Giordano's in Chicago, IL. I expected nothing short of pure deliciousness from the Restaurant City of 2017. From seafood to deep dish pizza our Chicago eats lived up to the title!

My City Adventures Guide to a Chicago Vacation – Chicago Eats & Drinks

This post was made possible through collaborations with Choose Chicago and Smart Destinations. I also included sponsored links to delicious Chicago eats you don’t want to miss. Your belly will thank me!

This post on my summer vacation in Chicago is all about the food. And with the city being named Bon Appetit’s Restaurant City of 2017, you know it will be good! I divided the entire trip into three sections, which you can find links to below. “When I Say First Things First, I Mean Food” is the section you’re reading now. You can also click to sections on navigating Chicago streets or the upcoming Chicago sights below.

Getting To and Around Town

More Fun than We Could Handle in Just Five Days

After I had some idea of how to get around Chicago I focused on more important things. First and foremost being Chicago’s eateries*. I must admit my daughter Lily and I eat on the go a lot. A few of our meals consisted of quick bites at local cafes and food trucks. However, it was also a birthday trip so I made sure to add in some fine dining and Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza. *Disclosure: we all know there are hundreds of amazing restaurants in Chicago but, unfortunately, I couldn’t eat at all of them. If you have any can’t miss Chicago eats tell me about them in the comment section. I’ll save them for my next trip!

Chicago Riverwalk Winery. I expected nothing short of pure deliciousness from the Restaurant City of 2017. From seafood to deep dish pizza our Chicago eats lived up to the title!

The Birthday Gift that Keeps on Giving

I love a good deal and eating out is no exception. Most restaurants have loyalty programs or special offers for newsletter subscribers. (Like free birthday dinners!) Over the years I have signed up at dozens of my favorite places to eat. Come August of every year, I watch the deals roll in. Restaurants can offer birthday rewards ranging from a percentage off your meal or a complimentary appetizer to an all out free entrée! I browsed through my birthday emails to make a list of restaurants to try. Here’s a list of over 110 restaurants that offer birthday meals.

Diving in the Deep End

The Best Tomato Bruschetta at Giordano's in Chicago, IL. I expected nothing short of pure deliciousness from the Restaurant City of 2017. From seafood to deep dish pizza our Chicago eats lived up to the title!

When I asked those in the know (aka Chicago locals) where I should eat, Giordano’s was the resounding answer. This joint has a famously long-lived reputation as the king of Chicago eats with its signature deep dish pizza. We ordered the small Chicken Sausage Deluxe which was easily enough for three people. The pizza pie came loaded with an earthy tomato sauce and ooey gooey mozzarella cheese. Mama Giordano created the recipe in a small northern town near Turin, Italy. First made as a specialty for holidays, the pizza became one of the town’s most beloved dishes. In 1974, brothers Joseph and Efren Boglio brought the recipe to Chicago, IL.

Luckily, if by some unearthly stretch of the imagination you don’t like pizza, Giordano’s has plenty of other fare worthy of the same spotlight. The restaurant claims to have “The Best Tomato Bruschetta”. Well I had to find out for myself. Our appetizer came as a complimentary birthday reward. (Sign up for those emails!) Crisp slices of Italian bread topped with thick slabs of fresh mozzarella cheese, sweet diced tomatoes, a drizzling of tart balsamic glaze, and ribbons of basil. Although the pizza was delicious, this was my favorite part of the meal. The naturally bold flavors of each ingredient complemented each other beautifully. Some could argue whether it’s the best, but it comes close.

If you don’t make it to Giordano’s, here’s a deal for up to 38% off a two topping deep dish pizza and wine or beer at Pizzeria Due in downtown Chicago. For a more hands on dining experience, Pizzeria Uno, is also now offering a pizza cooking class.

You Got Me Fiending

Hot Dog Fiend food truck in Chicago, IL. I expected nothing short of pure deliciousness from the Restaurant City of 2017. From seafood to deep dish pizza our Chicago eats lived up to the title!

When it comes to famous Chicago eats, this city is also known for over the top hot dog toppings. Even “classic” Chicago hot dogs come loaded with peppers, pickles, onion, relish, tomato, and mustard. How often do I eat hot dogs in normal life? Never. Horror stories about nitrates and fillers usually have me scared to touch them. Not to mention if hot dogs were the only food left on Earth, Lily would let herself starve. (She doesn’t care too much for them.) But for this I cast all fear aside. Chicago hot dog are famous! I was going to pig out on at least one. I found a couple for places to add to my list. Hot G Dog and Chicago’s Dog House. Unfortunately with all I had planned neither one ending up fitting into our schedule. (It’s hard to keep a real schedule when your GPS is a fail.)

During one afternoon of sightseeing we walked by the Hot Dog Fiend food truck. On South Columbus Drive, between Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park, five food trucks lined the street for hungry tourists. The Hot Dog Fiend had a fair amount of people waiting in line. I usually take this as a sign the food will be good. And I was right. Lily and I perched on the ledge of the west side of Maggie Daley Park after a little less than 10 minutes with a bacon bleu dog and a basket of “dirty” fries. I drizzled both with spicy brown mustard which took the flavors up several notches.

The sunlit garden filled with trees, flowers, and sculptures made for the loveliest scenic views as I took my first bite. Best Hot Dog I’ve Ever Tasted! It could be because it was lunchtime or my affinity for food trucks. Either way my taste buds were singing a happy tune. The Hot Dog Fiend’s bacon bleu is a jumbo 100% beef hot dog on a grilled bun topped with crisp bacon, mixed green, tomatoes, onion strings, and the chef’s special bleu cheese aioli sauce. I washed it down with a thick pineapple milkshake from Abigail’s Ice Cream food truck. I use the term milkshake loosely as it was closer to drinking ice cream with a straw. If thick shakes aren’t your thing you might want to pass. But I like thick, brain-freeze inducing shakes! The sweet creamy milkshake paired deliciously well with the spicy hot dog and fries.

Speaking of famous eats, you should also check out Big & Little’s while you’re in Chi-town. This new American eatery serves tons of flavor. It’s also been featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives and Check Please! Use the link above to get a $20 restaurant certificate for $12. (I hear the soft shell crab sandwich is a must!)

Afternoon Seafood Delight

Devon Seafood Grill in Chicago, IL. I expected nothing short of pure deliciousness from the Restaurant City of 2017. From seafood to deep dish pizza our Chicago eats lived up to the title!

A birthday dinner at Devon Seafood Grill continued our journey into the bold side of Flavor Town. I selected the pretzel crusted trout with brown sugar and a mustard vinaigrette. You might think, “She eats a lot of mustard”. Well, I’m thinking the same thing considering I used to hate the stuff. The regionally sourced trout came with Parmesan and herb roasted potatoes, garlic butter haricots vert, and a frisée salad. Elements of the dish were reminiscent of traditionally German ingredients. However the pretzel crust made it a stand out meal. The crunch from each bite of sourdough pretzels pulled all five senses in for this dinner.

I’m on a crusade to get Lily to branch out as far as trying new flavors. She is normally a plain vanilla kind of girl. UGH! My attempt at Devon proved unsuccessful also. She ordered fried buttermilk shrimp and sautéed asparagus. Clearly, she prefers simpler flavors as opposed to the bold tastes I usually for go for. Maybe someday, I’ll win that battle.

The Walking Diners

While out and about we stopped at a couple of noteworthy cafes for some quick bites.

Poppin’ Bubbles

Vivi's Bubble Tea in Chicago, IL. I expected nothing short of pure deliciousness from the Restaurant City of 2017. From seafood to deep dish pizza our Chicago eats lived up to the title!

I may or may not have a slight addiction to bubble tea. The jury’s still out on that one. Meanwhile, when we walked by Vivi’s Bubble Tea I needed a fix. We were headed to Northerly Park, so this place was a convenient pit stop. It’s in the South Loop across from Pritzker Park. The inside looks like the sugar-licious cotton candy pink colored stuff my five-year old daughter dreams about. Yet, as cutesy as the shop was, my tea time at Vivi’s didn’t matcha up. (Get it, matcha up!?)

After looking through the sea of menu choices I picked a blended matcha green tea with boba. The girl handed me a cup and I took a sip. A strong taste of bitter jasmine filled my mouth. I’m not a tea expert so I couldn’t imagine why matcha tea would taste like jasmine. Well, the girl behind the counter told me that their green tea is made with a jasmine base. “Why”, I thought. I replied by reminding her that I originally asked for matcha tea. She made me a new cup with matcha. I took a sip and still tasted bitter jasmine. Rather than go through trial #3 for a bubble tea I added chocolate syrup which made it drinkable. On the flip side, Lily ordered a strawberry bubble tea. It was refreshingly sweet and delicious. I guess sometimes it pays to stick to simple flavors.

If boba isn’t your particular cup of tea, then you might like TeaGschwender. Do not ask me how it’s pronounced! The company brings the finest loose leaf teas from around the world to its tea room in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Named one of Chicago’s Best Tea Shops by Chicago Magazine and CBS Chicago, you’ll find over 300 varieties here plus an expert staff eager to help you select a tea you’ll love. Or how about three of them? TeaGschwender is offering a deal of $32 for three teas valued at $15 each.

Tic, Tac, Tiny Tapp, Toe

Tiny Tapp in Chicago, IL. I expected nothing short of pure deliciousness from the Restaurant City of 2017. From seafood to deep dish pizza our Chicago eats lived up to the title!

Where Vivi’s is cute, Tiny Tapp is just too beautiful for words. This small café is on the Chicago Riverwalk. The picturesque views you’ll see here are a delightful addition to any breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Tiny Tapp also had a few adorable pieces of decor which made for my favorite photo of the entire vacation. Unfortunately, our time at the café had to be cut short. We were on a walking tour of downtown Chicago and could only stop for a moment. We grabbed a couple of scones and cookies and were on our way again. However, I would recommend giving yourself at least an hour or two for taking in a meal.

Shake, Rattle, and Sushi Rolls

Rock, Wrap, and Roll in Chicago, IL. I expected nothing short of pure deliciousness from the Restaurant City of 2017. From seafood to deep dish pizza our Chicago eats lived up to the title!

Another way I saved on Chicago eats for this trip was with LivingSocial deals. $10 for $20 worth of Rock, Wrap, and Roll? Yes, please! Rock, Wrap, and Roll is a Thai sushi restaurant on the westside of the Lincoln Park neighborhood. From its name I expected a 50’s style themed eatery complete with a jukebox full of Elvis Presley hits. Instead I found a tiny hole in the wall spot that happens to have a fairly decent menu of sushi, maki, and sashimi. Half the menu options were pretty much standard when it comes to sushi. The rest was fantastic exceptions to traditional rolls. Rock, Wrap, and Roll has specialty rolls that are the whimsical creations of Chefs Itti and Kit. Their strawberry maki roll combines unagi, fresh salmon, avocado, cucumber, spicy tuna, and sliced strawberries. We ordered the futo veggie maki, sweet potato maki, and unakyu maki rolls.

What struck me as most peculiar was that we were the only diners in the restaurant for most of our meal. Normally this is a giant red flag. I somewhat gauge a restaurant’s quality by the size of the crowd already eating there. Yet, I gave it a chance and got a good meal. Plus with prices of about $5 or $6 per roll we ordered, that $10 for $20 Living Social deal went a long way. This is also the first restaurant where I experienced the concept of BYOB as the norm. But you don’t have to simply take my word for it! Rock, Wrap, and Roll is currently offering a deal of $12.50 for $20 worth of sushi.

Lost in Translation

I expected nothing short of pure deliciousness from the Restaurant City of 2017. From seafood to deep dish pizza our Chicago eats lived up to the title!

Alas we arrived at the last day of our Chicago vacation. Sigh! Parting is such sweet sorrow. Our last day also just happened to a Tuesday. You foodies know what that means. Tacos! During our explorations, we ventured past a place called Latinicity a few times. A quick Google search told me it’s a modern-day Latin food court featuring several eateries and a market. (Similar to Eataly, another food court in Chicago with Italian cuisine.) Bonus: the website boasted of a taco Tuesday happy hour. Perfect! Or so I thought.

A hostess at the main entrance gave us the rundown of how Latinicity works. You get a temporary card to use at the restaurants in the food hall. The card is for keeping track of your dining tab. When you’re done you return the card and pay your bill. But that’s not what happened.

We started at the first restaurant and asked if they had any happy hour deals for taco Tuesday. A man slicing a large hunk of meat directed us to another dining front about 20 steps away. We walked to this counter and again asked what their specials were for taco Tuesday. We were told to go to the first restaurant. The one we had just come from. Um… Okay… Have you ever gotten a funny feeling about a place? Well, Latinicity had me feeling all sorts of weird vibes at this point! Out of curiosity we checked out the bar at the back of the hall. Then left. Without any tacos.

My perception of Latinicity is that it’s an awesome concept which is gaining popularity in the Midwest. Check out the Lenexa Public Market in Lenexa, Kansas. However, in this case it was poorly executed. It seemed as though nobody knew what I meant when I said “happy”, “hour”, “taco” or “Tuesday”. The operation was highly disorganized.

Now You’re Speaking My Language!

 

Taco Tuesday at Broken English in Chicago, IL. I expected nothing short of pure deliciousness from the Restaurant City of 2017. From seafood to deep dish pizza our Chicago eats lived up to the title!

We passed by Nutella Cafe on the way to Latinicity. A quick glance inside showed a promising display of sweet breakfast and brunch dishes before we continued on. Since it seemed tacos were out we decided to walk back to the café. I just wish my phone had received that message because I couldn’t get a GPS signal to save my life. I tried to recall the steps we took with no luck. Apparently I’m directionally challenged with and without Google maps. We still had a few hours to spare so I figured a bit of wandering might find us a decent place to eat. Hopefully somewhere with WiFi.

We only walked a few blocks when I saw the sign. “$2 Taco Tuesday” As we got closer I could see a graffiti mural with the words “Broken English” painted in vividly bright colors. Yes! Taco Tuesday was going to happen!

About those tacos! Broken English features several variations. At $2 each we ordered one of the al pastor de pollo, pork belly al pastor, carne asada, tinga de pollo, and parrillada de verduras tacos. Lily ate two tacos then promptly fell asleep. (By the way, at what age should you stop falling asleep in public? She’s five… I’m curious. Please leave your answer in the comments below.) That left three for me. Each one tasted better than the last. But I must say my favorite was the tinga de pollo. The meat was tinder and spicy but not overloaded with heat. Of all our Chicago eats, Broken English is definitely one I will have to come back to next time!

For the person who, like me, was eating at (Broken English) for the first time I would describe it this way. Broken English is a hip urban eatery with an unpretentious menu of Mexican cuisine. What you see is what you get. And what you get is honestly good and flavorful food. No fuss. No muss. Bonus: it does have WiFi! The bold, loud atmosphere gives off vibes of a place where young rock star wannabes get their first taste of playing somewhere other than a garage. Yet it isn’t just for the cool kids. We sat next to a couple of women meeting for drinks after work. A grandpa and his grand kids sat at the table in front of us.

Broken English mural in Chicago, IL. I expected nothing short of pure deliciousness from the Restaurant City of 2017. From seafood to deep dish pizza our Chicago eats lived up to the title!

Speaking of the cool kids, if you’ve made it this far, you’re definitely one of them! Thank you so much for reading! You can also check out my post on “How to Get Around Chicago“. Subscribe to My City Adventures now so you’ll be the first to read about our adventures including the upcoming “Chicago Sights”. You’ll also be eligible for special giveaways featuring amazing local businesses.

The Yelp Kansas City Spring Break Vacation Party was a night full of music, dancing, delicious eats, and fun games; set in the historic Brass on Baltimore.

Yelp Kansas City 2017 Spring Break Vacation Party at the Historic Brass on Baltimore

On Thursday March 16, 2017 I found myself attending the Yelp Kansas City 2017 Spring Break Vacation Party. The event was a night full of music, dancing, delicious eats, beach themed cocktails, local brews, and games. This mini getaway from my norm, set in the historic Brass on Baltimore, was an enjoyable way to kick off the last few days of Spring Break.

The Yelp Kansas City Spring Break Vacation Party was a night full of music, dancing, delicious eats, and fun games; set in the historic Brass on Baltimore.

Yelp KC is a great source of real information about local places in Kansas City. The Yelp KC app occasionally features deals on restaurants and more. It gets even sweeter if you’re part of the Yelp Elite Community. Elite Yelpers have bonus access to meet-ups, parties, special events, and the built-in social community. To become an elite member of Yelp you have to play nice on the app. Basically that means writing quality and honest reviews, liking and commenting on others reviews, and staying connected to the community talk pages.

The Yelp Kansas City Spring Break Vacation Party was a night full of music, dancing, delicious eats, and fun games; set in the historic Brass on Baltimore.

The Yelp Kansas City 2017 Spring Break Vacation Party took place on the 4th and 5th floors of the Brass on Baltimore. My first stop was the Seasons 52 table. Their trifle like dessert was richly sweet. It consisted of a creamy goat cheese and caramel sauce, topped with nuts. Later I came back for their savory and filling ahi tuna bites. I also sampled tastings from Ruby Jean’s Juicery, The Lucky Taco, ’37 Steak, and Betty Rae’s Ice Cream. My favorite was the candied bacon from ’37 Steak. It was thick cut stripes of smoky bacon covered in a mix of brown sugar and spices.

The Kansas City Ladies Social Society

The Yelp Kansas City Spring Break Vacation Party was a night full of music, dancing, delicious eats, and fun games; set in the historic Brass on Baltimore.

The best part of any party is not just having a good times with old friends but meeting new people as well. The Yelp Kansas City 2017 Spring Break Vacation Party was without exception. Once I ventured to the 5th floor I made introductions with a few of the women from the Kansas City Ladies Social Society (KCLSS). These women are a warm and welcoming bunch. No sooner had we met than had they pulled me into their group for the rest of the night.

The KCLSS focuses on developing new friendships among women in their 20s and 30s. They are a diverse group of young professional women who meet quite often throughout the month. One of the women said there are opportunities to socialize every week. I also checked the KCLSS page on meetup.com and it already has several events listed for April. Whether you’re new to Kansas City or have lived here for years this group is a great way to explore and create new friendships.

The Yellow Brick

The Yelp Kansas City Spring Break Vacation Party was a night full of music, dancing, delicious eats, and fun games; set in the historic Brass on Baltimore.

Local non-profit, The Yellow Brick, benefitted from the Yelp Kansas City 2017 Spring Break Vacation Party through suggested donations. The Yellow Brick believes every woman is beautiful and deserves happiness in their life. Their mission is to grow and cultivate self-esteem within the women they serve through education, mentoring, and support.

Thank you for reading! How did you celebrate Spring Break? Share your adventures in the comments below.

Kansas City Restaurant Week is the premier dining event in Kansas City! The 10 days of dining will spotlight local restaurants and support local charities.

Dine Out and Do Good for Kansas City Restaurant Week 2017

Kansas City Restaurant Week (KCRW2017) presented by US Foods kicks off Friday, January 13th, 2017, with 180 participating restaurants across the metro area. The 10 day event, concluding with dinner service on Sunday, January 22nd, marks its eighth consecutive year in Kansas City.

Sicilian Caprese Salad from Johnny Cascone’s Italian Restaurant

Kansas City Restaurant Week 2017 participants will offer lunch and dinner menus under two price tiers – $15 and $33. For the first time in KCRW history, the two prices are interchangeable. This will allow each participating restaurant to customize a lunch and/or dinner menu that best represents its dining experience. To browse menus or make reservations, visit KCRestaurantWeek.com. You can also download the new and improved, free Kansas City Restaurant Week app for iPhone and Android. Both platforms continually update with new participating restaurants and available menus. Additionally, both the KCRW website and app feature a search option for special dietary restrictions such as gluten-free, nut free, vegan, and vegetarian. Plus a recent menu updates feature allows visitors to track newly added Kansas City Restaurant Week menus.

Gumbo Pasta from O’Neill’s Restaurant and Bar

Continuing its commitment to the Kansas City community, 10 percent of proceeds from all KCRW meals between January 13-22 will benefit five local charitable beneficiaries. Over the course of its first seven years, Kansas City Restaurant Week has raised more than $1.4 million for local charities.

2017 Kansas City Restaurant Week Beneficiaries

BoysGrow (www.boysgrow.com)
Founded in 2010, BoysGrow has a mission to teach entrepreneurial-ism to urban male youth in the Kansas City area through farming and agriculture. The organization operates two working farms maintained by male youth, ages 14-16, from throughout the metro. Participants use fruits and vegetables grown at the farms to create products such as ketchup, salsa, barbecue sauce, and hot sauce that are sold in local restaurants and food stores. BoysGrow will unveil its 2015 product, Tzatziki salad dressing in mid-August of 2017.

Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired (www.ccvi.org)
Founded in 1952 in an area church basement, the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired has grown to serve nearly 400 children with visual impairments annually from birth to age eight in the Kansas City metro. The center offers programs for children and their families including a food program designed to teach children with visual impairments positive eating habits, leading to developing good health and positive social skills.

Cultivate Kansas City (www.cultivatekc.org)
Founded in 2005, Cultivate Kansas City works to grow food, farms, and communities for a healthier local food system in the Kansas City area. Beginning in 2015, the organization took ownership of Beans & Greens, a program to offer incentive to those receiving government assistance to shop at local farmers markets. The program matches dollar for dollar EBT, SNAP or other assistance program monies spent at farmers markets. Thereby, low-income families are effectively able to double their budget when purchasing healthy, locally produced items. This also brings new customers to local farmers.

Kansas City Regional Destination Development Foundation
Administered by Visit KC, the foundation focuses primarily on the identification, development, and advocacy of tourism products in Kansas City and its surrounding communities. The KCRDDF oversees the Heartland Tourism Ambassador training program and provides career development opportunities in tourism. The KCRDDF takes a specific interest in at risk populations, including youth, minorities, and seniors.

Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
Administered by the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association, the foundation seeks to promote the restaurant industry in the greater Kansas City area. Scholarships are offered to students pursuing a career in the hospitality industry.

Kansas City Restaurant Week is Kansas City’s premier dining event founded by the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association and Visit KC to support the regional restaurant community. For more information and a complete list of restaurants visit KCRestaurantWeek.com. Also, follow along as I share my delicious dining experiences and some special KCRW 2017 surprises at My City Adventures on Instagram.

Thank you for reading!

The Elegance of Eating at La Bodega

Some of my best meals have been at La Bodega. Thinking back to a recent dining experience there reminded me of a story I heard on Christina Cooks, a Create TV cooking show.

One of my favorite restaurants in Kansas City always has atmosphere where traditional dining can take place. When dining at La Bodega, time seems to slow down, I relax, enjoy myself and the food. - Kiara Loves KC

Christina Pirello, the host of the show, shared a story of a trip she made to Spain. While there, Pirello met a young man who struck up a conversation about the culture of American dining. He commented on how he shocked he was that Americans can simply eat anywhere including on the streets. (Picture grabbing a quick cheeseburger from the nearest food truck or scarfing down breakfast on the way to work.) Now I have a thing for good food trucks but I also understand the next point made in the story.

Pintxos de Higo are crusty slices of grilled bread topped with sweet roasted red peppers, creamy and fragrant goat cheese, and a smoky fig coulis. La Bodega in Kansas City. - Kiara Loves KC

Pirello said the conversation made her realize that Americans have somewhat lost the elegance that should come with eating. I must agree when I consider how often I pack grab and go snacks for days out with Lily or we hurriedly eat whatever quick bite I can find. Yet, one of my favorite restaurants in Kansas City always has atmosphere where traditional dining can take place. When dining at La Bodega, time seems to slow down, I relax, enjoy myself and the food. Whether its been for a birthday dinner with friends, a date night, or adding flavor to an adventure day with Lily the result is always the same. Eating at La Bodega is a guaranteed experience of elegance.

Eating at La Bodega

Albóndigas Caseras are meatballs in a spicy garlic cream sauce. La Bodega in Kansas City. - Kiara Loves KC

This meal consisted of pintxos de higo, judías verdes, albóndigas caseras, and champiñones à la plancha. (See translations below.) Oh, and a glass of La Bodega’s signature sangría. After all, what is tapas without wine? Select items from the tapas menu are half priced during their daily 4-6 pm happy hour. The words happy hour always have a magical way of making food taste so much better. At least they do for me.

Champiñones à la Plancha are hearty flavored roasted mushrooms with garlic and a white wine parsley sauce. La Bodega in Kansas City. - Kiara Loves KC

Each dish was amazingly delicious. No surprise there. What did catch my taste buds off guard was my first sip of the sangría. What I drank was more like a wine flavored glass of water than the bold, spicy, and sweet mixture I’m accustomed to drinking. I should have simply asked for a new glass but I didn’t. Also, the waitress, without asking first, took the glass before I finished. However, the rest of the meal made up for it.

Judías Verdes is a bowl full of crunchy green beans, crumbled feta cheese, red onion, peppadew peppers, juicy tomatoes, basil, with a green olive vinaigrette. La Bodega in Kansas City. - Kiara Loves KC

Pintxos de Higo are crusty slices of grilled bread topped with sweet roasted red peppers, creamy and fragrant goat cheese, and a smoky fig coulis.
Judías Verdes is a bowl full of crunchy green beans, crumbled feta cheese, red onion, peppadew peppers, juicy tomatoes, basil, with a green olive vinaigrette.
Albóndigas Caseras are meatballs in a spicy garlic cream sauce.
Champiñones à la Plancha are hearty flavored roasted mushrooms with garlic and a white wine parsley sauce.
La Bodega’s official sangría recipe is a mix of Spanish tempranillo, red grape juice, Spanish brandy, triple sec, lemon and orange slices, grapes, and cherries.

The History of Spanish Tapas

Whether for a birthday dinner with friends, date nights, or adding to an adventure day with my daughter, La Bodega in Kansas City is a guaranteed experience of elegance. - Kiara Loves KC

Tapas are a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine. In select bars in Spain, tapas have evolved into an entire, sophisticated cuisine. The word tapa means “pot cover” in Spanish. According to The Joy of Cooking, original tapas were the slices of bread or meat which sherry drinkers in Andalusian taverns used to cover their glasses between sips. This prevented fruit flies from hovering over the sweet sherry. The serving of tapas is designed to encourage conversation, because people are not so focused upon eating an entire meal that is set before them. Also, in some countries it is customary for diners to stand and move about while eating tapas. This traditional way of eating in Spain brings food and socializing with friends together. Such tradition also occurs with each meal at La Bodega.

Tapas is an everyday event in Spanish culture. These moments are meant to be enjoyed without hurry. Such tradition is also an occurrence with each meal at La Bodega in Kansas City. - Kiara Loves KC

My latest dining experience at La Bodega represents number three in my KC Originals challenge. Thanks for reading and please subscribe for more of our Kansas City adventures!

The Roasterie Cafe Factory Tour

This post will kill two birds with one stone…as the saying goes. As you may know I’m on a challenge to dine at all 44 Kansas City Original Restaurants before the end of the year. My afternoon at The Roasterie makes number two. Secondly, this is the first in a new series called Take a Tour of Kansas City. In the series, I’ll share our experiences of tours you can take in Kansas City. Now on to The Roasterie Cafe Factory tour.

The Roasterie Cafe Factory Tour

The Roasterie goes to great lengths to bring its customers the best coffee. Complimentary tours give coffee lovers a chance to learn about their cupping, roasting and blending processes.

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Our tour date fell on a Sunday at 12:30 pm. The Roasterie accepts walk ins for tours or you can reserve a tour spot at the website. The tour usually takes about one hour. However, ours with tour guide Gage lasted 15 or so minutes longer. Which was actually great. We got a huge amount of information and Gage talked fast. I appreciated the extra time.

The Roasterie Cafe Factory Tour Facts

Don’t worry. I won’t spoil the tour experience for you. These facts are just a small (very small) amount of what I learned during the tour. Think of this as a sneak preview or movie trailer.

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On November 22, 1978, The Roasterie’s Bean Baron, Danny O’Neill picked his first coffee beans while living as a foreign exchange student in Costa Rica. Almost four decades later, his love for coffee, the people who grow it, and the countries where it grows remains at the heart of The Roasterie’s success. One of their key goals is to support the world’s small, specialty farmers and their communities. That passion is the driving force behind their mission: find the best beans on the planet and roast them the best way known to man.

  • The Roasterie is a specialty coffee-roasting company that delivers premium coffees to espresso bars, coffeehouses, fine restaurants, high-end grocers, offices, retail accounts, and coffee lovers in Kansas City and around the world.
  • All of their coffees are air-roasted, which helps highlight the origin flavor while unlocking the best of the bean.
  • The Roasterie has five categories of coffee: Organic, Decaffeinated, Italian, French, and Vienna. The beans are processed in separate machines to make sure none are contaminated by another.
  • The Roasterie imports only 100 percent Arabica Specialty Grade coffees from thirty-one different coffee-producing countries.
  • Nine of The Roasterie’s coffees have received a ranking of 90 or higher on CoffeeReview.com, the premier international coffee-buying guide.

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It’s best to arrive 15 minutes before The Roasterie Cafe Factory tour is supposed to start. We didn’t though, due to an impromptu walk through the Crossroads District. By the time I quit stopping every three seconds to take a photo we arrived with five minutes to spare. Unfortunately, Lily and I were both hungry and could have used the time go sit down and eat. Speaking of eating…

Lunch at The Roasterie Cafe

The Roasterie serves an assortment of baked goods and pastries from local eateries. When we got there (almost late) I hurriedly got two cranberry scones. As the tour’s introductory video played we gobbled them down. The scones were moist and slightly dense, almost cake-like. With each crumbly bite I got a sweetly tart juice cranberry. The taste of them was so fresh as though they had came right out of the oven.

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After The Roasterie Cafe Factory tour was over I ordered a breakfast sandwich with bacon, eggs, and gruyère cheese, a lemon and thyme fruit bar, and a cup of hibiscus-ginger-orange tea.

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I have had a few pleasant experiences with coffee but I’m still a tea lover first. So, yes I did go to The Roasterie and order tea. The Roasterie offers teas from Harney & Sons, a company known for producing top quality teas with heavenly aromas and exquisite flavors. Lily fell asleep before the tea was ready which meant more for me [insert smiley face emoticon]!

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The sandwich from Baked in Kansas City, came on an English muffin with fluffy scrambled eggs. The bacon wasn’t crisp like I prefer but I ate it without complaint. I only tasted a small amount of seasoning. I expected the overpowering flavors of salty bacon and buttery eggs. Instead the naturally heartiness came through nicely. Baked in Kansas City is a patisserie that offers French pasteries and handmade breads, and a restaurant with a fresh and creative brunch. They also feature a full bar with cocktails, wine, and beer.

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Lily loves lemons so I got the lemon bar for her. *Such a shame that she was too sleepy to eat it. (Sarcasm.) It almost tasted like I had bitten into a lemon with the first bite.  That first burst of tartness exploded in my mouth. Little flecks of thyme added a savoriness to the intensely bright citrus flavor. The lemon and thyme bar came from The French Bee Bakery, a charming locally owned bakery and café. They specialize in sweets, treats, and cakes, as well as boxed lunches for corporate catering in the Kansas City metro area.

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The Roasterie Cafe Factory tour is available seven days a week. Tour times are Sunday at 10:30 am and 12:30 pm; Monday – Friday at 10 am and 12:30 pm; Saturday at 8:30 am, 10 am, 11:30 am, 1:00 pm, and 2:30 pm.

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Thanks for reading and share this with the coffee lovers in your life!