Food Archive



November 2015



Budapest Food & Drink

Written by , Posted in Restaurants, Travel

It’s no secret that I love food. My mouth waters at the thought of a ribeye steak cooked to a perfect medium rare, a slice of pizza with the perfect crust:cheese:sauce ratio, or a generous slice of my favorite chocolate pie. Maybe your thing is fried chicken or a giant ice cream sundae. Hey, maybe a juicy peach is what really gets you going. We all have foods we love because they’re just flat out delicious, but I’m a firm believer that the foods we love the most become our favorites because of the memories that lie within each bite. Whether it’s a mystery fried dish from a street vendor, a perfectly plated course at a Michelin-starred restaurant, or that long-time family recipe you used to make with your grandmother, good food becomes great food when there’s a story.

Budapest, Farmers' Market, Paprika

One of my favorite ways to get to know a city is by eating and drinking my way around town, seeking out local spots, and creating as many new memories as I can possibly squeeze into one trip. The streets and alleyways of Budapest were filled with so many great bars and restaurants, each beautiful in their own unique way, and when we set out every morning I was nearly giddy with excitement to see what was hiding around the next corner. A broken camera left me with less photos than I’m used to on a trip, but my heart and mind will forever be full with all the wonderful memories. We had a feeling we’d enjoy our time in Budapest but had no idea we’d love it so much. If a trip to Budapest wasn’t already on your travel radar, I hope my experiences inspire you to get there sometime soon!

Budapest, Neon Lights,


Sas u. 3, 1051

Borkonyha Winekitchen is one of three Michelin-starred restaurants in Budapest, and one of our favorite meals of the trip. As soon as we were seated our server arrived and offered assistance choosing one of their many Hungarian wines; after my first sip of a fantastic sparkling white he chose, I handed him the reins and he brought glass after glass to pair perfectly with each course. They offer a very reasonably priced set tasting menu but we opted to order several dishes a la carte to create our own. From the squid ink bread (that we nearly inhaled) to the silky smooth duck liver to the flavorful lamb and everything in between, it was one hell of a meal. If you’re not able to get a reservation, I’d still recommend stopping in and trying to grab a seat at the bar to enjoy a glass of wine!

Budapest, Borkonyha, duck liver

Budapest, Borkonyha, beef tenderloin

Budapest, Borkonyha

Zeller Bistro
Izabella u. 38, 1077

We dined at Zeller Bistro on our last night in Budapest and it was the perfect way to end our stay in this beautiful city. Zeller is a family-owned and operated restaurant and from the moment you walk down the steps to the warmly lit cellar, you can tell they are all fully invested in giving you a memorable dining experience. I spoke with Anna, one of the owners, to make a reservation, and we were given a run-down of the menu, specials, wine list, etc by the other owner, Peter. We even had the most adorable youngster, clad in a full length apron, show us to our table and fill our water glasses. It was seriously adorable.

The food was fantastic – made with Hungarian ingredients but not your traditional dishes. Many of their ingredients including sausages and their tasty “Crispy Small Fish As My Mom Makes Them” come from family and friends at nearby Lake Balaton. Their wines are from family vineyards, they have their own beer from a friend’s brewery, and they make a wonderful elderflower champagne that everyone receives when they arrive. If you’re visiting Budapest I can’t recommend Zeller Bistro enough, just make sure to make a reservation!

Budapest, Zeller Bistro, Crispy Fish

Crispy small fish from Lake Balaton at Zeller Bistro

Liszt Ferenc tér 2, 1061

We had lunch at Menza once during our stay, but could have easily been convinced to return if we had more time. They have a large outdoor terrace that is the perfect spot to grab a glass of rosé and people watch to your heart’s content. The interior has a very cool retro/mid-century design so be sure to take a trip to the bathroom if you’re dining al fresco. The menu is filled with delicious Hungarian and European classics with a modern presentation. Mike’s Schnitzel was fantastic – super thin and perfectly crisp breading, and I loved my Beef Stew with homemade noodles, but the clear winner was the Garlic Cream Soup topped with a traditional Hungarian Lángos (lahn-gosh). Lángos is a simple yet amazing creation – essentially a large circle of fried dough (think giant doughnut without the hole) that is typically topped with sour cream, cheese and garlic. The cup of soup could have been an entire meal, so if you’re ordering a main course I would plan on sharing because it will not be easy to put your spoon down!

Budapest, Menza, soup, langos

Budapest, Menza, Grilled Goat Cheese

Budapest, Menza, Schnitzel

Budapest, Menza Restaurant, Goulash

Bock Bisztró
Erzsébet krt. 43-49, 1073

We dined at Bock Bisztró on our first night in Budapest and we were very happy with this decision. Their wine list is filled with Hungarian wines we weren’t familiar with, so we left our selections in the hands of our very competent waiter who came back with several winners. The cuisine is Hungarian with a bit of Spanish tapas flair thrown in. We ended our delicious meal with a shot of Pálinka, a traditional fruit brandy, because, when in Budapest! (*On a Monday night the dining room was completely full by the time we left and they were turning everyone away who stopped in without an advance reservation, so I would definitely suggest calling or e-mailing ahead of time to reserve your spot.)

Budapest, Bock Bisztro

Budapest, Bock Bisztro

Ráday u. 4, 1092

Costes is another Michelin-starred restaurant in Budapest and while we didn’t get a chance to dine here during our visit, I felt they were worth a mention since they were next on my list had we of stayed another day. Costes offers tasting menus with your choice of courses and wine pairings. Dishes are beautiful and elegantly plated. Costes is a step or two above Borkynha in terms of price point but a bit more relaxed (based on reviews and articles I read before our trip) than Onyx, Budapest’s third Michelin-starred restaurant.

My Little Melbourne
Madách Imre út 3, 1075

Our absolute favorite coffee/breakfast spot right around the corner from our Airbnb rental, I was so sad to leave My Little Melbourne behind! Their chocolate-filled croissants were buttery, flaky, and filled with gooey chocolate, and their croissant sandwiches (pictured below) were so fresh and delicious – does anyone else feel like the simplest things seem to taste better in Europe?!

Budapest, Croissant, Breakfast, Sandwich, My Little Melbourne

New York Café
Erzsébet krt. 9-11, 1073

If you’re feeling fancy, stop in to New York Café for your daily dose of whipped cream and all things gilded. New York Café is located inside the Boscolo Hotel and while I wouldn’t necessarily make a special trip here, it is definitely a very cool interior to see if you’re in the neighborhood. Thanks to a bit of jet lag I was up early walking around town one morning and stopped in for a cup of coffee with the entire place to myself!

Budapest, New York Cafe

Budapest, New York Cafe, Coffee

Hongrie, Dob u. 22, 1072

This teeny-tiny juice bar in Budapest’s Jewish Quarter is the place to go for all your fresh juice and raw/vegan/gluten-free treats. Juicy‘s tasty nectars are also sold at My Little Melbourne coffee shop nearby.

Budapest, Juicy, Juice Bar

Sarki Fűszeres
Pozsonyi út 53-55, 1137

If you spend any time exploring Budapest’s Margaret Island, Sarki Fűszeres is a cute little shop and café to visit nearby. Grab coffee, breakfast, and picnic snacks and wine for the island, or stop in for lunch and drinks on your way back.

Trófea Grill Étterem
Multiple locations

It’s not very often that I can recommend an all-you-can-eat (and drink) buffet outside of Vegas, but Trófea Grill Étterem in Budapest is definitely a buffet I can get behind. They’re a one-stop-shop if you’re looking to taste traditional Hungarian dishes, but they also have other offerings like sushi if that’s what you’re goulash-ed out. The beer, wine, champagne, and select cocktails don’t stop flowing until you say so – boozy buffet brunches are what afternoons are made for, right?! For only 20-22€/person, Trófea Grill is your best bet for a quick, inexpensive meal in Budapest.

Street Food Karaván
Kazinczy u. 18, 1075

Wandering the streets of Budapest, especially in the Jewish Quarter, it seriously felt like there was an amazing bar or restaurant around every corner – including a bunch of cool little spots tucked away in alleys like the Street Food Karavan. We passed this trendy row of food stands on our way to Budapest’s famous ruin pub, Szimpla Kert (see below), and stopped by afterwards to check it out. I went straight for the Lángos topped with goat cheese, roasted red peppers, and arugula; it was the perfect late-night bite to soak up the copious amounts of Hungarian rosé I’d consumed throughout the evening!

Budapest, Street Food, Karavan

Lion + Maven | Budapest

Gelarto Rosa
Szent István tér 3, 1051

With temperatures reaching the low 90s during most of our stay in Budapest, we made a point of working a daily gelato stop into our schedule. Gelarto Rosa was our first, and most frequently visited shop, and to be honest, we would have come back every day even if we weren’t dealing with record-breaking temps. Not only are their cones oh-so-pretty, their flavors were outstanding. My favorite was the basil-lemon; mixed with strawberry this was always the perfect refreshing treat!

Budapest, Gelarto Rosa, Gelato, Rose

Levendula Kézműves Fagylaltozó
Multiple locations

While their cones aren’t the rose petal masterpieces created at Gelarto Rosa, Levendula‘s gelato offerings definitely did not disappoint. They have several locations around the city including a small pop-up stand we found at Deák Ferenc tér. If odd flavors like Gorgonzola, Camembert, and Red Wine interest you, then Levendula is your spot. If you’re not quite so adventurous when it comes to frozen treats, don’t fret – Levendula has a solid line-up of other imaginative flavors that aren’t quite so out there. Fresh mint and raspberry was my go-to combo.


Caffeine Fix

My Little Melbourne
Madách Imre út 3, 1075

Mentioned above as our favorite spot for breakfast every morning, My Little Melbourne was also our go-to coffee shop in Budapest. They offer a full selection of espresso drinks and their brew bar next door deals exclusively in filtered coffee. They also offer a variety of fresh, raw juices from local juice bar JUICY as well as a variety of quality snacks – a great spot to fuel up before a day of sightseeing!

Budapest, Coffee Shop, My Little Melbourne

A few other coffee shops around the city that deserve an honorable mention…

Múzeum krt. 5, 1053

Espresso Embassy
Arany János u. 15, 1051

Tamp & Pull
Czuczor u. 3, 1093


Boutiq Bar
Paulay Ede u. 5, 1061

Another gem of a find just a block away from our apartment, Boutiq Bar offers tasty, inventive, expertly crafted cocktails at shockingly low (compared to similar cocktail bars in Chicago and other cities we’ve visited) prices. Speakeasy, laid-back kinda vibe – a great spot to end the night.

Budapest, Cocktails, Boutiq Bar

Holló u. 12-14, 1076

We were very pleasantly surprised to find several great beer bars in Budapest and LÉHŰTŐ topped the list as our favorite. Great selection of local and international craft beers and a lovely outdoor seating area – the perfect spot to grab a drink or two before dinner nearby.

Lion + Maven | Budapest

Szimpla Kert
Kazinczy u. 14, 1075

It’s nearly impossible to put into words the strange awesomeness that is Szimpla Kert. Szimpla Kert is Budapest’s first and most popular ruin pub – bars created inside abandoned, run-down buildings with unused outdoor space and decorated with an eclectic mix of vintage decor that many would consider garbage. We first explored Szimpla Kert one afternoon before heading out for dinner and I highly suggest a visit during daylight hours to fully appreciate this unique spot. At night the place is packed wall to wall but during the day it’s an almost quiet, peaceful spot to kick back and enjoy a beer or giant glass of rosé for under $2. Stay tuned for a separate post exclusively devoted to Szimpla Kert!

Budapest, Ruin Pub, Szimpla Kert

Budapest, Ruin Pub, Szimpla Kert

Gozsdu Udvar
Király u. 13, 1075

Have I mentioned that Budapest seemed to have an amazing surprise down every alley? Well, Gozsdu Udvar is no exception. This alley between Király utca and Dob utca is lined with bar and restaurants, all with outdoor seating along the alleyway. The perfect spot for a relaxed evening and a perfect people-watching perch.

Budapest, Gozsdu Udvar

DiVino Wine Bar
Multiple locations

If you’re looking to get a taste of Hungarian wine, or just relax and people watch outside of St. Stephen’s Basilica, DiVino Wine Bar is the perfect place to stop. They also have a second great location in Gozsdu Udvar.

Budapest, St. Stephen's Basilica, Divino Wine Bar

Hops Beer Bar
Wesselényi u. 13, 1077

Another great beer bar in Budapest with an impressive line-up of craft beers.

Csak a jó sör
Kertész u. 42, 107

We stumbled upon Csak a Jó Sör (Only Good Beer) on accident while in search of another beer bar and we were shocked when we walked up to order and saw Founder’s All Day IPA on tap! Somehow a little keg had made its way all the way from Michigan to Budapest! This shop and bar carries an impressive collection of craft beers from around the globe, bartenders are very friendly, and the small space and vintage couches made us feel like we were back home having drinks in a friend’s basement – if we had a friend with an insane craft beer selection.

Budapest, Beer Bar



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



February 2015




Written by , Posted in Restaurants, Travel

The second-to-last stop on our 3 1/2 week trip to Germany was in the beautiful university town of Heidelberg. We arrived mid-afternoon on a Sunday after our drive on the Schwarzwaldhochstraße. We were in Heidelberg for less than 24 hours, but we still had plenty of time to take in the highlights and were lucky to have some of the best weather of the entire trip.

After finding the nearest parking garage and hauling our luggage along the cobblestone streets, we arrived at Hotel Hackteufel to check-in. This hotel was in a great central location right in the heart of  the old town, just steps away from the very popular Alte Brücke (old bridge). We were very pleasantly surprised to find that we had a large, beautiful room (room 8) complete with a private terrace, mini Haribo bears on our pillows, and fantastic views of the castle.

Heidelberg, Germany, Hotel Hackteufel

Heidelberg, Germany, Hotel Hackteufel

Heidelberg, Germany, Hotel Hackteufel

Heidelberg, Germany, Hotel Hackteufel

After getting settled in we made our way to Schloss Heidelberg. There are a few ways to get up to the castle – a funicular and 2 different paths, one with steps and one a paved hill – we went with the paved hill up and took the steps on the way down. At the top we wandered around for a bit and checked out the German Apothecary Museum (a neat little place), but the view was what we were really there for.

Located alongside the River Neckar, this romantic little town really shines from above. Heidelberg escaped bombings in World War II so the beautiful buildings of the old town below have been around for quite some time. If you walk up the steps you can walk along the outside of the castle and take in these spectacular views without paying an admission fee for the palace (the way to go if you’re short on time).

Heidelberg, Germany
Heidelberg, Germany
Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany

After enjoying the view from all angles, we made our way down from the castle and back to the Marktplatz to sit back and enjoy the beautiful day. It was a busy day in Heidelberg and the square and surrounding streets were filled with tables of others with the same idea. We would grab a drink and enjoy a bit of people watching at one place and then move on to grab a bite and more people watching at the next, eventually making our way to the old bridge. I think that people watching along sidewalks in Europe with a drink in hand might just be one of my very favorite ways to pass an afternoon.

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany

For dinner that night we had a reservation at Schnitzelbank, a cozy little restaurant with great food and wine just about a 10 minute walk from our hotel. Although we did have a reservation in advance, the restaurant was small and had limited seating, so when we arrived we were seated at a table with two younger men that were studying abroad from South Korea and an older German couple from Frankfurt. It was a bit awkward at first, but eventually we all warmed up to each other and enjoyed our meals together.

Our server was very friendly and helpful, giving us some great recommendations of German wines and giving me a few tips on improving my German. Mike and I shared an order of the buttery, garlicky escargot before our mains of schnitzel and wurst arrived. My schnitzel topped with a creamy mushroom sauce was the BEST schnitzel I ate during our entire trip, and the side of käse spätzle made it that much better. Mike was very happy with his sausages, but I think my schnitzel was the winner that night.

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany, Schnitzelbank

Heidelberg, Germany, Schnitzelbank

Heidelberg, Germany, Schnitzelbank

Heidelberg, Germany, Schnitzelbank

Our stay in Heidelburg was short but sweet, and it’s definitely a town that we’d love to return to someday. If you’re staying in or around Frankfurt, Heidelberg would make a perfect day-trip, but you could easily spend a few days here before getting bored!

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