Despite the fact that it’s weather kinda sucks, and its inhabitants (for the most part) need to be educated on what a good pizza slice is, Chicago is a pretty excellent place. Taste Tester and I used to live there and like to return fairly regularly to visit friends, family and of course chow down on some of our favorite good eats.
Here’s a list of some of the super awesome places we visited, most of which are serving up some awesome chocolate peanut butter treats!
If you only get to taste one store-bought cupcake in your life, it should be the Ron Bennington. We went to Molly’s for the first time last summer which was the first time I tasted it, and it was just as fantastic the second time around – maybe even better. The cupcake was moist and rich, with a nice hunk of peanut butter in the center, delicious chocolate ganache on top and hits it home with the crunchy butterscotch topping. If you go to Chicago and fail to have one of these cupcakes – I’m not one to threat, but – I may have to beat you silly with an oven mitt.
This time around I also tried their Peanut Butter Nutella Cupcake, which is a peanut butter cake filled with a generous hunk of Nutella and topped with buttercream Nutella frosting. The Ron Bennington reigns supreme as my favorite, but this cupcake was also pretty damn good. The peanut butter and chocolate hazelnut spread made a great flavor combination.
Milk & Honey
I used to live around the corner from Milk & Honey and oh, how I miss it. The food and pastries are fantastic and don’t even get me started on their granola. Mmmm… the granola. Whenever I travel to Chi-town I make a point to visit and always return home with a bag or two. After trying it, your cereal will seriously never be the same again. For those of you who don’t happen to have a Chicago visit planned, you can purchase it online. They recently came out with a new Vegan Cashew Papaya mix that is awesome!
Southport Grocery is an awesome cafe that serves awesome food, and has an awesome little market area that sells awesome baked goods. Is that enough awesome for you? You really can’t go wrong here. Order the bread pudding pancakes or “grown up pop tart” and grab some Askinosie Chocolate, Terry’s Toffee, a vanilla cupcake and a dutch brownie on the way out. I know that sounds like a lot of stuff, but if you pass on any of those, you are missing out! I also picked up this tasty looking Peanut Butter Bum Bar which I will be writing a review of shortly. *Update: read a review of this bar here!*
Their Broadway location is a great place to sit, relax and welcome the morning with a cup of their truly delicious coffee. They also sell Vosges chocolate bars including the Peanut Butter BonBon.
Unfortunately they were closed when we walked by too early the morning, but it looked pretty sweet inside. The old fashioned candy and childish decor will no doubt make you feel like a kid again. If you’re experiencing a cpb craving, I definitely noticed at least a few qualifying treats as we made like peeping Tom in the window.
We made it just before closing and had a nice chat with the friendly owner as we ogled the goodies in the display case. One of my favorite chocolate shops to visit back when I lived in town was The Chicago Chocolate Company. I was so sad when they closed their retail location and I could no longer pilfer delicious free samples or daydream about sticking my face in the glorious fondue fountains. Thankfully you can now visit Just Indulge to buy their treats including chocolate peanut butter squares or logs to enjoy alongside your ice cream, custard or cupcake.
I have visited most of the above mentioned places many times, but this was my first trip to Lovely and I can definitely say there will be future visits. The space is large, relaxing and rustic with a roomy patio. Eateries are so gigantic in places that are not New York… it’s just not fair!
The service is friendly, they have Intelligentsia coffee (mmmm) and their baked goods both look and taste fantastic. They have a fun blog with pretty polaroids of their delicious sweets if you’d like a sneak peak. Another reason to love Lovely is that they had a nice array of chocolate peanut butter treats including this gorgeous Peanut Butter Fluff Pie, chocolate chip peanut butter cookies and peanut butter brownies.
Our group can confirm that the corn muffins, blueberry muffins and croissants are all delicious (and we are snobs about both corn muffins and croissants). They bake everything on site with exception of the bagels which are from NYC Bagels, arguably the best bagelry in Chicago.
Our visit to Sweet Cakes garnered mixed reviews. Joann thought her strawberry cake was a bit too heavy and Taste Tester didn’t like the vanilla cupcake. On the bright side, the asiago scone was yummy, the coffee was good and I really enjoyed my smores cupcake. It actually tasted just like a smore! The cake’s texture and flavor was spot on for a graham cracker and the frosting was nice and fluffy just like a marshmallow. Sadly they didn’t serve any chocolate peanut butter concoctions. *sniff*
I get kind of a funny feeling now whenever I go to a bakery and eat something other than a chocolate peanut butter treat (even when it’s not an option). It feels like I’m cheating on the blog a little, like it’s become my duty to seek and consume every cpb treat in my path. You should know that I take my job seriously (it’s not really a job, but you know what I mean)! :P
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this little guide of deliciousness in Chicago. Though some of the aforementioned places do not carry cpb snacks, most of them do. So book your flight and happy eating!