Back to the Windy City, a favorite only a train ride away. Forget the hideous train mates I had on the way up, because there was Chicago waiting for me after a long morning. With several days dedicated to an international education conference, I hopped in and out of restaurants with colleagues and made a splash with friends on the weekend. Bites, beds and other fun below.
* Quartino’s – 626 N State Street – Italian – small plates. Shockingly affordable, quite large and home to some outrageously quick service. Proscuitto-wrapped dates, veal meatballs, beet salad and a fresh caprese salad were a perfect way to end the day.
* Grand Lux Cafe – 600 N Michigan Avenue – Americana – a chain restaurant and a gigantic venue. Our waiter was speaking so fast that I suspect there may be a drug problem in the kitchen, but my entree of chicken and gnocchi was quite good. So, rock on!
* French Market – 131 North Clinton – perfect for lunch upon Holly’s arrival at nearby Union Station. We settled for crepes – mine was some crazy Brie, fig, walnut, spinach situation. Sweeter than I expected, but divine. Space to sit and rest your bones after shopping for lunch, dinner or just a weekly batch of produce. Three cheers for markets!
* Giordano’s – (multiple locations) Let the great pizza debate begin. Holly and Kelli had never had Chicago deep dish, so I took them to where I had my first pie. There is really no possible way to eat more than one piece of a stuffed pizza. We made an effort but failed among all the vegetables and cheese. Good place to fail, no?
* The Bongo Room – 1470 N. Milwaukee (multiple locations) – Really, how many times can I pay this place homage? BLT Benedict this time, perfection. Wicker Park location remains my favorite. This is also my #1 breakfast + dessert combination place. See: Chocolate French Toast Tower for dessert.
* Rodity’s – 222 S. Halsted (Greektown) – delicious Greek, and a really cranky waiter. He actually removed silverware from our hands. We tried flaming saganaki cheese, lit on fire just inches from our startled faces. The lamb was recommended tenfold on Yelp reviews, so I went for it. It was good, but I wouldn’t yelp about it!
* Yolk – 1120 S. Michigan Avenue (multiple locations) – While the rest of Chicago chugged along on an 8K run along Michigan Avenue, we headed out for our last meal in town, and one of our favorites. My first time at Yolk (one of three locations) led me to a carnita egg sandwich which was a curious combination, but delicious. Useful for the long morning of transportation that followed.
* Acme Hotel – 15 E. Ohio – What a funky and fun hotel. At the risk of giving away their entire decorating scheme, let’s just note that there are glow-in-the-dark items in the bathroom, closets outside of their confines, funky fixtures and a sweet chalkboard on the door, college dorm style.
* Silversmith Hotel & Suites – 10 S. Wabash – A quietly luxurious and totally affordable gig (courtesy of Hotels.com deals). Our double room was so spacious and well-appointed, and the hotel is really well located for all sorts of running around in and out of the Loop.
* Signature Lounge @ Hancock Tower – 875 N Michigan Avenue – One of my favorite, dramatic, places in the city to have a drink. It’s 96 floors above the city, and although there is sometimes a wait, it’s well worth it. You do have to cope with multiple tables of amateur paparazzi tourists that take 82 photos of the view, but still – worth it. This beats the Observation Deck because you don’t have an entry fee, and just pay for a drink!
* Thrifting .. the girls can debrief on this way more than I can, because I literally napped through the Goodwill expedition (1201 W. Washington). They had a good look through some of the Wicker Park shops, as well, although some of those – save a $3 basement sale – were a bit pricey.
See you soon, beautiful Chicago!