Next up in this blog series is from Alison Ray and she is taking us to Chicago, Illinois.
Moving to Chicago in 2003 we quickly realized it could take a life time to experience the best restaurants the city had to offer. We do our best to adventure out of our comfort zone and try new places but to be honest we love supporting the places that provide great food, service and are consistent. Date nights are special to us and we love spending time together at one of our favorite eateries.
Obsessed is an understatement when it comes to why we love Sunda. It starts with the outstanding Asian fusion menu, impeccable service and chic dining space. Opening their doors in 2009, Sunda’s popularity has not slowed down. On any given night of the week it’s still the place to “be seen”. But don’t let that fool you. The menu is a foodie’s paradise and the perfect destination for date night when you’re in the mood for a lively atmosphere. The Brussels Sprout salad and rock shrimp is to die for and a must eat.
eat this: crispy brussel sprout salad, rock shrimp tempura, seared crab crusted ahi tuna sashimi, baked snowcrab handroll, kobe beef crispy rice
sip this: billy’s super fresh saketini, lychee luxury drop, peared sake
special touch: birthday diners receive a card hand signed by the staff and $10 gift certificate as a thank you for celebrating at Sunda
bonus: gluten-free menu, Brunch on Sundays, half-priced appetizers and specialty cocktails Monday through Friday from 5pm-7pm in the lounge and bar
We’ve been dining at Vivo for over 7 years and while I can’t remember how we stumbled across one of Chicago’s most beloved Italian restaurants, it was truly one of our best finds. An intimate space, Vivo is the perfect destination to take someone special. The atmosphere is lively and romantic with walls lined with bottles of wine, however the most unique feature is the converted elevator shaft – Table 70. A romantic table for 2 (or 4) overlooks the main dining room complete with its own private velvet curtains. I celebrated my 35th birthday in the 2nd floor private dining room and to this day my friends still talk about how much fun we had.
eat this: calamari grigliati, carpaccio tricolore, gnocchi gratinati with black truffle sauce, scallope di mare, chocolate obsession, tiramisu
special touch: reserve the romantic table 70 (elevator shaft). Restaurant is available for weddings, baby showers, birthday celebrations and private events
GT FISH & OYSTER:
It takes a lot for a Chicago restaurant to impress this Florida girl when it comes to seafood. I’m usually very skeptic but had heard such great things about GT Fish & Oyster we decided it was worthy of celebrating our anniversary. Chef Giuseppe Tentori won me over the minute I tasted the melt in your mouth oysters, I knew this was the real deal. For this reason alone, GT Fish & Oyster is one of the hottest tickets in town. The restaurant is very intimate (115 seats to be exact) so make your reservation early. The bar is lively and the menu is a mix of traditional and modern seafood in a small plates format. Don’t let the small plates fool you – you’ll walk away completely satisfied. For my full review visit here.
eat this: fresh oysters, tuna poke, sage gnocchi, lobster roll, fish & chips, cioppino, GT mac and cheese
sip this: the waitlist (Grey Goose vodka, St. Germain, grapefruit, lime, bitters), Stoney island lemonade (apricot, mango, lemon, iced tea, spiked with Pimms)
special touch: live tweet with Chef GT and you never know what special treat he may send to your table!
bonus: open for brunch Saturday & Sunday, Lunch Mon-Friday, Dinner Sunday – Saturday
UNION SUSHI + BARBECUE BAR:
My first Union Sushi experience was following their beautiful photos posted on Instagram. I was intrigued by the vibrant colors and unique presentation of my favorite food group. The photos reeled me in, but the food and high-energy atmosphere keeps me coming back for more. Maki rolls are showcased in unique wraps such as collard greens, soy paper, or cucumber, in addition to the traditional seaweed nori. The menu boasts a variety of raw and cooked options along with a handcrafted, creative cocktail menu. And the complimentary bowl of chili-seasoned edamame is the perfect start to your evening.
eat this: truffled tuna with truffle oil, avocado, parmesan, chili fresco, wonton chips, soft shell crab roll, specials offered off the menu, ice cream bar or cannoli if available
sip this: Surprise + Delight – Cucumber vodka, muddled strawberry, pimm’s no. 1, lemon, simple syrup, muddled lemongrass, seltzer
special touch: The Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar Chef’s table is available to be reserved for parties of 2, 3 or 4 on Tuesday though Saturday evening. Details here.
bonus: classic sushi rolls can be ordered in half (4 pcs) or full (8 pcs). they now offer delivery service!
An award-winning Certified Meeting Planner, Alison has over fourteen years experience as a professional meeting & event planner and eight years as the CEO of Metropolitan Marketing & Event Group and now So Chic Media. As the Managing Editor of Sassy Moms in the City, Alison has been featured in Chicago Baby Magazine, named “The Sassiest Mom” by TCW Magazine, Oprah LifeClass Blogger and 2011 CBS Chicago Most Valuable Blogger Nominee. Producing sold out events with 50-600 influential women in attendance at each event, Sassy Moms in the City/So Chic Media has raised over $40,000 for charity partners.