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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Hungry Z, NBC Chicago Street Team

So you’re out bowling with your buddies and suddenly your stomach starts growling. What do you do? You go to the snack bar and get some nachos or an overpriced bad piece of pizza, right? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy chips and manufactured cheese as much as the next guy, but what if there was something better? What if there was a place that offered bowling, bocce, real food, and didn’t smell like a bowling alley? This place does exist and it’s called Pinstripes.

Upon arrival you make a choice if you want to sit in the dining room and eat, bowl and eat, or play bocce and eat. Yup, they will serve you anything off the menu even if you’re bowling. I decided to sit down and eat before knocking down a few pins. My guest and I decided we were going to enjoy simple comfort food, so we started off with the fried mozzarella. It’s simple but satisfying.

For main courses we decide on the baby back ribs and the prime rib dip.
The full slab of ribs are tender and features a tangy barbeque sauce with just a hint of citrus behind it. The Prime rib dip is like a French dip, but better! Tender sliced prime rib is served on an awesome pretzel roll with a side of au jus and is sooo much better than that stale slice of pizza you get at your local bowling alley.

Desserts were admittedly a disappointment. The warm cookies and milk look amazing, smell great, but only taste ok. Reason being that they are not fresh baked cookies, but rather warmed up cookies that start soft and eventually end up hard. The other disappointment was the lemon and orange sorbet. Served inside their own shells, these normally refreshing treats had the distinct flavor of freezer burn.

After dinner it was time to partake in some of the swankiest bowling around. Flat screen TV’s replace the old boob tubes, leather couches replace hard plastic chairs, and smooth R&B replaces the usual top 40 playing at most alleys. This is almost too nice to bring your buddies to!

Dinner for two will run about $40-50 depending on your choices and bowling runs $7 a game in the evenings. A bit pricey if you’re with your with pals but not too bad if you’re on a date. Food alone warrants ** and ¼ but factor in the ultra cool music, bocce, and bowling and Pinstripes deserves *** out of ****.

Locations
100 West Higgins
South Barrington, IL 60010
847-844-9300

1150 Willow Rd
Northbrook, IL 60062
847-480-2323

Check out more  reviews at HungryZ.com

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Hungry Z, NBCChicago Street Team 


Most home cooks have a signature dish. You know that dish you make when you want to impress family, friends, or even that special someone. This dish is so good; everyone tells you it should be on a menu somewhere! What if you got that chance? Does your dish have what it takes?

The folks at Carlucci’s in Downers Grove had an open call out for people to submit their best pasta dishes with a chance to be featured on their menu. With nearly 50 entries submitted, executive Chef Kevin Provenzano whittled them down to six finalists. Dishes were scored on taste, appearance, originality, and difficulty to prepare.

The finalists each brought a guest to help judge each others dish. What they didn’t know was that Chef Pravenzano, Joe Carlucci, Suburban Life Publications assistant managing editor Jonathan Schuler, and yours truly were on hand as guest judges.

The finalists and their dishes were:

  • Dan Peloza — linguini misto
  • Colleen O’Leary — rigatoni with portabello bolognese
  • Joan Cerny-Cimaglia — tuna rotini pasta
  • Karen Price — crab bisque ricotta shells
  • James Griseto — rigatoni carbonara
  • Karen Whalen — farfalle with sausage

Coming in third were Karen Whalen’s savory farfalle & sausage. The runner up was Karen Price’s rich and creamy crab bisque riccotta shells. And the grand champion was Dan Peloza’s shrimp and sun dried tomato linguini misto.

Dan’s winnings include his dish being featured on the Carlucci menu for a month, a $200 gift card to the restaurant, and one night stay at the Doubletree. I want to thank the folks at Carlucci’s for asking me to be a guest judge and I would like to offer my congratulations to all the finalists for filling my belly with you terrific pasta creations!

Carlucci Restaurant is at 1801 Butterfield Road in Downers Grove, (630) 512-0990, www.carluccirestaurant.com

 Read more from Hungry Z at HungryZ.com

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC5 Street Team

It’s rare to find a restaurant in the burbs that I really like which is not in the city. I found such a gem in the western suburbs a couple of weeks a go. Prasino, the new eco-friendly restaurant in LaGrange, promotes “green” and is doing it very well.

Prasino (means “green” in Greek) is the first eco-friendly restaurant for Chicago’s western suburbs. With an eco-chic design, and family friendly environment, this 200-seat restaurant is committed to promoting organic agriculture and supporting local growers & artisanal food producers whenever possible. General Manager Peggy Maglaris Kopley was inspired to start the concept after her husband was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2007, that brought the family’s attention back to the importance of “all things fresh.” She soon started buying organic products from the grocery store and attributes her husbands recovery to his organic diet.

Prasino’s menu appears to have similar menu items that you can find at other restaurants, but the key is that they’re organic and healthy. For example, their “Blue Crab Nachos” appetizer are served on baked yukon gold crisp with steamed blue crab, mango salsa, and cilantro bearnaise. The “Grilled Fresh Monterey Calamari” features blistered cherry tomato, braised cannellini beans, baby spinach, sea salt crustini, and a truffle mustard vinaigrette. Prasino has an attractive list of meat and seafood entrees, but I chose to sample the “Miso Chili Glazed Alaskan Black Cod” and the “Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna”. Both dishes were extremely fresh, delicate and complemented by steamed basmati rice and baby bok choy. The flavors were light but present and the wasbai cream added a pleasant touch to the tuna. Side dishes range from “Grilled Asparagus” to “Roasted Cauliflower Gratin”. I thought the “Asparagus & Corn Risotto” made with truffle oil and lemon butter would be a dream, but it turned out to be a little too salty.

Prasino has a drink menu that works for everyone. Besides the standards of specialty coffees and teas, other organic highlights include fruit and veggie blended juices, sodas, smoothies, bottled beers and ciders, and sparkling wines. They have nice red and white wine selections, but Prasino’s specialty alcoholic cocktails take the blue ribbon. Be sure to order my two favorites, the “La Grange Manhattan” and the “Rose Hipster”. Top off your dinner with the apple waffles or bread pudding, although the latter of the desserts was very average.

Prasino is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and has affordable prices. The atmosphere has a friendly family feel and the service was good. It’s a great place to dine with kids and is located steps from the Metra station in downtown LaGrange enabling easy access from the city and other suburban areas. My wish is for Prasino to bring their concept to the city. Check out Prasino at http://www.eatgreenlivewell.com. Visit www.efete.net/blog.html to view my “Tru” ratings for Prasino.

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC5 Street Team

After a disappointing experience at the grand opening of the new restaurant Epic, in the downtown River North area of Chicago, I was a little hesitant to return for dinner.  The event that evening was far too crowded and a little unorganized that left me pondering the concept of the new hot spot.  I didn’t know whether they it was a club or a restaurant, so I decided to go back and check it out, after receiving a sincere message from their Maitre De.

Upon arrival, I again had the same thoughts.  Is this a club or a restaurant? But as soon as we were seated in the main dining area, the concept became very clear.  The downstairs bar area provides more of a lounge atmosphere with hip music, couches and hi top bar seating.   The upstairs space is where the feasting takes place.  The entire place is massive complete with four levels, including a rooftop terrace.  Epic’s design is simple and straightforward.  The architecture has a loft like appearance with elements of exposed brick, steel and concrete.  It didn’t wow me, but it got my attention.

Epic’s dinner menu is filled with beef, chicken, pork and fish entrées.  Seafood items plaster most of the appetizer section and they have a nice selection of salads and side dishes to choose from.  Since I’m a connoisseur of lamb shanks, I opted for the “Spiced Lamb Shank” entrée.   Our waiter assured me that their lamb shank would be right up there with the best that I’ve had.  Well, I wouldn’t necessarily give it those props, but it was definitely tender and succulent.  The combination of spices complemented the shank and the lamb jus was pungently flavorful without sweetness.  My dinner guests enjoyed the “Chilean Sea Bass” and “Salt Crusted Market Fish For Two” entrées.  The presentations for both dishes were done well.  The “Brussels Sprouts” side dish prepared with bacon, honey and chestnuts tempted my taste buds.  The sweet and savory combination helped me forget that I was eating brussels sprouts for a moment, but sprouts are sprouts.

Dinner was capped with dessert.  The “Chocolate” and “Pumpkin & White Chocolate” desserts were sampled.  The former consisted of flourless cake, mousse and hot fudge, and the latter was made with toasted white chocolate cake, roasted pumpkin ice cream and chestnut caramel.  Both desserts were solid, but didn’t have me licking the plate.  The service started off a little slow, but picked up as the dinner progressed.  The atmosphere was festive, which helped the cocktails to flow more readily, although, I wouldn’t recommend Epic for a quiet evening at dinner.  Expect to drop $50 per person on dinner before getting your keys back from the valet and be prepared to hang out for after dinner cocktails in the downstairs bar area.  Overall Epic’s cuisine was solid with a good atmosphere and decent service.  My final “Tru” rating is TTt.

   To view my “Tru” rating system for Epic visit www.efete.net/blog.html.
 

 

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Hungry Z, NBCChicago Street Team

January is “National Soup Month”, a holiday celebrated annually in the United States. Although this is an American holiday; soups from around the world are celebrated. By definition, soup is a liquid food that is made by combining ingredients, such as meat, vegetables or beans in stock or hot water, until the flavor is extracted. Before there was soup, there was broth, which people used to pour over a piece of bread in a bowl. That bread was known as sop, and from sop came the word soup.

Now that we’ve had our history lesson, let’s talk about how you can celebrate here in your own backyard. City dwellers and suburbanites are both in luck! Chances are no matter what neighborhood or suburban city you live in, there’s a restaurant nearby waiting to warm you up. And with our fine Chicago winter being as cold as can be, doesn’t a nice warm bowl of soup sound good right about now?

Bookbinder and clam chowder at Hugo's

I embarked on my own “Soup Day” adventure recently in suburban Naperville. To make me yearn for soup, I decided to forgo the valet and park a couple of blocks from my first stop and walk through the cold. First stop was Hugo’s Frog bar to help warm my bones. Hugo’s is owned by Gibson’s, which means it’s bold, loud, and plenty of fun. First soup offered was the creamy New England clam chowder that boasted a generous helping of tender clams. Soup of the day was the chicken and rice and was very close to what your mother might have made. My favorite though was the Bookbinder soup. A rich and hearty vegetable and seafood soup that had just a little heat added to help warm your mouth and your soul.

To get that need for soup again, a one mile walk to Meson Sabika was in order. Unlike Hugo’s, the quiet dining room feels like your in someone’s home. In a way you are since this restaurant was converted from a residence to a restaurant some time ago. Three unique soups were available and a sample of them all was in order. The first was the “Sop de Alubias Negras”, a black been soup with chorizo that had a nice smoky flavor. My personal favorite was the “Caldo Gallego”, a hearty white bean soup that had pieces of bacon and Serrano ham throughout. The soup of the day was a cream of mussel soup that was blended velvety smooth and had the flavor of the mussels right on the forefront.

Caldo Gallego at Meson Sabika

Whether your craving cream of chicken or cream of mussels, January is definitely the time to exercise your love for soups. And if you don’t listen to me, listen to your mother, because she’s probably told you eat more soup since you can remember. Below is a list of participating restaurants.

33 CLUB 

1419 N. Wells  St. | Chicago, IL 60610 | 312.664.1419 | www.33clubchicago.com

CARNIVALE

702 W Fulton St | Chicago, IL 60661| 312.850.5005 | www.carnivalechicago.com

 CHENS CHINESE AND SUSHI

3506 N. Clark St. | Chicago, IL 60657 | 773.549.9100 | www.chenschicago.com

KOI 624 Davis Street | Evanston, IL 60201 | 847.866.6969 | www.koievanston.com

 DAWALI MEDITERRANEAN KITCHEN

4911 N. Kedzie Avenue | Chicago, IL 60625 | 777.267.4200

 GIBSONS BAR & STEAKHOUSE

1029 North Rush St. | Chicago, IL 60611| 312.266.8999 | www.gibsonssteakhouse.com 

5464 North River Rd. | Rosemont, IL 60018 | 847.928.9900 | www.gibsonssteakhouse.com

 HUGO’S FROG BAR & FISH HOUSE

1024 North Rush St. | Chicago, IL 60611| 312.640.0999 | www.hugosfrogbar.com 

 ITALIASIA

Holiday Inn Mart Plaza | 15th Floor | 350 W. Mart Center Drive | Chicago, IL 60654 | 312.529.1157 | www.martplaza.com

 KDK RESTAURANTS: GIOCO, MARCHÉ, OPERA, RED LIGHT

GIOCO | 1312 S Wabash Ave | Chicago, IL 60605 | 312.939.3870  | www.gioco-chicago.com

MARCHÉ | 833 West Randolph Street | Chicago, IL 60607 | 312.226.8399  | www.marche-chicago.com

OPERA | 1301 S Wabash Avenue | Chicago, IL 60605 | 312.461.0161 | www.opera-chicago.com

RED LIGHT | 820 W. Randolph | Chicago, IL 60607 | 312.733.8880 | www.redlight-chicago.com

 LA MADIA

59 W Grand Ave | Chicago, IL 60654 | 312.329.0400 | www.dinelamadia.com

 LUXBAR

18 E. Bellevue Place | Chicago, IL 60611| 312.642.3400 | www.luxbar.com 

 MESON SABIKA
1025 Aurora Avenue | Naperville, IL 60540 | 630.983.3000 |www.mesonsabika.com

STRETCH RUN SPORTING CLUB & GRILLE

544 N LaSalle | Chicago, IL 60610 | 312.644.4477 | www.stretchrunchicago.com

 SUSHI TAIYO

58 E Ontario St | Chicago, IL 60611 | 312.440.1717 | www.taiyochicago.com

 TAPAS VALENCIA

1530 South State Street | Chicago, IL 60605 | 312.842.4444 | www.tapasvalencia.com

TRADER VIC’S

1030 N. State St. | Chicago, IL 60610 | 312.642.6500 | www.tradervicschicago.com

 SUBURBAN EVENTS

 CARLUCCI  RESTAURANT

1801 Butterfield Road | Downer’s Grove, IL 60515 | 630.512.0990 | www.carluccirestaurant.com

 DUKE’S ALEHOUSE AND KITCHEN

110 N Main Street | Crystal Lake, IL 60014 | 815.356.9980 | www.thedukeabides.com

 DURTY NELLIE’S

180 N. Smith Street | Palatine, IL | 847.358-9150 | www.durtynellies.com

 HUGO’S FROG BAR & FISH HOUSE – NAPERVILLE

55 S. Main St. | Naperville, IL 60540 | 630.548.3764 | www.hugosfrogbar.com 

 PINSTRIPES
1150 Willow Rd | Northbrook, IL 60062 | 847.480.2323 | www.pinstripes.com
100 West Higgins Rd | South Barrington, IL 60010 | 847.844.9300 | www.pinstripes.com

 THE LUCKY MONK

105 Hollywood Blvd | South Barrington, IL 60610| 847. 898.0500| www.theluckymonk.com

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Hungry Z, NBCChicago Street Team

A monk is a man that’s part of a brotherhood, living in a monastery, and devoted to a discipline prescribed by his order. What most people don’t realize is that Trappist monks are accomplished brew masters. So while most of us thought monks chanted all day, the folks at The Lucky Monk drew inspiration from these age old brew masters to craft their own line of specialty beers. Since man cannot live on beer alone (some of you have tried), a full menu is available to help lead you to a path of enlightenment.

 Glance over the drink menu and you’ll notice that a whopping thirty five beers are available and seven are brewed in house. Two standouts are the “Cardinal Sin”, a Czech-style pilsner and the “Pale Belgian”. In order to drink more beer you need to eat. I’m sure you’ve learned your lesson about drinking on an empty stomach!

 For those feeling a little Mediterranean, a creamy serving of hummus is available. While I do prefer warm/soft pita bread, the toasted pita will appeal to the potato chip fan. A true delight was the warm pretzel trio. Three warm pretzels served with honey mustard butter, tomato parmesan sauce, and the oh so heavenly Wisconsin cheddar beer fondue. The fondue is so good, you could serve it on a shoe and it would be delicious! How about some fries? How about some white truffle-parmesan fries? For a $1.50 more, you get fries drizzled in white truffle oil, sprinkled with sea salt, and topped with shaved parmesan cheese, YUM!

 You don’t need to be on the path to enlightenment to know that most guys eat pizza and burgers with their beer. Seven prime beef burgers are available here, with both a 6oz and a manly 9oz size available. Tonight’s choice was the 9oz smothered burger. Cooked nicely to medium, this juicy burger is toped with sweet caramelized onions, creamy Gruyere, lettuce, tomato, and sits on a sturdy sesame seed bun. While I am admittedly a deep dish fan, I do on occasion enjoy some thin crust pizza as well. New York style thin crust is featured here and it works on most levels. The crust is crisp and chewy, the cheese is flavorful and stretchable, the sausage is meaty and plentiful, but the sauce is ordinary and forgettable. The pizza is still a good choice, just not the standout that the burger was.

 Dessert should never be skipped! If you’re already eating burgers and drinking beer, your thoughts about your diet should be thrown out the window. Think back to your childhood in the boys/girls scouts and dig into the hot skillet s’mores. Warm melted chocolate and toasted mini marshmallows make this a rich and decadent dessert. The star dessert is the house made apple strudel. Thin sliced apples kissed with cinnamon and wrapped in filo dough make this a dessert good enough to kiss the chef over!

 Dinner for two should be about $40 since most items are $10 or less and nothing even at $20. Overall The Lucky Monk offers hand crafted beers and impressive food for a pretty reasonable price. Check out more reviews at HungryZ.com

Location

105 Hollywood Blvd

South Barrington, IL 60610

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Hungry Z, NBCChicago Street Team

Have you ever gone to a restaurant with your buddies and wished you could just order a bunch of appetizers instead of an entrée? Maybe you just landed a date with that hottie from the gym and thought, “Man I wish she would share what’s on her plate.” Here’s where a tapas restaurant can really come in handy. Simply put, tapas are small plates of food that are meant to be shared over a drink. Those looking for that 32oz porterhouse should look elsewhere, like the cardiologist!

While many tapas restaurants focus on cuisine from Spain, Mezé offers a more international menu. Located in the West Loop, this spot exudes a cool vibe. Local art adorns the walls while the exotic music offers a cool mix of international sounds. All this means nothing without good food, so pour the sangria and let our world wide journey begin!

We start in Asia with the vegetarian Thai rolls. Served cold, the crisp carrotts and cucumbers are wrapped in rice paper and served with a dynamite sweet chili sauce. Hop on a plane to the Carribbean and chill out with the bright citrusy flavor of ceviche. They’re served with organic chips, so you can tell your beer buddies they’re nachos! Grilled talapia is the star of the addictive fish tacos served with an delicious carrot slaw.

After your buddies have finished their tacos and “nachos”, a stop in America will leave them licking their fingers from the barbecued chicken winglettes. Tender lollipops of chicken are served with a warm barbeque sauce that is sure to be a favorite. Our final stop is in the Mediterranean, so feel free to relax and stay a while. Say goodnight to the guys and hello to that hottie who agreed to meet you here. Pour some of the smooth house made sangria and you my friend are Joe Cool.

The colorful Boursin stuffed peppadew wows with creamy garlic infused goat cheese stuffed inside pickled sweet peppers. Butter knife tender peppercorn beef and gorgonzola is sure to make your taste buds explode with joy while satisfying your carnal need for red meat. To finish our journey we need to enjoy the grilled baby lamb chops. This super tender meat is topped with a roasted red pepper puree and is thankfully devoid of the mint jelly that many restaurants offer.

Prices average $6-7 per plate with only three over $10. Overall Mezé offers a cool vibe, wonderful diverse food, and killer sangria for a suprisingly reasonabe price.

Location

205 N Peoria

Chicago, IL 60607

(312) 666-6625

http://www.mezechicago.com

Check out more reviews at www.hungryz.com

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Janelle Rominski, NBC Chicago Street Team

Chicago is an amazing city for many shows to shine. Whether it is a pre-Broadway production, post-Broadway tour or a one night only concert – this city has many wonderful options to choose from.

With Guy Laliberté, Founder and CEO of Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil’s Banana Shpeel: A New Twist on Vaudeville is previewing at the Chicago Theatre until January 3, 2010 before it embarks on a new journey to Broadway in early February. The show has mixed reviews. It’s heavy on comedy and choreography, blending slapstick with tap and hip-hop dance forms. The show’s plot revolves around a producer named Schmelky who is trying to put together a variety show. This production is very different than other Cirque du Soleil shows. There aren’t as many aerialists, contortionists, etc. Come in with an open mind.

Another show that’s set to appear on Broadway is The Addams Family Musical, currently playing at the Ford Center/Oriental Theatre until January 10, 2010. Veteran actors Nathan Lane (Gomez) and Bebe Neuwirth (Morticia) star in this unique musical. The Addams Family musical takes place as Wednesday Addams is older and the show’s two hot topics were love and sex. Lane was amazing portraying Gomez and Neuwirth did a decent job as Morticia.

With Zachary James who plays Lurch and Kevin Chamberlin who plays Uncle Fester in The Addams Family Musical

In an interview, The Addams Family musical actors Zachary James (Lurch) and Kevin Chamberlin (Uncle Fester) noted the show has been cut down 30-minutes from the original time. It will be interesting to see what the show is like once it graces the Broadway stage.

The New Mel Brooks Musical, Young Frankenstein, just wrapped up their tour in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre last night. The production began on Broadway where 484 shows were performed. The musical features Desperate Housewives guest actor, Roger Bart, as Dr. Frankenstein. The actors in Young Frankenstein were brilliant and notable songs included “Puttin’ On The Ritz”, “Transylvania Mania” and “He Vas My Boyfriend”.

With Kleetus, Guy Fieri's friend and sous chef

With Kleetus, Guy Fieri's friend and sous chef

The Guy Fieri Road Show stopped for an evening of fun at the Rosemont Theatre. Fieri is known for hosting Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network. He says the show “is food, rock n’ roll and everything they won’t let me do on TV!”

The opener for Fieri was Australian native and World Champion Flair Bartender, Hayden “Woody” Wood. Wood was dancing, clapping and twirling bottles during his presentation. He made apple spice martinis, pear margaritas and eggnog.

Once Fieri took the stage, he got the audience dancing to good ol’ rock music. A DJ was supplying all the tunes while Fieri shared his cooking stories, Thanksgiving turkey mishaps and answering questions from the crowd. Fieri also had a karaoke contest and pulled members of the audience up on stage to sing for prizes.

Coming soon to Chicago theatres near you are the following shows: In The Heights (which opens tomorrow), The 101 Dalmations Musical, Mama Mia!, Annie, Dreamgirls, Billy Elliot The Musical and more!

For ticket information, visit www.Ticketmaster.com or www.BroadwayInChicago.com.

Want more Rominski reads? Read more right HERE!

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Desiree, NBC Chicago Street Team

Whole Foods is still accepting applications for the “Deserving Dinners” Sweepstakes’ Christmas dinner. There’s still time to nominate your deserving family in any of the Midwest’s 32 Whole Foods locations or online. Follow the link for more details. Good luck and happy holidays!

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Hungry Z, NBCChicago Street Team

Karma is the cosmic principle according to which someone is rewarded or punished according to that person’s deeds. It can also be a distinctive aura, atmosphere, or feeling. So when you step inside Karma, you instantly get greeted by an elegant almost Zen like atmosphere. The dining room is separated by a tranquil pond complete with a gentle waterfall and cool salt cone replicas.

Now that we’ve established good karma in the dining room, let’s see if we are rewarded or punished with the menu. Start your good vibes with a couple of solid appetizers. Crisp chicken spring rolls are loaded with chunks of chicken and served with honey mustard. A must try are the Shiitake mushroom pot stickers, which are meaty, tasty, pockets of deliciousness.karmapotstickers

Hold on! What’s the rush? It’s not time for the entrées yet, not when the star of the meal is on next. The Vietnamese coconut shrimp soup is a dish worth the trip to Mundelein alone! This velvety soup has large pieces of shrimp swimming in a slightly sweet /spicy broth that is meant to be experienced and not merely consumed. Would it be wrong to lick the bowl?

For some, nothing gives them more pleasure than biting into a tender juicy steak. And while simple is often enough, sometimes a little pizzazz is in order. The macadamia and blue cheese crusted filet is for the person who loves the tenderness of a filet, but wants a more robust flavor. Creamy and sharp blue cheese is complimented by the crunch of the toasted macadamias, to help turn this mellow piece of meat into a sassy rock star! If something more traditional is up your alley, then opt for the orange peel chicken. Large strips of tempura chicken are covered in a yuzu orange glaze that helps this dish go beyond your average orange chicken.karmasteak

A meal feels incomplete without dessert and this is the last leg of your dining experience. For chocoholics, the chocolate Moelleux cake is a rich soufflé accented with minted cream and a red currant coulis. The fresh ginger crème Brule offers sweet ginger custard and of course some fresh berries.

Dinner for two with wine should run right around $100, which is actually reasonable for an upscale dinner and a pinch of good karma. Overall, Karma offers a harmonious blend of tranquil atmosphere, creative dishes, and fair prices. It appears the cosmos are listening.

Location

510 E. Route 83

Mundelein, IL

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Desiree, NBC Chicago Street Team

When the Whole Foods Mecca in the Midwest opened in Chicago’s Lincoln Park in May—it’s the third largest store in the world after Kensington, England and Austin, Texas— even Mayor Daley was outside with a speech to pull the community together. And inside, the “Chicago Eats” section celebrated Windy City staples: Taylor Street Italian, Pilsen Taqueria, Wicker Park Subs and more. This holiday season the Whole Foods community is reaching out to us again, along with market locations across the Midwest, to host “Deserving Dinners.”Holiday09_turkey-in-pan

The sweepstakes, which includes thirty-two participating stores from Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Toronto, Missouri, Nebraska, and Indiana, invites people to nominate deserving families from their community to receive a complimentary holiday dinner for four. Two rounds of entries will allow people to nominate their chosen family for Thanksgiving or for Christmas, featuring a holiday feast with all the fixings: 10-12 pound turkey, harvest salad, maple-roasted autumn squash soup, country mashed potatoes, traditional herb stuffing, green beans with roasted shallots and fresh herbs, roasted cinnamon dusted butternut squash, fresh cranberry sage compote, turkey gravy and traditional dinner rolls. Yum!DSC00710

How do you nominate a deserving family? While entry forms with the rules and regulations are available at in-store kiosks in all Midwest Whole Foods Market locations, you can easily logon to your local store’s website at wholefoodsmarket.com (all entries will be made online anyway; no paper entry forms). But you better hurry if you want to get an entry in for the upcoming holiday. The Thanksgiving sweepstakes is accepting entries until November 13, with Whole Foods announcing the winners from Nov. 16-19. The Christmas sweepstakes will accept entries from Dec. 1-11, with Whole Foods announcing the winners from Dec. 14-18.

Sorry competition junkies; you cannot nominate yourselves. But, perhaps your nominee will win and invite you over for leftovers!

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New Orleans is a city full of vibrant music, bold parties, and spiced up cuisine. So it’s no surprise that Pappadeaux is a big, bold, and loud restaurant eager to usher in some fun. Even on a typical Tuesday in October, Pappadeaux was drawing big crowds. Who says you can’t have fun on a Tuesday?

There are times when you dine out purely for the food and other times you go for an experience. The experience side is done right! Right off the bat, the hostess is knowledgeable and eagerly gives you a brief tour of the fresh seafood available that evening. Décor is geared for fun as well, with tall ceilings and monstrous chandeliers in the shape of compasses. pappagumbo

 

So now that you’re feeling bold and ready to have fun, all that’s left is that party in your mouth! Dishes are boldly seasoned and one could never mistake them as bland, but might some find them over seasoned? The appetizer trio is the first item sampled and it consists of shrimp and crawfish fondue, calamari, and fried alligator. The calamari was a bit chewy, the deep fried alligator could have passed for chicken fingers, but the true oddball was the fondue. Shrimp and crawfish swam in a soupy bath that had cheese melted on top similar to french onion soup.

 

Speaking of a soup type dish, next up was the gumbo. The flavorful broth was joined by spicy andouille sausage, shrimp, crawfish, and rice. A good gumbo has layers of flavor that work together, while the broth was flavorful, the ingredients didn’t work harmoniously. This gumbo felt as if it was thrown together and not created, as if each ingredient was cooked separately and then put together at the last minute without a chance for the flavors to marry.pappashrimp

 

First entrée was the Stuffed Shrimp Montage. Large oven baked shrimp are stuffed with crab cake and a parmesan cream sauce. There is no shortage of flavor here! If you’re looking to taste the shrimp, then there is too much flavor. Over seasoned and over sauced, these jumbo shrimp get lost in the flavor shuffle. The parmesan topped lobster is luckily restrained from the over seasoning. The salty characteristics of the parmesan actually work quite well with the very fresh lobster.

 

A smile is brought to my face when I see the dessert tray. Sweet potato pecan pie was a nice twist to the often too sweet dessert, while toasted pecans added a delicious crunch. Key lime pie is a personal favorite dessert, although this version is very sweet with only a hint of tartness, true key lime should be the opposite.pappapecan

 

Entrée prices range from the mid teens to upper forties, so diners have plenty of options. So what does all this add up to? A fun, loud, and bold restaurant that may please the everyday masses, but will leave true foodies with a little too much spice in their mouth.

 

Location

798 W. Algonquin Rd

Arlington Heights, IL

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DWD signNBC5meby April Lawson

They say green is the new black, but what the devil is a Nutrition Stylist? Debra Ward is a River North designer with a unique holistic approach to style. Her company DWD doesn’t just design clothing, but also bodies from the inside out. While some designers ensconce their clients in layers of diaphanous fabrics, DWD believes as within so without -viewing the person as a complete being. After 25 years in the business, Ward has evolved from her role as Wardrobe Consultant to Nutritional Stylist and now offers Nutritional Coaching in addition to chic urban style.

“We provide a nutritional plan based on fashion desires so you get an ideal body to go with the style. You get Little Black Dress meals, and DWD InsideWrapped Sweater Jabari Glynnissoups to maintain that body. It’s smart, sexy and healthy.” Says Debra.

You get the complete package:  whole mind, whole food and whole body. DWD is Located at 501 N. Wells near Illinois.

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JenChicago, NBC Chicago Street Team

There’s something funny going on in River North on Tuesday, October 20th. Sarah Vargo of Maven and Fred Farris of Key Management have teamed up with The Joynt to host Stand Up Against Cancer which benefits local charity Imerman Angels. The party and the awareness are going down at 650 N. Dearborn (@ Erie) and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate all the good things that are happening under Johnny Imerman’s inspiration!

The show starts at 6:30 and features a laundry list of talented comedians along with headliner Kira Soltanovich, from Girls Behaving Badly and The Phony Phone Booth on The Jay Leno Show. Have you seen this bit? It’s hilarious! What WON’T people do for a free picture?!?! You can find the clips here or check it out in this week’s edition of The SAUCE, hosted by Yours Truly, below. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door with limited seating.

*PRESS RELEASE*

**Hugs and Kisses from JenChicago.com!

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Hungry Z, NBC5 Street Team

Funny thing about secrets, everyone knows one, and everyone wants to hear the juiciest one. It can be something as scandalous as infidelity, or something as innocent as that one ingredient you just can’t share. When it comes to dining out, everyone wants to be the one to discover that one great place no one knows about yet. Psst…I have a secret, Parker’s in Downers Grove just might be that place.parkerpizza

Away from the spotlight of the big city, Parker’s boasts a large menu with a focus on freshness. Glance over the menu and you will know exactly where your particular dish hails from. Our journey starts in Naples with their VPN (Vera Pizza Napoletana) certified Margherita pizza. Buffalo mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes, and Basil adorn a thin crust with just the right amount of chew.parkersalad

Surfer dudes will make the trip to South Beach with a salad tower loaded with grilled salmon, avocado, fresh mango, scallions, ice berg, and drizzled with honey cumin dressing. Don’t head for land just yet, the cold water oysters Rockefeller are stuffed with baby spinach, parmesan cream sauce, and topped with melted Swiss cheese.parkeroyster

To warm up on a cool night the excellent bouillabaisse is loaded with king crab, mussels, and other favorites in a rich saffron tomato broth that pleases your soul. For a visual treat, the Lake Superior Whitefish Wellington is a show stopper. This is a case where all the ingredients should be enjoyed in each bite. On it’s own the whitefish is a tad dry, but when you add the Shitake’s, pine nuts, leeks, and the lemon beurre blanc sauce is when you discover its true harmony.

Fear not, carnivores shall not be left out in the cold. The lamb trio is a must try for the lamb lover. Two tender chops star in a dish accompanied by lamb sausage and braised shoulder. If low and slow is more your speed, then the red wine braised short ribs will have your mouth watering.parkercotton

You must not leave without dessert! While many fine choices are found on the menu, the absolute show stopper is the cotton candy. Oh yes, the childhood treat that you grew up with is available and is more fun than ever. Spun in house, this Vermont maple sugar treat will tickle your funny bone as well as your taste buds.

Entrée’s range in the mid twenty dollar range which is reasonable for this amount of freshness and fun. So the secret’s out! Parker’s offers comfortable upscale dining with a fun youthful twist.

Location

1000 31st Street

Downers Grove. IL

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Lindsay_small_2Lindsay Saewitz, NBC Chicago Street Team

Old Towners rejoiced as Old Town Social opened to the public in late August, adding a much-needed casual yet sophisticated spot to Old Town’s roster of pubs, dive bars, and fratty hang-outs. But the locals weren’t the only ones excited…North Siders and Downtowners alike came together to welcome the new bar to the neighborhood.

The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in to Old Town Social is the unique decor, combining turn of the century style with IMG_4298modern day chic. The bar is filled with rich mahogany wooden structures, draping red curtains, bold chandeliers, and even a reading room complete with books and a fireplace. The main bar area lives up to the “Social” part of its name by featuring long, communal tables, but tucked away you’ll find a handful of intimate table-for-twos embedded into the wall. Venture to the back of the bar up a few steps where you’ll find more intimate booths and an additional cocktail area with its own bar. Not only will you get a drink quicker in this spot, but you’ll also be in the perfect position for some people watching.

Old Town Social’s menu is quite impressive, featuring upscale bar food and small plates from a former Blackbird sous chef. You will also not be disappointed with the drink selection, which includes an extensive list of craft beers and seasonal specialty cocktails.

The classiness may start to dwindle as you party into the wee hours and suddenly notice you’re back in an overcrowded bar with 90’s hip hop blaring over the speakers. But fast-forward a few weeks to when the novelty dies down and the bar has solidified its identity, and I think you will find that Old Town Social is just the new thing that Old Town has been waiting for.

IMG_4293Old Town Social
455 W. North Avenue
Chicago, IL 60610
312-266-2277
http://www.oldtownsocial.com

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Hungry Z, NBC5 Street Team

In West Virginia, at an elevation of 2300 feet above sea level, the Birch River begins its northwestern trek until it joins with the Elk River. Luckily Birch River Grill is located in Arlington Heights and is devoid of such Mountaineer delicacies as ground hog and squirrel. The décor employs plenty of birch wood and the busts of a few bucks to appease your inner hunter.

 Tempting choices abound all over the menu; luckily a good choice is easier than catching it yourself. Simple is often better, and a good simple appetizer to try is the crisp salt and pepper calamari. Accompanied by a horseradish marinara, these tasty rings of octopi are not the least bit chewy.birchsoup

 Sometimes you need a little something to warm your bones after kayaking down the river. Nestle up to a bowl of granny apple and onion soup. This twist on an old favorite adds a hint of sweetness to all the savory goodness that French onion soup already delivers. Those looking for something heartier should step up to a bowl of wild game chili. Loaded with bison, wild boar, and andouille sausage this is a chili for the man’s man.

 What goes better with all that meat, than more meat? The Yankee pot roast is loaded with slow cooked beef, braised carrots, Yukon gold potatoes, all swimming in a hearty red wine sauce. It’s like a warm hug on a cold West Virginian night. For those looking on the lighter side, the sun dried tomato and gorgonzola ravioli is a wise choice. Gone is the heavy marinara and in is a light tomato tarragon broth that adds flavor and not calories.birchcarrot

 The heck with calories! You’ve spent all day fishing, kayaking, and hunting so you deserve some dessert. Wild berry cheesecake is rich and filling, but the true star is Aunt Aggie’s carrot cake. Assembled like a Big Mac, this three layer beauty has cream cheese frosting between 3 layers of moist cake. It’s meant for two but I’m sure a few hearty soles will tackle it alone.

 With entrée prices ranging from $10 to $30, Birch River Grill can satisfy one’s hunger even on modest budgets. So whether you’re hunting for a buck or just looking for a good meal for you buck, Birch River has you covered.  

Location

75 W. Algonquin Rd

Arlington Heights, IL

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

 

The crisp fall air isn’t the only aroma your nose may pick up this week – especially in the Loop. If you happen to catch a whiff of beer, brats and kraut, follow the trail to the historic Berghoff  (17 W. Adams) Wednesday through Friday for their annual Oktober Fest. It’s hard to believe that this is the Berghoff’s 24th sausage and suds celebration  held on the Federal Plaza at Adams and Dearborn Streets. Considering the Berghoff has been serving up classic German food and their own private-label suds for generations, you know the food and drink won’t disappoint. NBC-Oktoberfest 2008 016

Admission to the Berghoff Oktoberfest is complimentary and includes musical entertainment to suit all tastes. Work off that brat by doing the “Hoky Poky” with Bavarian polka performances by the Johnny Wagner Band, or enjoy local favorites Maggie Speaks, Sixteen Candles and the Modern Day Romeos over the course of the three days. Always wanted to cook your own schnitzle? This year’s fest also marks the launch of The Berghoff Café Cookbook: Berghoff Family Recipes for Simple, Satisfying Food (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $24.99, September 2009) by Carlyn Berghoff, fourth generation restaurateur and Berghoff Catering & Restaurant Group CEO, who will be signing copies during the fest. You’ll also have a chance to enter two raffles benefitting the Mercy Home For Boys and Girls. While a case of beer would make sense, how about the opportunity to win a 2010 Jaguar XF or a luxe trip to the Ritz in Cali?

For more information on the Berghoff Oktober Fest, including hours and entertainment schedule, click here. Post!

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

 

Life is full of firsts and while your first kiss may not be worth repeating, the first annual Common Threads World Cookout  taking place this Thursday will no doubt keep you coming back for more. Priced at $75 a ticket, the event was designed to be bit more fiscally approachable than the World Festival where tickets ran between $250-$500. Proceeds benefit Common Threads, which seeks to educate children on the importance of nutrition and physical well-being, and to foster an appreciation of cultural diversity through cooking. NBC-Fulton'sCommonThreads

Holding on to the last of the summer temps, the cookout will take place on Fulton’s on the River’s open-air veranda along the Chicago River and within their Riverfront Room. As with any Common Threads event, you can expect Chicago’s best culinary stars to be in attendance ready to feed you. Among those participating include Stephanie Izard, Top Chef Season 4; Paul Virant, Vie; Bill Kim, Urban Belly; Chris Pandel, The Bristol;  Rodelio Abilgot, Sunda; Radhika Desai, Top Chef Season 5; Gale Gand, TRU; James Gottwald, Rockit Bar & Grill; Giuseppe Tentori, Boka; Toni Roberts, C-House; Jonathan Fox, La Madia; Mark Mendez, Carnivale; Dominique Tougne, Bistro 110; Greg Biggers, Fulton’s on the River; Sarah Grueneberg, Cafe Spiaggia; Robert Andrea, Jake Melnick’s; Rick Gresh, David Burke’s Primehouse; and Suzanne Imaz and Martial Noguier, Café de Architectes.

While you can opt for the $75 general admission ticket, there are also a limited number of VIP Package tickets, which include a special VIP reception at 5:30 pm and an after party beginning at 9:30 pm at Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap (ending at Midnight) are also available for $150 per guest. Kicking off at 5:30 pm on Fulton On The River’s riverfront veranda, The Common Threads Associate Board hosts the VIP pre-party guests for an exclusive outdoor tasting (weather permitting) with Cafe Spiaggia Chef di Cucina Sarah Grueneberg. The VIP after-party commences at Jake Melnick’s (41 East Superior ) at 9:30 pm, featuring complimentary Stella Artois and Hoegaarden, as well as choice wines and specialty cocktails and yes, even more food, just in case you didn’t get your fill over at Fulton’s. 

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.commonthreads.org or call/email Jenny Pinto at 312-329-2501 x 207 or Jennifer@commonthreads.org.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

 

Courtesy of inPLAY events

Courtesy of inPLAY events

 

Just because festivals are turning a bit more beer and sausage focused in honor of Oktober Fest, doesn’t mean wine lovers won’t find an activity to satisfy their love of the grape. The Windy City Wine Festival takes place in the Daley Bicentennial Plaza this Friday and Saturday, giving you an opportunity to sample from more than 250 wines from around the world.

Of course, to appreciate fine wine, you have to learn about it. Check the event website for the most updated event schedule, which includes cooking demonstrations and wine seminars from local chefs, event sponsors and visiting wineries. Grab a little sustenance from one of the food booths and listen to some local musical entertainment and you might just forget those post-summer blues.

Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Visit www.windycitywinefestival.com for more information.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

 

If you want a sneak peak of Old Town Social before its grand opening (Street Team Leader Marcus Riley reported on Old Town’s soft opening here), then you’ll get a shot this Thursday. The best part? You’ll be at a “Party for a Reason.” The evening of fun and philanthropy is hosted by GiveForward, a Chicago-based social venture committed to helping individuals and non-profits raise money for good causes. The “Party for a Reason” is a kick-off to supporters and runners of the Chicago Half Marathon taking place this weekend, where they’ll be “running for a reason” and raising money for various charities. Guests will enjoy appetizers and two hours of open bar including specialty cocktails, vodka drinks and beer. Looks like you may have to get a jumpstart on your weekend – but don’t feel guilty. Ticket poceeds will go to various charity partners of GiveForward.

Old Town Social

455 W. North Avenue

September 10th- 7pm-10pm

Tickets: $25. Available at www.party4aReason.com

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

  

It’s no secret that Chicago has an amazing restaurant scene full of new and established talent. You could literally pick a new place each week and still not cover everything, let alone come up for air.  While there are some fabulous events in this city dedicated to the art of the eats, the TOQUE Dining Gala: An Evening With Chicago’s Culinary Masters, is at an entirely different level. NBC -logo_toque09_sm

Taking place this Thursday, the event is an amalgamation of food stations and a formal sit-down dinner, all prepared by Chicago’s finest. But it’s not just an excuse to come eat. Philanthropic partygoers will feel good knowing that proceeds from the evening  (tickets and a live auction) will benefit Children’s Oncology Services, Inc. (COSI), which will help send children with cancer to camp with their One Step At A Time programs.

This year’s event is emceed by Bill Kurtis, journalist and founder of Tallgrass Beef Company, along with Michael Kornick of MK Restaurant who is returning as chef coordinator of the event. Along with four fine dining courses (prepared by Art Smith, Michael Kornick, Mindy Segal and others), guests will also enjoy wine pairings and a cocktail hour with chef inspired bites from several other top notch contributors.

Need some advice?  Skip lunch this Thursday.

The event takes place at the Harold Washington Library Winter Garden at 6:00 pm.

Visit www.onestepcamp.org for additional information and to purchase tickets.

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stephanie_small1Stephanie S. Green, NBC Chicago Street Team

 

This Labor Day Weekend, the African Festival of the Arts celebrates its 20th Anniversary at Washington Park!  It is always a favorite and highly-anticipated way to end the summer and this year will be no exception!  Enjoy vendors with a variety of fabulous merchandise:  art, photography, clothing, accessories, body products, jewelry and so much more; delicious food; and, fantastic musical acts, including The Ohio Players, Booker T. Jones, Ahmad Jamal, George Clinton and many more national and local artists, fashion shows and dance.  Bring a lawn chair or a blanket and spend the whole day with plenty to keep you occupied and plenty of room to spread out, relax and regroup, and then continue to check out the vendors in the African Marketplace! 

Theres Something for All Ages!

There's Something for All Ages!

And don’t forget about the Pavilions where you will find activities to suit every taste!  At the Children’s Pavilion youth of all ages can learn and enjoy games, music, dance, storytelling, theater, arts and crafts all day long! Contributors include: Hyde Park Arts Center, the Field Museum and other family-focused institutions that offer fun, educational and interactive programs. Many social service agencies will be represented in the pavilion to provide answers to family, parental and children’s questions.

The ICE Theaters Film Pavilion presents daily screenings of short and full-length films that interpret the culture and experiences of peoples living in all parts of the African Diaspora.  They’ll also feature a showcase of films produced mainly by black filmmakers from around the world, including a section of works produced for and/or by black youth. Enjoy free popcorn, get free movie posters and learn more about Black World Cinema, an independent film series available only at your neighborhood ICE Theaters.

Ohio Players & George Clinton, too!

Ohio Players & George Clinton, too!

The Festival is world renowned for its assembly of artists from around the Diaspora featuring original paintings, sculptures limited editions, prints, photographs, and ceramics. This year, the Fine Arts Pavilion will include artists such as Stacey Brown (festival artist of the year), Emerson Williams, Uwa Hunwick, Bayo Iribhogbe, Frank Frasier, Melvin King, Rondell, Nii-Oti, Akosuah Bandele, Marvin Sims, Ousmane Gueye, Dana Easter, Dimali, Isodor Howard, Samuel Akainyah, and Dayo Layoe.

Visit the AFA Pavilion Page for more on the Chrysler Financial Pavilion, Author and Book Pavilion, Meet the Artists Media Tent, The Drum Village, Spirituality Pavilion, Health and Wellness Village, Cyberspace Pavilion, Quilting Pavilion and the HipHop Stage and Pavilion!  Visit the Festival Schedule Page for the full entertainment schedule, created by Soleil’s To-Dos and featuring the wonderful, interactive calendar features that you’ve grown to rely on!

Just Chillin

Just Chillin'

But wait – there’s more To-Do!!!  That’s right – be sure to visit the “All Chill Zone” at the Soleil’s To-Dos booth.  (You’ll find the booth number and location at www.so-LAZE.com, on the Facebook Page, through our Twitter Feed or by calling (773) 268 To-Do (8636).)  We’ll be stone cold chillin’ and giving you the perfect spot to catch up with friends, sit and eat, slap a few cards, wax poetic and groove to the beats – including live music!  Yes, thanks to Sam Martin, the Idea Doctor, you can expect some special guests to stop through and grace us with some mini-performances.  BYOChair, or cop a squat in one of ours, if available, and chill for a while!  We’ll also be doing some special giveaways including theater; concert tickets; dinners; and, for one lucky woman, a one-hour photo shoot with Lee Bey Photography!

So, whatever your plans this weekend, be sure to make a visit to the African Festival of the Arts!  The Festival runs from Friday through Monday, from 10am-10pm.  General Daily Admission, $10 in advance; $15 at the gate; Seniors and Children (Under 12 – over 65), $5; Daily Family Pass (2 adults and 4 children under 12), $30; Adult (4-day) Weekend Pass, $30.

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