Chicago may be my top city for food yet. This is good seeing as it is also a city I’m interested in living in for a few years. Wow, I’m not even sure where to begin this recount of my food adventures in the Windy City. Let me first thank our hotel for having a decent fitness center. Without it, we would not have been able to consume so much goodness. Making room in the tummy is key you know! For the duration of our trip, we stayed in the River North area of Chicago. The hotel was right on the river and it turned out to be a fantastically central location for all of our main activities. I also found Chicago to be extremely easy to get around. Much of our trip involved walking or taking Chicago’s transit system known as the ‘L’ to get around. Beyond the eating and my travel companion , the highlights of the trip were spending time with my former roomie Lisa who moved to Chi a year and a half ago, having a drink atop atop the Hancock building, and an architectural river tour. I obviously endorse anyone’s choice to visit this city! Now, if for no other reason to love the city, let me make you a believer on the food…
Al’s Italian Beef: Al’s is one of the top 10 sandwiches in America and consistently ranked the #1 Italian Beef franchise in the Chicagoland area. I got my Italian Beef sandwich with homemade “HOT” Giardiniera (pronounced JAR – DIH – NAIR- AH) and provolone cheese, dipped. Giardiniera is basically a spicy and tangy, pickled pepper and jalapeno topping. I was not sure if I’d like it, but in retrospect I could not imagine having gone without it. Additionally, if you request that the sandwich be dipped, they give your whole sandwich a quick bath in the Giardiniera gravy. Again, I was not sure about this wet sandwich concept, but it was fabulous ultimately.
Taco Joint: So you had a yummy Italian Beef sammy for lunch then you hit the Lincoln Park Zoo (photo of me there above). Viewing all those lions and tigers and bears (oh my) works up the appetite. Yet it is going to be several hours before dinner so something light is in order. Enter stumbling on a great little taqueria offering great tacos all paired with hand-made tortillas and home-made salsa for a $3-4/ each price point. Sold. The Al Pastor (Marinated grilled chicken breast garnished with Serrano-pineapple pico and tangy tomatillo salsa) and the Camaron (Grilled chile and garlic spiked shrimp garnished with avocado salsa and crispy flash fried spinach) fit the bill. I’m so happy we spotted this place!
Lou Malnati’s: Of course you don’t visit Chicago and not eat deep dish pizza. Lou Malnati’s blew my first Chicago deep dish pizza experience out of the water. To be fair, I don’t like think the pizza from Gino’s East was bad. I simply think that getting meat lovers was too much. Additionally, Lou Malnati’s offers a more chunky tomato sauce and their signature Buttercrust™. Soooo good! We went with a cheese deep dish and added pepperoni and mushroom. I cannot speak for more than two Chicago deep dish pizza spots, but I can say you won’t regret eating here if you choose Lou Malnati’s while in Chicago.
Mindy’s Hot Chocolate: What about the treats? That was what Mindy’s Chocolate was for. We got the honey & chocolate “souffled” tart with burnt honey ice cream, honey caramel, and honey comb. It was pretty small, but very unique and flavorful. The best part of the dessert adventure was undeniably the pumpkin white chocolate hot chocolate with housemade marshmallow. That bad boy had some whole or 2% milk in it. It was bordering on too sweet and I personally don’t believe in that phrase. It was too sweet in too good of a way though. If only I was drinking one right now…
Garrett’s Popcorn: You gotta have a snack and/or something to bring home for yourself or whoever was dog sitting for you. I have your solution whatever the case may be. Garrett’s Chicago Mix popcorn. It consists of half cheese and half caramel popcorn. I know I know- sounds a little strange. I too was skeptical. Let me tell you though it WORKS. It works in that way that you would polish off one of those huge holiday tins during the course of a movie or football game on the couch. It’s no joke. No trips planned to Chicago anytime soon? No problem. Follow the link above and order it online
Rockit Bar & Grill: The Baltimore Ravens were playing Sunday during our trip. B naturally had to find a spot to catch the game. Our friend, Quinlan, had suggested this sports bar which happened to be close to our hotel. The food looked pretty on point per the menu so the choice was easy. I am not a person who thinks about burgers much. I don’t crave them and sometimes when I do have them I am still really neutral. Not at this spot. I chose the Locavore Burger made of local beef raised in the midwest, goose island beer battered onion rings,nordic creamery smoked cheese, and nueske bacon aioli atop a pretzel bun. I got sweet potato fries with brown sugar salt and chipotle mayo for dipping. SO FAT. So satisfying. This meal induced a genuine food coma. My motor functions were honestly feeling limited.
Hash House a Go Go: Our final doozy meal in Chi-town. We stuffed ourselves with this same meal less the espresso drink during our Vegas adventures. However, the Chicago location did it better! Below you’ll see the Brown Sugar Banana Flapjack and one of their signature hash dishes including chorizo sausage, tomato, jalapeno, and cheddar paired with breakfast potatoes and two overeasy eggs. The brown sugar in the pancake was carmelized and the bananas in the pancakes were done better than at Hash House a Go Go’s sister Vegas location. I’m not sure how. I just know this was even more delicious than I remembered it being in Vegas. We shared this massive S’Mores Mocha which was a chocolatey latte graham crackers and fluff that was carmelized with a blow torch. This is a meal that holds you for many, many…many, many, many hours. Wow.
I hope I’ve convinced you on the delicious adventures that await you in Chicago! Have a good week to all.