Dialog Cafe



***** (5 stars)

This cute, family owned coffee shop just off the Sunset Strip offers friendly service and excellent coffee drinks. There are also a large number of breakfast items, and tasty croissants. My macchiato was perfect and attractive.

Dialog Cafe
8766 Holloway Dr
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 289-1630




**** (4 stars)

This is an attractive coffee place in the Fours Seasons. There is a nice selection of pastries. I have to say, though, that the decaf macchiato contained the bitterest shot of espresso I have ever had, requiring the addition of an equal amount of milk and an entire teaspoon of sugar. The Chai tea was quite good.

Four Seasons Hotel
2 Dole Dr
Westlake Village, CA 91362
(818) 575-3000

3 Greens Market


***** (5 stars)

Perhaps the 3 in the title of this place if for the three expansive salad bars. They certainly look good. I say “look” because I haven’t actually tried them. On my next visit I need to do that. But this visit was all about a hamburger.

Ever since Au Cheval’s burger was named the best in the country by several sources I’ve been attempting to try it. Unfortunately, every time I’ve gone there it’s either had ridiculous wait times or been unexpectedly closed (mid-afternoon they only serve drinks and snacks). In fact, it’s been a lot like my failed attempts to try Hot Dougs, but that’s another story.

Anyway, when I saw that they’d spun off a smaller operation called Small Cheval, I resolved to try the burger that way, but somehow never managed to get there.

So when I saw that 3 Greens Market was serving a Small Cheval burger, I spotted my chance to at last try the famous burger. Of course, it’s a burger twice-removed from its source, but still… It was a mighty good hamburger.

I like my burgers pretty much loaded. But some people just like mustard and ketchup. What’s interesting about this burger is that those are the two ingredients that aren’t included. So some people probably wouldn’t like it, but I did.

Here, the emphasis is on the two perfectly cooked beef patties, the very melted cheese, and the garlic aioli. Secondary flavors come from the pickle slices and chopped onion. I added bacon which, in retrospect, was unneeded. The bun is sturdy enough to hold the whole thing together, an impressive achievement considering how much is going on.

Of course, when someone declares a thing “the best” they’re setting it up for comparison and naysaying, and in fact I’ve had burgers I liked better, including one here in Chicago at Good Stuff Eatery. But this is a very good burger, and I wouldn’t argue with someone who says it’s their favorite.

The accompanying fries were skinny, very crisp, but didn’t have a lot of flavor.

3 Greens has Coke Freestyle machines, which are always fun to experiment with.

Counter service is friendly and efficient.

Next time: the salad bars. Maybe.

3 Greens Market
354 West Hubbard Street
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 888-9195

Dixie Cream Cafe

**** (4 stars)

This is a charming cafe right in downtown Windermere. I’m old enough to remember this space not only as a convenience store, but also as the post office that preceded it. So it’s odd that I’ve driven past hundreds of times, but only just finally stopped in to check it out. It definitely exceeded my expectations.

There’s counter service for freshly made pastries, coffees, and other beverages, and sit down dining in several areas: the restaurant proper, high tops in the area near the coffee bar, and covered tables outside along the porch. Each offers a different ambiance.

The comprehensive menu includes coffee shop standards with an emphasis on breakfast, and more cafe-like items including artisan sandwiches and gourmet burgers. Fish tacos and other eclectic fare round out the diverse offerings.

I opted for the BL(FG)T, which is a unique version of a BLT using fried green tomatoes. It was delicious, especially the toasted multi-grain bread. I opted to upgrade my side to a mixed green salad, which was served on the same plate. It had a nice mix of greens and an excellent blue cheese dressing.

A very fresh coconut macaroon was the perfect dessert.

Service was very friendly and attentive. I’ll definitely be back to try some of the other interesting lunch dishes, and to check out breakfast.

Dixie Cream Cafe
434 Main St
Windermere, FL 34786
(407) 217-5047

Banh Mi Nha Trang Subs

***** (5 stars)

The house special here is not only the best Banh Mi sandwich I’ve ever had, it is the best sandwich I’ve ever had. The bread is incredibly fresh, and perfectly toasted around the edges. The meats are smokey and flavorful, and the vegetables incredibly fresh and piquant. Just an absolutely sublime combination of ingredients.

Located at the back of a court surrounded by old shops, the place looks pretty decrepit from the outside, and no better inside. There are no tables, and not even a register. You simply pick what you want from the list and wait for it to be handed to you.

Nevertheless, it is an awesome sandwich, and I will be back here often. See you tomorrow!

Banh Mi Nha Trang Subs
1216 E Colonial Dr
Ste 9
Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 346-4549

Café Du Monde

***** (5 stars)

This place serves basically two things, coffee and beignets, and you want both of them. The cafe au lait is excellent, and the famous beignets are crisp outside, fluffy inside, and buried in powdered sugar. There is always a long line here for both seating and take out, so allow time, or plan to come at an off time (if there is one).

Café Du Monde
French Market
800 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 525-4544

Incredibly Delicious

**** (4 stars)

This funky old house offers seating scattered around several rooms, and delightful baked goods, quiches and sandwiches.

You order at a well-hidden counter toward the rear, and the wait can be quite long because of the odd way things are set up.

But the wait is worth it, as you’ll discover when they bring your delicious croissant, cake, quiche or sandwich to your table. Everything is fresh and wonderful, and the  service is friendly.

Incredibly Delicious
925 S 7th St
Springfield, IL 62703
(217) 953-4348

Peet’s Coffee & Tea

***** (5 stars)

For those who actually like coffee (as opposed to those who drink Starbucks swill diluted with sugar and dairy products) Peet’s is one of the very best coffee chains. This location is particularly nice, and the outside seating is particularly, particularly nice, located in the Wrigley Building’s breezeway, where you can watch the tourists on their way from Michigan Avenue to the Trump and the Riverwalk. It’s a great place for an iced coffee on a hot day. Or visit the Ghirardelli  chocolate store next door, and have that with your hot coffee indoors on a cold winter’s day.

Peet’s Coffee & Tea
400 N Michigan Ave
Ste 120
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 625-5531

Do-Rite Donuts

***** (5 stars)

This is what a donut shop in heaven must be like.

As a long-time fan of Stan’s Corner Donut Shop in Westwood Village California, I was delighted to learn that Stan’s had opened locations in Chicago. And indeed, their blueberry buttermilk donut is hard to beat.

But my favorite donut is an old fashioned buttermilk, and the one at Do-Rite has bested all others. The delicate crusty outside and moist center is the perfect combination. Do-Rite’s has a lot of other good choices, but this one is the new benchmark of excellence.

It’s one heavenly donut.

Do-Rite Donuts
50 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 488-2483