This week’s Best Bite: Negroni slushy and pimento toast, Parson’s Chicken & Fish

Negroni slushy with letherbee gin, luxando bitter, sweet vermouth, and citron
Negroni slushy with letherbee gin, luxardo bitter, sweet vermouth, and citron

Why it’s this week’s Best Bite: This novel Negroni slushy has appeared in basically every Chicago summer/cocktail/patio/drinking article since Parson’s Chicken and Fish opened in mid-May, even called “the coolest Negroni in the world.” The fanfare is justified, though: it’s an excellent Negroni in a fun format, avoiding the watery or overly sweet fate that befalls most frozen beverages. With locally made Letherbee gin and citrusy Luxardo bitter, it’s mellow, refreshing, and just bitter enough.

Toast with pimento cheese, charred radishes, and pea shoots
Toast with pimento cheese, charred radishes, and pea shoots

Snack-wise, I was torn between the shrimp and pimento toast, and though I still plan to try the seafood variety next time, I was more than satisfied with pimento. My Midwestern upbringing didn’t involve a lot of pimento cheese, but especially as Southern-influenced cuisine becomes more popular in Chicago, I’ve now tasted several knock-out versions (including Zingerman’s, my favorite to have at home) and am starting to understand its following. At Parson’s, the pimento spread is smooth (no coarse shreds) and ultra-cheesy atop buttery toast. The sourness and acidity from pickle relish and charred radishes beautifully round out each bite, punctuated by the pea shoots. I also appreciated the portion of three moderate slices, enough to share easily.

Of course, I liked the fried chicken, too – though I found it to be best on its own, without any of the housemade sauces – and the mezcal margarita gave the slushy a serious run for its money. Check out more photos below of the food and atmosphere.

Menu and a margarita, another standout cocktail with el buho mescal, torres orange brandy, orange & lime juice, maguey sweet sap, and a sour patch rim
Menu and a margarita, another standout cocktail with el buho mescal, torres orange brandy, orange & lime juice, maguey sweet sap, and a sour patch rim
The interior bar at Parson's, with the negroni slushy machine in the center
The interior bar at Parson’s, with the negroni slushy machine in the center
The namesake fried chicken
The namesake fried chicken
Funnel cake with honey, brown butter, and green peppercorn brittle
Funnel cake with honey, brown butter, and green peppercorn brittle
Striped umbrellas & picnic tables on the spacious patio
Striped umbrellas & picnic tables on the spacious patio (prepare to wait on weekends)

The details: Parson’s Chicken and Fish, 2952 W Armitage Ave., Chicago.

List: My 10 favorite places to work remotely in Chicago

Since my job affords me the privilege of working from home one day a week, I’ve made a habit of working from different coffee shops and cafés all over the city – I’m one of those people who’s more focused in that setting, rather than more distracted. My main criteria are good coffee and food options, free WiFi without a time limit (the only exception here is a two-hour timeout at Whole Foods), and reasonably comfortable seating. This list is by no means exhaustive, and in no particular order. I also excluded a few places I love because they’re usually crowded (I’m looking at you, Wormhole and Star Lounge).

KnockBox Café // Humboldt Park

Falling into the “hidden gem” category, KnockBox is a tried-and-true favorite, with friendly staff, easy parking, and a great variety of coffee drinks, sandwiches, and snacks (plus I’m a sucker for applesauce being offered as a side).

Panini with a side of applesauce at Knockbox Cafe
Panini with a side of applesauce at KnockBox Café

Sip Coffee House // West Loop

I love Sip for its array of seating options (upstairs/downstairs, inside/outside) and an extensive, creative drink menu.

Gaslight Coffee Roasters // Logan Square

I had high hopes last summer when I found out that a new coffee shop was opening within walking distance of my apartment, and Gaslight has exceeded expectations, with excellent coffee roasted on-site and a suitably Logan Square-ish aesthetic.

Latte and pain au chocolat in a window seat at Gaslight Coffee Roasters
Latte and pain au chocolat in a window seat at Gaslight Coffee Roasters

Whole Foods // Lincoln Park

Let’s be honest: this gargantuan grocery store is one of my favorite places in the city, period, so I’m always content to assemble a hodge-podge of tastes from a few of the kiosks, then settle in with a laptop in the upstairs river-view seating.

New Wave Coffee // Logan Square

I’ve spent many hours at this convenient Logan Square mainstay, sipping either bottomless Metropolis coffee or a delicious Hail Mary (New Wave’s version of “dirty chai”, or a chai latte with espresso) and sometimes splurging on a spinach and feta croissant, if there are any left.

Oatmeal and Hail Mary (chai latte with espresso) at New Wave Coffee
Oatmeal and Hail Mary at New Wave Coffee

Ipsento // Bucktown

I love holing up in Ipsento’s cozy back room, and can’t get enough of the shop’s namesake signature latte with coconut milk, honey, and cayenne.

A cozy, brightly colored corner at Ipsento
A cozy, brightly colored corner at Ipsento

Dolce Casa Cafe // Ravenswood

I was immediately charmed by Dolce Casa’s cheerful space, energetic service, and killer breakfast items.

Robust Coffee Lounge // River North

A pleasant discovery in the River North area, I especially appreciate Robust’s relaxed vibe and its impressive selection of local sweets (Brown Sugar Bakery, Dat Donut, Lucia’s Homemade Aljafores, and more).

Iced latte and bagel sandwich on the patio at Robust Coffee Lounge
Iced latte and bagel sandwich on the patio at Robust Coffee Lounge

Heritage Bicycles General Store // Lakeview

This bicycle and coffee shop hybrid has proven to be a pleasant, laid-back working environment with lots of natural light; pourover coffee and Glazed and Infused donuts don’t hurt either.

Eva’s Cafe // Old Town

Eva’s Cafe is another gem within its neighborhood, refreshingly spacious with good coffee and lots of interesting seating areas (think wrought-iron furniture and a fireplace).

Globe and other pieces along the counter at Eva's Cafe
Globe and other pieces along the counter at Eva’s Cafe

Where are your favorite places to work remotely? I’m always open to new suggestions!

This week’s Best Bite: The Kedzie breakfast, Grandma J’s Local Kitchen

The Kedzie, Grandma J's Local Kitchen
The Kedzie, Grandma J’s Local Kitchen

Why it’s this week’s Best Bite: I was overjoyed by this unique take on eggs benedict on a recent weekday morning. The poached eggs sit atop cheddar jasmine rice cakes, crispy on the outside and cheesy on the inside, with hollandaise, pico de gallo, and black beans to tie it together. Large pieces of grilled pineapple and red pepper also make a statement as garnishes, joined by a pleasant arugula salad. It’s filling and a little exotic, meant to be enjoyed with coffee and a good read (in my case, the never-ending quest to catch up on magazines).

Sunny interior, Grandma J's Local Kitchen
Sunny interior, Grandma J’s Local Kitchen

Walking into Grandma J’s is like stepping into someone’s living room, mismatched furniture and all. Bold art, antique photos, and knick-knacks huddle under the colorful fabric panels that adorn the ceiling, and an armoire surrounded by wall-mounted clocks holds an array of hot sauces, a gentle reminder that it’s still a restaurant. The service is casual and friendly, and the open kitchen makes it feel like you’re pulling up a stool to watch Grandma cook (if Grandma was younger, with hipster sensibilities). It’s tucked away in Humboldt Park, a block from my old apartment – I so wish it had opened while I still lived there, as it would have been a dream to have brunch like this within walking distance. If you go, make sure to also stop for a treat at 100-year-old Roeser’s Bakery, just across North Avenue.

Mason jars and cozy details, Grandma J's Local Kitchen
Mason jars and cozy details, Grandma J’s Local Kitchen

The details: Grandma J’s Local Kitchen, 1552 N Kedzie Ave., Chicago.