Brunch, Lincoln Park

Brunch at Taco Joint

Taco Joint has always been a favorite spot for a quick, casual dinner of well-executed guacamole, tacos and margaritas. In fact, I previously wrote about some of my favorite things on the dinner menu. And now, brunch is served on the weekends, complete with two hours of bottomless drinks and an entrée for $32 per person!

Brunch, Lincoln Park

Photo: Chritiques at Taco Joint

Given my proclivity to the Grapefruit Margaritas, a bottomless brunch is a dangerous proposition. Good thing plenty of hearty food options are available to soak it all up. On my visit, we went with the Chilaquiles, which can either be served vegetarian or with pulled chicken. It had fantastic flavor and was quite filling with whole black beans, Tomatillo salsa, crema, queso fresco, and a perfectly fried egg with a runny yoke. Crispy hash brown were served alongside.

Brunch, Lincoln Park

Photo: Chritiques at Taco Joint

Equally as good, but even more filling, was the Breakfast Burrito, stuffed with scrambled eggs, hash browns, grilled Canadian bacon, pico de gallo, and queso fresco. Mexican rice and chipotle black beans complete this dish.

Brunch, Lincoln Park

Photo: Chritiques at Taco Joint

The entrée options are limited – Steak ‘N’ Eggs, Carnitas Pancakes, Chorizo ‘N’ Eggs and a taco platter round out the menu, but most dishes can be prepared vegetarian, as well.

Service can be a tad aloof. On my visit, my drink was served in a very dirty glass which the server did not notice, and it took about 10 minutes to finally flag someone down about it. But, the food was satisfying and it is a good spot for a casual Mexican brunch with tasty drinks.

Brunch is available weekends from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. All entrées are priced at $11 per dish, and the Bottomless Brunch Package is offered at $32 per person.

Taco Joint

Two locations: Lincoln Park and River North

Tastefully,

Christina

While I received a complimentary meal to facilitate this post, all opinions expressed herein are my own. 

Museum, Tours

Museum Hack Renegade Museum Tours

This isn’t your grandma’s museum tour. It is fun, interactive, engaging, and insightful. And gets you in and out of museums in Chicago, New York City, D.C., and San Francisco in two hours. And there is laughter, games, prizes – and candy. This is Museum Hack.

Don’t get me wrong, I love visiting museums and acting cultured and taking in the newest touring exhibit. But sometimes those visits are boring, and you get shushed by serious-acting visitors, and you don’t have any fun. And then there is that nasty side-effect of museum fatigue. Museum Hack wants to change all that, along with people’s perceptions of art and museums. It wants you learn in a fun environment.

Museum, Tours

Photo: Museum Hack

Our guide, Elise, was awesome. She was lively, passionate and entertaining, and our group was laughing and smiling and engaged the whole time, even as we were rushing through the Art Institute of Chicago trying not to lose each other.

Each guide personally picks out 5-10 pieces in a museum and tells stories about the artist, the painting or the sculpture. Some of the pieces are connected in a theme, while others are random. We took pictures of our own favorite paintings that we then told stories about at the end of the tour, and also stopped in a hall of sculptures that we each imitated and had captured by way of old-school Polaroid picture.

Museum, Tours

Photo: Museum Hack

Day time tours are perfect for tourists and locals alike, and niche group tours can be arranged for families, VIPs, youngsters, and corporate team building outings. Museum Hack even offers a 110% money back guarantee – if you don’t love it, you get your money back, and then some.

Museum, Tours

Photo: Museum Hack

While we had fun and made new friends running around the Art Institute and annoying people along the way, we left with a new appreciation for the diverse art housed in the museum, the stories behind each piece, as well as certain details that we would otherwise not have noticed had our guide not pointed them out.

Museum, Tours

Photo: Museum Hack

So, on that next bad weather day, or when looking for something new to do around town, check out Museum Hack. You’ll enjoy it. Guaranteed.

Museum Hack

Tastefully,

Christina

While I received complimentary tickets to a Museum Hack tour to facilitate this review, all opinions expressed herein are my own. 

Khao Lak, Thailand

Cross Over to X2 Khao Lak, Thailand

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

I recently returned from an epic trip to Thailand, which was not only my first trip to that wonderful country, but my first visit to Asia, as well. I would be lying if I said that I have not already been looking into plane tickets to return. I loved everything about my time there – the culture, the people, the lush, tropical landscape, the food, the beaches, and discovering towns off-the-beaten-path, such as Khao Lak.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

When visiting Khao Lak, located in the heart of the Phang Nga Province, we stayed at the X2 (“Cross To”) Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort, which opened only five months ago. Situated directly on the white sandy beaches of the Andaman Sea, “Khao Lak” literally means “Lak Mountain,” which is one of the main peaks in this small mountainous region. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the General Manager with cold refreshing towels and beverages mimicking the blue Sea.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

With just nine private bungalow suites, each with its own breathtaking view of the central pool and Lam Kaem beach, guests receive personalized, five-star service, complete with on-call butlers catering to guests’ every whim.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

Rooms are modern, comfortable and extremely spacious, and offer every amenity both necessary and extravagant, including aromatherapy lamps, two-person soaking tubs, beach mats, toiletries, and personal Samsung Galaxy tablets for use during one’s stay.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

Each private bungalow follows an open floor plan, and has been designed to bring comfort and allow for exquisite views of the surrounding nature. Deluxe rooms have high ceilings and large windows that lead to open verandas where you can enjoy magnificent sunrises and sunsets. Suites open right onto the Anda Mani garden with a view of the pool and beach just beyond. The Beachfront Villas offer the epitome of luxury and infinite views of the Andaman Sea.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

Being at the center of the resort, the swimming pool is its heart, and it is where your private butler will serve you drinks and treats during the time the resort dubs “Sip and Nibble” while lounging below the towering palm trees.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

One of the best things about our stay was the beachfront massage, which blended both traditional Thai massage techniques with the more familiar Western style of massage. Listening to the waves while being pampered in such an idyllic atmosphere is an experience I will not soon forget, and will definitely return to.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

For a small resort catering solely to its own guests, the food at X2 Khao Lak was phenomenal. A poolside snack of cured salmon with seasonal melon and mango was the perfect refreshing meal to hold us over until dinner.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

Dinner at the poolside 4K (“Fork”) Restaurant was perfect, and offered some of the best food we tried in Thailand, made even better with a refreshing Singha beer. Combining Thai and international flavors, only the freshest seasonal ingredients produced locally are used.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

Breakfast is served poolside every morning, and includes fresh fruit, including the best papaya I have ever tasted, fruit juice, yogurt, muesli, and more.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani provides the Cross To atmosphere, which is a perfect blend of design and dedication to place, and caters to a cosmopolitan group of creative and stylish guests who enjoy living life and are looking for the ultimate holiday experience. X2 provides only the highest service standards in first class accommodations, and allows one to Cross To a whole new dimension of designed luxury. A winning combination in my book.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

Learn more about X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani, as well as other X2 properties, by visiting its website.

Tastefully,

Christina

While I received a complimentary stay to facilitate this post, all opinions expressed herein are my own. 

Soccer, Pub97

Get Your Game On at Heineken Pub97

Welcome to soccer paradise. Heineken Pub97 is a full service restaurant and bar designed by soccer lovers, for soccer lovers. Located inside the 12,500 square foot clubhouse at The PrivateBank Fire Pitch, which is owned by the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, Pub97 offers something for everyone – food, drinks, games, game-day shuttles to the Chicago Fire games in Bridgeview, and a front row seat to the action taking place on the state-of-the-art soccer fields just feet away.

Soccer, Pub97

Photo: Chritiques at Heineken Pub97

Pub97 offers more than your average bar food; tortilla and potato chips are made in-house, and the quality ingredients, including all-natural chicken, stand out. A full bar offering beer, wine and specialty cocktails is available, as well. I recommend the house-made margarita, with a spicy and smoky salted rim.

Soccer, Pub97

Photo: Heineken Pub97

Twelve 4k flat screen TVs adorn the walls, and during the warmer months, an outdoor patio, complete with its own televisions for convenient soccer viewing, sits next to the Chicago River and 125,000 square foot, year round sports facility and soccer fields, which are open air from April through November, and within an inflatable dome between December and April.

Soccer, Pub97

Photo: Chritiques at Heineken Pub97

Work off those wings by playing ping pong or bags outside, or foosball, Jenga, and other bar games, as well as FIFA16 on Xbox, inside the pub. Step it up a notch by joining one of the many rec leagues that play at the adjacent fields.

Soccer, Pub97

Photo: Chritiques at Heineken Pub97

Pub97 is open for dinner, Monday through Friday, for lunch on Friday, and for brunch, lunch and dinner on the weekend. Sunday movie nights occur every week, with $2 specialty popcorn, and during English Premier League games, a full serving of English breakfast is offered.

Soccer, Pub97

Photo: Heineken Pub97

Heineken Pub97

3626 North Talman Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

Tastefully,

Christina

Event, Chicago Magazine

A Toast to Chicago’s Best

Event, Chicago Magazine

Photo: Chritiques at Best of Chicago Event

Chicago magazine hosted its annual event on August 11, 2016, toasting some of Chicago’s best. Best of Chicago 2016 honored the city’s top culinary, cultural, and business talent selected by Chicago magazine’s editors and readers.

Event, Best of Chicago

Photo: Chicago Magazine

Hundreds gathered inside Morgan Manufacturing for small bites provided by Monteverde, Dos Urban Cantina, Swift & Sons, Stan’s Donuts, and more, and specialty cocktails by the city’s best mixologists and wines from Chloe Wine Collection.

Event, Best of Chicago

Photo: Chicago Magazine

Mario Tricoci was on hand offering manicures, makeup touch-ups and massages, and Kia was showing off some new rides.

Event, Chicago Magazine

Photo: Chritiques at Best of Chicago Event

The evening’s charitable partner, SOS Children’s Villages, which builds Villages that unite brothers and sisters in foster care, surround them with a community of hope, and help them grow into caring and productive adults, spread its mission to the attendees, as well.

Event, Chicago Magazine

Photo: Chritiques at Best of Chicago Event

DJ Lani Love, voted Best DJ in the Readers’ Choices awards in 2015, ramped up the revelry and capped off the evening by getting everybody dancing and celebrating some of Chicago’s best. Overall, it was a wonderful evening of sampling bites and drinks from some of the city’s top restaurants, bars and mixologists, being pampered, and celebrating Chicago in one spot.

Tastefully,

Christina

While I received complimentary passes to this event, all opinions expressed herein are my own.