After the wedding on Sunday, my parents and I had until Thursday to sight-see and take in the city. First on the agenda was a guided boat cruise of Chicago architecture with everyone who was still in town for the wedding – including the bride and groom!
It was a great tour – Chicago’s architecture is truly the most captivating of any city I’ve been to, at least in the U.S. We snapped photos and learned about modernism’s “austerity” vs. post-modernism’s “contextualism.” Cue a new obsession forming for me…I looooove me some post-modernism.
After the cruise, a bunch of us went to lunch along the river. I had a Revolution Anti-Hero IPA. No, waiter, I will not shy away when you warn me that it’s “pretty hoppy.” It was excellent.
That evening, my family, Ryan’s family, and Justin’s family headed out to Wrigleyville to watch the lackluster Cubs take on the equally uninspiring Brewers. It was awesome catching a game in Wrigley – although I do prefer Dodger stadium’s feel. I had an Old Style and a hot dog, which apparently you’re not supposed to eat with ketchup. I guess I learned that one the hard way.
Instead of staying at the Hyatt again, my parents rented a brownstone in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood using VRBO. It was cool to check out a different (adorable) neighborhood and to see the city from a different angle.
On Tuesday, I slept in and may have used the morning to catch up on The Bachelorette, after I had heard the internet exploded. I have HATEEEED this season. Des is the least interesting Bachelorette, ever, but reading Reality Steve’s spoilers have kept in mildly interesting. Once my pop-culture prowess was restored, we set off for more Chicago tourist jaunts. First up on the list was another deep-dish place, Uno. Delicioussss. I took my parents by “the bean” and Jay Pritzker Pavilion, my new favorite Frank Gehry piece. If you haven’t gathered by now, I am FG obsesssssed. He designed my law school, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Bilbao’s Guggenheim, and a building in Prague I loved (the Fred and Ginger House). He’s super funky and whimsical, and now when I go to a new city I Google “Frank Gehry” there to make sure I stop by and see whatever it is he’s designed. [Note: I get quite a bit of flack for this, a lot of people think Gehry is “weird.” Nope, I love him]. I am bummed I didn’t make it to an outdoor concert here. I guess there’s always next time!
It was also really great seeing American Gothic and A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte in person as well.
That evening, my parents and I had a couple of drinks on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building. Although it’s not quite as high as the observation deck on the Willis (formerly known as Sears) Tower, I’d heard the views were far superior. The views of the city from the Signature Lounge at the John Hancock could truly not be beat. Tip: If you go, make SURE you check out the restrooms. Some of the best views are in there!
On Wednesday, I went on a run to Lincoln Park and then did a little exploring back over by the bean. One of my law school friends, Greg, gave me a whole list of recommendations (more on that later) so I was determined to check a few of his suggestions off my list. Later, I met back up with my parents for some more eating + drinks by the river. My parents ordered a bottle of wine and ended up giving the rest of it to the people at the table next to us, who had *just* finished taking the Illinois bar. I explained that that will be me in a year and one responded “Oh god, California is THREE DAYS.” Yupppp.
On Thursday, we left the Brownstone, headed out to one last foodie pit-stop in the West Loop, and made our way to Midway.
It was a fantastic trip, and we tasted some delicious food. Here’s a quick break-down of my fav eats:
1. Revolution Anti-Hero IPA (Chicago, Illinois). Nice and hoppy. Read: Loooooove.
2. Uno’s Pizza. I later learned this is my friend AK’s favorite pizza place in Chicago. I asked a few locals what their favorite pizza joint was, and this was always at the top of the list. It did not disappoint.
3. Raspberry Guacamole at Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill. This was one of my very favorite things. It was essentially guac with added raspberries. It sounded weird at first (my dad was a little shifty-eyed when I suggested it) but the flavors blended together perfectly. I need to recreate this. We also tried an out-of-this-world mole tamale and the ceviche was perfect.
4. Intelligentsia Coffee. This was high up on Greg’s list of recommendations. Intelligentsia is all over LA, but I had no idea it originated in Chicago. In my mind, it’s LA’s answer to SF’s Blue Bottle or Portland’s Stumptown Coffee roasters. I got a “Summer Solstice” blend to take with me to Millennium Park. Along with my coffee, I took another of Greg’s suggestions and hit up Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine Bar for a sandwich. I asked the guy behind the counter what their signature sandwich is and promptly ordered the “Blue Pig ‘n’ Fig” which consisted of serrano ham, figs, arugula, and blue cheese. So good.
5. Churros con chocolate at Rick Bayless’ Xoco. Next door to Frontera Grill is a smaller Rick Bayless place called Xoco – so obviously we had to go back for dessert. My churros con chocolate were pretty delicious – but so were my mom’s dulce de leche enchilada and my dad’s ice cream. Nom.
6. Lou Malnati’s Pizza. We went back here a second time after the rehearsal dinner and ordered the “chicago classic” which had sausage, was super cheesy, and had a delicious sauce. I’m not really sure which I liked better – Lou Malnati’s or Uno’s, but I think this dish might have won.
7. Little Goat Bread. The last place I checked off Greg’s list was Little Goat Bread. He’d reminded me Stephanie Izard, a past winner of Top Chef, has a James Bead-winning restaurant, The Girl and the Goat, in Chicago. She also has a small diner (Little Goat Diner) and an even smaller sandwich place called Little Goat Bread. I had an insanely delectable turkey sandwich, and then went back and grabbed a lemon and chocolate scone and a triple chocolate cookie for my parents. All were amazing. We ranked that meal the highlight of the trip.
I was sad to end such a great vacation – but enjoyed my travel classic of ginger ale on the airplane, and powered my way through a new book, aptly about Chicago. (I’m reading The Devil in the White City.)
Alright…let me hear your favorite Chicago places!