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?
Product review: Larrupin Mustard! »
If you have ever tried Larrupin Swedish-style Mustard-Dill Sauce, you know that it is the best condiment known to humankind. Unfortunately Larrupin is most conveniently available only within the realm of Humboldt County! Which is why every time I have a friend going on a road trip up there, I have them bring me back a jar! There are quite a few of us who went to college at Humboldt State now living in the Bay Area, and we know the power of the Larrupin.
If you have never been to Arcata, I suggest you think about a trip up there ASAP. It’s beautiful, and the vegan eats are abundant. If a trip to Humboldt is not in the cards, never fear! You can buy Larrupin Mustard online! I did this when I moved to Chicago, as I was homesick for my college town/former home/California in general.
Ilsa Hess, the creator and chef of Nacheez, got me this particular jar pictured above. We met up at Gracias Madre one night, and it turns out that we both went to Humboldt State, and actually know a few of the same people! Small world. Ilsa obtained some Larrupin for me, and now I am ETERNALLY GRATEFUL. She likes to eat her Larrupin with Gouda Sheese on lightly toasted sourdough, while I like mine with raw crackers and Tofutti cream cheese. However, if you lived in Humboldt, you know it is best with a Los Bagels slug and “cream” cheese. Nothing beats that!
"Great! But what does it taste like?" you ask. Larrupin is sweet, yet pairs beautifully with savory foods, like a Chik’n burger, sandwich, or bagel—basically, anywhere you would normally add mustard. The dill, vinegar, and turmeric keep it from being overly sweet, yet the dill is understated. Which is good for me, because I am not the hugest fan of dill.
Watch Humboldt County while eating your Larrupin to get a better idea of the place it comes from and also how I spent seven years of my life. Actually, Rural Rock’n’Roll is a better showcase of my past, but I quite enjoyed Humboldt County. The clothing in that movie is so bad, but SO SPOT-ON.