5 Late Fall Midwestern Getaways

Happy November! I hope All Hallow’s Eve went without any ghoulish surprises this year and was lots of fun. Now that November is here, fall is in its final few weeks. The leaves are falling rapidly, the colors have changed, and the weather has turned much more brisk. It’s delightful! With four weeks left until Thanksgiving and four weeks between T-Day and Christmas, now is the time to plan a last-minute fall getaway. With limited time to spare, a getaway that’s closer to home makes much more sense. For those of you Chicago-based or Midwest-based, I have five late fall getaways to put on your calendar. It’s a great time to travel to any of these locations because the height of tourist season is over. Rates are dropping and crowds are thinning. Take this as an opportunity to explore each of these Midwestern destinations at your own leisure…

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6 Cozy Spots Around Chicago

Colder weather calls for cozy get togethers. If there’s one thing Chicago knows how to do well (other than take advantage of summer), it’s survive winter and the colder months. We’re a social city! We like going out for brunch and meeting friends for a cocktail after work. Five months of bitter cold won’t keep us hibernating...well, not the entire time at least. We can appreciate a good occasional hibernation. For those colder months when the tips of your fingers start to turn blue and your nose goes numb, the cozier spot to meet up, the better. Cozy, by definition, means “enjoying or affording warmth and ease.” In my words, that translates to a fireplace, casual and/or comfortable seating arrangements like couches or comfy chairs, and a warm drink with alcohol optional…

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How to Spend A Day In The Fort Worth Stockyards

The Fort Worth Stockyards offers a rare glimpse into the Wild West circa 1880. Old railroad tracks are everywhere, brick roads are not uncommon, and the spirit of old Texas is alive and well. There’s a sense of local pride in the stockyards, probably because they are still used today for their original purpose back in 1866. Fort Worth became known as Cowtown in the mid to late 1800s. It was the last town cattle were brought through before hitting the railroads for transportation. Later, meatpacking facilities moved to the Fort Worth area with the expansion of the railroad and a space for selling cattle was created. The business nearly died with the railroads but the city has created an organization to preserve the history of the Stockyards. This has created a unique and immersive experience into the world of Fort Worth during the height of its success…

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5 Places For a Quick Fall Getaway

Before diving head first into the holiday season, plan a quick getaway to relax and enjoy the final weeks of the season. It seems that most of the US had a somewhat late summer this year which means the fall leaves are appearing and sticking around later than usual. Thanksgiving is a month away and it starts the insanity that is the holiday season, but not if you start preparing now! In the meantime, give yourself a break by taking a quick trip away from everyday life. These five destinations have a mix of warmer and colder fall weather but each is a strong contender in its own right. From New England to California, whether you have a regular weekend or a long weekend, these are worth a fall getaway…

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5 Reasons to Visit Amboise, France

Have you ever been somewhere that makes you feel like you’re walking in a real life fairytale? That’s exactly how I felt as we pulled into Amboise, France, a small medieval town in the Loire Valley. The final home of Leonardo da Vinci and home to  Château Royal d’Amboise, it’s as if you’re walking in the real life version of Beauty & the Beast. The people are friendly, the food is outstanding and if the walls could talk...it would be a hard to top history lesson. About 140 miles outside of Paris, Amboise is one of many stops to make throughout the Loire Valley and believe me when I say - there are many. Known for the highest concentration of chateaus in the world, the Loire Valley is one of France’s largest wine producing regions, especially white wine and sparkling wine (not to be confused with Champagne which can only be made in the region of the same name). While Amboise is not the only town I suggest for a visit in the Loire Valley, it is one of my favorites. If I haven’t convinced you yet, here are five reasons why you should visit Amboise....

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1 - The History. Amboise has seen much of history from being the home of kings and hosting notable historical figures to being the epicenter of religious turmoil. It’s been used as a place of celebration and a place of incarceration. It’s amazing to realize how much this town has been through over centuries - like I said, if the walls could talk I could only imagine what they’d say. Amboise also served as a fortress during its long life. Because of this, there are underground passageways which offer a unique look back into history. Lucky for us, these tunnels as well as the towers within the fortress are accessible through special tours. The town and château  especially was nearly destroyed during the French Revolution. After being returned to the heirs of Louis Philippe in the late 19th century, the  château went under a complete restoration only to be damaged once again during World War II during the German invasion. Restorations took place for the final time after the war and are now kept by a local organization. Today, Amboise still maintains its Renaissance charm which is what gives it such a fairy tale-like character that seems at times, unreal.

 🎶 “Little town…it’s a quiet village…” 🎶

🎶 “Little town…it’s a quiet village…” 🎶

2 - Château Royal d’Amboise is breathtaking inside and out. The château is smaller in size compared to many others but the quaint size is what makes it so charming. Amboise has seen its fair share of neglect but it’s always been rebuilt and today, it shares a window to the past so that we might understand what life was like throughout the centuries that came before us. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, there is much to see at Château Royal d’Amboise. For starters, Leonardo da Vinci is buried in Saint-Hubert’s Chapel which sits atop the castle gardens. For anyone who adores Renaissance art and the great minds from that generation, this is an absolute must. The rooms inside the chateau have been returned to their former glory when royalty made it their home. The gardens that sit on top of the château overlook the town and the valley for some of the best views you’ll find in the Loire.

 View from the gardens atop Château Royal d’Amboise

View from the gardens atop Château Royal d’Amboise

3 - Château du Clos Lucé was the final home of Leonardo da Vinci. He lived here for the final three years of his life with a select few students and it is now a museum dedicated to his life and work. Located just outside the town’s borders, Clos Lucé holds many of Leonardo's unfinished work as well as finished pieces and drawings of ideas and inventions he had not yet gotten to. Clos Lucé was originally built by the Amboise family who the town was named after in the 15th Century. It later became a summer home of the Kings of France which is how it came to be da Vinci’s final home. King Francis I admired da Vinci and asked him to be the “Premier Painter and Engineer and Architect of the King” which obviously, he accepted. Clos Lucé pays tribute to more than just the famed artist. There are rooms dedicated to other periods of time and figures who also took up residence on the property, for example, Queen Anne of Brittany.

 Saint Hubert’s Chapel where Leonardo da Vinci was laid to rest atop Château Royal d’Amboise

Saint Hubert’s Chapel where Leonardo da Vinci was laid to rest atop Château Royal d’Amboise

4 - The Amboise Sunday Market is a favorite among visitors and locals within the entire Loire Valley. The market features vendors selling everything from food to clothing to furniture. Many people make a day of it and finish with a picnic by the river or tour one of the aforementioned châteaux. Because of the market’s popularity, it’s important to get there early to beat crowds. Grab all the produce you need for the week with freshly grown vegetables and fruits, purchase fresh meat butchered that very morning, and enjoy pre-made cuisine that proves French street food is as good as anywhere else. The market takes place in the Place du Marchée beside the Loire River. It’s quite large and busy but 100% worth experiencing at least once.

 Overlooking the Loire from the Château Royal d’Amboise gardens

Overlooking the Loire from the Château Royal d’Amboise gardens

5 - The town of Amboise is as charming as its château of the same name. Because Amboise has higher tourist traffic than similar small towns within the Loire Valley, it has novelties and conveniences that others might not. There are many restaurants, bakeries, cafes, shops and fun things to do and see. The gardens of the château provide unbeatable panoramic views of the Loire Valley. The streets of Amboise take you to a different place and time. The people are friendly and welcoming. The food is simply fantastic. It’s hard to hate Amboise from its charming personality to welcoming nature to historical significance. The town and the château have had a rough life but that alone speaks to the people’s tenacity and strength. In fact, I fell in love with Amboise so much that it’s my #1 choice to settle down for a time when I manage to get back to Europee indefinitely. When a place leaves a mark on you that strong, you know it’s meant to be.

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8 Destinations For Solo Travel Around the World

Some of the best adventures are had while we’re pushed outside of our comfort zones. Traveling alone is one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences anyone can have, especially a woman. I cannot say this enough. If you feel nervous, start slow. Plan a long weekend away in the US or your home country. Once you’ve built up the confidence many people feel they need to travel alone, take a longer trip abroad. Regardless of where your first trip may take you, these 8 non-European and US cities are musts for your solo travel bucket list. I call this…8 Destinations For Solo Travel Around the World. It should be a longer list, just like the US and European lists should have been longer, but we’d be getting into novel length territory. As much as I’d love to write the next great American novel, none of us here currently have time for that. So from the temples of Cambodia to the festivals of Quebec, here are 8 destinations for solo travelers around the world.

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Bangkok, Thailand
Now is the ideal time to plan a trip to Bangkok. I’ll be honest, Thailand wasn’t the first place that came to mind when I thought about solo travel. A friend of mine traveled to Bangkok with family and had an exceptional experience. While I was polling friends and family to find out what countries and cities they felt would be great for women looking to travel alone for the first time, she insisted I consider Bangkok. After a little research, I couldn’t agree more. November to February will see the coolest temperatures in Thailand. December and January see the highest number of tourists so if you prefer a less crowded experience, November and February will offer less crowds without the sweltering temperatures or downpouring rain.

Bangkok is known for their street food which is almost everywhere. It might not be the traditional Thai food you’re familiar with from the local takeout place but it will no doubt blow your mind. Communication might not be smooth sailing as the people largely use their own native language (rightfully so), but you will find plenty of kindness. Thailand thrives from tourism and the people know this so they’ve become incredibly welcoming to visitors. With that said, don’t let vendors take advantage of you! Haggling is a common practice in Thailand and while it might seem intimidating, have a little fun with it. It’s more of a game than an anxious confrontation.

 Photo c/o @ yesrenteria

Photo c/o @yesrenteria

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Budapest, Hungary
Hungary is a country that should be on any travel bucket list for the history alone. Many different groups of people left a mark on Hungary but you’ll see the strongest influence from the Romans and the Turkish empire. You can still enjoy thermal baths which are as popular with the locals as they are with tourists. Something I did not know about Budapest, it is literally split into Buda and Pest! The two parts of the city are separated by the Danube River and have very different vibes. Buda is home to more of the historical monuments and architecture of the city. Here you will find lots of old cobblestone roads, the Castle District and quiet nights. Adversely, Pest is where you go for a fun nightlife scene. Pest is the home of the Jewish Quarter where there are an endless amount of unique cafes and ruin bars to visit. Even though Buda is where most of the historic buildings are, you can still find things like the House of Terror and St. Stephen’s Basilica in Pest. If you’re worried about traveling solo in Budapest, don’t. It’s very friendly towards travelers, even women who are on their own.

Hanoi, Vietnam
The capital city of Vietnam, Hanoi is a busy, bustling experience surrounded by beaches, mountains, ruins, and more. Whatever you can think of to want in a travel experience, Hanoi has to offer. While it might be overwhelming at first, Hanoi deserves a chance if you’re willing to be a little adventurous in your solo travels. A great place to stay in Hanoi is the Old Quarter. For starters, many of the popular hotels are located here which is convenient in itself. Second, many of the sights that will be on your list are also located here such as Hoan Kiem Lake. It’s also a hub for shopping, dining, and more. A few things that you’ll want to make sure are on your list: Vietnamese coffee (trust me), street food (one of the things Hanoi is known for), and the Hanoi Night Market. The Night Market is a reprieve from the general rule of staying in at night as a solo traveler. If you feel comfortable, venture out. The market will still be crowded enough to feel safe but not as congested as the daytime markets feel. There’s less haggling as well since the vendors and shopkeepers are much more casual and relaxed.

Sites to consider visiting include Van Mieu, Hao Lo Prison, and the Vietnam Army Museum. Van Mieu, otherwise known as the Temple of Literature, is supposedly the most beautiful to visit. Hao Lo Prison, also known as Hanoi Hilton, can be a little controversial. The information the museum shares isn’t exactly historically accurate according to accounts from those who experienced the prison during the Vietnam War. If you keep an open mind, it’s an interesting exhibit sharing insight into what the Vietnamese went through while trying to gain independence from France. The WanderBlogger has a great guide to Hanoi featuring 8 things you should do.

Mexico City, Mexico
When you think of Mexican travel spots, Cancun and Playa del Carmen might be the first cities that come to mind. Mexico City, although not a beachside city, should be at the top of your Central American bucket list. Bursting with cultural experiences, Mexico City is filled with Mexican history and culture from the food to the art scene. This destination is ideal for the foodie, the history buff, the art lover, the frugal traveler, and most definitely...the solo traveler. The bustling city has the second largest collection of museums (who knew?!), thousands of restaurants including high-end dining experiences, and an unlimited amount of things to do.

Let’s start with history. Mexico City is surrounded by some of the more notable Mayan, Aztec, and Mesoamerican ruins. For art lovers, on top of the many art museums and ancient sculptures littered throughout the city, you’ll also find many to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. There’s a museum solely dedicated to Kahlo located in her old family home as well as to both Kahlo and Rivera in their old studio. While Asian countries are said to have the best street food in the world, natives of Mexico City might disagree. From tacos to tamales, the capital city has a lively food scene that rivals those of Thailand and Vietnam (also mentioned in this post). That doesn’t mean you can’t find a gourmet meal though! Oh no, Mexico City has many restaurants that provide unique, high-end dining experiences including tasting menus. The difference between Mexico City and say...Chicago? It’ll cost you a lot less. Ultimately, Mexico City should be a bucket list item for the solo traveler or at the very least, the frugal traveler.

 Photo c/o @ yesrenteria

Photo c/o @yesrenteria

Quebec, Canada
Hopefully my next solo excursion this fall, Quebec is the closest US natives can get to Europe without flying across the Atlantic. Similar to France, Quebec has a strong, proud culture and history. There’s an episode of No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain in the first season that really dives into the culture of the region. It’s actually one of the reasons I was inspired to include Quebec rather than any other Canadian city or province in this post. Expect to speak the Quebecois dialect of French with signs throughout the cities only in French. It doesn’t take a linguist to translate the meaning of said signs but it’s something to prepare for. When traveling to the Quebec province in Canada, there are two big city options: Quebec City and Montreal. Both are worth adding to your itinerary but they each have their own individual experiences.

Montreal is the more cosmopolitan of the two cities and Quebec City is much more historical. Not to say that Montreal doesn’t have its fair share of history and Old World feel. Quebec City just has more doors to the past. For example, Quebec City is home to Old Quebec where you can find the original walled fortifications of the city now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Quebec City is also where you’ll find the Citadelle of Quebec which is Canada’s oldest military building and the Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica that dates back to the 17th century. Let’s not knock Montreal though. This city has plenty to offer all it’s own. While Quebec City might have a more Old World feel to it, Montreal has embraced the 21st century while still remembering where it came from. Montreal has a vibrant food scene with classic patisseries, English pubs, food markets, delis and more. It’s a city that loves festivals with more than 90 in a calendar year especially their famous Jazz Festival. The art scene is established and always growing. Regardless of which city you choose, there are plenty of things to occupy your time, more than enough restaurants to keep your belly full, and enough culture to make you leave feeling enriched and ready to return at a moment’s notice.

Queenstown, New Zealand
There are a lot of reasons why New Zealand deserves to be on this list. The people are incredibly friendly, it’s one of the safest countries in the world, and there’s a range of adventures from city exploration to remote hiking trails. One day you can be exploring a Hobbit Town, the next you can be on a vineyard tour sipping delightful wines, and the next you can be staring up at a crystal clear sky in the mountains. The versatility of the country is unique. Queenstown in particular is more of the adventurous region of New Zealand. Home to a vast number of nature activities from hiking to skiing, there is plenty of land to explore and things to do. A visit to Queenstown is great for the scenery alone. The landscape and backdrops that surround you all over are breathtaking.

Santiago, Chile
It may be surprising (it was to me) but Santiago Chile is one of the safest cities to visit in South America. With low crime rates and trustworthy police, Santiago has become one of the more popular Latin American travel destinations and rightfully so. Santiago has everything going for it from a rich urban culture to gorgeous mountains and vibrant vineyards and wineries. Let’s talk about those for a minute. The best travel times for Santiago are from March to May and August to November. However my vote is March to May because that’s fall in Santiago which means harvest season. Wineries in Chile, just like any other place in the world celebrate the harvest with festivals and it’s a wonderful time to enjoy the world-class wine from the region. The weather is also mild making it a comfortable time to travel without the crowds that summer brings. Santiago is a great city for frugal travelers as the conversion rate is in the American’s favor plus everything is less expensive. There are also a large number of things to see and do for free. For foodie travelers, dive into classic sopaipillas, explore Peruvian cuisine, and enjoy fresh fish caught that morning. If you ask me, I’m in for the sopaipillas alone!

Siem Reap, Cambodia
Known as the home of Angkor Wat, Siem Reap is a city rich in history, culture, and welcoming locals making it a great destination for traveling alone. Depending on where you’re traveling from, Siem Reap might not be particular cheap to get to but it’s rather inexpensive to visit. Walk ancient ruins in Angkor Wat (translated to “City of Temples”), the largest religious monument in the world. This is a high traffic area for tourists so if you’re one who tends to avoid crowds, do a little research to see which of the temples are not as popular or head over early. The early bird always misses the crowd. Because Siem Reap is a smaller town there isn’t much nightlife which works in the favor of solo travel. However, if you’d like to grab a post-Indiana Jones adventure cocktail, Pub Street is the place to be! Cambodia as a whole is known for their cuisine and lifestyle rooted in strong wellness practices. From yoga retreats to spa days, there is no shortage of opportunities to rejuvenate before the long flight home.

San Antonio Dining: Supper at Emma

San Antonio has plenty of spots to grab a bite. My favorite part of traveling is all the research and preparation before a trip. There were an endless number of restaurants that I wanted to visit while in the Southwestern city but there’s only so much a stomach can handle. Once the list has narrowed a bit, it’s easier to decide which restaurants fit best into your plans. Supper at Emma in the Pearl District just so happened to be the perfect spot for breakfast the day of my cousin’s wedding. Towards the end of the riverwalk where the river taxi turns back around is the Pearl District, one of my favorite parts of San Antonio. This is where the gorgeous and unparalleled Hotel Emma is located and likewise, Supper.

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Supper at Emma is an “American Eatery” by Chef John Brand featuring a “straightforward and creative approach guided by flavor, what’s in season and what feels good in the center of a table shared by friends.” The restaurant offers an experience that is part farm-to-table, part bistro. The flavors of south Texas are at the forefront of the menu as well as local, seasonal ingredients. Quite honestly, it was one of my favorite San Antonio dining experiences and very unexpected as well. Supper is an American Eatery but the food is so unique and original, it doesn’t deserve to be in a classic American category. I would fly back to San Antonio for the chance to have breakfast at Supper one more time.

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Breakfast was the meal of choice for us at Supper and what a great one it came to be! With an affordable menu and versatile options, it was difficult making a decision on what to eat. My Noni decided to go with the Ricotta Pancakes with Lemon and Blueberries (now listed with raspberries on their website). I decided to go outside of my usual comfort zone and ordered the Green Chorizo Scotch Egg with Cornbread, Creme Fraiche, and Salad. To finish, we split the famous Beignets that called to me while doing restaurant research. While neither of us had a traditional breakfast compared to our usual standards, we were both blown away by the experience.

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The Ricotta Pancakes are made with chickpea flour making them much lighter than the typical heavy pancake. It was the first time I ever saw my Noni clean her plate for breakfast. The Scotch Egg was something I’ve never had before and an interesting, complex dish. For starters, I’d love to know how Scotch Eggs are made because they seem like witchcraft to me. The green chorizo was inside the scotch egg, acting sort of like a barrier between the actual egg and the crisp breading. It was so flavorful and satisfying. The combination of textures from the smooth egg and crunchy breading worked in sync with the spiciness of the chorizo, creaminess of the egg and savory notes from the crust. The cornbread could win an award too. Moist and sweet yet still savory...I can’t say one bad thing about this dish. Finally, the beignets were exactly as you’d want them. Crisp on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth fluffy on the inside. Dusted with powdered sugar and served with preserves, nothing will complete your morning better.

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Supper is located within Hotel Emma in the Pearl District of San Antonio. The restaurant features both indoor seating and an outdoor patio. Reservations are available and encouraged. After dining at Supper, walk around the property for gorgeous views of the riverwalk. I also encourage you to take a personal tour through Hotel Emma. It’s like walking back in time. The decor is rustic and sophisticated and makes for fantastic photos. Most notably, the hotel has a 3,700-volume library any bookworm would drool over. Visit their gift shop, grocery store or club room for a cocktail and enjoy all the intricate details that make this hotel something truly special.

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9 Spots To Grab Brunch Around Chicago

Brunch. America’s favorite weekend passtime. The perfect blend of breakfast and lunch. The gut-wrenching decision of sweet versus savory. It’s an excuse to drink before noon and a reason to sit and chat with friends for hours judgement free. During this time of year, it’s time to soak up the final rays of sunshine and warmth before the heat goes away and the cold creeps in. Are you a sweet or savory bruncher? Would you prefer to dig in to a giant stack of fluffy buttermilk pancakes or a cheesy 5-egg omelet? Maybe you prefer having a combination of the two? I’m definitely the latter. Give me sweet and savory and I’m a happy girl. While the warmer days may be limited, Chicago will stretch patio season out well into fall as long as it’s not snowing. So whether you prefer an outdoor or indoor brunch, we’ve got a list of nine restaurants to indulge the favorite weekend meal. Dig in, Chicago!

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Atwood | 1 West Washington Street - Loop
Located inside the gorgeous Alise Hotel, Atwood serves up contemporary American cuisine with local ingredients. With a menu leaning more towards the savory side of breakfast dishes, grab classics like Steak & Eggs to interesting twists like the Grilled Cheese featuring tomato jam and smoked gouda. The Atwood Omelet available for brunch and breakfast (lucky you), is a unique combination of ingredients that is delish. Bacon, caramelized onions, and Brie melt together in a fluffy, delightful omelet. For something sweet, dig into the Monte Cristo French Toast. It’s hard to deny raspberry preserves!

Brunch is available at Atwood Saturdays & Sundays and Breakfast is served weekdays.

 The Atwood Omelet with Breakfast Potatoes and an English Muffin

The Atwood Omelet with Breakfast Potatoes and an English Muffin

Beatrix | 519 North Clark Street - River North
Beatrix has several locations around the city, one of them being in River North not too far from the Magnificent Mile. Known for having a great breakfast and brunch, Beatrix serves up healthier dishes that are still tasty. Each location also has a coffee bar with pastries so you can grab a latte on your way out! The Quinoa Cakes with Poached Eggs are an interesting change from more classic options. The tomato-basil sauce is a showstopper and you'll wish you had more of it to slather the egg and quinoa cakes with. It looks like a heavy meal but it’s much lighter than it seems. It’s equally fit for a hot day or cold winter day.

The Beatrix River North location offers Brunch Saturdays & Sundays from 8AM - 3PM and Breakfast is served weekdays from 7AM - 11AM.

 The Quinoa Cakes with Poached Eggs

The Quinoa Cakes with Poached Eggs

FourteenSixteen | 14 West Calendar Avenue - LaGrange, IL
If you’re already in the suburbs or willing to make the trek outside of city limits, FourteenSixteen in LaGrange has got a bomb brunch. My closest friend from pre-high school days met me here one very hot summer Saturday for a brunch that had both of us clearing our plates. Disclaimer, you will have a terrible time choosing from the menu. Everything looks so good, especially if you see dish after dish come out of the kitchen. It’s practically impossible to make a decision and most likely accounted for half of our visit. The Pork Belly Hash is particularly fantastic. The pork melts in your mouth and everything from the avocado to queso fresco complement the dish beautifully. I have it on good authority that the Chicken Waffles and Beignets are worth a try too.

Weekend Brunch at FourteenSixteen is available Saturdays & Sundays from 10AM - 2PM.

Flo | 1434 West Chicago Avenue - West Town
Flo is a favorite brunch spot for locals. The first time I visited this New Mexican restaurant, I discovered the wonderful world of Fruity Pebbles French Toast. If you haven’t tried it yet, do so quickly. It’s the most amazing, unexpectedly delightful breakfast dish you’ll have. It was this dish that had me returning to Flo time and time again. I have branched out of Fruity Pebbles heaven though. The Bacon-Chocolate Pancakes are simply to-die-for, the Chorizo Scramble is my dream egg dish, and the Huevos Rancheros are also amazing. You’ll find classic brunch dishes here and a few way out of the ordinary. Regardless of your choice, the food is always outstanding and the experience casual. It’s more than likely those two reasons why locals keep going back for more.

Brunch is available at Flo Saturdays from 9AM - 3PM and Sundays from 9AM - 2PM. Breakfast is served weekdays starting at 8:30AM.

 Photo c/o Flo

Photo c/o Flo

Jam n’ Honey | 958 West Webster Avenue - Lincoln Park - DePaul Campus
It’s time for a throwback. You know that one place you find in college that becomes the go-to for your close group of friends? Jam n’ Honey is basically that for anyone living on the DePaul University Lincoln Park campus. Don’t let the potential to run into crowds of college students deter you from trying Jam n’ Honey because it’s well worth it. From fluffy pancakes to a variety of eggs benedict, this corner restaurant on a college campus is offering comfort food, hangover food, and plain good-for-the-soul food. They’re also known for having an abundance of Nutella, one on each table to be specific. Have I sold you yet? I’ll meet you there!

Jam n’ Honey opens at 8AM every day.

Little Goat Diner | 820 West Randolph - West Loop
Stephanie Izard created a diner that Chicago didn’t realized it needed with Little Goat. I have been to one too many events during dinner time where the food has been scarce or non-existent. The first place that comes to mind every single time this happens is Little Goat. And while that may be dinner time, Little Goat offers a breakfast menu all day long so if you want an early breakfast, brunch or breakfast for dinner, you can have it! Little Goat Diner is SO good because you won’t find anything traditional on the menu. Instead of pancakes, you get Dark Chocolate Chip Crunch Pancakes. Instead of a generic egg hash, you get Smoked Corned Beef Hash with Eggs. Instead of French Toast, you get Bull’s Eye French Toast featuring crispy chicken and bbq maple syrup. Need I go on? It is brunch so if you’re feeling something a little more lunchy, dig in to one of the juicy, flavor-packed burgers. The Patty Melt is particularly mind-blowing. If that wasn’t enough, get a shake, get a cappuccino, get a pastry…and if you get there early enough, get one of their famous Cinnabuns.

Little Goat Diner opens at 7AM every day.

 Photo Credit: Galdones Photography c/o Little Goat Diner

Photo Credit: Galdones Photography c/o Little Goat Diner

Lula Cafe | 2537 North Kedzie Avenue - Logan Square
Lula Cafe is at the heart of Logan Square’s culinary scene. One of the pioneers of the farm-to-table movement in Chicago, Chef Jason Hammel established a neighborhood restaurant that Chicagoans come from all over the city to visit. If you’re not a local, that means a lot because getting to the west neighborhoods is not easy if you’re not already in the western area. Their menu rotates seasonally using locally sourced ingredients and it’s rare you’ll hear someone say they didn’t enjoy a meal at Lula Cafe. Warning: this is a very popular spot and can get crowded fast. Reservations are only accepted after 5:30PM. If you plan to visit on the weekend, get there early or prepare to wait. It will be well worth it if you do.

Lula Cafe opens daily at 9AM, except Tuesdays when they are closed.

Marisol at the MCA | 205 East Pearson Street - Gold Coast
Another restaurant by Chef Jason Hammel, Marisol at the Museum of Contemporary Art is worth a visit for the experience as much as the food. The best part of Marisol might just be the daily housemade doughnut. Flavors vary each day so it’s always a surprise what you’ll get but they are always delicious. Marisol also features a seasonal menu to embrace local ingredients and the best flavors of the season. While dining, make sure to take in the art around you. The restaurant was designed to be an immersive experience created by artist Chris Ofili.

Brunch is available at Marisol Saturdays & Sundays from 10AM - 2:30PM.

 Photo Credit: Neil Burger c/o Marisol

Photo Credit: Neil Burger c/o Marisol

The Allis at Soho House | 113-125 North Green Street - West Loop
My home away from home. The Allis at Soho House is one of the hardest places for me to describe. The decor is a mix of vintage and elegance, rustic and modern, sophisticated and casual. The service is always friendly. The food is always spectacular. I genuinely mean it when I say that I’ve enjoyed every single bite at this restaurant and there have been many. From the French Toast to the Baked Eggs, every taste bud is tantalized. The espresso is spot on and their bread is worth a visit all on its own. Confession: I normally like to order egg dishes just so I can have the bread with jam.

The Allis opens Monday - Saturday at 7AM and Sunday at 8AM

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