Lindzi Shanks is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of the hugely popular marshmallow company and cafe, XO Marshmallow. In 2016, Lindzi and her business partner Kat Connor opened the world’s first marshmallow cafe. Several successful years later, the cafe has just moved to a larger space in Lincoln Park (2730 North Clark St). The shop is known for its creative marshmallow flavors, marshmallow confections, and their marshmallow-filled holiday advent calendar.
How did you end up in Chicago?
I ended up in Chicago all the way from Texas to go to graduate school. I went to the University of Chicago to get my Master’s in Psychology (a bit different than owning a marshmallow shop). I knew Chicago is the city I wanted to live in, so once I graduated, I never left.
Which neighborhood are you choosing and why?
I’m choosing Lakeview East/Lakeview — frankly because it’s my favorite neighborhood in the city. I lived there for almost 7 years, and even though I moved just slightly out of it a year ago (I’m sure I’ll end up back), it’s still where I spend most of my time. It’s one of those neighborhoods that has so much to do (culture, food, events), but still feels like a small community.
What are your go-to takeout spots in the neighborhood?
Oh, that’s easy — I practically live off Coalfire pizza on Southport when it comes to take-out. They saw me once a week at peak COVID. I also love to grab a bite (and a pint) from Dryhop Brewery — a staple for me all 7 years I lived in LE. Their fried chicken sandwich could get me through the hardest of times. Other great takeout notables are: Coda di Volpe, Clark Street Dog (get the chicken tenders, always).
You want to have a happy hour drink, where are you going?
It’s just on the edge of Lakeview, but my favorite Happy Hour spot is PR Italian Bistro right by the Sheridan Red Line stop. It’s Tuesday-Thursday 5-6 pm. They have $5 glasses of wine and $7 cocktails — including their take on an Aperol Spritz. They open at 5 pm so if you get there right at opening, you are guaranteed to get a great seat and a cocktail quickly. They have a lovely little outdoor patio as well. Now they don’t have drink specials, but another happy hour favorite is El Nuevo. This Texan can attest to their delicious margaritas and sangria. The space looks really small, but hidden in the back is a large backyard patio.
Where would you go to celebrate a special occasion?
I cannot speak highly of Sapori Trattoria enough for a special occasion in Lakeview East. In fact, it’s where our friend group has most of our birthdays. Not only do they take reservations for both inside and their patio (even for larger groups), but I have never ever had a bad meal there. I am a creature of habit, and I am definitely the person that orders the same thing every time I go somewhere. But at Sapori, I order something different every single time, and have truly loved it all.
You have a day off. What do you do?
One of the things I love most about Lakeview East is how walkable it is — so as long as the weather is nice, you’ll find me walking around to most places on my day off. I like to walk down toward the park trail to get some fresh air and movement. A lot of times I will roller skate. After that, I like to stop at 2×10 nails on Southport for a mani/pedi before swinging by Real Good Juice to grab a Kale E Kapowski smoothie to enjoy while walking down the shops on Southport. I usually end up with a new plant from a local shop, Primrose, especially if they have their outside plants to choose from. For dinner, you’ll likely find me at either Dryhop or Sapori for dinner. And then I’ll end the night at Ella Elli for a nightcap cocktail and their espresso profiteroles, which I cannot recommend enough.