Scooter’s

What’s the first sign of spring in Chicago? Opening day at Scooter’s Frozen Custard! Last Friday March 1st was opening day at Scooter’s, and ChiCityCool once again attended the opening. We never miss it! Located on the corner of Belmont and Paulina in the Lakeview neighborhood is a small frozen custard shop that has gotten quite the reputation in Chicago. Sure Bobtail is great too, but nothing compares to the delicious, rich, creamy, and unique flavors of the frozen custard offered at Scooter’s. It’s my favorite place in the city for dessert! Even on a cold Chicago night like last Friday, people lined up out the door to get a taste of their delicious treats. They have an extensive menu with many fun options like “Elvis” and Peanut Butter and Jelly Concretes, but I was most excited to try their “Flavor of the Day”- Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel.  In case you were curious, it was as amazing as it sounds. In addition to their frozen custard “Flavor of the Day”, they also offer a concrete of the month. Bonus: Children and dogs receive free small cones! Yes, I have witnessed firsthand people feeding their dogs frozen custard cones. Don’t worry, they are bite size. For that reason, if you have a child that is older than 3, be warned that they may want more than the free tiny cone Scooter’s offers. So, no matter what the weather is outside, head on over to Scooter’s Frozen Custard and enjoy every delicious bite. I’d hurry though, because they aren’t opened year around and you want to get as much Scooter’s in while you can. No one every tries Scooter’s just once!

Tip: Avoid going inside by ordering from their walk up window on the west side of the building.

Dress Code: Casual

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Top: Express; Infinity Scarf: Coldwater Creek (old); Skinny Jeans: The Limited; Boots: Shoedazzle; Red Snake Bracelet: BaubleBar (old and not available on-line, bought in NYC Store); Watch: Michael Kors; Bracelets: Wanderlust + Co & Bijouterie Light Wood Skull Charm Bracelet; Earrings: K-Amato (Sample Sale); Gold Kensington Ring: Gorjana

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Chicago Christmas Traditions & Winter Activities

Although this blog started after the holidays and Christmas has quickly come and gone, winter seems to have just started in Chicago. The weather has been unusually mild this winter despite the weather forecasters’ predictions last summer. With the weather just getting colder and the holidays still on my mind, here are a few Chicago winter must-do activities that everyone should check out: (I go every year and they are budget friendly!)

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights: They are free! Great place to take the kids to see Santa as well. Grab some pizza beforehand down the street at Rocco Ranalli’s (It’s family friendly and delicious!)

-Ice Skate at Millennium Park: Avoid lines and having to spend money by bringing your own ice skates (Check out the other free ice skating rinks around Chicago as well!)

Christkindlmarket in the Daley Plaza: It gets super crowded, but is a must see activity in Chicago. Grab a nice German beverage served in a souvenir mug shaped like a boot and check out the beautiful ornaments and Christmas tree.

CTA Holiday Train: This is more geared towards families, but if you currently have little ones at home, check out the schedule and catch a ride with Santa and his elves on the CTA Holiday Train.

Walnut Room & Holiday Windows at Macy’s on State Street: Check out the holiday windows at the old Marshall Field’s, now Macy’s, on State Street. Afterwards, grab a bite to eat at the Walnut Room inside and enjoy the view of the beautiful Great Tree. (It’s 45 feet tall!) This is one of Chicago’s oldest holiday traditions.

Snow Shoe at Northerly Island: Located on Chicago’s great peninsula (a.k.a. Northerly Island), many Chicagoans are unaware of this cool and interesting activity. Check the weather beforehand, and get there early since snow shoe’s are given out on a first come first serve basis.

-Check out hilarious holidays plays at various theaters around Chicago. My past favorites include “The Santaland Diaries” at what is now called Theater Wit in Lakeivew or “It’s A Wonderful Santaland Miracle Nut Cracking Christmas Story” at Stage 773 next door. If you are looking for something a little less humorous and a little more traditional, check out “A Christmas Carol” at the Goodman Theatre. Always check Hottix or Goldstar for good deals.

Dress Code: Casual

(Note for Walnut Room: Don’t get me wrong, the Walnut Room is a classy place that I tend to dress a little nicer for, but during the holiday’s, the beautiful space is filled many casual tourists that are there just to check out the tree. Dress however makes you comfortable and they won’t turn you away.)

A Few Casual Holiday Outfits:

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Wool Plaid Vest: Nordstrom; Angora Sweater with Lace: Zara; White Long Sleeve T-Shirt: Gap; Skinny Jeans: Limited (sold out); Gold Wedge Sneakers: Target; Kensington Gold Ring: Gorjana

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Christmas Day

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Christmas Eve Outfit: Top: Francesca’s (old); Vest: Loft (old); Dot Print Pants: Loft; Booties: Old Navy (Same boots in animal print); Necklace & Earrings: K-Amato (sample sale); Watch: Michael Kors; Link Gold Bracelet: Wanderlust + Co

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Family Christmas Party: Bow Sweater: Loft (No longer available on-line); Floral Skinny Pants: New York and Company (sold out); Boots: Nine West (old); Leg Warmers: Nordstrom (Same in different color); Watch: Michael Kors; Earrings: K-Amato (Sample Sale); Bracelets: Light Wood Skull Bracelet by Bijouterie and Black Leather Stud Wrap Bracelet by Wanderlust + Co

Smoque BBQ

Although you may often catch me at the newest and trendiest restaurants in Chicago, I always love a good diner or local BBQ joint. So, as you can imagine, when I heard Smoque BBQ appeared on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, I decided to check it out and see if it really was the “Best BBQ” in Chicago like everyone says it is. (Spoiler Alert: It is!)

To start, the location is more convenient than people realize. It’s situated right between the Addison and Irving Park Blue Line stops. This may intimidate some of the Lincoln Park/Lakeview residents, but let me assure you that taking the bus west to this joint was well worth the trip. In fact, the owner of Smoque told me the location appeals to all audiences. It is right off the highway and has CTA bus and ‘L’ stops nearby. He often meets people from all over the world that have stopped by on trips through Chicago, and he regrets not creating a map of those who have traveled there.

Once inside (or sometimes outside) there will be a long line, but again, it’s worth the wait. That being said, I was impressed with how fast they turn over tables, and the line moves quickly. They had staff on hand waiting to clear tables the second people stood up, and they seat you after you order your delicious food.  Trust their process, it really works! The staff was friendly and helpful. In fact, I went up later in our meal to order dessert, and they instantly jumped up to help me. When my dessert was ready, they even brought it to our table. One of the owners is always around, and I was lucky enough to meet Barry. (He even gave me a private tour of the back and let us try food for free that we hadn’t already had. He takes pride in his work, and it shows.)

The food is delicious and nothing I say can truly explain the greatness of this BBQ joint. No matter what you order, it’s amazing. I was even impressed with the Peach Cobbler. (Try it.) They have GIANT smokers in the back and really focus on the basics of BBQ. You won’t find 10 different sauces like some other BBQ places, but you will find a few perfectly balanced ones. Combine that with the right rubs and cooking techniques, and you have the best BBQ restaurant in Chicago. The word has gotten out about this place, but don’t let that stop you from trying it out. Did I mention it is also BYOB? The tables are tightly squeezed together, but this only made for a better and more social experience. We even made friends (and shared beer) with friendly people sitting next to us that were visiting from out of town. I’ll be back many more times, and am looking forward to taking my parents here the next time they are in town. If you like meat, friendly service, great prices, and a good time, come here.  I promise you will love it.

Beer: Bell’s Brewery in MI; Beef Brisket; Mac & Cheese; Corn Bread; and BBQ Beans (We later sampled ribs, sausage, and peach cobbler.)

Dress Code: Casual

Plaid Flannel Shirt: Target (Similar); Jack Purcell Sneakers: Converse; Fedora: Mint Julep Boutique (Band and Feather Detail added by yours truly); Watch: Michael Kors; Necklace: Gift from a Boutique in the West Loop

After searching long and hard for the perfect fedora, I decided to create the one I was looking for by adding fabric around the brim, a button, and beautiful feathers to an existing fedora I bought on clearance at Mint Julep on Southport