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1954 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 634-4101

Stella Barra Pizzeria 

Category: Pizza
Neighborhoods: Lincoln Park, DePaul

2.0 star rating
9/27/2014
Thoroughly mediocre pizza that took a long time to make. I wouldn't go back.

The pizza was generally average, although the crust was awful-- crunchier than French bread with a flavor that was reminiscent of sourdough. Like the Navy Seals, I usually leave no crust behind. Here, we had three plates of uneaten crust which is a serious rarity. It took just over a half hour to get the pizzas, even though the restaurant was maybe at 10% capacity. Not sure why they needed to blast the audio from a college football game in an empty room. Maybe this is a good place for college students who are pretending to be upscale.

The most damning thing I can say about my experience here is that I called in an order at Armitage Pizzeria for a post-Stella Barra pickup. It was a block away, cheaper and infinitely superior.

Listed in: LD's Pizza Reviews

1769 W Sunnyside Ave
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 878-2420

Spacca Napoli 

Category: Pizza
Neighborhoods: Lincoln Square, Ravenswood

5.0 star rating
9/4/2014
Spacca Napoli is easily the best Neapolitan pizzeria in Chicago. The owner truly loves pizza and it shows in the food and his demeanor when talking to customers. My favorite is the Regina pizza, which is a margherita pizza topped with arugula and marinated tomatoes. It's a must-get if available as a special. Also, the staff here is always really nice to my son which I appreciate. Only knock on this place is that it's not closer to my home.

Listed in: LD's Pizza Reviews

113-125 N Green St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 521-8000

Pizza East 

Categories: Pizza, Breakfast & Brunch
Neighborhoods: Near West Side, West Loop

2.0 star rating
9/4/2014
More like "Pizza Least." The pizza here was merely mediocre. It had an overabundance of puffy, salted crust on the edges. Easily a third of the pizza was salty crust. That might be OK for someone who loves bread and sodium, but I was here for the pizza. Service was confused, which I chalk up to the place being new. The room was very nice. Given the wealth of superior pizza options in Chicago, there's no reason for me to go back.

Listed in: LD's Pizza Reviews

130 S Green St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 226-6155

Karyn’s on Green 

Categories: Vegan, Vegetarian
Neighborhoods: Near West Side, West Loop

2.0 star rating
Update - 8/6/2014
I live around the corner but had not been to Karyn's in 4 years as my previous experiences were not particularly memorable. I had a vegetarian friend in town and thought I'd give it another (last?) chance. It's safe to say my latest visit will be my last.

My recent dining experience confirmed my earlier conclusion that Karyn's is just very mediocre. The food quality ranges from above average to below average, service is unpolished and the prices are not cheap relative to the quality. Getting anything from the bar takes forever, even when the restaurant is slow.

I'd rather eat at Native Foods Cafe a few blocks over. It's obviously a different kind of restaurant than Karyn's, but the food quality is generally superior (even if lacking the visual wow factor) and is a much better value.

2 Previous Reviews: Hide »

  • 3.0 star rating
    8/31/2010

    I've been back to Karyn's a few times and thought I should give a quick update.  This time, I am giving Karyn's a flat 3 stars.  On my last trip to Karyn's, a friend of mine got the crab cakes and they were borderline inedible.  I stuck with some dishes I had eaten previously (see my prior review) and had a nice dinner.  

    I have come to the conclusion that you cannot eat dessert here.  I had the tiramisu dessert and it was flat out awful.  At best, it was reminiscent of tiramisu.  At worst, it was the culinary equivalent of digging up the originator of tiramisu only to spit on his skeleton and throw his bones in the trash.

    Bottom line on this place is that it is wildly hit or miss, with the hits being great (e.g., the chicken legs, chorizo sliders), and the misses being horrendous (e.g., corn risotto, crab cakes).  I wish Karyn's would just focus on making good food, instead of making fake, vegan versions of non-vegan dishes.

  • 3.0 star rating
    6/6/2010

    The rating is really 3.5 stars.  I like Karyn's, but it should be better than it is.  

    On my most recent visit, I had a caipirinha.  Like the cocktail I had my last time here, it tasted great but seemed to have no alcohol (and I'm a lightweight drinker).  For some reason, it takes an unusually long amount of time to get drinks here.  You're looking at 10-15 minutes minimum to get drinks- no matter what you order.

    My wife and I split the chorizo sliders as an appetizer.  We had them on a previous visit and they were just as great the second time.  Highly recommended.

    For our entrees, we got the sweet corn risotto and the chicken legs.  The sweet corn risotto was awful.  It was just rice and corn.  Very bland and not even close to the texture I would expect from a risotto dish.  The chicken legs, though, were great.  They were served with a sweet potato hash and barbecue sauce.  I would definitely get that again.

    For dessert, we had the bananas foster.  The dish is served with vanilla ice cream over a coconut cookie.  The bananas were excellent- sweet and well-caramelized.  The ice cream was good, but there wasn't enough of it to enjoy with the bananas.  It was like a bowl of bananas with a tablespoon of ice cream.  One more scoop and it would have been perfect.

    The cookie served with the dish was a complete disaster.  It was too hard for my spoon to cut (even after it had been sitting under ice cream and bananas).  After breaking a piece off, the thing tasted like I imagine particleboard would.  I just spit it out.  My wife tried it and her face recoiled like Mr. Yuck.  On our last visit, we had some scoops of ice cream served with cookies.  They were different than this, but also seemed to be made via some kind of dehydration process.  Also terrible.  While it might be some kind of scientific achievement, this is the exact type of thing that makes people say they hate vegetarian food.

    The service was solid.  Our waitress was nice and helpful.  Early into our entrees, we wanted another round of drinks, but couldn't get our server's attention until we were about finished and ready for dessert.  This same thing happened the last time.  While I have really liked the waitresses I've had here, they could stand to be more attentive.

    Karyn's on Green is really hit or miss.  The prices are very reasonable and the room is very nice.  They need to step up some of the menu items and tweak the service (especially the speed of drinks and improving some elements of table service) before it can be considered a top tier restaurant.

1851 W Addison St
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 687-8191

Endgrain 

Categories: American (New), Breakfast & Brunch
Neighborhood: Roscoe Village

2.0 star rating
7/14/2014
I do not understand the praise given to Endgrain's donuts. They're more like glazed brioche than real donuts. We ordered three: bourbon vanilla, blueberry glazed and chocolate/peanut butter. The glazes/icings on each were delicious, but these were easily the breadiest donuts I've ever eaten. We didn't come close to finishing any of them.

Maybe people in this area are so starved for donuts that they'll hype anything that comes close. Or maybe people are talking themselves into liking them after paying $3 each. Either way, I wouldn't buy these again.

Listed in: The Definitive Donut List

844 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 491-0844

Grange Hall Burger Bar 

Categories: Burgers, Breakfast & Brunch
Neighborhoods: Near West Side, West Loop

2.0 star rating
6/28/2014 1 check-in
The veggie burger is below average (starchy and without much flavor). Fries were fine, although my preference is not thick-cut fries. Service was generally OK, although we had to ask for an extra plate a few times. Interesting beer/liquor menu.

My main problem with Grange is that its veggie burger pales in comparison to Little Goat's version a few doors down. I'm not that high on Little Goat but their veggie burger is great. It is the same price as Grange's but infinitely superior. Actually, I ended up at Granger because I went to Little Goat but the wait was too long. I should have stuck it out.

I was going to give Grange 3 stars for being merely mediocre until we got the bill. 2 burgers, 2 drinks and a side of fries was $61 with tax and tip. That would be fine if we enjoyed the meal, but it just wasn't that good. My wife had a beef burger and she said it was fine if instantly forgettable. Overall, a poor value. So long as Little Goat continues to offer a better product at the same price just steps away, there's no reason for me to return.
1560 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 360-7386

Stan’s Donuts & Coffee 

Categories: Donuts, Coffee & Tea
Neighborhood: Wicker Park

3.0 star rating
6/28/2014
This is really a 2.5 star review. Stan's makes some great donuts. Service has always been helpful and friendly. However, their failure to publicly disclose a key polarizing ingredient in over half of its donuts knocks Stan's down a few stars.

I learned after maybe a dozen visits that their yeast raised donuts are made with lard. If given a choice, I wouldn't eat products made with this ingredient. Also, I took some vegetarian friends here who ate non-vegetarian donuts on my recommendation (which I never would have given had I known what was in the donuts). I would never suggest that Stan's change its recipes, but disclosing its use of lard in advance would give customers the ability to make an informed choice.

Listed in: The Definitive Donut List

64 Bergen St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 596-1511

Homage 

Category: Sporting Goods
Neighborhood: Cobble Hill

5.0 star rating
6/12/2014
Friendly, helpful staff (which is rare among skate shops). Well designed displays. Overall, a great shop. If it was my local, I'd shop here all the time.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
340 E Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 496-3999

Brown Bag Seafood Co. 

Categories: Salad, Seafood, Sandwiches
Neighborhood: The Loop

3.0 star rating
5/23/2014
Brown Bag has a lot of promise but is showing some new restaurant growing pains.

The concept/gimmick of writing down your own order doesn't enhance the experience. I'm not sure how this is superior to having people order at a counter. It probably sounded interesting in a brainstorming session, but in practice it's a nedless hassle as customers mill around trying to figure it out. I was there when it wasn't crowded, but imagine there would be a considerable backup when busy. The "hook" of this restaurant is easily it's weakest point.

I had the tuna tacos. Tuna should be pink in the middle. This was way over done, well past the point of dryness. The taco toppings and tortilla were solid. My side of brussels sprouts was really good.

The menu is interesting and presents a refreshing change from the other lunch options in the area. I'll give Brown Bag another few weeks before returning to see if they've streamlined the process or learned how to properly cook fish.
445 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 661-1434

Frontera Grill 

Category: Mexican
Neighborhood: Near North Side

2.0 star rating
4/25/2014
Frontera Grill is a mediocre restaurant coasting on the goodwill of a celebrity chef. I really don't understand the glowing reviews of this place. Average food would ordinarily rate 3 stars, but the prices charged here are outrageous in comparison to the quality.  

I've been here a few times and always thought that maybe I ordered the wrong things. After my most recent experience, I can safely conclude that the food is just not that good. The sweet plantains are actually great, but I wouldn't recommend a restaurant based on a single side dish. The best of the rest is the ceviche, which I rate only as above average.

The room is dark and dated. We were most recently there on a warm, sunny day and the dining room was like entering a cave. It was actually a downer as we came inside from one of the first nice days of spring.

Service was unpolished. Everyone at the table was delivered the wrong food, waiter took food order without asking about drinks, etc.

There is usually a long wait to get into Frontera, so I think many people have a sense of accomplishment getting to eat here. I feel like that, coupled with Bayless' renown, are what make people rate Frontera higher than it should be rated. If this same food was served at a new restaurant with an anonymous chef, there is no way it would be this highly regarded.

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3 Lists

The Definitive Donut List

My love of donuts was recently rekindled and I've…
1.  Firecakes
Update: The new peanut…
2.  Do-Rite Donuts
BEST DONUTS IN CHICAGO.…
3.  Impallaria Bakery & Deli
The donuts at Impallaria…
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LD's Pizza Reviews

I've been all over the world and I've eaten pizza…
1.  Spacca Napoli
Spacca Napoli is easily…
2.  Galleria Umberto
Put this place in the…
3.  Just-A-Pizza
Sadly, this is now just…
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Location

Chicago, IL

Yelping Since

September 2006

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Nutella, pizza, gelato, Xbox 360, vegetarian food, keeping it ten zillion, donuts, the NBA, my Nespresso machine, fish tacos

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Air Jordans and Levis

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Palos Hills, IL

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PeepMyYelps.net

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Quarter Pounder with cheese and a Shamrock Shake

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