendors Dose put together.

The next Dose is May 10th at the Soho House and is free for all. Go get inspired, eat delicious food and get a gift for Mother’s Day.

Trip Down South – Husk, Charleston, SC

Husk Charleston

Husk Charleston

Husk sits regally on Queen street in downtown Charleston with its Victorian details dating back to the 1880s. The interior is modern while still distinctly southern. Next door is the equally charming but rustic bar.

Sean Brock (of McCrady’s fame) is a James Beard Award winning chef and puts his talents into utilizing all the bounty South and North Carolina farms have to offer. A huge board in the entrance displays where every ingredient is sourced.

Reservations are recommended and lunch is a great time to try the menu. See the deliciousness for yourself:

Everything was fantastic from the drinks, entrées, the bread to the service. The vegetable sides are equally full of flavor and depth –– I’m sure butter is a big factor but I say, “When in the South…” Definitely get the fried chicken, it’s crispy and juicy and the brussels, spring onions and smoky tomatoes on the side hold their own in richness and flavor.