Friday, January 31, 2014

Potbelly's 'Secret Underground Menu' Revealed

Photo via

Thursday afternoon I somewhat set Twitter abuzz when I inquired about Potbelly's secret underground menu, which includes a bacon cheeseburger, Fireball and something called a Wrecking Ball.

Apparently this is very much a real thing, and while I couldn't find any details on Potbelly's website, one blogger uncovered the secret menu for your enjoyment. While I'm always down for A Wreck, I cannot wait to go back to try everything they're trying to keep secret.

Happy Ordering!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Brendan Sodikoff's Green St. Smoked Meats Opens 'Quietly' On Feb. 4

(Photo: Green St. Smoked Meats)

Head's up. Green St. Smoked Meats, the Texas-themed project from sensational restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff, opens Feb. 4.

If you're having trouble keeping up with all his projects—he's also the guy behind Au Cheval, Bavette's and Doughnut Vault—this is the venue that's all about BBQ.

Monday, January 27, 2014

All These 'No Guns Allowed' Signs Around Town Are Making Me Uncomfortable


When I think of someone walking into a Chicago restaurant or bar brandishing a gun—who is not a cop—all I can picture is John Wayne. In a 10-gallon hat. Strutting in cowboy boots. With a holster on his hip.

I don't want that image in my head, but it's now become a reality since Illinois passed the concealed carry law in 2013. The law went into effect on Jan. 5 and restaurants and bars all over town have been posting the above sign in their windows.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Juno Suffers Early Morning Fire & Is Out Of Commission For Now

Juno photo via ABC-7 Chicago.

The Lincoln Park apartment complex housing the popular Juno Sushi Restaurant on the first level suffered an early-morning fire, according to ABC-7 Chicago.

According to the report, the extra-alarm fire broke out early Friday morning and heavy smoke appeared on all three floors of the building. Thank goodness no injuries were reported, but residents are displaced for now. Just two weeks ago, the Chicago Tribune named Juno partner Jason Chan Restaurateur of the Year.

UPDATE: Here's an official Juno statement, which was posted on Facebook Friday evening:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

JAM's Jeffrey Mauro, Moto's Homaro Cantu Join Forces to Open Berrista Coffee

Raspberry jelly doughnut from Berrista Coffee (Photo: Berrista Coffee)

Here's some pretty exciting news hot off the press.

JAM executive chef Jeffrey Mauro is partnering with Homaro Cantu (iNG, Moto) for that revolutionary new bakery, Berrista Coffee. That's the sweets shop featuring the "miracle berry" that's replacing sugar in most of the pastries.

Really, Chili's?! Restaurant's 'Robot' Hilariously Annoys Man By Text


OK, so this is actually pretty damn funny.

A dude posted a Craigslist ad in an effort to sell a $50 gift card from Chili's Bar & Grill. He listed his phone number so that potential buyers could call or text him. Chili's allegedly took him up on his offer and this is what happened next.

How much you wanna bet he doesn't do this again?!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

So A Vegetarian Walks Into A Butcher Shop . . .

(Photo: 312 Dining Diva)

The Butcher & Larder chef/owner Rob Levitt muses in a Facebook status on what's apparently an annual custom . . .

This happened the same day Publican Quality Meats posted a smackdown response to PETA's anti-meat billboard located across the street from the shop.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

'BabyGate' Happened At Alinea Saturday & Twitterverse Explodes In Response

The Grant Achatz tweet that set the Internet ablaze Saturday night (Photo: 312 Dining Diva)

After what happened this weekend it looks like I need to drag out this article again regarding small children and social graces in restaurants.

When I originally wrote it in 2013, I had restaurants like Blackbird, Naha and Perennial Virant in mind. No freaking way did I ever think someone would think to take a child—let alone an infant—to the likes of the three star Michelin rated Alinea (Check out this list of the best child-friendly restaurants in Chicago).

As soon as Alinea chef/partner Grant Achatz posted that already-infamous tweet around 7pm Saturday, the Internet exploded in response. I was pretty shocked with how many people were in defense of the parents—who allegedly had a last-minute babysitter cancellation.

Here are the Top 21 twitter responses of the night:

Friday, January 10, 2014

Grace: My First Great Dining Experience of 2014

Fourth course: duck with sunflower, cranberry and marjoram (Photo: William Boulware)

On the same day Grace's Curtis Duffy was named Chef of the Year by the Chicago Tribune, I had a reservation.

That just set the bar even higher for my first great dining experience of 2014. Honey, I was not disappointed.

I'm good friends with the staff, so I've had the pleasure of hanging out in Grace's front room lounge for drinks as well as attending a summer BBQ where all the chefs grilled their favorite meats. This occasion, however, was my first time officially dining at the restaurant.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hyde Park Yusho Delayed Until Summer; Owner Matthias Merges Not Backing Down Despite Dispute

Interior of Matthias Merges' A10 restaurant, which opened in Hyde Park in 2013. (Photo: A10)

The thing about living on the South Side is that many residents tend to be stuck in their ways. And stubborn. And don't like change. That's why I moved as soon as I could to the rapidly changing Near West Side more than 10 years ago.

So it's pretty admirable that Matthias Merges (Billy Sunday, Yusho) pushed forward with A10, a restaurant and cocktail lounge that's quite revolutionary in this part of town. In fact, he's done pretty well with a full house almost every night of the week.

Merges was set to open a second Yusho location in Hyde Park in February, however, there have been some roadblocks, according to DNA Info:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Now Is The Time To Book Reservations For 'Chicago Restaurant Week'

Beatrix's casual, yet modern setting in River North (Photo: Beatrix)

Get out of deep-freeze mode for a few minutes to think about where you’re going to dine during Chicago Restaurant Week. What’s super cool is that it’s been extended an extra week, so you’ll get more chances to check out even more restaurants.

Book ‘em now—especially those red-hot newcomers like Beatrix, Cicchetti, CH Distillery and Tanta. Peruse the list, which also includes details on the second-annual First Bites Bash, hosted by award-winning chef Paul Kahan.

Chicago Restaurant Week goes down Jan. 24-Feb. 6.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hunker Down In One Of Chicago's Top 50 'Fireplace-Equipped Drinking Spots'

Cozy up to Drumbar's elegant fireplace. (Photo: Drumbar)

Not that I'm lazy or anything, but since Thrillist Chicago already did the legwork, I'm gonna give them props.

They've smartly compiled 50 Fireplace-Equipped Drinking Spots in the city. And for once, the list truly spans Chicago, from the upscale environs of Streeterville's Drumbar to the low-key digs of Patrick's on the Southwest Side.

'Next Steak' Off To A Rocky Start?!

(Photo: Next Restaurant)

Perhaps it's because Chicago already boasts a gazillion steakhouses—or maybe this foul weather's to blame—but whatever the case, Crain's reports that ticket sales are lagging for Next's steakhouse concept:

"While prime-time spots are gone for the four-month steak theme—reservations between 7 and 8:45 p.m.—there are seatings for earlier and later dining. As of this afternoon, availability for the first official night of Next: Steak on Jan. 8 included a table for two at 9:30 p.m. and tables for four at 5:30, 5:45, 6, 6:15, 6:30, 9, 9:15, 9:30 and 9:45 p.m. Those cost $160 per person, including tax and tip but not beverages."

Monday, January 6, 2014

312DD's Top 5 Most Anticipated Openings For 2014

Lee Wolen, during his days at The Lobby (Photo: Peninsula Chicago)

Out with the old and in with the new restaurants for 2014.

And it's already looking like quite the year as a host of notable restaurants are set to debut . . .

Berrista Coffee. Homaro Canto
's been talking about those "miracle berries" for a few years now, so I'm thrilled that I'll get them on the regular when his revolutionary bakery opens in Old Irving Park in the spring. Berrista is not only a great concept with its sugar-free and gluten-free goodies, but those with diabetes and other health-related issues will finally be able to gorge with abandon.

Tip Generously; Your Delivery Person Will Appreciate it During 'ChiBeria'


The continuing miserable weather means that the majority of folks will be ordering takeout for the next few days.

And it's one of those times when tipping a dollar or two just won't cut it with the delivery person. What do you recommend tipping when the delivery person has to go through hell to get that food to you?!