Weekend Roundup | How I Ate My Way Through Easter in Chicago

Greetings, everyone!  I hope you all had a lovely, long, Easter weekend.  I am not religious in the conventional sense.  Rather, food is part of my “holy trinity” (food, travel, live music).  I decided to take a leisurely, mass-transit turn around my Chicago over the last few days.  I returned to some of my favorite spots which I have not been to in quite some time.  Below are some of the fabulous food finds that make up my latest “weekend roundup,” by neighborhood:

Logan Square:

Jam is a small but mighty gem nestled along Logan Square on Chicago’s north side.  It has been more than a year since I was there for brunch with a friend.  I remember it fondly.  So, last week I swung by for a

solo lunch on a sunny day.  The space is bright, pretty and intimate.  I cannot wait for the sidewalk patio to open up.  They surround it with beautiful flower boxes which really add to the ambiance and keeps out the bustle of the square.

The sweet side of Jam’s menu is pretty hard to resist.  However, I was feeling like some savory eggs.  I went with this smoked salmon eggs benedict.  It was a beautiful presentation.  The salmon was perfectly smoky and moist.  Jam serves their salmon cold against the warm poached eggs but it was not too cold. Usually, I hate that sort of thing.  It was just the right contrast.  The eggs are served over potato and leek cakes which were savory and just the right amount of crunchy.  Very nice.


Jam in Logan Square

Smoked salmon eggs benedict

Jam is located at 3057 W. Logan Blvd.  Take the CTA Blue Line to Logan Square ‘L’ stop and walk 3 blocks south and 4 blocks east.

Since it was such a gorgeous day, I decided to walk around Logan Square a bit.  I love this little enclave.  So many great restaurants and some great coffee shops.  Before I knew it, I was standing in front of Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits.  I took it as my reward from the Universe for not eating a sweet lunch at Jam 😉  Who am I to turn down a gift from the Universe?  I decided to step inside for this totally decadent and vitamin packed “triple berry crumble”  It was served warm.  Dripping and oozing with colorful berries, this pie was one little slice of love!  Have you been to Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits yet?  If not, I suggest you put this place on your list.  It is so cute.  They even have a patio which they affectionately call a “pie garden.”  Both sweet and savory pies and plates are available here.

Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits is located at 2051 N. California.  Take the CTA Blue Line to California ‘L’ stop and walk 5 blocks south.


Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits in Chicago

Bang Bang Pie’s “triple berry crumble”


The Loop:

I had a family Easter dinner to attend on Saturday night but I still needed to have something to hold me until then.  After a leisurely couple of hours of caffeine consumption at Eva’s Cafe in Old Town, I wandered over to Meli Cafe for lunch.  It is located inside The Blake Hotel.  This is one of a few locations for Meli Cafe, an upscale Greek-style diner.  Whether you are looking for  breakfast, lunch or dinner, this place has you covered with traditional Greek fare and American dishes.  The portions are very hearty, indeed.  Since I knew I would be indulging with family later, I went with this light and healthy “toasted quinoa salad with greens, mint and a generous amount of olive oil.”  I will be back for this dish.  I inhaled the entire plate with no regrets 🙂


Meli Cafe in Chicago

Toasted quinoa salad with greens, herbs and a healthy dose of olive oil


Meli Cafe is located at 500 S. Dearborn.  Take the CTA Orange or Brown Line to Harold Washington Library and walk 2 block west and 1 block south.


South Loop:

I have been living in the South Loop in Chicago for over ten years now.  I love the neighborhood for its proximity to the lakefront, Grant Park, Museum Campus, Soldier Field and Northerly Island.  Maxwell Street Market is a long-standing tradition here.  It is an outdoor street market. You can find everything from clothes to drill bits to produce.  But, the shining star of this Chicago market is the food stalls.  In particular, Rubi’s Tacos is my absolute favorite.  Many agree with me.  The food is fresh.  The staff is friendly and efficient.  However, be forewarned. The lines can be long.  The market is opened only on Sundays, from 7am – 3pm, 365 days a year.  I like to get there around 10:30am to avoid long lines.  Fare comes in the form of tacos and quesadillas.  The tortillas and other ingredients are prepared on-site in plain view.  I love all of the tacos but last Sunday I went with the squash blossom (flor de calabaza) taco and the red mole taco with al pastor.  


Rubi's Tacos at Maxwell Street Market

Veggie options and mole al pastor at Rubi’s Tacos


Wowsa!!!  I’ve had the squash blossom tacos on other visits here but this was my first go at the red mole.  If you are a mole fan, you must try the version which Rubi’s Tacos is churning out.  It has great depth of flavor and a great amount of spice without overpowering the tender al pastor.  A must-do!  The squash blossom taco is a great vegetarian option that never disappoints.

Rubi’s Tacos/Maxwell Street Market is located at 800 S. Dearborn.  Take the #12 Roosevelt bus to Desplaines and walk a couple of blocks north.  You can connect to the #12 Roosevelt bus at the CTA Red, Green and Orange Lines at the Roosevelt ‘L stop.


Michigan Avenue/The Magnificent Mile:

This might be a touristy part of Chicago but it does have some truly awesome restaurants.  The Purple Pig jumps very high in this category.  I am a frequent visitor to this spot by James Beard “Rising Star” winner, Chef Jimmy Bannos, Jr.  This Mediterranean tapas bar is tiny but it runs like a well-oiled machine.  Chef Jimmy and his blue bandana-wearing team are cranking out an every-changing rotation of Mediterranean small plates.  They are known for a few dishes like the bone marrow, their many “spreads” and their “pork neck gravy.”  I rounded off my long Easter weekend with this ridiculously decadent “deep fried deviled egg.”  They could have just presented me with a rich deviled egg but, no!  The went the extra mile by deep frying that bad boy.  That is one ballsy move.  I have had a similar “Scottish egg” in other restaurants but this one was lighter than most.  I approve!!  They even tried to soften the blow of the crispy deviled egg by serving it on a bed of marinated deep greens.  It worked.  Just order it! 


The Purple Pig on the Magnificent Mile

The deep fried egg at The Purple Pig

The Purple Pig in Chicago

Oh! The decadent deviled egg!!!


Since I love my seafood, I went with this totally mind-blowing grilled octopus with crispy green beans and sliced potato wedges.  It was doused with a generous amount of salsa verde.  This dish could be a meal on its own.  You might want to ask for some bread, if you did no successfully sop up all the orgasmic salsa verde.  Just sayin’.


The Purple Pig's seafood

Grilled octupus with crispy green beans and potato wedges in salsa verde


In addition to a wonderful Prosecco to clean my palate, I ordered this burrata cannoli.  The decadent cheese was whipped into submission by the expert staff.  The burrata and the cannoli shell were super light.  These delicious shells sat atop a bed of butternut squash dices and puree with a lovely minty olive oil.  Loved it!!


The Purple Pig's Michigan Avenue

Whipped burrata cannoli over butternut squash and mint oil at The Purple Pig


The Purple Pig is located at 500 N. Michigan Ave.  Take the #3 King Drive bus there or the CTA Red Line to Grand Ave (walk 2 blocks east).

There you have them, folks!  My weekend roundup is yours for the keeping.  Grab your Ventra card and hop the rails and buses to Jam, Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits, Meli Cafe, Rubi’s Tacos and The Purple Pig.  Do you have a weekend roundup you’d like to share with me?  I would love to hear all about it!  Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA trains to these fabulous food finds.  Save on gas.  Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!