I figured I would share a bit about the food we ate in Chicago while the memories are still fresh in my mind! I spent a lot of time researching restaurants before we left for our trip because I knew there were plenty of good eats to be had and I didn’t want to miss out! Many thanks to my friends both “in real life” and online that shared their recommendations with us, we were NOT disapppointed! Here’s a wrap up (long, but I have trouble being brief when I discuss food), with a few pictures, some horribly blurry (although I did not go full out foodie and photograph every meal, I am just not that hardcore!)
Breakfast at the West Egg Cafe at Fairbanks & Ontario: we were quickly seated and our waiter was very nice and helpful (gave us directions when he saw us studying our map). I had the french toast, Tyler had a breakfast burrito, both were excellent! The food came out quickly and we were fed and on our way in less than 30 minutes. It was a great start to the day! This was the only breakfast we ate out since we sweet talked our hotel into putting a mini-fridge in our room for free and ate cereal for breakfast the rest of the trip to save time and $.
Lunch at Corner Bakery (many locations): we grabbed a quick sandwich, chips, drink, and a cookie to go and ate it in Millennium Park while we soaked up the sun. Delicious sandwich, perfect size for 2 people! Oh and it came with a pickle, I LOVE pickles! Better than the sandwiches at Panera in my humble opinion.
Dinner at Quartino at Ontario and State: YUM YUM YUM HEAVEN YUM YUM YUM. Yeah, we REALLY liked this place! Delicious wine, fabulous little appetizer tasting plates (for lack of a better term), fabulous mushroom risotto, and divine gelato sundae for dessert. The atmosphere of this little restaurant is so great. Love the little wooden tables and chairs, worn cloth napkins, old silverware, old movies playing on the tvs, antique appliances as decor. It just had charm, and the staff are so friendly and gave us great wine suggestions. We loved this restaurant so much we went back on our last night and had a great spinach and walnut salad, neopolitan style pizza, and mushroom bruschetta, oh and more wine of course! Everything is made to share, Italian style tapas if you will. I am just sad this restaurant isn’t in Kansas City, because we would be regulars. This was my favorite restaurant in Chicago and we had 2 amazing meals with amazing wine, who could ask for more?
appetizer plate with smoked prosciutto, fontina cheese, and other assorted goodness!
gelato with biscotti and lots of chocolate shavings!
the mushroom bruschetta!
Lunch at Lou Malnati’s at Hubbard and Wells: I had tried Lou Malnati’s before and knew it was great so I took Tyler there for his first authentic Chicago style deep dish pizza. We had a salad that was far too big for 2 people but delicious of course, and a supreme style pizza loaded with cheese, sausage, veggies, and tomatoes. Also delicious but a little heavy on the sausage for my taste, but hey, that’s Chicago. If it doesn’t clog your arteries, what good is it? The decor was a little lacking, but the pizza was stellar and that’s what counts. No picture of the pizza to share, we ate it up so fast, here is all that remained!
Dinner at Geja Cafe: I knew I wanted at least one “romantic” dinner on this trip and several people had recommended this restaurant. Tyler and I are big fans of fondue but not huge fans of the Melting Pot. I really hate how much time the waiters spend at your table at the MP, mixing up your food and explaining how everything works. Geja Cafe was much more hands off, bringing the fondue to your table ready to eat. We opted for the salad, cheese, and chocolate meal since we knew that would be plenty. The salad was simple but had a great dressing that we both commented on. The cheese fondue was our favorite course. They brought us all the bread, apples, and grapes we desired for dipping, then they brought out the flaming chocolate fondue. Yum! Tyler didn’t rave about the chocolate course, but I thought it was just fine. I was a little disappointed that the pound cake we got to dip was burned so I had to pick off the crust. Overall a great meal though and we were stuffed when we left! The drinks were fabulous too, Tyler had a glass of red wine and I had a white sangria that was divine. I should of had another! Very romantic restaurant, but DARK (don’t worry your eyes will adjust). There is only one type of cheese and chocolate fondue, not several like the Melting Pot, but they were great so I didn’t mind not having a choice. We would definitely go back for the food and the romantic atmosphere. We made our reservation through opentable.com and things worked out perfectly!
dippers: pound cake, pineapple, cherries, apples, strawberries, and marshmallows
Lunch at Phoenix (in Chinatown): Tyler and I went to this restaurant per the request of our sister-in-law who LOVES dim sum and came down from Milwaukee with her family to spend the day with us at the Shedd Aquarium. Tyler and I had only had one experience with dim sum before and it was okay but not amazing so we weren’t sure what to expect. The Phoenix was far and away better than the dim sum restaurant we had tried in Kansas City. We got there around 11:30 and there were many carts going around so we had lots of choices as to what to try. The potstickers were AMAZING, I also loved the spring rolls and the pork buns. We tried several steamed dumplings too and some broccoli greens (I did not try the chicken feet, for I am not that brave.) It was all delicious and the waitstaff was friendly and the restaurant was run very well. It was surprisingly not that crowded for a Saturday. Oh the custard pastries we had for dessert were so delicious. My sister in law is Chinese and knew exactly what to ask for, I was grateful for her assertiveness and ability to speak Chinese with the waitstaff. This was Tyler’s favorite restaurant/meal in Chicago. We would absolutely make it a point to go back the next time we’re in Chicago. Thanks to Joelen for her write up on this restaurant on her blog recently, it helped me have a good idea of what to expect!
Dinner at Portillos at Ontario and Clark: This restaurant was recommended to me over and over again so I knew we had to try it. Tyler had the hot dogs and I had the beef sandwich and we shared some fries and a root beer, heaven! Very very good food and not pretentious! Huge restaurant too, we sat up on the second floor with a good view of the gigantic McDonalds across the street, nice for people watching!
Lunch at Zapatista at 13th and Wabash (near the Museum Campus): we ate here between visiting the Planetarium and the Field Museum. We are always on the hunt for good Mexican food and this place delivered! It was a nice day so we sat out on the patio enjoying our Coronas and margaritas (can you tell we did a lot of drinking on this trip? lol it was great!) I was a little disappointed they didn’t make the guacamole at the table for us like I thought they would, but the guac was excellent so I got over my disappointment. Tyler had a sampler of three different kinds of tacos, the pork was his favorite. I had a combination of a chicken enchilada and a steak taco, both were so good! The black beans were also great, and I usually leave those untouched when I eat Mexican. Their chips were thick and crunchy and their salsa was just spicy enough. We ate and ate and ate some more, it was a fantastic lunch. Although we ate a lot the portions were NOT ridiculously oversized like many restaurants these days, we thought the portion sizes were perfect, left us room to gorge ourselves on chips and salsa and guacamole
Tyler and his Corona
Me and my strawberry margarita, on the rocks!
Dessert at….The Cheesecake Factory (underneath the Hancock Building): okay I know I know I swear I said like 2 weeks ago I would never eat at CF again but we didn’t actually eat THERE, we got cheesecake TO GO and ate it in our room after our adventure to the top of the Hancock Building. That place was packed and we stopped in around 10pm! The cheesecake was predictably delicious as usual. We got a slice of chocolate raspberry truffle and a slice of lemon raspberry and ate it in bed while watching The Colbert Report. We made fun of all of the tourists that were actually eating dinner at CF while we waited in line at the bakery for our cheesecake, oh we are such hypocrites, lol!
Seriously though, I’m glad we avoided the pitfalls of chain restaurants (for the most part) on this trip and tried so many great Chicago restaurants. Thanks again to everyone that gave us recommendations, we enjoyed the food and drinks as much as the sights we took in around Chicago. It was a fabulous vacation!
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