Once I made the decision to travel to Chicago and my plane tickets were booked, I started reaching out to family and friends for their recommendations. Right away my cousin and her husband insisted that I make time for a meal at Doc B's Fresh Kitchen (Doc B's for short).
Admittedly, my cousins are a little biased. They both went to Emory University with the owner of Doc B's, Craig Bernstein, who is a good friend and classmate. That being said, Doc B's opened it's first location in Gold Coast in Chicago in 2013, quickly opened a second location in River North and recently expanded with a third location in Tampa, FL. They are already planning a fourth outpost in Fort Lauderdale, FL later this year. Clearly Craig and his team are on to something!
In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Bernstein describes when he knew he wanted to be in the restaurant business:
"Craig Bernstein figured it out at age 10. He sat courtside at a Chicago Bulls game in family friend Allen Bernstein's (no relation) seats. Craig wanted to know how Mr. Bernstein came by that particular bit of real estate. His dad said, "Remember that restaurant we dined in called Morton's? He owns that." Come career day, Craig was a man with a plan: I'm going to be a restaurateur."
Post-college, Bernstein rose through the ranks with Houston's / Hillstone, then helped to open two Chicago restaurants, BAKERSFIELD Restaurant and Standard Market Grill. Then he felt ready to begin work on his own concept, Doc B's.
The restaurant is named after Craig's father, Dr. Robert Bernstein, who was an OB/GYN. Dr. Bernstein passed away in 2010.
The location I visited was Doc B's very first at 100 East Walton Street in Gold Coast. The restaurant is walking distance from Lake Shore Drive and Oak Street Beach, making it a convenient destination after a walk, run, bike ride or beach day.
As you can see, Doc B's has a lovely outdoor patio (don't worry, the tree right out front provides shade) and also has a bar area with windows that open to the street.
We arrived around 4:45pm looking for a happy hour drink and some appetizers. We spotted a high top table open in the front window and asked the hostess if we could snag it. Luckily she obliged.
From our seats we had a clear view of the Doc B's team manifesto which hangs right over the bar for all to see. I can't even pick a favorite line because I love them all.
Parched from sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley Field for hours and hours, we were both ready for a drink. My friend opted for a glass of rosé and I decided to try Doc B's rendition of a Moscow Mule.
I kid you not, this was the best Moscow Mule I've ever had. It was so wonderfully bright and refreshing. I would love to get the recipe, make a huge batch, freeze it as popsicles and have one every night this summer.
While I happily sipped on my Mule, we took a look at the food menu. We'd had brunch earlier that day at 11:00am and hadn't eaten anything since, but we also knew we had an 8:00pm dinner reservations so we couldn't go too overboard.
We started with an order of guacamole. The menu doesn't describe what the guacamole is served with so when it showed up surrounded by a mountain of sweet potato chips we were both stunned.
The chips are made in house and add a nice sweetness to each bite (as opposed to the traditional salty taste of tortilla chips). These reminded me so much of Terra Chips. This appetizer is a very generous portion and could easily feed four people.
Next we decided to split the Brussels sprouts salad. It was a mix of sprouts, kale, marcona almonds and parmigiano reggiano vinaigrette, dotted with a tomato on each side of the plate. We had told our waitress we planned to share, so she automatically split it on to two plates and gave each of us our own portion. I really appreciated that.
This salad was addicting! The combination of the Brussels sprouts and the marcona almonds added a great crunch. I don't know if you've ever had a marcona almond (most commonly served on cheese plates) but they are like candy! Sweet and salty and crunchy all at the same time. The dressing on the salad was delicious and tied everything together. If I worked near a Doc B's, I'd have this salad every single day for lunch.
Not knowing the guacamole would come with sweet potato chips for dipping, we also ordered a side of sweet potato fries. My Chicago hostess had been to Doc B's before and insisted we have these as our side dish.
After a few bites it was very clear why. These sweet potato fries are exceptional. Though they seem to be cut extra long, they are crisp and coated in salt and pepper giving them a bold flavor to accompany the sweet taste of the potato. They are served with a honey mustard sauce that I would want to put on everything - sandwiches, burgers, fried food. Craig and team, if you're listening, bottle this dipping sauce!
All of our dishes arrived right around the same time and we realized that we may have ordered a bit too much for what was supposed to be a light snack before getting ready for dinner. Whoops.
All of the food at Doc B's was super fresh (living up to the Fresh Kitchen part of their name). Each dish was clearly tested until it was just right (and mega addicting).
When you visit, the Moscow Mule is an absolute must. It's been six days and I am still thinking about it.
I'm counting the days until the Doc B's team reveals their opening date for their Fort Lauderdale location. I fly in and out of that airport when I visit my parents and I am already planning to demand a stop there on the way home.