Tuesday, June 24, 2014

HopScotch Beer and Whiskey Bar

HopScotch Beer & Whiskey Bar in Franklin Park is a cute hip place to grab a drink and a bite to eat. I have this habit was trolling through Find Me Gluten Free randomly in places around where I live, to see in anything new pops up, or if someone does a rave review of a place that's worth checking out. This looked interesting and was new, but had no reviews. Today we were driving through the area, and I decided to see what was near by and there were 2 five star reviews. So we decided it was worth checking out.

Two things I love when I find a new place, appetizer options and dedicated fryers for french fries! Who knew being 33 years old french fries would become a lust food for me. I think it's a Celiac thing. Our server was great, friendly knowledgeable when I ask about gluten free beers he did excuse himself to double check which ones they had. Glutenburg, New Grist, and Two Brothers Prairie Path, as well as Vandermill's cider, but that was on tap. (Personal rule I don't drink beer/cider from the tap for fear of contamination from other beers.) 

The menu notes that Udi's gluten free buns are available for a $3 charge. I felt the $3 was a bit high, but understandable since I don't see this being a super busy place that would blow through a lot of the buns quickly.The menu is very GastroPub style, and there were some really good sounding options on it. I honestly went simple and got a burger, though their burgers have some great sauce and topping options that you don't find every day. That made them stand out more to me. I had a blue cheese Aoli sauce on my burger!

I was highly shocked to see the fries were fried in a dedicated fryer, they were really tasty! My burger was good too. I noticed I had gotten full, and kept eating, true sign I like my food. My boyfriend got a Not Gluten Free Flatbread and said he really liked it. So the "regular" food was good in his book as well. 

I'd give them 4 dragonflies, they have french fries, need I say more? The food was tasty, they had drink options, and the service was super friendly. They are located in an odd direction from my house, but I think if we're passing through the area, it will be an option for stopping to grab a bite to eat, and maybe hear some music? They had a section set up for live bands! 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Hashbrowns Cafe

Oh Hashbrowns how I love thee. I have to say my favorite part of going to Hashbrowns are the sweet potato hashbrowns! The last time I was there, I was excited to see that they now label their gluten free options on the menu too.

Hashbrowns is Always busy on the weekends. It doesn't matter if it's warm, cold, snowing, there are people waiting to be seated. It's a nice cozy little place with lots of tables crammed in. Service is always great and attentive. They have a very attractive menu to most, gluten free it is a bit limited. They do not fluff their omelet batter, so omelets are on the table! Their omelets have a special Chicago flair to them naming them after neighborhoods and streets in the city, with stereo-typical add ins that fit each area.

My favorite go to dish is always the egg nachos. Once I've switched it up and got an omelet, that accompanied 100 questions to the server on prepping and how the omelets are made. The big thing we go for no matter what we order, are the sweet potato hash browns. I don't know many places that do sweet potatoes for hash browns, so it's a nice treat. I would consider them a little dive on the old Maxwell street market, and a great place to bring out of town friends that's not all glitz and glam of Michigan Ave.

Honestly if you aren't too picky about breakfast, and you are prepared you may have to wait to be seated, the food is tasty. The crazy business does make me fret a bit that my meal is being taken care of correctly, especially with long waits and so many people. I've never been sick, they are super understanding when I mention my issues with gluten, and always check back to make sure you're doing alright. I give them 3 dragonflies, over all.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Swirlz Cupcakes

Swirlz cupcakes are on the northwest side of Chicago in Lincoln Park- Swirlz for me is a classic. Before I was even dating my boyfriend he and I would go to lunch and chat like friends do. For the most of this time I was quite sick, I wouldn't admit it then, but I was going for tests all the time to find out what was wrong with me. It was my Pre-Celiac Diagnosis days. When we found out what was wrong and I told him I had to be gluten free, he told me "Don't worry, you can still have cupcakes! I know where to get them!" You had me at Cupcakes!!! He brought me a box of cupcakes from Swirlz and told me how good they were. My one co-worker was so jealous not that he brought me cupcakes but because they were Swirlz cupcakes. She loved their cupcakes.

Swirlz is off Lincoln and Belden in Chicago. Back in the good old days of college we'd come to this area to drink and hang out on a weekend night, it's right by the Lincoln Park area of DePaul College. Parking is a bit tough, but doable. If you're at Lincoln Park Zoo it's just about around the corner. 

Swirlz has an awesome selection of cupcakes, and special edition cakes that can be made both gluten free and vegan many times. Their flavors rotate daily and are posted to their website on what the flavor of the day is. From experience if there is a flavor you really want, call ahead and reserve a box! You can even order ahead and have special cupcakes made for any event, including weddings and showers. Anyone thinking of a cupcake wedding? I know the thought has crossed my mind. 

For my birthday my boyfriend brought 2 dozen Swirlz cupcakes, 1 dozen gluten free, and 1 dozen not gluten free. No one seemed to care which one they got since they all tasted so good. To be honest, they've set the bar pretty high for gluten free and vegan baking, you won't know the difference! 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Salsa 17 Gluten Free

Salsa 17 is tucked away in downtown Arlington Heights in the former Fuego restaurant. It's a nice upscale Mexican restaurant that offers a variety of items on the menu. It's going to be hard for someone to not find something to eat, though deciding what they want might be the bigger issue. 
The specials menu lists gluten free right next to the item so it's easy to identify. Other items you have to request to the staff to make sure they are prepared gluten free. The staff can help guide what to get as well. Personally I prefer my own menu, but I figured I couldn't go wrong with fajita's. The waitress confirmed they would bring out corn tortilla's for the shells, instead of flour.

The bring out chips and salsa for each table. The chips were not fried there so they were safe, and the salsa didn't have any extra flour included. Personally I've never seen flour added to salsa, but I've heard people say they've been contaminated that way, so now I check.

Normally I don't get fajita's when we go out for dinner, but these looked exceptionally good. Sometimes I find traditionally Mexican food is too drowned in sauces, and I never was a sauce person. The fajita's hit the spot each time here.

The atmosphere is nice, loud fun. Though cold in the winter since all there are 2 walls of windows that open out in the summer time it's really drafty!  

Their food is so tasty, I can't say enough about this place! I would give them 4 dragonflies for their food options, presentation, and their knowledge of gluten in their menu items. 

Since starting to write this review from my last couple visits, there was a fire in the kitchen, and they are currently closed :(. I was very saddened to hear this their food is awesome. I hope they can come back kicking once the damage is cleaned up and start serving up more good food in Arlington Heights.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Blues Bar

The Blues Bar in Mount Prospect- We're not talking about anything that's going to win awards here, but it's a neighborhood place that has options, and a good selection of craft beers that are gluten free! After talking with the bartender for some time we found out that they are willing to bring in a few different gluten free beers to meet the demand for it, and were shocked to know they were kind of the only place in our general area doing so.

The Blues Bar is themed after the ever popular cult film, The Blues Brothers. So the inside has a replica of the police car, which hailed from Mount Prospect in the movie, and statues of Jake and Elwood Blues. It's a cute theme, which they follow through with by having bands and live music on the weekends. During the week they show sports on the big screens throughout the restaurant.

When we walked in I saw the Green's Amber Ale in the mini fridge before I even got to my seat. I ordered it and started flipping through the beer list, to see they had more beer and cider options to my surprise. They even had a ginger beer, which sounded interesting. (Note I know have a 4 pack of ginger beer in my fridge at home). Crabbie's is imported from the UK, I have to say of a person who doesn't like Ginger, I really liked it.

We started talking and my brother asked if there was anything I could eat, we started flipping through the menu and I saw that they had gluten free buns for the burgers. Then I even notices the quesadilla's could be made with a corn tortilla. I asked the bartender to check with the cook that the quesadilla's would then be gluten free. They both agreed, yes, they'd be gluten free. Well any place that can provide gluten free appetizers moves up a notch in my book right away.

For being an appetizer the portions where quite large and we ended up splitting them. We've been back a couple times now to have a beer, a snack and chat. They have a nice outside seating area for the summer, not huge, but they have TV's faced out so you can sit outside and catch a game!