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Christine Ha

We obviously didn’t get enough meat stuffed in between bread because after the hot dog and roast beef sandwich at Portillo’s, we made our way over to Eataly and split a prime rib sandwich. Eataly is the Italian food mecca behind the brains of celebrity chef Mario Batali and the former judge from my season of MasterChef, Joe Bastianich. (In fact, the original Eataly location in New York was where our official season finale party was held.) Eataly is a massive food paradise—think a multiple-storied gastronomic mall. There are different

I’m excited to announce I’ll be doing a pop-up in collaboration with Ozone Bar in Hong Kong! Ozone is located on the 118th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong and is the tallest rooftop bar in the world. That’s the hubs and me below at the VIP corner table overlooking breathtaking HK during our visit in May. And now, from June 28 to July 1, I’ll be back with a very special event: my biggest pop-up restaurant yet! Here’s what’s on the menu: A SUMMER HOLIDAY AROUND THE WORLD With

Hot dogs topped with neon green relish, onion, and tomatoes are a Chicago institution, and I tried my first at Portillo’s, a busy fast food-style local joint that serves quick, greasy foods from chili cheese dogs to Italian roast beef sandwiches to cheese fries. On a Saturday during lunchtime, the place was packed, and it took a few minutes for our group to snag a table. There are different lines selling different foods, so luckily, our group was large enough that two of us could save the table, while the

I love a good cocktail, and even though molecular gastronomy is not really my thing, the experience at The Aviary was pretty spectacular…that is, if you’re willing to burn a small hole in your wallet. That’s because drinks at The Aviary ain’t cheap. It is, after all, the cocktail bar akin to Michelin-starred Alinea. This means three things: whimsical fare, excellent service, and hefty price tags. My friends and I came here on a Friday night after our two dinners at Avec and Blackbird. We’d bought tickets a week ahead

Right after our first meal at Avec, we walked a couple of doors down to Blackbird, a one-Michelin star restaurant which, like Avec, had an extensive beverage menu. The ambience here was upscale casual, the crowd lively and boisterous, the music playlist fantastic (at least for my generation). Since this was our second meal, we opted out of the tasting menu ($130; $200 with additional wine pairings) and instead ordered a few dishes to share. What stood out to me the most were the endive salad ($14) and the burnt

Our friends who frequent Chicago said their favorite local restaurant is Avec, a restaurant serving shared plates I’d describe as a conflation of Basque, Mediterranean, and Arabic. Their wine and beverage program is extensive and fantastic—we were recommended some phenomenal beers and port (in fact, it was the first place I’d ever enjoyed port). Avec doesn’t take reservations, so my advice is to go early (we went at 3:30 PM). Since we’d planned on having a second dinner right after Avec, we decided to keep it light. Among some of

I say “happier marriage” because I won’t pretend that I hold the keys to a happy marriage. I say “happier” because it’s relative. Every person is unique, and every relationship possesses different dynamics. What works in my marriage may not work in yours. But after seven years of marriage, I’m happy to say I’m still happy. And so today, as a tribute to our 7th anniversary, I offer you my 7 bits of advice that has made our marriage work so far. Following these tips may not solve all of

My pops loves deep dish pizza. When I was seven or eight, he drove my mama and me for what seemed like a very long car ride to eat at Uno’s Pizzeria. My parents lived in Chicago before I was born. There are pictures in old family albums of my mama standing knee-deep in snow, wrapped in a pink scarf and moss green coat, a small smile etched painfully on her half frozen face. I wonder if it was from their time in Chicago when my pops’s affinity for the

The last time I was in Chicago was for AWP, the large national writer’s conference. The time before that was when I was in seventh grade, and our middle school orchestra was invited for an international clinic taking place in the Windy City. Needless to say, I’d never been to Chicago for pure leisure, so you can imagine how excited I was to finally visit Chi-Town for real for the first time in my 30s! Day 1 in Chicago Lou Malnati’s Avec Blackbird Aviary Tickets from Houston to Chicago are

You just celebrated Easter, and that could very well mean you have a dozen-plus leftover eggs on your hands. Here’s a delicious yet simple recipe for onsen tamago, which translates from Japanese as “hot springs egg.” When I first visited Japan, a group of us went to Hakone and stayed in a hot springs inn near Mount Fuji. After taking the cable car to the top of a nearby mountain, we sat down in a cafe and ordered Fuji apples and onsen tamago. (Yeah, super creative, right?) The egg came

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