Coffee Archive



March 2015



Food & Drink in New Orleans

Written by , Posted in Restaurants, Travel

When it comes to food, we are straight up spoiled. Chicago has hundreds upon hundreds of truly great restaurants and we take advantage of that every chance we get. Lucky for us, New Orleans had no shortage of fantastic restaurants in every shape, color, and size and it was nearly impossible to narrow down our choices for our 4 day visit. Thanks to the one-two punch of a sinus infection and stomach bug, I wasn’t feeling my best for most of the trip;  although it may have slowed me down, it definitely didn’t stop me from getting my eat (and drink) on in NOLA!


301 Tchoupitoulas St

I wasn’t feeling well and we had to cancel our Friday lunch reservation at August, but their prix fixe lunch special is too great of a secret not to mention. For $20.15 you get three courses at chef John Besh’s highly acclaimed flagship restaurant and that just can’t be beat.

Café du Monde
800 Decatur St

Once you starting seeing powdered sugar lining the sidewalk, you’ll know you’re close to Café du Monde. Crowded and definitely a place some may consider a tourist trap, but their warm, sugary beignets are famous for a reason.

Cafe Du Monde Beignets

Cafe Du Monde Beignets

Central Grocery
923 Decatur St

Just down the street from Café du Monde is Central Grocery, the spot where you can find their famed Muffuletta sandwich. I don’t even like olives, but I loved this sandwich. If the line is long at Café du Monde, send your traveling partner to Central Grocery to grab a sandwich for later while you wait.

New Orleans, Central Grocery, Muffuletta

Commander’s Palace
1403 Washington Ave

A New Orleans institution. We stopped in for lunch and it was easily the most memorable meal of the trip. Along with their 25¢ martinis, we started with the Shrimp & Tasso Henican and the soup trio – both fantastic choices. Mike went with the Creole Cochon de Lait Cassoulet and it was delicious, but I think the NOLA BBQ Gulf Shrimp with goat cheese grits that I ordered was the best dish of the trip. Finishing off with their Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé, it was the perfect introduction to NOLA.

Commander's Palace Exterior

Commander's Palace Shrimp & Tasso Henican

Commander's Palace Cochon

Commander's Palace Barbecued Shrimp & Grits

930 Tchoupitoulas St

Reservations at Cochon are not easy to come by, so make sure you plan as far in advance as possible. If you do manage to snag a table, get ready for some amazing Cajun cooking! Donald Link does Southern right at this laid-back restaurant focusing on locally sourced pork, fresh produce and seafood with BIG flavors. The Wood-Fired Oysters with Chili Garlic Butter are a MUST-order, they are seriously amazing. The Fried Alligator and Fried Boudin were just ok for me but the Ham Hock with its deep, smokey flavor was fantastic. The Butterscotch Pudding was the perfect end to this wonderful meal.

New Orleans, Cochon, Oysters

New Orleans, Cochon, Ham Hock

District: Donuts.Sliders.Brew.
2209 Magazine St

The name says it all – Donuts, Sliders, and Brew (coffee) are what District is all about. We came here twice and if we would’ve stayed longer we would have been back again and again. If you’re feeling indulgent go for a Croquenut – District’s take on the Croque Monsieur with ham, Havarti, dijon, and béchamel packed inside a griddled donut!

New Orleans, District Donuts

La Petite Grocery
4238 Magazine St

La Petite Grocery is a charming neighborhood restaurant and it was the perfect spot for a quiet, special dinner on our last night in New Orleans. First of all – Crab Beignets. Oh yes, and they were every bit as rich an indulgent as you could imagine. We also loved the Steak Tartare and Gulf Shrimp special and the Bittersweet Chocolate Torte was a very satisfying choice for dessert.

New Orleans, La Petite Grocery

New Orleans, La Petite Grocery

New Orleans, La Petite Grocery

Parkway Bakery & Tavern
538 Hagan Ave

You’ll see Poor Boys (or Po’ Boys) everywhere in New Orleans and Parkway supposedly has the best so we had to give them a try. This spot is definitely out of the way if you’re staying in or around the French Quarter but I will admit, their shrimp po’ boy was overflowing with crispy fried shrimp and pretty damn good. I’m no po’ boy expert, so I can’t say if you’d be able to find something similar a little closer to downtown, but if you’re up for a field trip then Parkway is worth a visit.

New Orleans, Parkway Bakery

New Orleans, Parkway Bakery Po Boy

800 Magazine St

Another cancelled reservation that I was super bummed about, but I heard so many great things about Pêche that I had to mention it. This Seafood Grill by Donald Link will definitely be at the top of my list the next time we visit New Orleans.

777 Bienville St

Sunday Jazz Brunch is a big thing in New Orleans and R’evolution does it right in the French Quarter. Yet another reservation we missed, but from the looks of their Death by Gumbo, I’m sure this would be a great spot to spend a Sunday afternoon.

The Company Burger
4600 Freret St

A last minute decision thanks to a Thrillist article, The Company Burger’s namesake burger was definitely worth a little detour. Simple in all its juicy, cheesy glory – this burger and those onion rings are a match made in heaven.

New Orleans, The Company Burger

Tivoli & Lee
2 Lee Circle

Located in the Hotel Modern, Tivoli & Lee is a great restaurant and the perfect place to grab brunch on the weekends. Not only do they have a killer Bloody Mary bar complete with cheese, bacon, sausage, and 3 varieties of homemade mixers, they also have Avocado Fries, a Fried Chicken Biscuit, Elvis French Toast, and a Sloppy General Benedict that will rock your world.

New Orleans, Tivoli and Lee Bloody Mary Bar

New Orleans, Tivoli and Lee Avocado Fries



The Avenue Pub
1732 St Charles Ave

Definitely no-frills, but this pub is open 24-7-365 and they have an impressive line-up of craft beers.

936 St Charles Ave

Fantastic cocktail bar right next door to the Hotel Modern – their mystery punch in the large crystal bowl was surprisingly tasty!

The Bulldog
3236 Magazine St

Great selection of craft beers, cool patio, and dog-friendly.

New Orleans, The Bulldog, Beer Tap Fountain

4905 Freret St

Another fantastic cocktail bar – try the I’m Your Huckleberry or the Everybody Daylight.

Lion + Maven | Food & Drink in New Orleans

Carousel Bar & Lounge
Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal St

This classy bar in the Hotel Monteleone actually rotates around the center like a carousel! Perfect spot to grab a Sazerac any time of the day.

The Funky Pirate Blues Club
727 Bourbon St

If you can handle the craziness of Bourbon Street, The Funky Pirate is a great place to enjoy a little blues and a brightly colored frozen drink, if that’s your thing.

New Orleans, Funky Pirate Blues

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar
941 Bourbon St

Supposedly the oldest structure used as a bar in the US and also supposedly haunted, it’s definitely worth a stop if you’re out on Bourbon Street.

New Orleans, Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar

Pat O’Briens
718 St Peter St

Hurricanes and people watching on the Pat O’Brien’s patio is where it’s at! Usually crowded and always lively, you can’t help but have fun at this spot right off Bourbon Street.

New Orleans, Pat O'Briens


The Spotted Cat Music Club
623 Frenchmen St

If it isn’t already, Frenchmen Street should definitely be on your New Orleans radar. It’s the more mature version of Bourbon Street with live music in every bar and The Spotted Cat Music Club is a great place to start.

New Orleans, Frenchmen Street, Spotted Cat Music Club



October 2014



Eating & Drinking in Prague

Written by , Posted in Restaurants, Travel

Because one post on eating in Prague just wasn’t enough! Thanks to Jan and Zuzi from Taste of Prague, Mike and I were armed with an entire list of great places to eat and drink during our short stay Prague. If you’re visiting Prague and are looking for recommendations, please shoot me an e-mail as I’d be more than happy to send some your way! Here are a few of the spots we stopped at and really loved…

On our first night in Prague we visited the Vinograf location near the Charles Bridge after our Prague on Segway tour. Vinograf is a wine bar and they have two locations in Prague, you may remember the larger location from my previous post about our tour with Taste of Prague. This location in Malá Strana is the smaller and more intimate of the two. We were a bit intimidated at first because it was a very small space filled with locals and menus written entirely in Czech, but after our first glass of wine we were hooked. We shared a fantastic charcuterie plate and took a great inexpensive bottle of wine home with us and it’s currently chilling in our refrigerator awaiting special occasion.

To give you an idea of just how small this Vinograf location is – on our second night we stopped back in after dinner and after placing our order the couple at the table less than a foot away from us asked if we were from the U.S. – accents, obviously. Not only were they also from Chicago, they lived and worked just a few blocks from our current home. Once we started chatting, then man at the table next to us jumped into the conversation. He was originally from England but currently residing in L.A. At that point a couple from Prague at the last occupied table joined in as well because in such a close setting it was pretty much impossible not to. We stayed for over an hour trying different wines and having one big conversation with the entire restaurant. So much fun, and such a memorable experience, we definitely have a soft spot for Vinograf!

Vinograf, Prague

Vinograf, Cheese, Charcuterie

On our second day in Prague we spent most of the day wandering the streets of the city. After starting our morning at the most beautiful coffee shop, La Boheme  Café, Mike headed back to our apartment and I headed to Antonínovo Pekařství for some delicious pastries. After all that flaky, buttery goodness it was time for a walk, so I strolled through the Jiřího z Poděbrad farmers’ market and then stopped to check out Gastronomica La Bottega di Aromi. Gastronomica is a fantastic little shop and bistro filled with everything you’d need for a picture-perfect picnic. Grab a glass of wine and enjoy their great outdoor seating, or buy some goodies to-go and head back to the square at Jiřího z Poděbrad to enjoy the beautiful day in Prague!

La Boheme Cafe, Prague

La Boheme Cafe, Prague

La Boheme Cafe, Prague

Antonínovo pekařství

Prague Farmers Market

Prague, Gastronomica La Bottega di Aromi

Gastronomica La Bottega di Aromi Eventually Mike and I met back up and grabbed a quick lunch in the Old Town at Las Adelitas. We needed a short break from the standard German and Czech fare and their Al Pastor tacos hit the spot! We may or may not have also grabbed a Trdelník, a pastry topped with sugar and walnuts that you’ll see spinning all around the city!

Las Adelitas, Prague, Al Pastor Tacos


Later that night, after a quick recharge at the apartment, we headed back out for dinner and drinks. For drinks we stopped at Hemingway Bar, an absolute must-visit in Prague, in my opinion. It’s a dark, sexy bar with a speakeasy vibe and carefully crafted cocktails that were outstanding. They focus on Hemingway’s favorites, rum, absinthe, and champagne, but they do a fantastic job with everything else as well. I started with their Becher Butter Sour and loved it so much that I didn’t even want to bother trying anything else! This signature drink is made with the Czech liqueur Becherovka that is infused with ghee and mixed with fresh lemon juice, sugar sirup, and egg white and topped with an orange chip. I am determined to figure out how to recreate this here at home! We stopped in shortly after they opened at 5pm on a Wednesday night, and we were the only patrons in the bar when we first arrived, but I’ve been told that later in the night it’s a very popular spot and reservations are recommended.

Hemingway Bar, Prague

We would have loved to stay at Hemingway for another cocktail (or 3) but our 7pm dinner reservation at La Finestra in Cucina was calling. La Finestra is a beautiful Italian restaurant in the Old Town near the Charles Bridge. Along with their delicious pastas they also specialize in meat – something I can definitely get behind. Mike and I shared a great bottle of Italian wine, a bright seasonal salad, two tasty pastas (the mushroom ravioli with carbonara foam and the rigatoni amatriciana with sweet onion purée and crispy guanciale), and one fantastic steak. If you’re looking for a special dinner in Prague, La Finestra will definitely fit the bill.

La Finestra, Prague

La Finestra in Cucina, Prague

La Finestra in Cucina, Prague

La Finestra in Cucina, Prague

La Finestra in Cucina, Prague

La Finestra in Cucina, Prague

La Finestra in Cucina, Prague

La Finestra in Cucina, Prague

The next day we did more wandering, starting our day with coffee at EMA Espresso Bar followed by a walk up to Letná Park to enjoy a few beers and great views at one of Condé Nast Traveler’s Coolest Beer Gardens Around the WorldLetná Beer Garden. We could have spent weeks exploring every delicious bite Prague has to offer, but I think we did a pretty good job with the little time that we had. Hopefully we’ll make it back to Prague someday and pick up right where we left off!

Letna Beer Garden, Prague



August 2014



Exploring Cleveland: That’s a Wrap

Written by , Posted in Travel

I can’t believe it has already been almost 3 weeks since my visit to Cleveland! When you get back to the daily grind time just seems to fly by. The past few weeks have been crazy, and until pretty much November the craziness is going to continue – but it’s all good craziness, so I can’t complain one bit. Mike made my birthday extra special this year with a great night that included dinner at The Purple Pig and we celebrated my mom’s birthday at Taxim and Mike’s birthday at Ada Street, so there has been a ton of amazing eating going on. Next week Mike and I move to Lincoln Park and the week after that we leave for 3 weeks on Germany. All super exciting things, but lately my mind is running in a million different directions every minute. What that means is that this may be a bit of a ramble-y post, complete with excess exclamation marks and run-on sentences…just getting that out there and apologizing in advance! (You may be thinking to yourself – wait, don’t all of her posts have excess exclamation points and run-on sentences? Yes, yes they do, but I’m totally fine with you keeping that thought all to yourself, thankyouverymuch)

There were several places that I visited on the tail end of my time in Cleveland that didn’t really fall into any of my previous posts, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t just as awesome and deserving of some blog time! Hence the catch-all “That’s a wrap” title of this post. I’ll start where I left off after my Ohio City post….

After our stop at The West Side Market, Charity and I hopped in her car and drove over to the lakefront to check out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, affectionately referred to by those in the know as the “Rock Hall”. I don’t think I mentioned it in my previous post, but earlier in the afternoon we joined up with a film crew that followed us around to get footage for Positively Cleveland. I am definitely not a fan of being filmed, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t just a little bit cool when everyone in the crowded market was asking who we were – celebrities for a couple of hours! At the Rock Hall the guys set-up out back for the perfect skyline view for my interview. I’m pretty positive that I went all Will Ferrell in Old School and blacked out for a few minutes while they were asking me questions, but it was a thrill and I’m beyond flattered that I was chosen for such an awesome experience!

Cleveland skyline, film crew

Ok, where was I? Back to the Rock Hall. Charity and I were both fairly exhausted at this point, but we were on a mission. Beyoncé recently donated several of her outfits to the museum so exhausted or not, we were going to see Beyoncé’s clothes! There were just a handful of Beyoncé’s outfits on display so we snapped a few pictures of those, perused the surrounding exhibits, then headed out. There were so many cool things to see and I know I’ll be back to spend more quality time here when I’m back in Cleveland!

Cleveland, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Pyramid

Cleveland, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Beyonce

Cleveland, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Beyonce

After the Rock Hall Charity drove me back to my hotel to get freshened up for dinner. I had an hour or two to kill before Charity would be picking me up again so I could’ve taken a nap, but I thought to myself – there will be time to nap when you’re back in Chicago! So I put on a fresh coat of mascara and headed out once again. I walked back to East 4th Street to check out a couple places that had caught my eye the night before. I had one drink on the rooftop of The Greenhouse Tavern and then walked across the street to try out a cocktail at the Society Lounge.

The rooftop at The Greenhouse Tavern was a cool, laid-back scene and all the food I passed on my way up looked and smelled fantastic. Society Lounge is in the basement and they’re going for more of the speakeasy, craft cocktail, secret password vibe (no actual secret password required). The drinks take a bit longer to make here, but they’re well worth it!

Lion + Maven | Exploring Cleveland

Lion + Maven | Exploring Cleveland

After my drink at Society Lounge, Charity picked me up and we headed to University Circle for a fabulous dinner at L’Albatros. After dinner we drove back downtown where I snapped a few quick pictures of the world’s larger permanent crystal chandelier in Playhouse Square before Charity dropped me off to check out AHA! Light Up Cleveland. AHA! was produced by LAND Studio and was a “multi-day festival of lights celebrating the recent development boom and “illuminating” changes to our urban landscape. […] to illustrate what is possible in beloved public spaces through artist installations using light, video projections and live cultural participate on events.” The lighting installations were a great complement to the kick-off of the Gay Games 9 and “magical” is the best way I can describe the atmosphere that night. Between the lights, the people, and the setting, Cleveland was looking pretty impressive that night.

Cleveland, Playhouse Square, Chandelier

Cleveland, Downtown, AHA Cleveland, Light Fixtures

Cleveland, Downtown, AHA Cleveland, Light Fixtures

Cleveland, Downtown, AHA Cleveland, Light Fixtures

Cleveland, Downtown, AHA Cleveland, Light Fixtures

Cleveland, Downtown, AHA Cleveland, Light Fixtures

Cleveland, Downtown, AHA Cleveland, Light Fixtures

After hanging out for awhile I decided that it was time to walk back to my hotel and get some rest. The next morning I grabbed a cup of coffee at Pour Cleveland (really good and right across from the Holiday Inn Express!) and Charity picked me up along with her husband and brand new baby, Max, so I could squeeze a few more drops out of Cleveland on Sunday morning. We grabbed a quick breakfast at Luna Bakery & Café. I had a delicious crepe, but Charity’s Nest Egg left me with order envy – it was basically a grilled cheese with a sunny egg in the middle, kind of amazing, right?!

From there we drove over to our last stop, the Cleveland Museum of Art. The museum was recently renovated and is absolutely beautiful. We didn’t stay long because I had to drive back to Chicago, but I loved what I saw. Even if you’re not an art lover you will love the space, plus admission is FREE! I couldn’t even believe it. This is definitely an area that deserves it’s fair share of exploration in Cleveland.

Lion + Maven | Exploring Cleveland

Lion + Maven | Exploring Cleveland

Lion + Maven | Exploring Cleveland

Lion + Maven | Exploring Cleveland

My trip to Cleveland was short but very sweet and I was sad for it to come to an end. I was so impressed with this city that I had never even considered visiting and I highly recommend a visit to everyone, especially if you’re as close as me in the Chicagoland area. Major thanks to Positively Cleveland for making this weekend happen and to Charity for making it so memorable! Cleveland does indeed Rock.


*My expenses during my time in Cleveland were paid for by Positively Cleveland. As always, all content on Lion + Maven comes from my own, unbiased thoughts and opinions. 

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