You know Sarah Grueneberg as the executive chef at Spiaggia, where she turns out elegant Italian plates, and as the bubbly runner-up on Top Chef Texas. Before entering the limelight, Grueneberg cooked at restaurants in her native Houston, and then moved up to Chicago. When not at Spiaggia, you can find her studying Italian cuisine in Italy or eating her way through her Lakeview neighborhood. We recently caught up with Grueneberg to talk about her favorite places to eat in the neighborhood she's called home for four years.
Sandwich: The banh mi at Nhu Lan. I usually get the BBQ pork banh mi.
Bar: The bar we go to most is Rocks. They have big ice cubes, which is great when you want bourbon on the rocks, and there's decent bar food. The burgers are delicious.
Dinner Spot: I like to get food from Ping Pong. It's a great place to go and eat, and it's better when you dine in than take out. I like their potstickers and they offer brown fried rice with everything. When I eat in, I get the salt and pepper calamari, which is lightly fried and served with big red chilies and scallions.
Essential Neighborhood Spot: Pastoral is one. I love Pastoral. And Bobtail, the ice cream shop next door, is really good.
Burger: Definitely the one from Rocks.
Falafel: Falafill is really good. I usually get the falafel bowl, and you can add toppings to it from the bar.
Hot Dog: Flub A Dub Chub's. I get the Chicago dog—you don't mess with what's not broken.
Taco: I don't have a favorite taco spot, since that's something we make at the house.
Date Night: We usually try to go out to different neighborhoods for date night, but I'm looking forward to trying Bar Pastoral. It looks like it will be a really fun place to go get wine and cheese.
Pastry/Dessert: Bobtail. I always just get the monthly flavor, and the pumpkin is delicious. My best friend lives at Wellington and Broadway, so we'll cook dinner there and then go out for ice cream.
Bread: I would say The Bagel. I like their bagels a lot and they make a good challah.
Coffee: Intelligentsia. I always go for the double espresso. It feels like Italy, and you can stand there and have an espresso and a cup of water, which is very traditional.
Breakfast: Ann Sather for sure. That's where we always go. I like to get their Mexican style wraps, and my fiancé Jaime's family has to get the cinnamon rolls.