It’s Friday and the weekend is almost here! As is ritual, we’re highlighting one of the incredible women in our community and this week, we’re featuring Megan Miller of Baker Miller. Yes, THE Baker Miller. At Baker Miller, they believe in good grains, good food and good people and in our opinion, you won’t find better people than Megan and her husband (and co-owner) Dave.
Megan is sharing some of her favorite things about Chicago on our 4xForth series, including best bites and favorite neighborhoods along with some fun Megan-made categories including her go-to recipe book.
Places I frequent in Chicago:
Women's Workout World on Lawrence. I know this is a ridiculous answer but I seriously can't shut up about what an amazing place W3 is. It's a really powerful thing to go to a gym that is all women. If you haven't tried it I would strongly encourage you to. I used to go to Xsport and various other gyms throughout the city and I eventually stopped going because it ended up doing terrible things for my self-esteem. Then I found W3. W3 is extremely affordable ($23/mo.) and has a strict all female policy. This means that I get to work out with tons of women who wear burkas, or other conservative garments whether they're Jewish or Muslim or even Mennonite. They are able to come to women's workout world and sweat it out with the rest of us without the restrictions or barriers that those garments often pose. On top of that, they offer classes and equipment that allow for a real (really hard) workout. The instructors look like the rest of us and know exactly what it’s like to be a real person just trying to be healthy. It is a no judgment zone and it is such an empowering wonderful place. I get to be around people there that I would otherwise never cross paths with and I just love the way my world looks with W3 in it.
Alapash: I buy all of my presents from Alapash. It’s a beautiful little storefront on Damen and Lawrence. They have darling and affordable terrariums, dishes, amazing candles, pillows and rugs and all kinds of other little things. Side note: If you're much further south, Komoda on Chicago and Rockwell is a great alternative.
Chicago Lakefront. One of my favorite things is to run or walk from Michigan Ave. to the beach, then over the North Ave. bridge and through the zoo. What an amazing thing that we have a free zoo we can just wander through whenever we want! And that we can go from city, to beach, to zoo and beautiful park in like an hour.
Old Town School of Folk Music: I love this place because no matter what show I'm going to see, I can usually be sure that I'll love it. Or, at the very least, be fascinated as I learn something about a kind of musical tradition I had no idea existed. It’s also a great thing to do within walking distance of my apartment.
Best Bites in Chicago:
Rangoli: I'm almost hesitant to tell you all about this because I never want them to change (/get so busy I can't get in!) But I love them too much to shut up about them. This is seriously the best Indian food in Chicago. They have great delivery but its even better to go there. It's BYO, they have a lovely atmosphere, a super pleasant welcoming staff. Several times they have sat down next to our table and shared their staff meal with my friend and I who go there almost shamefully often and stay till close. Rangoli is a wonderful amazing place filled with love and rainbows and deliciously spicy food.
Lula Cafe: Dave and I go to Lula whenever we have anything to celebrate or just want to have a reliably good meal. Walking in there to me feels like going to see an old friend who is constantly doing different beautiful and interesting things. They always greet us with a smile, and a sparkly glass of champagne. Also Jason and Leah are big role models to Dave and I (we would like to be them when we grow up) so we love going there for inspiration.
Fat Rice: The first time I went to Fat Rice the only response I could think of was to write them a thank you note for sharing their amazing gifts with the world. I know this is over the top but seriously everyone should go there. Start with Charlie's peanuts and pot stickers and then get the piri piri chicken. Also, go with a big group so that you can get everything else on the menu and share it with all of your friends.
Cho Sun Ok: This is the Korean restaurant on Lincoln by the Jewel with a big yellow sign. To support our busy lifestyle, Dave and I are always looking for healthier take out that we can get on nights that we're too pooped to cook. As a result we have tried a lot of Korean food around the city and I'm pretty positive that this is at least in the top 3 (Chicago Kalbi is a close runner up). I get their kimchi stew in the winter and bibimbop in the summer.
Favorite neighborhoods in Chicago:
Ukrainian Village/Humboldt Park. I've spent the bulk of my 20's living here and there will always be a special place in my heart for it. There is literally everything you could ever need in the little square between Augusta, Chicago Ave., California and Western. There are fancy bars and dive bars, an Amish grocery store and a traditional grocery store, delicious restaurants, lots of artisan designers, a plant nursery, a book store, a coffee roaster, some amazing yoga studios and beautiful parks. Really the only drawback (besides the always climbing rent) is that you have so few reasons to leave the neighborhood that you can get stuck feeling like you live in a small town. Which leads me to my next pick:
Lincoln Square. This is where Dave lived when we started dating, and it was always been a lovely place for us to go to. We constantly found ourselves escaping here when we needed to temporarily get out of Humboldt or Logan. It’s just the happiest place, with the old Davis Theater, and all the little storefronts, including Gene's Rooftop and two farmers markets during the week. Now that we live here, we chose to live on the far west side of the neighborhood so that we get to be close to the ethnic metropolis that is Albany Park. Best of both worlds!
Logan Square. I love Logan for all of the art, delicious food and fun hang out spots. Not to mention the fact that this neighborhood supported us with our food truck and then with the brick and mortar Bang Bang shop when no one else understood or believed in how special it was going to be. This neighborhood launched our careers and I'm forever grateful.
Pilsen. I love the energy in Pilsen right now. There are so many changes happening there and I think that a lot of people are putting effort in to keep the integrity and character of the neighborhood alive. That's what we need more of in Chicago. I feel Logan has missed out on some of this. I think all the hype surrounding it swallowed up some of the original character that it had because too many people were seeing dollar signs. While that's sad to me, I also know that Logan will get its own new character back in a different way, but its encouraging to see Pilsen holding strong.
Favorite Book you've recently read:
The Ghost Network by Catie Disabato. Its a book about a secret society of people super into architecture, a pop star who disappears at the height of her career, and some amateur journalists who find the connection between them. And it takes place in Chicago. I finished it a month ago and have still not stopped thinking about it and wishing that it was a true story.
Favorite trip you've recently taken:
Tulum, Mexico. Tulum is a beautiful place full of beautiful people and pretty delicious food. If you are going to Mexico, go here. You won't regret it. Looking back on our time there feels like it was such a magical world, I'm dying to go back!
Favorite breakfast joint:
Edgebrook Coffee Shop. The look and feel of the space is straight out of my dreams. If you go, get the Reuben. It’s insanely delicious.
Favorite recipe source:
Cook's Country (along with Cook's illustrated, America's Test Kitchen, etc). This is the first place I go when making a dish I've never made. Their recipes work, and even if you don't end up loving the dish, they usually give you the education to enable you to change it into something you love. I pretty much owe a lot of my baking career to them, along with my employees who know more than me (which is most of them), and the billion cookbooks I've read.
Thanks for sharing, Megan!
I’ve been curious about Cho Sun Ok for some time now (fellow north-ender, here!) and your review just moved its status from “someday” to “must try!” Baker Miller is a Forth favorite and if you ever need guinea pigs when your creating new recipes, you know where to find us! We can’t wait to follow all of your and Dave’s new adventures – inside the walls of Baker Miller and out – and we’re delighted to have you as part of our community.