This past Thursday Adam and I headed to Chicago to visit family. My entire extended family lives in Northwest Indiana, super close to Chicago, and we hadn’t visited together since March 2013. We spent all of Thursday with family in Indiana, but were able to go to Chicago Friday and Saturday. I love Chicago and it has been a second home for me most of my life. I have visited many times and always enjoy it. Adam has only ever been once, so I was excited to bring him back for a little getaway.
Friday morning we headed to Chicago with my Aunt Nancy, Uncle Danny, and Aunt Ann. They are SUCH a fun group and the car ride to Chicago was spent laughing hysterically. Our first stop once we got to Chicago was to North Avenue Beach. I love seeing city skylines wherever I go and wanted to get a good shot of the beautiful Chicago skyline. We got lucky and the weather was absolutely perfect. We snapped a few photos and then made our way to the River North area to park the car and grab lunch.
We were short on time, so for lunch we went to M Burger. My Aunt Nancy works for Lettuce Entertain You, which manages a bunch of restaurants in Chicago. Whenever we go to Chicago, she takes us to a bunch of delicious places and hooks us up with her awesome free food discount. M Burger is one of our go-to quick spots in Chicago for a solid burger and fries. Their lemonade is delicious too!
Our next stop was our big event for the day (and the reason we were rushing around)– the Chicago Cubs game. It is a bucket list item of Adam’s to go to a game at every MLB stadium and Wrigley is on the top of that list. I have never been to an MLB game, so I was super excited as well. We are Astros fans, but I can appreciate the Cubs. Adam on the other hand, chooses to only root for the Astros. Despite this, he was still super pumped to be at the game and had an awesome time. The Cubs ended up beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 9 to 4, which was a great finish to our first Cubs game.
After the Cubs game, I wanted to check out a pretty well known ice cream spot, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. As a self-proclaimed ice cream connoisseur, finding ice cream spots is top of my list wherever I go. Jeni’s did not disappoint. Since we are on vacation, we each got three scoops (go big or go home!) and waffle cones. I got their Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Pralines & Cream, and the Salted Peanut Butter with Chocolate Flecks. Adam got the Brambleberry Crisp, Vanilla, and the Bourbon Salted Pecan. We loved all of the flavors and definitely left wanting more. I think they sell pints at Whole Foods, so I will be on the lookout for that back home. 🙂
Surprisingly we were still hungry after Jeni’s (pretty sure we are bottomless pits), so we went to get dinner at one of Lettuce Entertain You’s restaurants, Pizzeria Via Stato. Adam and I split a kale salad, veal meatballs, and two pizzas. It was too dark for photos, but it was all very tasty! The pizza is super thin crust, which Adam and I like and it made me feel less bad about eating a whole pizza myself.
Adam and I stayed the night in a hotel so we could explore more and woke up nice and early to hop on a train to Wicker Park. When I came to Chicago a year ago for work, I stopped in Wicker Park on my way from the airport to visit a coffee shop called The Wormhole. Wicker Park is a cool little neighborhood that is super easy to get to by train, so I highly recommend anyone visiting Chicago go and check it out. The Wormhole is one of the coolest coffee shops I have ever been to. It is filled with tons of old school TV and movie memorabilia like a huge Delorean from Back to the Future, Star Wars trinkets, ET items, and more. Their coffee is pretty awesome too! We got the Honey Bear and Vanilla Bean lattes, which were much needed since the temperature dropped overnight and we were freezing.
After The Wormhole, we walked a couple stores down to The Bongo Room for brunch. I read that the wait can be long, so we got there a few minutes before they opened and got seated right away. Out of all the places we planned to eat this trip, I was most excited for The Bongo Room. They have the most insane pancakes and I couldn’t wait to try them. We ordered a chorizo, potato, and avocado omelette and then the white chocolate caramel pretzel pancakes. Oh my gosh…they were amazing and decadent. By far the most delicious pancakes I have ever had (Clinton St. Baking Co in NYC is a close second) and we almost finished the whole stack. It was like eating a dessert and I loved every minute of it. The omelette was awesome too and was a nice savory dish to counteract the sugary pancakes.
Our next stop was back to the city to see a few of our favorite sights before we took the train back to Indiana. We walked around The Loop a bit and then started freezing, so we got some awesome Americanos from Intelligentsia and then headed to my favorite Chicago tourist trap, The Bean. No matter how many times I come to Chicago, I will always go to The Bean. It’s a super neat sculpture and Millennium Park is beautiful to walk around.
After The Bean, we walked down Michigan Avenue, which is full of shops and restaurants. We aren’t big on shopping, but it’s fun to walk around and pop into a few stores. They also always have the prettiest flower arrangements on the sidewalks. We were running out of time, so after we went into a couple stores we headed to lunch.
For lunch, we ate at Xoco, which is a Rick Bayless fast casual restaurant. I love one of his other restaurants, which happens to be at the O’Hare airport, Tortas Frontera. It is not only the best airport food I have ever had, but also some of the best food in general. Xoco is very very similar to Tortas Frontera, almost identical actually. It has awesome tortas, soups, salads, and other treats. We both got a torta, the Cubano for me and the Pepito for Adam, and loved them both. We also got some awesome horchata and a pistachio coated churro for dessert. It was super delicious, quick, and decently affordable and we definitely recommend it.
After lunch, it was time to head back to Indiana to be with family. We only had about 27 hours in Chicago this time, but we had a blast! We didn’t have time to do everything we love, so here’s a quick list of some of our favorite restaurants, coffee shops, and things to do for anyone considering checking out Chicago in the future!
Restaurants: Wildberry Pancakes, The Bongo Room, M Burger, RPM Italian, Lou Malnatis, Xoco, Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak, & Stone Crab, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
Coffee Shops: Intelligentsia, Hero Coffee Bar, Dollop Coffee, The Wormhole
Things to Do + See: The Bean/Millennium Park, Navy Pier, Walking down Michigan Ave, Lakefront Trail, Water Tower Place, All of the museums, Buckingham Fountain, Cubs Game