We all have our routines. They help us get things done without much thought or effort. But routines are a double–edged sword and can cause us to get stuck in a rut. One of the simplest ways to change–up daily life is to try a new restaurant. Why not check out a new neighborhood to explore Chicago just a little more.

Wicker Park

For example, did you know that Wicker Park was not always the thriving neighborhood it is today? Richard Lloyd, from the University of Chicago, provides a vivid description of how in the 1980’s the Northwest Tower, located at the corner of North Avenue and Milwaukee and popularly know as the Coyote Building, lent it’s name to an annual “Around the Coyote” festival. The event was designed to advertise the growing numbers of young artists who lived and worked in the neighborhood. The concentration of young artists, along with the establishment of associated amenities including boutiques, performance venues, coffee shops and galleries transformed the image of the neighborhood from a space of post–industrial decay to a privileged site of urban culture. To read a more about how this occurred check out Richard Florida’s great book “The Rise of the Creative Class”.

In the meantime check out some of disher favorite restaurants in the area including:

Birchwood Kitchen
Mindy’s Hot Chocolate
Antique Taco
Mana Food Bar
Mirai

Have a great night out this weekend.

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“When you’re in a slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.”

― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go

Luckily, dishable is here to help! On of the easiest ways to “un-slump” yourself is to try a new neighborhood or explore a new restaurant. A great Chicago neighborhood to explore is just two miles west of downtown.

Noble Square

Noble Square doesn’t get nearly the attention of its neighbors to the west get. In West Town, most people think of Wicker Park and Ukranian Village. However, Noble Square has a lot to offer. Its major commercial corridor is Chicago Avenue, home to many restaurants and boutiques. The neighborhood has beautiful older architecture, with over half of the housing units dating back over a century.

It’s a growing community filled with artists, musicians and young urban professionals. Due to its lower cost and lower density, urban dwellers are rediscovering the character of Noble Square and Chicago’s near northwest side.

The Polish influence in the neighborhood is everywhere. The Polonia Triangle used to be considered the city’s original “Polish Downtown”. In the late 1800’s, multiple Polish organizations located at the three street intersection (Milwaukee, Ashland and Division) and stunning Polish Cathedral style churches (St. Stanislaus Kostka and Holy Trinity Church) were erected just down the street. Although the Polish influence on the neighborhood is far less than 100 (or even 50) years ago, it still lingers in several establishments.

If you are interested in finding out more about Noble Square in the West Town part of the city check out YoChicago for some great videos of the local area: Noble Square Sites

In the meantime try these disher favorite restaurants in the area including:

West Town Tavern
Green Zebra
Leopold
Ruxbin
Twisted Spoke

Have a great night out this weekend.

“One way to get the most out of life is to look at it as an adventure.”
By William Feather

One of the simplest ways to put a little adventure in your daily life is to try a new restaurant. A great Chicago neighborhood to explore is just five miles northwest of downtown.

Logan Square

There’s a lot to be said for Logan Square. With streets lined with trees and historic homes, Chicago’s Logan Square is perhaps best known for the monument that sits in the middle of this neighborhood. The Illinois Centennial Monument is however just one of many things to see or do in Logan Square, with other activities including dining, shopping, historical landmarks, a night scene and theater.

Known as a paradise for history buffs, Logan was built in 1870 as a part of the West Park District. Logan Boulevard is part of a system that developer John S. Wright proposed in 1849 to circumscribe and connect the city and is now protected as a Chicago Landmark.

Many of its early residents were English or Scandinavian origin, mostly Norwegians and Danes, along with a both a significant Polish and Jewish population that followed. Today, the neighborhood is home to a diverse population including Latinos (primarily Mexican and Puerto Rican, with some Cuban), a number of ethnicities from Eastern Europe, (mostly Poles), and African-Americans. Reflective of these ethnic roots, Logan Square covers a lot of culinary ground — stray off the beaten path and you’ll find places serving Argentinean, Colombian, Cuban, Ecuadorian, El Savadorian, and regional Mexican specialties.

On a more trendy note, among 20 somethings Logan Square is primarily known for being a hipster enclave where the broke kids moved when yuppies gentrified Wicker Park and Bucktown. To see how Logan Square stacks up against other hipster neighborhoods check out: What are Chicago’s Most Hipster Neighborhoods?

And to find out more about Logan Square check out this great overview of the neighborhood by the cycling group Chicago Velo:
Logan Square History and Characteristics

In the meantime try these disher favorite restaurants in the area including:

Lula’s Cafe
Owen & Engine
Telegraph
Revolution Brewing
Longman & Eagle

Have a great night out this weekend.

The City Council announced new food-truck ordinances outlining the rules by which trucks operate. It is a bittersweet victory however, as the new law prohibited the trucks from parking within 200 feet of a “brick and mortar” restaurant.

This week, food truck owners filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago contesting the rule. In response, the city established the first few food truck stand sites aimed at making it easier to know where to find the trucks. You can check out the list here. List

It’s an exciting time of year for food lovers, as next week Michelin will release the Chicago version of their famous restaurant guide. If you’re done making your predictions of who make it, and who will be dropped, you may want to check out the 2013 Bib Gourmand list, a collection of restaurants delivering great food at a reasonable price.

The great news is the list of Chicago Bib Gourmand recipients has grown this year, with newcomers such as Ada Street and Antique Taco making the cut. Looking over the new list, the dishable team concluded it still has a lot of exploring to do.

If you’re headed out this weekend, don’t forget to add to add some of the Bib Gourmand’s to your dishable wishlist, and check for reservations using our availability tool.

We admit it: before we founded Dishable, we ate at the same places, over and over again, on an endless rotation. Chicago has thousands of restaurants, yet there we were, hitting the same ten spots repeatedly. To confirm that we weren’t the only ones failing to take full advantage of a city that has so much to offer, we compiled some data on the dining habits of our friends and family. Alas, we discovered that we were all in the same boat.

There are over 80 restaurants in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. One person ate at 9 restaurants, 83 times: woof (Image source: Yelp)

Fortunately, we also learned that we love dining out with the people we love. Ok, we already knew that, but it’s strangely powerful to stare at a bunch of data that shows you just how much you love it. As we looked at maps of places we’d traveled in the name of good food, memories of people and conversations floated through our heads. Corny as it sounds, we realized that we were staring at one of life’s simple truths: food brings people together like nothing else.

But we also noticed that the more routine our dining experiences were, the less we remembered about them. We’d managed to combine two of the most potent sources of happiness – great food and great people – into experiences that we frequently forgot about. That’s when it hit us: we had to get comfortable branching out if we wanted to max-out on happy dining memories. To illustrate the point, we even came up with a fancy bit of addition:

Resulting patterns from dining out in Chicago over the past 18 months

great food + great people + the thrill of discovery (+not having to do dishes) = the ultimate, unforgettable dining experience

And then we won the Nobel Prize. All right, fine, this isn’t exactly an original insight. As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life. The key, however, is finding new places that you can trust will be good. And that’s where Dishable comes in.
Check out our next blog post for a discussion of the old obstacles to discovering new restaurants, and how Dishable has made them a thing of the past…

“Where do you want to eat tonight?”

“I don’t know. Where do you want to go?”

We haven’t met a person yet that we have asked and hasn’t had this exact conversation at one point or another.   At our houses the conversation generally ends up with us going to the standard short-list of convenient neighborhood eateries.    Not that our neighborhood favorites aren’t fine—it’s just that Chicago has so many great restaurants and neighborhoods to offer.

Over the last few months we’ve been putting our brains to work in search of good solutions to this problem of finding and sharing restaurants.

With that said…say hello to Dishable!

So how does it work? Use Dishable to store a list of your favorite restaurants, add restaurants that you have been thinking about trying, get good restaurant recommendations and share your dining experience on Facebook if you want to share the experience.   For us though, the best part of Dishable is that it connects you to one of your most trusted resources: your friends. You can see where they’ve been and what restaurants they are looking to try—and soon, you will be able to invite them for a night out via an easy reservations tool.

Where to start?   Visit dishable.com, and simply sign in using your Facebook account. Then have at it!  Start a running list of your favorite restaurants and places you want to try, and start your network, which is totally easy: just invite your friends and family to join Dishable and see where they want to go.

Also, to help you get started note the Dishable Top Ten area on the site where we are featuring Chicago Restaurant Week participants.  If you are not familiar with it it’s a great time of year to sample a restaurant you have wanted to try…and with more affordable prices.

We’ll be adding lots of new features over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned…thanks for checking out Dishable…and let us know what you think!

–Sue and Trent, Dishable co-founders

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