Thursday, April 29, 2010

May is National Burger Month!


I was kinda bummed about saying farewell to National Grilled Cheese Month until I found out May is National Hamburger Month (!!!!).

Who doesn't love a good, juicy piece of meat?! The thicker, the better, and we love that you can find the absolute best burgers right here in town.

This month is a chance to really go overboard with burgers as a number of spots are doing special deals you don't want to miss:

The Derby, Dos Diablos & Dynamite Deals

Derby-goers at the 2009 party at Arlington Park. (Photo: Arlington Park)

Brace yourself for a BIG drinking weekend.

The Kentucky Derby's May 1 and Cinco de Mayo doesn't even happen until the fifth, but that won't stop folks from indulging in advance.

In fact, Arlington Park gets the party started today with the grand opening of Longshots Sports Bar, which is equipped with 30 flat-screen TVs and a patio with a prime view of the track.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

'Flirty Cupcakes' Hit The Street This Weekend!

(Photo: Flirty Cupcakes)

What's that?! A cupcake truck roaming the streets of Chicago this summer?

We're looking forward to Flirty Cupcakes, which will offer gourmet-style sweets on some of the busiest blocks in the city.

'Foodie' Sites Offer Unique Deals, Thrills


So many people are getting engaged later in life, which means that when it comes to registering for their weddings, they really don't need anything.

Case in point is Ben and Jennifer Reid, who were frustrated at the registry options during their engagement in 2008. The couple didn't need any additional household products, but they wanted something to celebrate their new union.

After a frustrating few hours at a department store, Jennifer went home and had an epiphany. She and Ben were big-time dining enthusiasts, so they asked all their friends and family to give them gift certificates to their favorite Chicago restaurants.

That's when they decided to launch Foodie Registry, so that other like-minded engaged couples could enjoy months and months and months of what they've coined as Free Dinner Date Night—courtesy of family and friends.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Book Today . . . TV Tomorrow . . .


Rick Tramonto's got great timing!

The powerhouse chef behind Tru as well as Tramonto’s Steak & Seafood and RT Sushi Bar & Lounge debuts his seventh cookbook today.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Buy Me Some Peanuts and a Bison Meatball Sandwich!

(Photo: Wrigley Field)

Wrigley Field exec chef David Burns (formerly at Le Bouchon, La Sardine) recently unveiled an impressive new menu at the concession stands, which includes more than just your usual baseball bites.

We're especially excited about the Bison Meatball Sandwich, made of all-natural, hormone and antibiotic-free High Plains Bison that comes from the Ricketts’ ranch in Little Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

No Blue Frog 22 Until Next Week . . .

The karaoke-focused Blue Frog 22 opens the last week of April. (Photo: UrbanDaddy/

After reading this pretty sweet writeup in Urban Daddy, we were soooo looking forward to checking into Blue Frog 22 to play old-school games and sing karaoke-style to the likes of Beyonce, Cher and David Bowie.

But alas, it's not happening until next week.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: It's Just 'JUICY,' Baby . . .

Here's a first-ever look at the new "JUICY" sign, which will be unveiled Monday over the River West wine bar. (Photo: JUICY)

"It should look sexy hanging over Milwaukee Avenue," says an excited Chris Dunstatter about the new sign he's debuting Monday over the River West wine bar formerly known as Juicy Wine Co.

He's one of the new owners of what they've officially named JUICY, and he gave 312DD some exclusive details on what to expect next at the hipster wine lounge.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Local Deejays Reflect on Rap Icon Guru's Career


I was never a hardcore hip-hop fan, but when it came to the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Common and Gang Starr, I always felt right at home.

There was something about how they all combined the best elements of hip-hop with jazz rhythms and unbelievably strong vocals. While Tribe's Q-Tip, The Roots' Black Thought and Common spat out some seriously tight rhymes, Gang Starr's Guru was simply a lyrical genius.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Gilt Bar Goes Down Under with New Cellar Lounge

(Photo: Natasha Hernandez)

An Ultimate Insider tells 312DD about Gilt Bar's plans for a sensational lower-level lounge, which are currently underway:

A Freebie for Meatball Mondays!

(Photo: Go Roma)

Casual Italian eatery Go Roma boasts an all-fresh menu of classics ranging from artisan pizzas to hand-made pastas.

They're also known for a signature ground beef meatball, which you can order as a snack or atop the house-made spaghetti with marinara sauce.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Should We All Quit Our Jobs and Become Reality 'Stars?!'

Reality-show queen Kim Kardashian commands an average $50,000 per nightclub appearance.

Were all those grueling years of higher education or practice for a career in music or the arts a waste of time?!

These days it feels like it when so-called reality stars not only command up to $100,000 per episode on a show like "The Hills," but get more $$$ than more people make in a year for a one-night appearance at a nightclub.

Friday, April 16, 2010

'Jared Leto Crashed My Dinner Party!'

Mat Devine (left) and Jared Leto at J-Bar Wednesday. (Photo: Dark Room Demons)

He may have starred in such blockbuster hits as "Fight Club," "Girl, Interrupted," "Panic Room," "American Psycho" and "Requiem for a Dream," but actor-turned-rock-star Jared Leto was just like everyone else when he struck out on getting a reservation at Frontera Grill Wednesday.

Follow Friday: @JohnTheBristol

John Ross, owner of Bucktown's The Bristol. (Photo: The Bristol)

Hello, my name is Audarshia, and I'm a Twitter Addict.

There, I said it! So now that we got that out of the way, I'm so excited to share my obsession with a number of my fellow twerps.

The Bristol, for example, credits part of its tremendous success to owner John Ross, who tweets daily specials to hundreds of hungry fans.

Monday, April 12, 2010

STAGE BITES: The Weekly Dining & Drinking Guide

Collaboraction's "Carnaval" party in 2009. (Photo: Collaboraction)

Every Monday look for the week's top performances paired with the best deals before and after the show:

CARNAVAL: The Dome of Doom at 437 N. Wolcott Ave. Collaboraction's phenomenally wild kickoff bash for the "Sketchbook" series includes live performances, dance battles, offbeat theatrics and more. 9pm April 17. Get tickets here.

Bar DeVille: Keep the high energy up by heading to this nearby corner lounge, which has made a name for itself for the classic cocktails and vintage, yet hipster, setting. Head to the rear for the old-school photobooth and billiards table.

Coalfire: The pizzas at this West Town eatery are created in Chicago's only coal fire. They're crisp, cheesy and highly recommended are the classic Margherita and the four-cheese pie made with mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan and Romano. Each pizza is made for two and under $20.

Twisted Spoke: Smut & Eggs is still going down at this legendary biker bar, offering diners soft porn with late-night brunch items. A number of egg dishes include steak and eggs, Wisconsin Scramble (with brats), Sloppy Eggs (with Sloppy Joe mix) and a fried-egg sandwich. Midnight-2:30am Saturdays.

Prosciutto Bread Balls at The Purple Pig!

(Photo: Matt Kirouac)

Everyone's squealing over The Purple Pig, the bustling little gastropub just steps from the Mag Mile.

The menu is bursting at the seams with Mediterranean-style pork (cured meats, pig's ear with crispy kale, pork-fried almonds with rosemary and garlic), but there was one particular dish that immediately caught my eye.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Highlights From Stephanie Izard's 'Wandering Goat Veal Dinner'

Guests at the "Wandering Goat Veal Dinner" at Logan Square Kitchen. (Photos: Stephanie Izard)

This caught my eye first thing Sunday morning:

"Wandering Goat Veal Dinner tonight and for the first time, will be tweeting live as we go... dinner starts at 6. excited!!"

That would be Girl & The Goat owner/chef Stephanie Izard, so of course 312DD had to pay attention . . .

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Celebrities Invade Chicago Friday Night

Rockit Ranch's Billy Dec with Nicole Richie at Sunda Friday. (Photo: Sunda)

Was there something in the air Friday night?!

Celebrities were hanging all over town, particularly in the River North neighborhood.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Food Fight Erupts Over Twitter, Jake Gyllenhaal


Park Grill executive chef Bernie Laskowski excitedly tweeted that movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghan dined at his restaurant Friday:

Chef Showdown on 'Top Chef Masters!'

Chefs Marcus Samuelsson and David Burke (Photo: XA, The Experiential Agency)

New York super chef Marcus Samuelsson, who owns sensational seafood spot C-House in Chicago, is set to host a series of "Top Chef Masters" parties at the Streeterville resto beginning April 14.

But now comes word that David Burke—who will go head to head with Samuelsson on the show next week—will also be doing something special at Primehouse in honor of his appearance.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

King James Back on Chicago Scene

District owner Eric Tucker with LeBron James in The District's VIP room. (Photo: The District)

LeBron James—who made quite the splash when he hit up The Shrine in March—was back on the party scene in Chicago Wednesday.

Be a Jet Setter This Spring!

Guests enjoying Steppenwolf Auxiliary Council's "Red or White Ball" at Salvage One in 2009. (Photo: Kyle Flubacker)

Chicago's always been known as a party kind of town, but when spring hits it's on a completely different level.

That's when it's prime-time benefit season, as most young professional groups hold their annual charity events.

The Steppenwolf Theatre's annual Red or White Ball, happening at 8pm Friday, typically attracts a sophisticated, arts-loving crowd, but this is definitely not a stuffy collection of folks.

It's put on by the Steppenwolf's auxiliary board, and guests get to mingle in Warehouse District art gallery Salvage One. A premium open bar and deejay spinning danceable hits also contribute to getting this crowd in a festive mood.

Get tickets here. $150 (general admission); $250 (for 7pm VIP reception). An after-party happens at Underground.

More charity parties to keep you busy all season:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Are You the Star of the Bar?! You Can Win $5K

Towne Bidez of Rockit Bar & Grill. (Photo: Rockit Bar & Grill)

I've had my chance to shake up a drink or two in front of large crowds, but I'm in no way ready to take on the challenge of the first-ever Star of the Bar competition.

Professional mixologists and those who love to create cocktails as a hobby are encouraged to enter the National Restaurant Association's contest for the International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Watch 'Top Chef Masters' with Marcus Samuelsson


The second season of Bravo's "Top Chef Masters" debuts 10pm Wednesday, featuring a number of culinary kings repping Chicago.

There's certain to be plenty of competition between Spiaggia's Tony Mantuano, Graham Elliot's Graham Elliot Bowles, Primehouse's David Burke, Tru's Rick Tramanto and C-House's Marcus Samuelsson, so it would be nice to hang out at a cool place to cheer them on.

Dion Antic's The Shady Lady Debuts April 16


Crain's Chicago did a pretty intense story on restaurateur Dion Antic, who's opening The Shady Lady to the public on April 16.

Monday, April 5, 2010

I Want To See a Local Version of This!

The new KFC "Double Down" Sandwich debuts April 12. (Photo: KFC)

Two pieces of bacon. Two melted slices of Monterey Jack and Pepper Jack cheese. And a secret sauce. Pile that between two fried, boneless white meat chicken fillets and you've got the latest artery-clogging concept from KFC—the Double Down Sandwich.

Yet somehow we think it could be done better.

The 'Triple Secret' Meatball Sub!

(Photo: The Fifty/50)

Today's Meatball Mondays dish comes to you from the The Fifty/50, an upscale sports lounge in Ukrainian Village.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Schwa's Closed For Renovations . . .

Steven Lee (left), wine director for Sixteen, with the acclaimed Schwa owner/chef Michael Carlson. (Photo: Steven Lee)

We found out the hard way Friday that Schwa super chef Michael Carlson—who's up for a Beard award next month—had decided to shut his restaurant down for the Easter weekend in order to make some renovations.

Yeah, four of us strolled up to one of the city's notoriously difficult places to get into at 8pm on a Friday, crossing our fingers that we just might have a chance snagging a table.

'Glee' Stars Spotted at Sushi Samba Rio


The entire cast of "Glee"FOX's hit show about a high-school singing group—was in town Saturday taping "Oprah," so it's no surprise that they were out on the town later that night.

An Ultimate Insider tells 312DD that at least five members of the cast were hanging at Sushi Samba rio later that night.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

BYOB, Baby!


There's no excuse not to be out this weekend.

The weather's amazing . . . it's Easter weekend and you've got a few extra $$$ in your pocket.

Since you don't want to spend it all, this is a good time to check out the city's amazing BYOB scene.

For instance, we're pretty psyched about the brand-new brunch at Sabor Saveur in Ukrainian Village.

Bring bottles of bubbly, and they'll supply all the fresh juice mixers as you chow down on French-Mexican-inspired dishes such as Chicharron and Black Beans Crepas served with mushrooms, corn, asparagus and pumpkin flower and Huevos Trufados (poached eggs served over a bed of figs, bacon and black truffle oil topped with Rober sauce).

Sabor Saveur's brunch is 11am-3pm Saturdays, Sundays. Entree prices range $9-$17; no corkage fee.

More BYOBs offering you more bang for your bucks . . .