October 3, 2014

Restaurant Guide: Gold Coast

One of the most common questions I get asked is where to go to eat in the city, so I thought I would start putting together my favorites, neighborhood by neighborhood! 

Today I'm excited to share some of my favorite spots to dine in one of my favorite neighborhoods in Chicago!  When it comes to a restaurant, not only am I drawn in by the obvious menu appeal, but more so the ambiance and well-thought-out design of the place (naturally).  While there are many fantastic places to dine in Gold Coast, these are the places that keep me coming back over and over again.

Eduardo's is a quaint destination tucked away on Dearborn Parkway.  The setting is unique and up-scale without being stuffy.  It's the perfect spot for an intimate date, or dinner with close friends or family.  While everything on the menu is great, some of my favorites include their crispy brussels sprouts (these converted me to the brussels sprout lover I am today!), the arugula avocado salad, and the pesto wheat parpadalle.  They also have fantastic brunch cocktails, for you weekenders.  Given the small size, I recommend making a reservation if you plan to go for dinner Thursday-Sunday.

Hands down one of my favorite restaurant interiors in Chicago, and my go-to spot for special occasions.  Opened in 1938, The Pump Room (located in the Public Hotel) is a Chicago classic, and has played host to hundreds of famous guests including Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn, Dean Martin, Elizabeth Taylor, Mick Jagger and many more.
I don't consider myself a chef snob by any means, but I do associate Jean Georges with amazing dishes that aren't too fussy, and the Pump Room's menu is no exception.  I still have dreams about the bowtie pasta (homemade) with veal meatballs or the pan roasted organic chicken.  And be sure to save room for dessert; salted caramel ice cream with candied peanuts and popcorn...enough said.
Fun Fact: The lobby of the hotel, including the entrance to the Pump Room, is seen in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest.

While a menu full of meat and BBQ may not appeal to all (myself included), I can say with certainty that you will be converted after you eat here.  I have the pleasure (more like torture) of walking by Q every night on my way home and the smells and blues music tempt me every. single. time.  The inside is much larger than the exterior leads you to believe, and has a unique but casual cottage vibe.  It's the perfect spot to go with a group of friends, or anyone you're not afraid to eat with your hands in front of!  Aside from standard bbq options, I would recommend their BBq flight - it's fun to share with friends and gives you a taste of the best the menu has to offer.

New to Chicago, Fig & Olive is located amongst the best shopping in Gold Coast (Oak Street).  It has an open and airy, modern Mediterranean vibe - a breath of fresh air amid the claustrophobic city.  My first thought when I came here for a work lunch was "my girlfriends would love this!"  The menu offers lots of salads and small plate options, making for a very social meal.  I thoroughly enjoyed the prosciutto/ricotta/fig/olive/walnut crostini (cliche, I know) and the truffle risotto.

If you're looking for classic Italian, Carmine's is it.  My boyfriend and I have gone here so much, we've created our own dish that's not on the menu - square noodles in a bolognese sauce.  If you prefer to stick to the menu, my second runner up is the tortellini carbonara.  Also, I'm not an eggplant fan, but I've heard from reputable sources that their eggplant parmesan is one of the best.  And be prepared for leftovers..for the next few days (read: typical Italian portions).  Carmine's is located in the heart of Gold Coast, so whether it's before or after your meal, I highly recommend taking a stroll around the neighborhood. 

Other Gold Coast favorites:
Get a fresh juice or delicious coffee from Whispers to start your day
Head to the lake front for the best view of the city

Would love to hear what you think of these places!

xo, Annelise

Photo credits: taken by me, from the restaurant's website, or here and here

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