Chicago Bagel Authority

Exterior
Exterior
Interior
Interior

***** (5 stars)

CBA offers a HUGE assortment of sandwiches served on bagels. I usually avoid bagel sandwiches because they are a bit tough, but CBA steams them, which makes the bagel perfect for a sandwich.

There's a large seating area in a separate room that has a great chill vibe.

Chicago Bagel Authority
955 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 549-1982
https://www.yelp.com/biz/chicago-bagel-authority-chicago-4

Bites

Interior
Interior
Menu
Menu
Menu
Menu
Drinks
Drinks
Wine
Wine
Cocktails
Cocktails
Garlic chili wings
Garlic chili wings
Garlic Edamame*
Garlic Edamame*
Thai-Rish Coffee
Thai-Rish Coffee
Coconut Shrimp
Coconut Shrimp
Maki Fresco
Maki Fresco
Crazy Dragon
Crazy Dragon
Banana Wontons
Banana Wontons

***** (5 stars)

Most Asian Fusion places aren't really doing much fusion, they're just serving a variety of Asian cuisines, but at Bites there is some true fusion going on.

Edamame turned into gyoza was an interesting starter, and the Thai chicken wings were deliciously sweet and spicy.

Coconut shrimp were huge, with a delicate, not oily coating.

My favorites were the two elaborate sushi maki rolls we tried, the Maki Fresco and Crazy Dragon. Both were unique, and I'm not sure which I liked better.

Banana Wontons were a great way to finish.

There are some very creative cocktails, served with spherical ice and thoughtful garnishes. They take their bar work seriously.

I'll definitely be back to this great find.

Bites
3313 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 270-5972
https://www.yelp.com/biz/bites-chicago-2

bopNgrill Belmont

Exterior
Exterior
Interior
Interior
BNG Burger And Kimchi Burger
BNG Burger And Kimchi Burger

***** (5 stars)

bopNgrill offers a nice combination of Korean classics such as bibimbop plus creative burgers. I tried the kimchee burger, which was a nice think patty, perfectly cooked, and topped with kimchee and a sunny side up egg. This is not a food to consume on a first date, because you will end up wearing it, but it was delicious!

bopNgrill Belmont
921 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 799-8868
https://www.yelp.com/biz/bopngrill-belmont-chicago

IDOF Fresh Mediterranean

Interior
Interior
Pita with hummus and falafel
Pita with hummus and falafel

***** (5 stars)

I love the way you can specify your pita sandwich here, ingredient by ingredient. I was first introduced to falafel pitas many (many) years ago, and there's a certain way I like them, and IDOF lets me design mine just the way I prefer. The falafel and hummus are both top notch, and the other ingredients are fresh.

Of course they have a whole array of other items that come in pitas or platters.

Service was fast and friendly.

IDOF Fresh Mediterranean
851 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 672-2780
https://www.yelp.com/biz/idof-fresh-mediterranean-chicago-12

Cesar’s Killer Margaritas – Clark

Interior
Interior
Nachos
Nachos

***** (5 stars)

While the emphasis in the name is on the drinks, the food here is good, too. The free chips are delicious, really crisp and with a strong toasted corn flavor, and the accompanying salsa has lots of cilantro.

The nacho starter was good, if not my favorite style.

Fish tacos were excellent, with grilled fish in double corn tortilla wrappers. The black beans that came with it were some of the best I've had. I also tasted the refried beans, which I normally prefer, but these black beans were amazingly complex and flavorful.

Of course margaritas are the highlight, and there are a dozen to choose from. We went with a pitcher of the Cadillac, a standard lime margarita plus Gran Marnier.

The service was good, and the ambiance is relaxed.

Cesar’s Killer Margaritas – Clark
3166 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 248-2835
https://www.yelp.com/biz/cesars-killer-margaritas-clark-chicago-2

Bistro Jeanty

Crème Brûlée au Chocolat
Salmon carpaccio
Smoked trout
Lobster bisque
French onion Soupe a l’Oignon
Patio
Duck liver mousse
Caviar
Exterior
Interior

***** (5 stars)

We had the most delightful Christmas lunch here. The place was packed, and I can see why–If we lived nearby it would become out Christmas tradition.

This is an absolutely authentic French bistro, right down to the jars of mustard on the table, and the basket of wonderfully fresh and crusty baguette slices.

We started with the Sturgeon caviar, which was served with all the proper accompaniments, including blinis, and the duck liver mousse, which was smooth and creamy, and perfect with the spicy mustard.

Both the lobster bisque and French onion soup were excellent. The bisque was a bit thinner style than usual, but just as flavorful without being so rich as to seem like a sauce. The French onion soup was one of the best I’ve had, with the perfect amount of cheese seared onto the top, and a balanced, flavorful base.

My wife enjoyed her smoked salmon carpaccio. The smoked trout wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, begin more like smoke salmon, so just keep that in mind if you are expecting a more traditional dried preparation.

Our waiter encouraged us to try his favorite creme brulee, and it was good advice. There is a layer of chocolate mousse somehow sandwiched between the nicely burnt sugar crust and the creamy creme brulee. I have no idea how they did that!

The wine list is excellent, and even more impressive is the backside of the menu, with many, many wines offered in 4 different pour sizes.

We sat outside in the patio, which was closed in and heated for the winter, and it was lovely, and quieter than the bustling interior.

All the wait staff were very efficient and friendly. Definitely a great choice for our Christmas celebration!

Bistro Jeanty
6510 Washington St
Yountville, CA
94599
(707) 944-0103
https://www.yelp.com/biz/bistro-jeanty-yountville

SingleThread Farm – Restaurant- Inn

Check presentation
Sorbet
Wagashi (course 11 of 11 courses)
Sonoma Grains (course 8 of 11 courses)
Duclair Duck (course 7 of 11 courses)
Bone broth for Ume Medai (course 6/ of 11 courses)
Ume Medai (course 6 of 11 courses)
Smoked Salmon with Steelhead Roe (our favorite course) (course 4 of 11 courses)
Duck Liver Parfait (course 5 of 11 courses)
Interior
Koginut squash (second half of course 3 of 11 courses)
Koginut squash (first half of course 3 of 11 courses)
Half of the second course of 11 courses, mussels and uni.
Second half of the first course (of 11 courses)!
Just half of the first course (of 11 courses)!
Kitchen
Exterior

***** (5 stars)

Phenomenal experience on Christmas Eve. Eleven courses (more like 40 if you count every item) and it’s hard to pick a favorite. But it’s my job, so I’ll make the call: the smoked salmon covered in steelhead roe!

But seriously, everthing was superb, and the service was that perfect balance of professionalism and friendliness that you rarely find accompanying elevated cuisine.

Although not inexpensive, I have to say that the dinner is very fairly priced.

The wine list has impressive breadth, and some depth, with stunning selections of the top wines, and stunning prices to match, but for those who invest some effort (I suggest a thorough perusal online before your visit) there are some gems here. A specific recommendation for chardonnay fans: 2015 Journeyman Chardonnay (complex, malolactic, good acid, touch of oak, apple, citrus, spice, caramel, honey, true expression of chardonnay fruit).

A really memorable dinner.

SingleThread Farm – Restaurant- Inn
131 North St
Healdsburg, CA
95448
(707) 723-4646
https://www.yelp.com/biz/singlethread-farm-restaurant-inn-healdsburg-7

Gott’s Roadside

Chili Cheese Fries, Impossible Cheeseburger
Exterior
Exterior

***** (5 stars)

Great historic roadside eatery from the 1940s, now occupied by a small local burger chain. Terrific chili fries, Impossible Burger, and some of the best onion rings I’ve had anywhere. Also a shout-out for the coffee shake! Sounds like a great 10am breakfast on Christmas Eve to me!

Gott’s Roadside
933 Main St
Saint Helena, CA
94574
(707) 963-3486
https://www.yelp.com/biz/gotts-roadside-saint-helena-2

Goose & Gander

Downstairs bar
Orange tart
Fish and chips
Interior
Interior
Cheesesteak
Exterior

***** (5 stars)

This charming restaurant is located on a side street of St. Helena’s Main Street. The delightful space upstairs offers high beamed ceilings and an open kitchen, plus lots of duck hunting memorabilia. Downstairs is an atmospheric bar that also has table seating. And there is also lovely outdoor dining.

The menu offers elevated comfort food such as fish and chips, or cheesesteak sandwiches, both of which were good. The orange tart with kumquat marmalade was excellent.

The wine list is very extensive, with plenty of selections from around the world and a nice assortment of half bottles.

Service was very attentive and welcoming.

Goose & Gander
1245 Spring St
Saint Helena, CA
94574
(707) 967-8779
https://www.yelp.com/biz/goose-and-gander-saint-helena-2