Restaurant review: the Handlebar in Chicago!  »

I’m going to Chicago next week and I couldn’t be more excited! I’m exhausted and the daily grind is killing me. It’s time for a break in lovely, humid Chicago! Instead of Muni, there will be CTA! Instead of AT&T Park, there will be Wrigley Field! Instead of Bottom of the Hill, there will be The Hideout! Instead of freezing Ocean Beach, there will be the Michigan Lakefront! Next Friday cannot come soon enough and though there are many things I am looking forward to, going to The Handlebar is at the top of my list. I love that place so much.

The Handlebar is a hip little restaurant, located in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. When I say hip, I mean it’s usually swarmed with bike messengers and hipsters, but that is okay with me, because they are quite an attractive demographic of people. I do enjoy eating with both my eyes and taste buds. Don’t let me forget the fetching* waitstaff, with their creative haircuts and tattoo sleeves. Speaking of waitstaff, I’m just gonna gloss over this part as best as possible—don’t go to The Handlebar if you are in a rush. Enjoy yourself. Bring something to read if you are alone; there may be a little wait between those pints or coffee refills.

Tattooed servers, bike messengers, hipsters and vegan food, I’m COMING. I can’t wait! In the meantime, let’s you and I look at pictures from my recent trip in January. Fun. (Please forgive the incredibly bright flash, the lighting was just atrocious—oh, those dark winter nights.)

Hush puppies with tartar sauce. Yes it’s vegan! Unbelievable!

Samosas with tamarind chutney.

This is the Buffalo “Chicken” Wrap with collard greens, and the only dish I ever order. I am a creature of habit. I just want it all the time. You understand, right? It’s spicy and creamy—it’s bliss. The wrap my dreams are made of.

The Handlebar has a smallish menu, with many vegan options. Everything they do is done to perfection. This is going to sound totally crazy, and I know it, but they make the most delicious samosas I’ve ever had. Is that blasphemy, considering it’s not an Indian food joint? Anyway, the chutney that comes with them—SUPERB. Their seitan? So tender and scrumptious. Their beer selection? Awesome and varied. When I was missing Humboldt, I needed to look no further than The Handlebar, as they have Lost Coast Brewery beers on tap.

Handlebar, I love you, I miss you, and I cannot wait for us to be reunited.

*Daaaang, have you been working out? You look really great. Doing anything this weekend?


Bust Magazine Craftacular, at the Seed in New York! June! Go there!  »

Aw, remember the early 2000s, when I was a budding feminist at Humboldt State, taking my women’s studies classes and reading Bust magazine? No? I loved Bust's feminist/pop culture flair, and if you've ever been to Arcata, you'd know why it's referred to as “behind the redwood curtain;” things like technology and pop culture do not easily get through. It was like living in the ’70s! It took four days to get a Netflix DVD in the mail! I didn't know how an iPod worked until late 2006! Man, I miss that place.*

I still pick up the odd copy of Bust, usually when I’m in Rainbow, reliving my hippie college days (being in Rainbow IS the Arcata experience, right here in SF). Except now I know how to use an iPod! And I listen to pop music!

Bust is hosting a Vegan Craftacular in New York this summer! They are teaming up with The Seed to bring you a two-day expo of food, art, crafts, demos, and speakers! How fun! Go to it, and then tell me everything!

Bust Magazine Craftacular at the Seed: A vegan experience
82 Mercer St., between Broome and Spring, New York City
Saturday, June 16, 10 a.m to 7 p.m.
Sunday, June 17, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Buy your tickets here!

*Sounds a lot like my experience at Davis in the early ’00s, says the editor who did not own an iPod or a cell phone until 2006.


Starbucks bought Evolution Juice! Is this good news or bad news?   »

As I’m sure you’ve already heard, Starbucks has bought San Bernadino-based juice company Evolution Juices for an estimated $30 million! Starbucks plans to carry Evolution in their cafes, and also to open juice bars* in the next year. Starbucks has already dropped the “Starbucks Coffee” from their logo, much like Apple dropped “computers” from theirs when they started carrying iPods, iPhones, and iPads. Now, because I am honestly interested in your opinion, tell me: Is this good news or bad news?

I feel torn about this move by Starbucks. On one hand, I shop at Whole Foods and Safeway, and have bought the Just Greens Evolution juice at both. I obviously patronize corporations, so I don’t see the big deal about Starbucks buying Evolution to spread juice to the masses. How is that a bad thing? Plus, I like Starbucks because their internet is not spotty, and I need that in order to write outside of my home. I will always choose to buy coffee from a mom-and-pop operation, but if I need to use the internet to work, Starbucks is the only place I can go that doesn’t let me down.

Starbucks is taking on selling more vegan food options, and now juice (plus beer and wine, right?), and I don’t see this a bad thing. So many people frequent Starbucks; isn’t it a perfect outlet to spread veganism to the masses? Isn’t that what we want? Or are we trying to keep veganism like our favorite indie band—all to ourselves?

The interior of an Evolution store—someone needs to use their spell check! I can’t hate too hard, many of you point out my spelling flaws and it’s super embarrassing! (Though I appreciate it!)

On the other hand, I don’t want to lose the sense of community we gain with small, local business. I don’t want corporations to take over the world, and the hippie in me hates shopping at chains, as I truly believe in supporting local cafes and juice shops. Especially because I live in a city, and I can do just that! I also appreciate that both my college town (Arcata) and my neighborhood (Upper Haight) refuse to let Starbucks in. However, what does one do when they don’t live in a city, but the suburbs, where chains are prevalent? What if you can only get raw juice, or soy in coffee, or vegan food at Starbucks, Safeway, or Jamba Juice? Can we have both? Can we shop at both local and corporate and be OK with ourselves?

I will buy juice and vegan food where it is available, and if it’s available to a larger demographic of people, then I see that as a win for the animals and therefore the environment (except all the plastic packaging). On that note, I will hardly go to Evolution, or buy beer at Starbucks, because I prefer cold-pressed raw vegetable juice and dive bars.

As long as Starbucks is going to try to take over the world, I would like to see an emphasis placed on using compost-friendly packaging! Biodegradable cups would be a fantastic start, Starbucks! Pave the way for corporations to start taking responsibility for the planet by using little to no plastic!

*The first Evolution juice bar opened on March 19 in Bellevue, Wash.

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