Lagunitas Tap Room

It’s been a while since my last visit to a local brewery, so I was pretty excited to receive an invite to the Lagunitas Tap Room for our friend Jeff’s birthday. Children allowed?!? Even better.

So we packed up the diaper bag for some celebrating and had the best time. We got to the Tap Room around 3:30 pm on a Saturday, and the parking lot was pretty full. We entered the warehouse, where we were greeted at the door, and followed on to a psychedelic hallway of blue lights, neon paint, and loud music. I was a little nervous what I’d find at the end of the hall, but quite amused along the way!

We got to the end of the hallway where there was a super long line. Thinking it was for the brewery tour, we headed to the front, let them know where we were going and for a birthday, and headed up the stairs to the Tap Room. (I didn’t realize this WAS the line for the Tap Room. I was very grateful for these men, not making us wait with our little one!)

And after climbing the metal steps, it was clear why there was a line: the place was packed, and everyone was having a good time (=not leaving soon). There were a few rooms with lots of seating for lounging and eating, live entertainment in the form of a band and a magician, and picnic tables overlooking the brewery. Lucky for us, our friends scored a great picnic table with plenty of room to sit and stand around.

First matter of business: order beer! I opted for a sampler, which I think is the best way to try a bunch of options at a super affordable price. I chose:

  • Daytime – IPA
  • Pils – Czech Style Pilsner
  • Copper Fusion 17 – Red Ale
  • Aunt Sally – Sweet Tart Sour Mash Ale

I liked all of them, but Aunt Sally was the kind of beer that a few sips is plenty. Although I appreciate how unique it is. I’ve never had a mash before. But Nate stole my Aunt Sally. Haha.

And in my effort to eat better, I ordered the chili (instead of a burger or pretzel or nachos, which I was drooling for!). Now, I’m a whimp, but consider this your warning: it’s spicy. Everyone at our table heard me say it about 15 times (sorry!), but it’s the kind of spicy that makes you keep eating and eating. I just needed something to cool me down. Enter: Glazed and Infused’s Jumbo Doughnut.

I love donuts. Like, I really love donuts. And this donut is one of the most glorious I’ve ever seen. The perfect layer of icing paired with tons of sprinkles. And one would wonder if it would taste any good. I’m here to tell you–it’s amazing. So amazing that I ordered one for my sister-in-law’s birthday the following weekend. 

Please check out the Jumbo Doughnut and Lagunitas Tap Room. Good for day or night drinking with friends and family any age! 

    

 

Week #46 – Estrella Negra

So we already know how much I love Mexican food (as seen this week with my visit to Masa Azul), and I don’t think I’ve mentioned in the past 46 weeks how much I also love the WTTW show Check, Please!. This show is such a good resource for Chicagoans in search of that perfect gem that they might not have found otherwise. Enter Estrella Negra.

Nate and I watched the Check, Please! episode featuring Estrella Negra days before my birthday and decided to celebrate at the BYOB Mexican spot on Fullerton. The food looked delicious (it received high praise from the guests that week), the atmosphere was cool, and I think Nate knew I’d want to go somewhere new so I could share the experience.

We arrived on a cold fall night, and they had our table ready. The restaurant is decorated in design that looks like Dia de los Muertos art, and everything from the walls to the tables are covered with the eclectic décor.

I cannot say enough good things about how awesome our waiter was. He could not have been nicer and more attentive. He gave us time to make decisions, checked on us often, and friendly. When I’d mentioned we saw the restaurant on the show, he said that it very busy the weekend before (which is always great to hear!).

We brought our own wine, which we paired with out-of-this-world nachos (there was nothing left on the plate…nothing); spicy pozole soup that came with our meals; and I had pork tamales while Nate had enchiladas with mango. Everything was perfectly seasoned, and the portions were generous (I took one of three tamales home). The best part about all of the food was that it felt very homemade, like something your grandmother would make. But a lot of the menu items had a modern twist, like goat cheese (an added benefit for me!).

Another plus about Estrella Negra? Our bill. For all of that food it was about $30…total. We decided we have to come back again with our friends, to share the excellent food and hospitality with our friends.

Estrella Negra
2346 West Fullerton
Bucktown

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Need to catch up on my Restaurant Week? Check out:

Week #46 – Masa Azul

I’m a huge fan of Mexican cuisine, so when we were invited to celebrate Katherine’s birthday at Masa Azul, I couldn’t wait to see a new interpretation of some of my favorite things to eat.

First item of business: cocktails! The restaurant’s mixologist Jenny Kessler definitely brings it with her Margarita, and I followed that with a Heart of the Dead (equally tasty).

Everyone at our table had been to Masa Azul before, so we asked for their recommendations for food. We started with guacamole–good and spicy–and I enjoyed the trio of tacos. Of the four choices, I picked the aguacate (tempura avocado), baja shrimp, and carnitas. Others at the table ordered steak, scallops, and chilaquiles, too. (Yum!)

Of the tacos, all were delicious, but the carnitas taco was out of this world. The flavor of that meat guarantees my return to Masa Azul. The cocktails, too, actually.

If you’re looking for high-end Mexican, look no further than Masa Azul.

Masa Azul
2901 W. Diversey
Logan Square

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Did you miss yesterday’s Restaurant Week entry? Read about the tiki party at Three Dots and a Dash!