Hello & happy Wednesday! Today I want to share with you our trip to one of my favorite cities, Chicago. I wasn't sure where to put this post so, because visits here always reenergize and inspire me, I decided to place it under "Wellness". Chicago is where my husband lived when we first started dating. Well, he actually lived in Evanston, a cute town about 45 minutes outside of the city. On those initial visits we spent lots of time in Evanston but made regular trips into the city. Then, after school he lived in Logan Square, which has its own unique vibe with restaurants, shops, running routes and a buzzing and vibrant Saturday Farmers Market. I have always loved exploring the different parts of this fascinating, friendly, and historical city. On this visit, the explorations continued as we explored another part of the city that I had never been to, went to sporting events, learned about the city's architecture, took a new form of transit and found a new fun place for a cocktail. Of course we couldn't only do new things; We had to throw in a couple of our favorites as well. It was a fantastic weekend filled with new and old and today I am sharing with you some of my Chicago favorites from our trip and encouraging you to start planning a trip for your next summer vacay!
WHERE WE STAYED
Kyle has a good friend that lives in Chicago and so on this trip we got to stay with him at his apartment. He lives in a part of Chicago called Old Town right next to Gold Coast. I'm sure I have more of this area to see but I loved even the small part that I saw and experienced! The neighborhoods were composed of apartments and town homes surrounded by trees and greenery that made you forget you were driving through a huge city. Not only was the area pretty, but his apartment was a very short walking distance away from a main street lined with restaurants and shops, which is where we had breakfast on Sunday morning. This may be one of my favorite neighborhoods in Chicago so far.
WHAT WE ATE
Mmmmm, the food. I am never disappointed by the Chicago cuisine. I enjoy trying all the restaurants that everyone raves about, but I really love finding the hidden gems that fly under the radar. We definitely found that in this Italian spot, Buona Terra, near Logan Square. We actually discovered this cozy spot while Kyle was still living here. You can go fairly casual or you can dress up. It's owned by a family that works the restaurant (or at least they did when we were there about 2 years ago. We stopped and chatted with them at the end of our meal) and I always feel welcomed the minute I walk through the door. On this visit I ordered their Farfalle alla Dominic, a dish of ravioli stuffed with butternut squash in a browned butter and sage sauce, and holy cow - it's incredible. You can never go wrong with sage in a pasta dish, in my personal opinion (see my Garlic Sage Garden Gnocchi I posted a while back). The contrasting flavors of the mildly sweet squash, the tang and bite of the Parmesan, and the smooth and savory components of the sage are the perfect combination. I can't rave about it enough. Kyle got a pasta special with scallops and our friend got the Rotini di la Nona, a dish of ravioli stuffed with veal in a brandy cream sauce topped with fresh mozzarella. Both were equally fantastic. If you're around or up for a trip to Logan Square, I highly recommend this hidden gem.
The next night we went to Gino's East for pizza with a bunch of Kyle's business school friends. I initially thought this place was local to Chicago and just discovered that this is a actually a touristy place with locations now in other states. However, despite it not being a one-of-a-kind pizza joint, it was started in Chicago and I still really enjoy it! Kyle and I stopped in here on our last visit because it was late and we needed a place that would be open long enough for us to grab a bite. This pizza is unique in that it has a cornmeal crust and most of the crust is on the outside, not the bottom. If the cornmeal thing is not your style, I would probably recommend somewhere else. However, I like their unique crust and I love their vegetarian pizza, which is packed with layers of roasted eggplant, zucchini, red onion, mushrooms, and basil. I think it's a perfect place to take a big group. It's casual with lots of room, and we've always had excellent service.
Sunday's favorite meal was at a little breakfast spot in Old Town called Kanela Breakfast Club. I loved it! It's a fairly small spot but they serve a variety of standard and unique dishes. It had a little bit of a rustic vibe, but then as we moved towards the back, something about it made me feel like I was eating at my favorite neighborhood diner and was going to start seeing familiar faces. I ordered a make-your-own scramble filled with all the veggies and some breakfast potatoes topped with sliced avocado plus a side of fruit. My meal did not disappoint. This establishment offered delicious food with a cozy atmosphere and friendly and attentive service. I definitely recommend. We went early on a Sunday before church so there was not a wait, but if you walk up later on a Saturday or Sunday, I would expect at least a 20 minute wait - maybe more.
WHAT WE DID
This was my first Cubs game and my first trip to Wrigleyville. The street is lined with bars and restaurants all leading up to the stadium. Everyone's excited and the energy is high. My husband got to be here the night the Cubs won the World Series and I can more vividly imagine the excitement and energy of that night having now walked through the streets.
Cindy's is the rooftop bar on the very top of the Chicago Athletic Association. This establishment is the one place I think Kyle and I have stopped in on every visit. We usually grab a drink or a small bite on the second floor, which I think is called the drawing room. It feels like you're in an old library as you pull up to big wooden tables or nestle down in large comfy chairs to rest and chat. On previous trips it has either been too cold to go to the rooftop or the line has been too long (you can most likely expect a wait for the rooftop bar). On this particular trip, however, we were able to go up to the top for a drink at Cindy's. It has a fun atmosphere with exposed brick walls and an outdoor balcony that holds another bar and a beautiful view of Chicago. I hope we can make it back on our next visit!
This is not an establishment. These are bikes that you can rent to take around the city. We rented them and took them all the way from The Loop to Old Town, following the lake. It was a fun way to see the lake and get active on our weekend away. I would have taken a picture but I haven't quite mastered the art of photographing while biking.... maybe next time!
On Sunday we got to squeeze in the Historical Architecture Tour. There are a bunch of architecture tours offered in the city but we did the Chicago Architecture: A Walk Through Time. I really enjoyed it because I got a refresher on Chicago's history and it talks about the development and history of the city through the architecture of its buildings. I think is is fascinating how each of the buildings can tell part of Chicago's story. We did the architecture boat tour on my first trip to visit Kyle in Chicago and that is also a must! Next on my list is their "Historic Treasures of the Golden Age" tour. I have heard some great things about this tour as well. I highly recommend these as a way to see and learn about the city!
Oh, and after our last official stop on the tour Kyle and I veered off and took one last stop, grabbing a farewell drink on the patio of a restaurant at the bottom of Tribune Tower. It was so pretty and peaceful and tucked away from the busy streets. They seemed to have a fairly large beer list and a fun cocktail selection. We sat, sipped and reflected on the weekend. It was the perfect ending to our trip!
Taking some time to travel is something that restores and rejuvenates me. Travel may not be that for you, but whatever that thing is, I hope you got to take part in it before the school season began or that you're planning to squeeze it in before the hectic holiday season ramps up. Even if it's just a day or two or even an hour or two, it can make such a difference!