Caro Mio

When it comes to Italian food in Chicago, most people think they should head over to Taylor Street. While it’s true there are some great restaurants over there, there’s also an excellent Italian restaurant on the North Side that tops my list of favorite places to eat. Located on Wilson Avenue in the Ravenswood / Lincoln Square neighborhood is a lesser known, but becoming increasingly more popular Italian restaurant called Caro Mio. After studying abroad in Italy in college, I’ve become pretty picky about Italian food. You won’t catch me at an Olive Garden unless I’m being forced to go, and I admit there are even a few popular Italian restaurants in Chicago that I am not a huge fan of, even after multiple attempts to try to like it. Since this blog is about things to eat, see, and do in Chicago that are “cool”, I won’t talk about those places though, nor will I recommend any places that I wouldn’t visit again. I started eating at Caro Mio almost 6 years ago, and back then I felt I had found one of the best kept secrets in Chicago. I would often tell friends and family to try this place, but many of them hesitated based on the location. Since then, the secret has gotten out, and Caro Mio has expanded their restaurant to the space next door. Although cabs can be difficult to find outside the restaurant, it is easily accessible and walking distance to the Damen and Montrose Brown Line stops.

Once you walk inside the door, you will find a cozy and romantic space. Although this place is a prime spot for romantic dates, it’s also an excellent place to go in groups. I’ve taken my family here, celebrated engagements here with friends, and have seen many birthday celebrations happening inside the restaurant. With the expanded space, you can bet that you will be seeing even more group events happening here. They only take reservations for larger parties, but they will take your phone number down so you can grab a drink at O’Shaughnessy’s Public House down the street while you wait for your table. Once you sit down, you will see a large menu of delicious items. Their specials are usually the best things to order, and I almost always get their stuffed Gnocchi. It’s the best gnocchi I’ve ever had, hands down. As someone once said to me while eating there, “It’s like a pillow of deliciousness in your mouth.” Enough said. The food is excellent. The best part about this place is that it’s a BYOB with no corkage fee. Yes, Chicago, another BYOB. So, while I feel the food prices are reasonable, the food feels even more affordable after not having a large alcohol tab attached to the bill. If you are on the North Side of Chicago and in the mood for Italian cuisine, head over to Caro Mio with a few bottles of wine.

Dress Code : Casual

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Date Night : Burgundy Skinny Jeans: TJ Maxx; Blazer: Banana Republic, old (Similar); Top: Forever 21; Belt: Target; Necklace: K-Amato Sample Sale; Earrings: Lia Sophia (old), Bracelets: Wanderlust + Co , BaubleBar (NY Store- Not On-line); Watch: Michael Kors, Boots: Nine West (Very Similar)

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Casual Dinner with Parents: Leopard Cardigan: Target (Currently In Stores Only); Shirt: H&M; Mustard Skinny Jeans: TJ Maxx; Earrings: random New York jewelry designer; Necklace: Tiffany’s (old); Bracelet: Tiffany’s (old), Boots: Nine West (Very Similar)

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Longman & Eagle

In a city filled with so many delicious restaurants, it’s hard to pick your favorite, but Longman and Eagle is definitely one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago. Many people would be surprised to hear that a Michelin star restaurant is tucked away in Logan Square, but actually, Logan Square has many great restaurants. This high-end gastropub serves American Contemporary cuisine and is a favorite among all walks of life. I for one jump at any opportunity to eat or drink here. Often people ask me where they should take their Chicago visitors to eat, and I almost always say Longman and Eagle. Named after the artist who sculpted the eagle on top of the Illinois Centennial Monument in Logan Square, Longman and Eagle has everything you could want in a restaurant. It has delicious food, unpretentious aura, vibrant atmosphere, diverse crowd, and an excellent drink menu. With a location off the typical beaten path and a hipster bar feel, taking your visitors here will allow them to not only have a great meal, but also see a side of Chicago that not many visitors check out. There must be a downside to this place, right? Well, you are right. Longman and Eagle doesn’t take reservations. That means sometimes you may have a 2 hour wait to get seated. Don’t worry, because they will take your phone number and call you when your table is ready. So, grab a drink down the block and wait it out. This place is worth the wait, and I don’t see the crowds slowing down any time soon.

Longman and Eagle is not only a great choice for dinner, but it also has an excellent brunch menu. I recently tried the Whole Hog Crepinette and Fried Chicken and Waffles, and both were excellent. They also have a PBR special for brunch, and you should take a look at the price of the meal with and without the PBR. It will make you laugh, and just shows you how great this place really is. If it’s your first time there or you might not be back for a while, get the Crepinette for brunch. For dinner there are many great options, so I won’t give you a long list of recommendations. To be honest, I haven’t had anything I didn’t like there. For my New York friends, I often tell them to get the Pork Belly. It’s one of my favorite dishes, and I found not many places in New York (or anywhere else for the matter) cook pork as well as they do at Longman and Eagle. Last, but definitely not least, come thirsty! This place has a great whiskey menu and even serves some good pints of beer as well. They pride themselves on the fact that you can grab a good cup of coffee in the morning and then return at night for pint of beer and more delicious food. If you haven’t checked this place out, then you should. It’s one of the few places in Chicago that I return to often. Did you know that they even have hotel rooms upstairs for you to stay at? I haven’t checked those out yet, but I’m hoping I can talk my next vistors in to staying there.

Dress Code: Anything goes! Hipster / Casual / Trendy

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Dinner Outfit – Floral Blazer: Ann Taylor; Peplum Top: Zara (No longer available on-line); Belt: Target; Burgundy Skinny Jeans: Marshalls; Shoes: Ann Taylor (old); Purse: Rebecca Minkoff Mini M.A.C.(Other Colors Here and Here); Red Snake Bracelet: BaubleBar (old and not available on-line, bought in NYC Store)

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Brunch Outfit – Sweater: Target (In Store Only and No Longer Available); Vest: Old Navy (No Longer Available); Jeans: The Limited; Boots: Shoedazzle; Necklace: Forever21 (old); Earrings: K.Amato (Sample Sale); Watch: Michael Kors

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Brunch: Whole Hog Crepinette

Brunch: Fried Chicken and Waffles

Brunch: Fried Chicken and Waffles