Hi! Happy Monday! How was everyone’s weekend!? This weekend marked three years (!!!) since Ben and I started dating. How crazy is that?! Every year we make it a point to celebrate our anniversary doing something fun around the city and then having a nice dinner together.
Here’s a round-up of our celebratory Saturday!
Breakfast – Over Easy Café
I have literally wanted to go to Over Easy Café since I moved here three years ago. This is not an exaggeration. It’s just down the street from my first apartment and always receives raving reviews on Yelp. So why haven’t I been yet? The LINE. Every time I drove by there was a large group of people huddled outside waiting, because there is no waiting area inside the small restaurant. This is clearly not convenient in Chiberia when it’s constantly cold. Especially in the early morning hours when normal people eat breakfast.
They give you free coffee so you can warm up while you wait, so this was helpful, because there was a 30-40 minute wait at 8:45 AM. Yes, that early. We literally went to bed early so we could get there without waiting in line (jk I fell asleep at 9 watching Netflix. It was a total accident). But honestly the wait wasn’t that bad – I think we waited a solid 15-20 – and the food was soooo worth it.
Ben ordered the house special – the Sassy Eggs – and they were amazingggg. It was a red pepper and chorizo hash covered with two made-to-order eggs, cheese, ancho ketchup, sour cream, and guac. It was heavenly.
I got a weekly special called the Beautiful Broccoli Omelet. It had delicious roasted broccoli and parmesan and gouda cheeses with a hint of lemon zest. A broccoli-cheese combo is typically pretty rich, but the lemon zest lightened it up and made it super tasty. The breakfast dishes were served with really fresh potatoes on the side, browned just the right amount, and toast. Overall, the restaurant was amazing, and the service was great to top it off.
In Between – Chicago Botanic Garden
When I say “in between,” yes, I’m referring to the time “in between” breakfast and lunch. Because apparently you can’t just leave one restaurant and go straight to the next one. You have to kill some time in between so you’re not a total glutton. Who knew, right?!
We ended up going out to the Chicago Botanic Garden. There were two reasons I wanted to go there – one, to do something semi-active, and two, so we could be in the ‘burbs before lunchtime. My expectations were honestly kind of low. I was picturing a typical Forest Preserve that maybe had a fountain with some flowers around it or something. Or an “educational center” on the grounds. But oh, no. My expectations were blown away.
The Botanic Garden ended up being this huge, sprawling well-kept garden with tons of paths, bridges, and exhibits. Think – English Rose Gardens, Japanese Scot Pines (I kept calling them bonsai trees), and huge beautiful weeping willows. It was like a huge museum of plants. I know that doesn’t sound super exciting, but even in the fall it was absolutely beautiful. We ended up walking a few miles (bye bye, Sassy Eggs!) and it was a great way to enjoy each other’s company and get some fresh air. We already can’t wait to go in the spring when everything is in bloom. I would highly suggest this for a couple’s activity, something to do when parents are in town, or something to do to entertain little ones.
Lunch – Big Ed’s BBQ
Barbeque is by far one of my favorite foods on the planet. And I 100% owe this to Ben who introduced me to real BBQ in the city. With that being said, Big Ed’s in Waukegan is easily the best BBQ joint I’ve had in or around Chicago. I know that’s a bold statement, but I’ve done the legwork. Yes, it’s far away, but it is just so out-of-this-world, it is SO worth the drive.
There are a few must-have items when you get to Big Ed’s. I highly, highly suggest the burnt ends. If you’re not familiar with burnt ends, I would describe them as the pieces of brisket that are charred on the outside and so tender on the inside they melt in your mouth. I’ve had them at multiple barbeque restaurants, but nobody does them like Big Ed. Wash them down with Big Tony Mac n Cheese and the Lawd Ham Mercy Baked Beans. O-M-G.
Hmmm. How should I put this lightly. I would not suggest going to the Seven Mile Fair. It’s not exactly a flea market these days. Unless you’re looking for a hat that says “I’m In Love with the Coco” and/or an airbrush t-shirt (yes, those still exist) then I wouldn’t make the drive. And I will leave it at that.
Mars Cheese Castle, on the other hand, is a great place to stop and stretch your legs if you’re driving through the cheese capital. It’s right off the highway and it’s like a small market of fine cheeses, Wisconsin beers, and other finger foods. You can’t miss it – it literally looks like a castle.
Dinner – Piccolo Sogno
Piccolo Sogno was the perfect anniversary spot. It’s delicious, romantic, and just fancy enough that you can wear a dress and feel comfortable. I didn’t take any pictures (no-phone rule for anniversary dinner, duh) so you’ll have to use your imagination but it was very, very good. We started with the fried calamari, and an appetizer portion of their ravioli. It’s nice they have appetizer portions because we wanted to try the ravioli without committing to the entrée. The calamari was perfectly fried and just salty enough, and the ravioli was suuuuper good. I highly recommend both.
For our entrees, we went with the Tagliolini Di Castagna – which was a thicker noodle with a mushroom sauce – and Pappardelle Con Cinghiale which was a wild boar ragu dish with thick flat noodles. Both were extremely flavorful. Ben, who ordered with Pappardelle, said next time he would just order the ravioli for his main dish. It was that good.
Dessert – CAKE BALLS
These cake balls I picked up at Plum Market are out-of-control good. They’re made by West Town Bakery, but carried by the grocer. Which, by the way, is the CUTEST grocery store! If you live in Chicago you definitely need to check it out and pick up some cake balls while you’re there.
Overall it was a great anniversary weekend filled with amazing food and memories.
Do you have any anniversary traditions? Do you even celebrate an anniversary with your significant other? Let me know in the comments below!
Have a great Monday and I will be back on Hump Day!