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Marina Lambropoulos

TEMPO CAFE

3/26/2009   Comment on This

TEMPO CAFE
6 East Chestnut St.
Chicago IL 60611
Phone: 312.943.4373
  • Cuisine: American Traditional and Classic

  • Hours: Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week

  • Price Range: $ $ ($9-$15)

  • Carryout: Yes. Full Menu

  • Alcohol: BYOB

  • Website: www.tempocafechicago.com


  • Tempo Cafe ChicagoI visited the classic Tempo Cafť, which is considered a 24-hour staple in the gold coast area located at 6 East Chestnut Street in Chicago. If you havenít ever visited Tempo, which you should do at least once, they are best known for their 3-egg omelets served hot on an actual skillet. Tempo has an ample outdoor dining area, which gets especially crowded on weekends when the unavoidable lines form by locals and tourists alike. The bright, neutral toned interior space is an average size but has the appearance of a much larger room because of a large wall-to-wall mirror towards the back wall of the restaurant. Tempoís full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu includes traditional ďdinerĒ options with an EXTENSIVE omelet selection!

    They offer 30 omelet choices, my favorite is the ďGold Coast OmeletĒ which comes with mushroom, tomato, spinach, onion and I always add feta cheese which happens to be an extra $2.25-a bit much for domestic cheese, donít you think? But I do enjoy the tangy, salty flavor that it adds to my eggs! My delightful omelet was fluffy and the fresh tasting ingredients complimented each other so well! An added twist to the omelet is that it is served over skillet potatoes, which were a bit boring, but I do like the concept! In addition, my eggs came with two pieces of thick Greek toast and a side of their sweet and savory housemaid orange marmalade-it was a nice added touch Ö bring me seconds of that!

    Restaurant Pick of the Week:
    BULL & BEAR


    There was much anticipation for the opening of Bull & Bear, the new trendy sports bar located at 431 N. Wells Street near the Merchandise Mart. This was the perfect location for me to watch the March Madness games, the contemporary modern space boasts tons of natural light and there are plasmaís located at every seat in the house, even a projection of ESPN2 was displayed on the exposed brick wall-what a nice touch! Their Wells Street Journal menu serves up great bar food, a MUST try are there KILLER crispy organic chicken wings, they were so flavorful and tasty I didnít care that my fingers turned orange from all the sauce!!! You canít leave without ordering their cinnamon doughnut holes, they were so light and tasty and came with two yummy sauces for dipping and best of all a few of the tables even have taps built in!

    Tempo Cafe ChicagoFor the health conscious out there, all omeletís can be cooked with pam and egg whites can be substituted for a $1 extra. They also have an entire category called ďDe Lite FullsĒ where you can choose from healthier ďdinerĒ fare together with, a great selection of salads.

    In Contrast, I moved on to the ďBatter ShopĒ of the menu and ordered the Morning Glory Special, not that my omelet wasnít filling enough, I just needed to end on a sweet ďwaffleĒ note. It comes with a trio of fresh strawberries, bananas and blueberries with your choice of french toast, pancakes, or waffles. I also asked for a whipped cream topping which was a $1 extra, but at the end of the day it made me happy and my waffle ended up looking like a fun 4th of July dessert! The waffle batter was sweet and tasty and I didnít even need to add much syrup, I just wanted to savor the flavor. I washed down my breakfast meal with a strawberry and banana smoothie, which tasted more like an icy slurpie from 7 eleven, I couldnít taste any banana, but nevertheless it was cold and sweet so I didnít have a problem finishing it!

    Tempo Cafe ChicagoIíve dined at Tempo more times than I can count, and their service is always spotty. My waitress was quick to take and bring my order but didnít check up on me once throughout my meal and itís not because she had too many tables. As a rule, you must know what you want to order because you are not going to get many recommendations from your server. I personally would stick with the breakfast menu! Also, please know before you go that the prices at Tempo do reflect gold coast prices and any substitutions or extras will be accounted for. Further, Tempo Cafť only accepts cash, but they do offer an ATM at the entrance. I just donít get the cash only policy, itís so not convenient!

    To sum up, Tempo Cafe located at 6 East Chestnut Street is a reliable neighborhood late night diner, with very good fresh breakfast fare, their fluffy omelet skillets are a win win and as their menu states they do offers quality ingredients but definitely at a price!

    MY FINAL RATING (BASED ON FOOD, AMBIANCE, SERVICE, VALUE)~OVERALL: 2.5 MMís


    RATING KEY: 4 MMMMís: OUTSTANDING / 3MMMís: EXCELLENT / 2 MMís: VERY GOOD / 1 M: GOOD

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    Marina Lambropoulos

    BIJANíS BISTRO

    2/6/2009   Comment on This

    BIJANíS BISTRO
    663 N. State
    Chicago IL 60611
    Phone: 312.202.1904
  • Cuisine: American Contemporary
  • Hours: 10:30 am-4am Daily~ Food Service stops @ 3am daily
  • Price Range: $ $ ($9-$15)
  • Parking: Street Parking Difficult & Valet
  • Alcohol: Full Bar
  • Website: www.bijansbistro.com
  • Carryout: Yes-Night Owl Deliveries now delivering online @ Nightowldeliveries.com or to delivery to your
    home, office or hotel please call: 312.421.7693


  • BIJAN'S BISTROFirst, I would like to mention that Chicagoís 2nd Annual Restaurant Week kicks off on Feb 20th as an added ďsweetĒ bonus savings have been extended till March 6th. So for 2 full weeks you can enjoy VALUE pricing for lunch or dinner at some of Cityís Finest Restaurants. To check out the 130 restaurants that are participating you can go to www.eatitupchicago.com

    BIJAN'S BISTROSince Valentineís Day is right around the corner Bijanís Bistro in River North is the perfect late night romantic, sophisticated American bistro and a personal late night favorite of my own. (Especially in the warm summer nights, Bijanís offers a great outdoor dining area fun for people watching). A sign hanging outside the restaurant highlights that Bijanís is open 365 days a year from 10:30 am till 4am daily, however please note that the kitchen wraps up an hour before close. Once inside, the dimly lit small room features plenty of dark wood, soothing spa blue/green walls, and a mirrored mahogany packed bar filled with an extensive selection of beers, wines, and martiniís.

    Bijanís offers a lunch, dinner, and a late night menu (which starts @ 12m till 3am daily) while also serving brunch on Saturday and Sunday-yay! The kitchen offers everything from fancy escargots, to grilled spicy shrimp, to herb-roasted tilapia. Popular selections include the rigatoni with sausage in a creamy tomato sauce, the roasted all natural half chicken and the Bijan burger-donít forget to order a side of the hand-cut fries!

    BIJAN'S BISTROI started my dinner adventure with the baked brie, which was fantastic, it came with red seedless grapes, honey, and almonds, I spread it across the sliced French baguette bread-it would have been perfect if it was served on crunchy crostiniís! Meanwhile, I cleansed my palate with the beautifully presented baby spinach salad, it came with apple, endive, blue cheese and sugar coated pecans-it was very tasty!

    For my main course I ordered from the daily dinner specials, which was the lasagna bolognese made with spinach pasta, Iíll have to say that it was just ok, I was disappointed, it lacked flavor and was simply unappetizing.

    BIJAN'S BISTRONevertheless, my (2) desserts made up for my bland entree, the bananas foster with vanilla bean ice cream and maple rum butter sauce plus the melting chocolate cake with cocoa whipped cream, and warm chocolate sauce is so worth sampling. I have eaten many warm chocolate desserts throughout my dining adventures but this is ranked as one of the BEST!

    The service was friendly from start to finish, the charming host is meeting and greeting all night long and the waitress in her European accent could not of been any nicer and attentive however, she didnít have much of an opinion, when I asked her about the daily specials she answered with ďeverything is good hereĒ which is a dining pet peeve of mine!

    To sum up, Bijanís Bistro is a great cozy place with upscale food at respectable prices served day and night. The intimate and warm environment is not only great for Valentineís Day but for any occasion. The staff delivers on the service and Bijanís delivers on the food, the menu is full of high quality dishes (I would stick with the popular items) and it comforts me to know that it is available till 3 am all year round!

    FINAL RATING (FOOD, AMBIANCE, SERVICE, VALUE) ~ OVERALL: 3.5


    RATING KEY: 4 MMMMís: OUTSTANDING / 3MMMís: EXCELLENT / 2 MMís: VERY GOOD / 1 M: GOOD

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    Marina Lambropoulos

    LATE NIGHT THAI

    1/30/2009   Comment on This

    LATE NIGHT THAI
    1650 W. Belmont. Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60657
    Phone: 773.327.9945
  • Cuisine: Thai, Asian, & Chinese
  • Hours: 9pm to 5am
  • Price Range: $ (Under $9)
  • Parking: Metered
  • Alcohol: BYOB
  • Carryout: Yes / No Delivery
  • PAYMENT: CASH ONLY ~ Know before you go ~ATM located Inside


  • LATE NIGHT THAIWhen one thinks about late night dining what naturally comes to mind is a drive-thru with golden arches? Possibly making a run for the border? Well, Late Night Thai in West Lakeview is my new hero! Late Night Thai is open from 9 to 5 but these are not your typical business hours, itís 9pm to 5am. This fairly new late night noodle hut opened on September 12th in the former Turkish Nazarlik space, which was previously the ever so popular River Kwai. As soon
    as this space was available Alan Julamoke, chef and owner, grabbed at the chance to possibly build up the cult following that was established from River Kwaiís late night hours.

    Undoubtedly, Late Night Thai likes to keep the dťcor simple and bright. The focal point of the exterior is a large bright orange restaurant sign and the inside walls are adorned by a bright yellow color, which I think is a scheme to make the customers stay awake! The service is pretty straightforward, you place and pick up your order at the counter, and you can either grab a seat along a window lined with wooden stools or sit at a table in the small, really
    basic restaurant space.

    LATE NIGHT THAIThere is an average selection of items on the late night menu. The egg rolls and crab rangoon are great starter selections especially since they are homemade-yummy! If you are watching your waist line (which I should do more of) low fat soups options are available such as the spicy po-tak and the woon sen pad thai-please donít ask me to pronounce that! The ever so popular thai noodle dishes include pad thai & pad see ewe, (3) kinds of curries, (7) weekly specials and (8) types of fried rice. Specifically, late night fried rice is made with the house special ketchup sauce-sounds interesting, the bbq pork fried rice is actually barbequed at the restaurant, what a great plus, and the pineapple fried rice is kid friendly, who knew children could stay up so late?

    I ended up ordering my two favorite Thai items, I started my first course with an order of (6) crab rangoon, which were lightly fried flower shaped wontonís stuffed with a combination of cream cheese, and REAL crabmeat-not imitation, you can really taste the homemade difference. They were the BEST Crab Rangoonís I have ever eaten; they just melted in my mouth. Likewise, my vegetable pad see ewe was full of freshness and flavor; it was comprised of wide rice noodles, Chinese broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cabbage, and egg stir-fried in a sweet soy sauce. I wished my decent sized portion of pad see ewe was a bit larger, I finished it all with out hesitation!

    LATE NIGHT THAIAdditionally, there are a few Chinese influences in a few of the stir-fried entrees, such as the cashew and orange breaded chicken. All the food is made to order and they use all FRESH vegetables, Alan, the owner, assured me he is the one making the market trips. In addition, Alan also owns Asian Avenue a few doors down; he gets huge props for working such a long shift and still serves you quickly with a smile.

    If you're looking to finish your meal with something sweet, like I always do Late Night Thai offers Thai iced coffee and Thai custard. I was so disappointed to find out that custard was available after my meal was over because it is not listed on the menu-so you must ask for it!

    To sum up, Late Night Thai is a great West Lakeview alternative to the usual Late Night dining options. With its minimalist cheery dťcor, homemade tasty ingredients, fresh hand picked vegetables, and speedy friendly service Late Night Thai should have no problem carrying on its predecessorís late-night customs.

    FINAL RATING (FOOD, AMBIANCE, SERVICE, VALUE) ~ OVERALL: 3 MMMís


    RATING KEY: 4 MMMMís: OUTSTANDING / 3 MMMís: EXCELLENT / 2 MMís: VERY GOOD / 1 M: GOOD

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    Marina Lambropoulos

    ARTUROíS TACOS

    1/23/2009   Comment on This

    ARTUROíS TACOS
    2001 N. Western Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60647
    Phone: 773.772.4944
  • Cross Streets: Western & Armitage

  • Parking: Street Parking Difficult

  • Hours: 24 hours Daily~Breakfast Lunch & Dinner

  • Price Range: $ (Under $9)

  • Alcohol: Full Bar. Cocktails include Pina Coladas & Margaritas

  • Carryout: Yes / No Delivery


  • ARTUROíS TACOSAfter reading that Chicago Native ďStephanie IzardĒ BRAVOís Top Chef (Season 4) winnerís favorite place to eat before or after a shift is Arturoís Tacos, so I had to make a trip to this 24 hour Mexican restaurant. From looking at the exterior of Arturoís it looks like a step above a taqueria, but as I walked in I noticed that the nice sized dining area resembled a
    cafeteria. The interior space was very bright and welcoming with a convenient carry out counter, orange walls trimmed in white christmas lights and a sky painted ceiling.

    Right away I was served the free basket of nacho chips, which were good but a bit hard with two tableside sauces, one was a chunky pico de gallo, which was so fresh, and spicy tasting, and the second was a tasty salsa verde green sauce. The polite waitress was very accommodating when I asked for more chips and tasty pico de gallo, I can never get enough
    chips and salsa!

    ARTUROíS TACOSArturoís has a good-sized menu, where they offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have a great selection of the usual Mexican entrees such as: tacos, burritos, tostadas, gorditas and even an entire roasted chicken, but I was delighted to see many traditional Mexican entrees such as their pozole, a beef soup with fresh veggies and menudo (served only on the weekends), which is a spicy cow stomach soup, (15) house specialty dinner options, and (12) seafood options. Moreover, there is a full bar menu of sangria, beer, pina coladaís and a mean large sized attractive margarita, I will be back to try it!

    I figured I couldnít go wrong with ordering the tacos since itís part of the restaurant title, so I went with two steak tacos, one gordita filled with ďal pastorĒ which is a Mexican gyros that was rotating on a spit in the open kitchen and the fried pork tostada with a side of rice, and yes I can eat this much! The food was served promptly considering everything is made to order.

    ARTUROíS TACOSMy steak tacos were served on tasty soft flour tortillas, topped with lettuce and tomatoes and I requested that my guac & sour cream be served on the side. The steak was good quality meat, very tasty and super juicy~now, this is the definition of GREAT tacos. Likewise, the al pastor gordita was fantastic, the thick tortilla made with corn flour tasted homemade. The Mexican gyros meat was so flavorful and tasty; the thinly shaved tender pork was covered in a serious tangy, sweet red sauce. Just a side note gordita means little fat one in Spanish and if I keep on eating them Iím in trouble. On the other hand, the fried pork tostada was my least favorite, the pork had many fatty pieces of meat and wasnít that flavorful. While
    my rice was a little salty it still was better than average and I liked the added touch of corn and green pepper.

    I should have ended my meal there but I was craving dessert as usual. The waitress assured me in her heavy accent that their flan was small but it was a really good size, that is to say, there was a bit of a language barrier there. The flan was very thick which I am not used to and tasted like it was in the refrigerator for too long! I washed down my flan with a gulp of ďhorchataĒ which is typically served at breakfast time; it is a refreshing sweet rice milk which is actually dairy free made with rice, cinnamon, sugar, almonds and lime zest, it was different but pretty good.

    To sum up Artiroís Tacos is a solid 24-hour authentic bucktown Mexican restaurant, where you canít go wrong with the yummy steak tacos. The food is fresh, tasty, affordable, above all made to order with quality ingredients, and a full bar menu. Arturoís Tacos has become my new late night staple!

    FINAL RATING (FOOD, AMBIANCE, SERVICE, VALUE) / OVERALL: 3 MMMís


    RATING KEY: 4 MMMMís: OUTSTANDING / 3 MMMís: EXCELLENT / 2 MMís: VERY GOOD / 1 M: GOOD

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    Marina Lambropoulos

    WHITE PALACE GRILL

    1/16/2009   Comment on This

    WHITE PALACE GRILL
    1159. S. Canal St.
    Chicago, IL 60607
    Phone: 312.939.7167
  • Cross Streets: Roosevelt & Canal

  • Parking: Street

  • Hours: 24 hours daily

  • Price Range: $ (Under $9)

  • Alcohol: Beer & Wine

  • Carryout: Yes / No Delivery


  • WHITE PALACE GRILL It was cold and gloomy outside, but as soon as I entered the White Palace Grill, an institution that opened in 1939, I was warmed up with the cheerful 1950ís inspired diner. WHITE PALACE GRILLThe interior space looks like one big candy cane, splashes of red and white are everywhere. No matter what time of day the White Palace Grill is always packed with cops, artists, students, city workers, cap drivers, politicians, & then there was me, the after bar crowd.

    As a result of my 10 minute wait I checked out all the chicago propoganda and media clippings that adorned the walls. Everyone from former Ch 7 food critic James Ward, to the Food Networkís Guy Fieri, popular host of ďDinerís, Drive-Ins & DivesĒ didnít happen to stubble upon this popular diner. Namely, the highlight on the wall is a mural depicting Oprah, Mayor Daley, Michael Jordan, Harry Caray, and the Blues Brothers engaged in a card game while the ever so cursed billy goat watches over. Local Chicago artist Scott Jackson can take credit for that masterpiece.

    WHITE PALACE GRILLThe staff are professionals and executed my wait quite courteously, I was greeted by my delightful attentive waitress who did a great job reviewing the detailed laminated bright yellow menu. In typical diner fashion, classic breakfast, lunch, and dinner items are listed but the White Palace Grill had many signature standout dishes which were featured on the Food Network. The french connection breakfast favorite which is (4) wedges of french toast & (2) eggs, as well as their popular ham off the bone & eggs is a best seller. More popular items off their lunch menu is the braised short ribs and for dinner the famous greek chicken w/rice and the veal parmesan. Also, there is a nice selection of south of the border mexican items available across the large menu.

    As a result of my huge appetite for breakfast, I ordered (5) buttermilk pancakes with bacon and a side of hash browns (3) just wouldnít of been enough. What I do regret not ordering are their fantastic one of a kind grits. I later found out from George Loukopoulos, owner since 2000, is how tasty and popular their grits are and ordered more frequently than the hasbrowns ~ how was I supposed to know?!?WHITE PALACE GRILL In any case, my pancakes were moist and served with 2 large sides of whipped butter and syrup, there were not as fluffy as I typically like them but still very good. The bacon was perfect, crispy and not too greasy. My hash browns were exactly as I ordered, extra crispy, not too salty even tasted home made. Moreover, I was impressed with the fancy coffee mate creamers, that were available at each table. I want to point out that my waitress did not make me feel rushed throughout my dining experience at the White Palace Grill despite the number of tables she was handling, these
    are qualities that should not go unnoticed.

    To sum up the White Palace Grill is a no frills diner that attracts everyone from local patrons to celebs like Jeremy Piven and John Kusack. All in all, if you are in the mood for a cheerful, warm inviting atmosphere, friendly attentive service, and good food at great reasonable prices this is the urban oasis for you.

    FINAL RATING (FOOD, AMBIANCE, SERVICE, VALUE) /OVERALL : 2.5 MMís


    (RATING KEY: 4 MMMMís: OUTSTANDING / 3 MMMís : EXCELLENT/ 2 MMís: VERY GOOD 1 M: GOOD)
    Owner George Loukopoulos has late night dining in his veins he also owns 2 other restaurants:
  • Hollywood Grill (24hrs): 1601 W. North Avenue, Chicago

  • Odyís Drive In (24hrs): 6001 W Grand Ave, Chicago


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