Where to Go For The Best Taco in Chicago on Taco Tuesday

While we may not be as active on the Throwback Thursday’s, Taco Tuesday’s are here to stay in Chicago! For National Tequila Day (July 24th), a few of my favorite bloggers like Jennifer Mai from Jen Eats Chi and Lee Lepe from Chicago Standard and Katie from Appetite4Adventure and you know, 380 other people got together at Park & Field in Logan Square (which by the way is one of the best patios in Chicago – it seriously gives me LA vibes) to sample six different tacos to vote on the best taco in Chicago.

The Tortilla Awards

The crowd was lit with excitement as people lined up after work on Tuesday, July 24th to vote on the best tacos and take part in the festivities. The Tortilla Awards is a party open to the public featuring a city-wide search for the best tacos. It launched in Los Angeles on June 26th and will end in Austin on September 11th. For the Chicago Tortilla Awards, both partners, Tequila CAZADORES and Chef Aarón Sánchez, hand selected the top five tortilla makers to come together in person to compete for the title of being the best taco.

“My culture and heritage are the number one influence on my cooking, and there is nothing more authentic to my upbringing than the art of making a tortilla. Each of these contestants has
been selected because of their dedication and craft in preparing a fresh tortilla that reminds me of being back in Mexico, and I look forward to meeting each of them at these competitions,” shared Chef Aaron Sanchez, Chef/owner Johnny Sánchez, located in New Orleans and co-star of FOX’s MasterChef and MasterChef Junior.

Margs!

Of course you can’t have tacos without margaritas. And there were so many margaritas to choose from! After going to the tequila shot hut (with three different types of tequila), we gathered around Park & Field’s fire pit and  enjoyed Tequila Cazadores cocktails, including the Rosa La Poderosa, an exclusive recipe from local Chicago bartender Julieta Campos that features Cazadores Blanco, Apologue Aronia, cucumber, Weatherby Cola Bitters and lime.

Tortilla Taco Awards in Chicago at Park and Field 2018

While the sky was brooding, we stayed the night running back and forth to sample all six tacos and catching up on summer romances and blunders. Around 9 pm, our rims we’re getting a little saltier and the mood was lighter, and we got up to cast our votes.

Tortilla Award Winners:

Chicago blogger, Erin from 312 Food at the Tortilla Awards in Chicago

 

So, when you’re out and about this summer, add Big Star in Wicker Park to your must-see patios and tacos. Come back soon for more places to go, food to sample, and people to meet.

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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5 New Spots to Grab a Cocktail in Chicago This Summer

Summertime Chi is a time of discovery and well, cocktails. We’ve combined the two to give you five of the newest bars to grab some cocktails in Chicago this summer – including one of the most talked about rooftop! From cocktail bars to social clubs, chances are there are some hot spots that will help you plan your next happy hours and Friday night benders. And if you’re gone every other weekend or spending the summer in Rome – we’ve covered some solid choices to put in your rotation for months to come. When you’re drinking and having a great time, you’ll definitely want to think about how you’re going to bar hop! I suggest organizing transportation ahead of time so you can focus more on the drinks and catching up, than on the logistics when you’re soaking up the sun. Click here for some suggestions. 

Z Bar

108 E Superior Street

This rooftop bar has an awesome location near the Magnificent Mile downtown. It just opened this June with a few evening parties with some of the hottest bloggers like Olivia Rink. It is often packed, especially during weekends, but the hand crafted cocktails are certainly worth the wait. Their cocktail menu is inspired by luxury travel around the world, and you’ll notice it in the quality of the drinks here. Plus, the rooftop terrace has unbeatable views of the city – am I right? 

80 Proof

1500 N Wells Street

You can find this new American bar in the Old Town near the North side of town. Their dishes are upscale comfort food with options like chorizo sloppy joes and spicy shrimp tacos. They have a DJ at their brunch which is the perfect way to start your weekend! There are a lot of photo opps – so if you missed 29 Rooms or Happy Place – you can still spice up your insta. 

Flight Club Darts Chicago

111 W Wacker Drive

Flight Club Darts Chicago is a social club with fun games and delicious food and drink options. It’s fun to play darts while socializing with friends – because sometimes we need another activity besides just drinking.  You can expect the usual bar food menu here. They even host fun events with magicians and other entertainment through the month.

The Gringo

1201 W Grand Avenue

When a taqueria meets a beer garden, you get The Gringo, and it’s as magical as it sounds. You can order elotes, margaritas (by the pitcher), and if that isn’t enough motivation to get you here, maybe the oreo churros will be! They play hip, indie music, and you have a variety of meat and salsa options to choose from.

Dutch & Doc’s

3600 N Clark St

This new restaurant in Lakeview is located right across the street from Wrigley Field, so it’s a perfect stop if you’re doing some sightseeing in the city or heading to a Cub’s game. They serve a variety of cuisines on their menu, and they make a mean homemade vanilla bean soft serve for that hot afternoon or if you’re starting early they have you set with fresh, bloody Mary drinks for brunch.

This is a sponsored post. 

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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Summertime Chi is busy. Everyone wants to find that friend of a friend who has a boat. And when that doesn’t happen, we turn our attention to rooftops and patios. So this year, I’ve decided to put a twist on dinner parties and create a patio party series.

Once or twice a month this summer, I’m taking my networking skills to my home and inviting people over for brunch or dinner. I start by reaching out to people I want to catch up with or meet IRL and invite them to come cook and dine at Windy City Cosmo’s patio.

I wanted to share with you my patio party series and hopefully you’ll find your own summer twist on dinner parties.

Windy City Cosmo Patio Party

Creating the Look:

You can have dinner anywhere – but I’m a settings person. I need the flowers, the candles, the comfort and the company. So far, I’ve had a brunch patio party and a dinner patio party.

For the dinner patio party, I brought out my Christmas white lights and strung them over my terrace. Then I picked up an Off! candle (or you can be fancy and make your own bug repelling candles). Add a lot of wine and it’s a perfect girl’s night.

For the brunch patio party, I woke up early and had a beautiful bouquet of purple roses from celebrity’s favorite florist, Ode á la Rose. There’s something about waking up to the smell of fresh roses that makes me smile. It was a hot day, but the flowers looked lavish in their signature box.

I added them to my patio table to brighten up the setting and add some plants to my concrete patio. I tried to grow my own rose garden (and only one rose grew last year), so I appreciated the help.

 

 

 

Cooking and Bonding:

Girl’s Dinner Party Edition:

It’s true that you bond when you cook together.

For the dinner party, I invited over Chicago food blogger and Time Out Chicago Tastemaker, Mary Mangia.  She’s like, “we’re making pasta.” We both split up the ingredients and bought them. It was cute because I’ve never actually cooked dinner with someone like this and I loved it. I bought fresh basil for the first time and it was just domestic af.

We opened the bottle of champagne and chopped and sautéed in my kitchen. As we let the sauce simmer and thicken, we went out on the patio and quickly realized that I didn’t own a wine opener. Mid-talk about someone’s bad date, I headed to Mariano’s to find the most complex wine-opener ever.

We ended the night learning more about each other’s careers, relationships, and how we really are just a bunch of pasta loving bitches. Case in point, we met up at Summer Truffle Festival at Eataly a few weeks later.

Can You Cut a Watermelon Edition:

Brunch is one of the best parts of Chicago summers. I use to have a designated brunch friend and every weekend we would travel throughout the city for gourmet French toast or savory chicken and waffles. But I was glad to make my go-to scrambled eggs with a side of asparagus (yes, for some reason I like this combo, Thank you Whole30), and sausage.

I’m not going to lie, I impulse bought a personalized watermelon and thought this was the opportune moment to bring it out. My friend and Instagrammer, Lee Lepe from Chicago Standard, came to my rescue and brought out his picnic skills by cutting the watermelon for me.

It was cute and we turned my basic breakfast into a lavish brunch fit for discussing when we were going to check out Happy Place (because we’re the only ones who haven’t jumped into the sunshine ball pit). We finished brunch and headed off on our next adventure – heading to Ulta to spray tan.

How to Host a Patio Party Without Cooking For Yourself Recap:

We’re in Chicago – we all don’t have rooftop pools, so the next best thing is patio parties. This is like the one time you can host from your studio apartment.

Make a list of people you want to get to know better or catch up between their Paris vacation (seriously who isn’t in France right now?).

Add some ambiance to your patio. If it’s a day party or brunch, I suggest flowers. For a dinner patio party, make sure to get some bug spray and either light up lanterns or string lights.

Don’t put all the pressure on yourself. Cooking can be very difficult. I get that you want to impress everyone, but it’s so much better when you invite Chicago foodie’s and add an activity to your dinner party. Cook the meal together – not by yourself – and make sure you have a wine opener.

Cheers to more patio parties and more connections in the city.

 

 

 

 

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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Time Out Chicago Bar Awards Names This as Chicago’s #1 Bar

Bar industry experts curated by Time Out Chicago have chosen the best bars in Chicago – and there are definitely some to add to your Chicago summer bucket list.  

This June, we got together in the west loop at The Herbarium (right next to Au Cheval – I’m still digesting that burger). After tasting inventive cocktails from William Grant & Sons, which were notable next to individual sized bottles of Rose with cones on them. It seriously felt like a summer spin New Year’s Eve.

Time Out Chicago’s editor, Morgan Olsen announced the winners for Time Out Chicago Bar Awards 2018, who were ranked and profiled by an industry-renowned panel of high-profile drinks experts and top bartenders. The panel included Julia Momose, beverage director at Oriole; James Beard Award-winning sommelier Belinda Chang; Benjamin Schiller, beverage director at The Fifty/50 Group;  Hendrick’s Gin Ambassador Mattias Horseman; Monkey Shoulder Ambassador Vance Henderson; and , the Olsen, herself.

The full list of Time Out Chicago Bar Awards 2018 winners:

Guests enjoyed craft cocktails. Photo: Time Out Chicago

Guests enjoyed craft cocktails. Photo: Time Out Chicago

  • Bar of the Year presented by Hendrick’s Gin: Lost Lake

Guys! I haven’t been here. I was excited about this bar back in 2015 when it opened. For about a year and a half I was following Logan Square’s bar and restaurant scene as a new business writer (shout out to JAM for the best brunch of my life), but I transitioned out and sadly haven’t really explored Logan Square that much besides the occasional PBR, Jamison shot, and pizza special at Boiler Room. If you make a bar crawl out of Lost Lake, I would also add the vintage sports club and eatery, Park & Field to your list of summer time bars – it gave me Cali vibes in their patio with the fire pit and summer games 🙂

Green Mill is a staple. I use to go every Friday night with visitors from Hi USA Hostel. I personally love it for a date night on Sunday with the poetry slam.

Maple & Ash recently got on my radar. It’s always a popular spot – even when I pass through it in the Gold Coast on a Tuesday.

  • Sexiest Cocktail: Spanish-Style Gin and Tonic at Cindy’s

Cindy’s is the best – actually all of Chicago Athletic Club is because it’s versatile for a girl’s night, book club hangout, or a sexy date night. I think I visit Cindy’s the most often. Need to add this cocktail to my list, though 🙂

Photo: Time Out Chicago

Time Out Chicago Bar Awards 2018 panelists

  • Mattias Horseman
  • Vance Henderson
  • Ed Marszewski
  • Julia Momose
  • Danny Shapiro
  • Calvin Martin
  • Christopher Marty
  • Benjamin Schiller
  • Brenton Engel
  • Paul Hletko
  • Caitlin Laman
  • Nandini Khaund
  • Belinda Chang
  • Morgan Olsen
  • Zach Long
Photo: Time Out Chicago

Celebratory hugs all around for the best bars in Chicago for 2018. Photo: Time Out Chicago

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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How a 100 Year Old Company Attracts Talent in The Age of Entrepreneurship

Sometimes it’s important to pause and think about why we do the things that we do. It’s true for 100-year-old companies who are attracting creative talent as well as ourselves.

In order for a company to keep doing what they’re doing, and inspire others to do what they do – people need a reason behind it. It’s one of the key things entrepreneurs need to identify before starting their business, as serial Chicago entrepreneur, Katy Lynch advised.

And it’s also true for Fortune 500 brands who have been around for more than 100 years like Hallmark.

In the age of freelancing and entrepreneurship, Windy City Cosmo sat down with the creative talent development team from Hallmark to learn about how they foster creative development to keep growing this 100 plus year business.

In this article we’re going to explore:

  • Hallmark’s brand
  • The talent they want on their team
  • How a diversified creative company grows creativity and their business in the age of freelancing and digital media
  • How Hallmark is working with other brands like Starbucks through a talent swap

Hallmark’s Why:

What is your why? Your why is your culture. It’s your values. It’s who you are and it’s a blueprint for how you operate as a company.

With a staff of 800 creatives, Hallmark is one of the largest creative companies.
Hallmark’s mission is about enriching lives. Hallmark’s creatives have many roles and relationships and the context and content from those helps translate into our products.

So what are some key ingredients to a creative community?

In 2015, a team of leaders from across Hallmark’s creative community came together to define their “sense of purpose.”

“Our sense of purpose is our why. We know what we do, and how we do it, but we really wanted to get at the heart of our WHY. It’s about why we do what we do. It’s our culture. It’s our values. The statements that came together as a result are meaningful,” Kristi Heeney-Janiak, Creative Resources and Talent Development Manager shared. “But it is the actions you put in place that get people to believe in it.”

One component of the creative sense of purpose is originality. The Hallmark creative community feels that in order for their teams to grow, they need time to step away from their trade and gain new skills or perspectives. Hallmark gives creative employees five days a year to do that through its #my5days program.

The first path is self-exploration. A Hallmark creative employee can choose a new skill they want to learn or expand their creativity by gaining difference perspectives.

The second path is workshops. A Hallmark team leads workshops such as embroidery or wood sculpting, wreath decorating and cake decorating is most popular one.

In just two years of launching this initiative, Hallmark has more than 2,500 examples of #my5days experiences on Instagram.

How Greetings are Still Relevant in the Digital Age:

Another component of a great company surviving disruptive technologies is looking at what they are good at. Then, looking further to compare their talents and strengths to how trends are changing and also how they are staying the same.

Hallmark, while it has many brands, at its heart is a global greeting card company.

In their interview, the creative talent development team shared that as other areas in business fluctuate, greeting card sales remain steady even among millennials in the social media age.

In terms of card spending, millennials are the fastest growing group because when they buy cards, they spend more money on them, according to Lindsey Roy, Hallmark’s chief marketing officer, in a recent CBS News interview.

“We’ve seen that millennials are really growing into that magic life stage for card sending,” Roy said. “Maybe you’re setting up households or having kids or doing the kinds of things that really just expand your relationships.”

Hallmark’s Creative Team:

How do you get involved in the creative process? Well, it actually sounds entrepreneurial.

At Hallmark, there’s a package that each employee brings to the table. Talent all come in knowing digital and design skills. Specifically, Hallmark looks for a portfolio that demonstrates a voice or problem-solving point of view.

“We might do more specific training in lettering and manipulating font,” shared Erin Roebuck, creative talent development specialist.

Beyond software skills, Hallmark employees also are expected to evolve. There are two aspects that Hallmark focuses on to grow skillset. The first is the “what” which is the creative skill set of design knowledge. The second is the “how” which is leadership and how they think through things.

Hallmark’s creative leaders have four main traits: they take initiative, pitch and come up with new ideas, solve problems, and are able to lead and inspire people.

Attracting and Keeping Creative Talent with an Entrepreneurial Workforce:

Hallmark attracts some of the best creative in the world and has a high tenure of about 16 years.

In the age of being your own boss, Hallmark pitches a steady paycheck but one of the most valuable aspects of working for a company like Hallmark is in the collaboration.

Talent Exchange: Hallmark Swaps Talent:

Hallmark is always working with their creatives to inspire them beyond their work and to introduce them to new ideas and thinking. One way they’ve been doing this is through an annual symposium, the Creative Leadership Symposium.

And they’ve taken it a step further this year by actually exchanging creative talent with other companies, such as Starbucks. Hallmark recently hosted three Starbucks creatives, and the following week, Hallmark sent three creatives to Starbucks for a designated time.

“The outcome of the talent exchange is to immerse high potential creative talent in best practices of creative studios and provide inspiration and creative connections. We gain new ideas and thinking by bringing together two creative communities that are at the heart of their respective organizations,” shared Heeney-Janiak.

How does someone develop creative talent?

In one word – mentorship. This is something that the Future of Work expert, Cheryl Cran mentioned in a Kansas City leadership conference. “One of the opportunities for millennials is that you can research the heck out of anything,” Cran shared, “If a millennial is looking for opportunities, and doesn’t want to intern, they need to find a mentor which goes beyond their research.”
“A creative talent may start to cultivate their skills in school, but it continues to evolve when they join Hallmark,” Roebuck shared. “We are a very open and sharing community. New hires get a chance to work alongside tenured and talented individuals who have become masters of their craft. After a couple of years, many creatives say that working at Hallmark feels like getting their MFA.”

One thing that Hallmark recognizes is that they need to learn from a millennial just as much we can share.

Hallmark has moved away from a structured mentorship to a collaborative environment where people can seek out help and mentorship rather than be assigned.

Research is important and so is innate talent, but both the Future of Work consultant and Hallmark agree that mentorship and collaboration are important to growing talent and developing skills.

How do you structure creative projects at Hallmark?

One of the cool aspects of Hallmark is that it is a company made up of creatives, but ones that are both creative and business focused. At Hallmark, one of the key traits is to constantly think and develop new ideas, but they also think about how this idea can be profitable and how they would pitch it.

While Hallmark’s business partners offer key initiatives that drive ideas, they are not independent of what creatives can bring to the table.

“We moved from being a service organization to a strategic enabler, ”Heeney-Janiak shared. “This means that we’re positioned differently in the business to lead new concepts and ideas that are directly aligned with business strategies.”

Conclusion: How to Stay Competitive

The workforce is changing and jobs are not about doing what you’re told but are more focused on bringing ideas to the table and taking the initiative to develop your own talents. Larger corporations like Hallmark are still attractive to millennials because they have a built-in network and mentorship opportunities that can help a creative grow their talent.

The competitive edge seems to be:

  • Finding a community that can help grow your talents. This could the people sitting next to you at work, a Facebook group or a professional group.
  • Finding a mentor, which is someone experienced in your field who can show you what research alone can’t.
  • Investing in your skill sets and keeping up to date with software in your industry.

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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