Chicago LOVE Recap: Brunch Spots

Zach and I love weekend brunches.  Especially in Chicago, it was one of our favorite times of the week.  We’d sleep in, normally get a quick work out in, then head out to a great, slow and leisurely brunch.

Chicago has so many great brunch stops, and when we were thinking about our must-do’s for the weekend, stopping by some of our old neighborhood favorites for brunch was top on the list.

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Birchwood Cafe

Birchwood cafe is a little spot on North Avenue near Oakley/Bell that just screams home.  If you’re going to brunch, there is likely going to be a bit of a wait, but trust me it’s totally worth it.

When you walk in Birchwood, one of the staff (they were the same as when we lived there, tells ya it’s a good place) hands you a menu and lets you know what to expect for wait.

When your table is ready, you actually head up to the counter to place your order, let them know what table number you are, and then they bring you the food.  Super easy, and actually super efficient.

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Zach and I have gone for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner and are NEVER disapointed.   I remember the first time I went there with my parents, the owner was chatting with us and once he found out I was new to the neighborhood, FORCED me to take home a piece of their chocolate banana cake.  That’s my kind of place :).

For my brunch this visit, I went with the club and fresh fruit.

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The sandwich was not the huge double decker I’m used to seeing for a club.  It was a well portioned, turkey club with homemade mayo, bacon, bread and veggies.  Seriously, Birchwood uses local ingredients and you can TELL in the quality of their food.

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I couldn’t go to Birchwood without getting a treat, so I picked up a lemon bar to go — best.decision.ever.

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Since the weather was crappy they didn’t have their seating out on their back patio, but we were able to hang out there while we waited.  There have been many date nights spent out on that patio.

Did I mention Birchwood was BYOB also?  Oh yeah…that deck, good food, and a cheap bottle of wine.  My kinda date night.

Please, if your in Chicago, I cannot recommend Birchwood more!

Jane’s

On Sunday  morning, Zach and I met some friends at a spot that has MANY memories for us, Jane’s.

Zach and I were introduced to Jane’s via Groupon, and went back MANY times after.  Unfortunately, since we were with friends this time I didn’t take many pictures, but PLEASE check out their website.

Their food is also locally sourced, HIGH quality, beautiful and perfectly prepared.  Every time we went to Jane’s we felt like we were spoiling ourselves, but without the HUGE price point.

Jane’s also has great specials and deals, including a BYOB night AND half price wine night.

Jane’s is in a refurbished old house, and when you visit them you feel like you are in someone’s home.  It truly is a great experience, and one that we will be sure to make a priority every time we visit Chicago.

Some special nights we’ve spent at Jane’s:

  • multiple birthdays
  • engagement celebrations
  • anniversaries
  • special date nights

My friends, Chicago really does have SUCH an amazing food scene and these are just a few of our favorites.   If you go and check either of them out, please let me know 🙂

Question of the Afternoon:  What’s your favorite brunch spot/meal?

Chicago Love Recap: Running

Thank you all for being so understanding on my mini hiatus from blogging this weekend.  It killed me to not be able to talk about how excited I was for WEEKS leading up to it, but I couldn’t ruin the big surprise so I’m actually proud I kept my little mouth shut!

There is SO much I want to share with you all, but I figured since I kind of try and call this a healthy living blog, that I’d start with the healthy aspect of my weekend away: Running.

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You all know me.  I have a tendency SOMETIMES to be a fair weather runner.   It’s something I am constantly working on, but my weather sensitive little body makes it tough.

Well this weekend I toughed through it.  Twice.  In rain and tornado threatening weather.  Yup.  I sure did.

Saturday Morning’s Run

Some of you probably know I lived in Chicago off-and-on for 8 years.  From 18 to 26.  As you could probably guess, there were some HUGE life events that happened during that time.

  • I moved on my own for the first time
  • I graduated college
  • I moved BACK home for grad school
  • I met the love of my life
  • I moved in with the love of my life
  • I got engaged with the love of my life

Just to name a few.  Zach and I have such amazing memories in this city, and I know that a piece of my heart will always remain there.

Well — Saturday morning on my solo run, I decided I needed to take my run down memory lane.  And that’s exactly what I did.

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I started out my run heading straight to Zach and I’s old home.  A very cute, refinished apartment in Wicker Park that was perfect for our first home together.

Once I ran past our old home, I turned past the old high school I worked at (Roberto Clemente High School), and ran down Division to check out our old stomping grounds.

It was SO great to see that most of our favorite spots were still up and doing well.

  • Laticia’s Bakery, where we used to get our Saturday morning coffee and muffins
  • Division Street Pub, where we went OFTEN after work, and after we got engaged 🙂
  • Jerry’s Sandwiches, our favorite sammie stop and where we got dinner the night before my first half 🙂
  • Violet Hour on Damen, where we celebrated our engagement
  • Big Star on Damen, hello tacos
  • And of course small bars, Milk and Honey cafe, Alliance Bakery…all of our favorites.

It meant so much to me to be running in the old neighborhood, to see all these old favorites and retrace the steps that I took SO many times training for my first half.

I’m also glad I spent this run solo.  Talk about making a run fly by.  I was so stuck reliving so many amazing memories that I had no idea I had finished well over 4 miles in under 9 minute pace.

Thank you altitude boost!

Sunday’s Run

Sunday’s run was a bit of a different story.

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The boys wanted to get a little sweat on after an indulgent weekend, and of course I’m never one to turn down a run…so we headed out, per my request, to one of my favorite runner friendly areas in our old neighborhood.

Humbolt Park.

I was a little anxious about this run, knowing that I was running with some speedy boys and this was my 6th day in a row of running…but I actually found myself surprisingly comfortable most of the run.

The park is full of beautiful bodies of water, old buildings, and tons of runner friendly terrain.  3.75-4 miles FLEW by…but that could have been because I was literally flying (for me) with these boys.  We guessed that our pace was about 830…and with HUGE wind gusts and tornado threatening weather, I’d say that’s pretty darn good.

This was a very humbling (pun intended) run for me.  I started it SUPER anxious that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the boys…but I actually ended up kicking it into gear and speeding up for the last 1/4-1/3 mile and knocked out some SPEEDY negative splits.  It got me thinking that maybe I should push my speed a little more while I’m not working on distance and see what I can do.

So…

Two very different, very enjoyable runs that reminded me of why I love this city, and why I never travel without my running shoes.  Never.

Question of the Afternoon: Where’s your favorite place that you have EVER run?

I’ve Missed You All!

I’ve missed you all so much!

I apologize that I went MIA, and that I had to be all quiet and secretive.

The big secret was that Zach and I went back to Chicago (for the first time since we moved last year) for a friends surprise 30th birthday party.  I didn’t want to even POSSIBLY risk ruining the surprise, so I took a bit of a planned blogging hiatus for the weekend.

While I have REALLY missed you all, this has been SUCH an amazing weekend and I am still living high on seeing my old stomping grounds, stopping by my favorite local joints, and spending time with some of my absolutely favorite people in the world.

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I will be back with detailed recaps through out the week (I’ve got so much to chat about)…but for the time being I’ll leave you all with some highlights

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I’ve had a few really great, speedy (for me) runs.  Thank you altitude training.

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Had some AMAZING meals

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Visited our old, first home together.

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Got back into the habit of public transpo

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Saw some live music and quite frankly just had a TON of fun.

Happy Birthday Rochelle, and thank you for having us again Chicago. We’ll be back soon.