The way to both of our hearts is food. It's true. Between Em's guest post and my brother's suggestions (he's a chef in NYC) we had more options than we had time. Since we were celebrating Taras's birthday that weekend, we were up for the challenge to fit in a lot of eating and drinking... a culinary tour of the city, if you will.
Here it goes...
Dinner at The Purple Pig. We got into the city around dinner time and made this our first stop - a very good welcome to the city. This place was packed, and for good reason. Meats, cheeses, and Mediterranean small plates that are to die for. And the milk braised pork shoulder could be its own food group.
Xoco is a Rick Bayless restaurant and was a perfect spot for lunch. We shared the shortrib red chile soup and a pepito torta. This place stays packed, so be prepared to stand in line for a while!
That night (our last night in the city) we headed over to the Randolph Restaurant Corridor in the West Loop for a little restaurant crawl...
Dinner snacks at Girl and the Goat, including goat belly that Taras declared to be better than pork belly (also, reservations were difficult to get, so we ran to catch the bus that would get us to the restaurant right when they opened to snag a spot at the bar).
Maude's was up next for whiskey smashes and $3 whiskey shots in the the most adorable setting. Plus the sweetest bartender who treated Taras to a second whiskey shot on the house, and she gave us great suggestions on other restaurants to visit.
We made a quick stop by de cero for spicy salsa and chips with a side of micheladas (one of Taras's favorite beer cocktails, which consists of a light beer mixed with lime juice and assorted spices/sauces - a beer bloody mary of sorts).
We had heard great things about the beer from Haymarket and loved that we could get 4 oz samples for near $1. We each had a tiny sampling, then were on our way.
Our bartender at Maude's told us to be sure to stop by Sepia. We settled in at the bar for a leisurely final drink of the night. This place was niiice. Most every gentleman was wearing a blazer - that, combined with the general ambiance of the restaurant, made us feel a bit like we were in the middle of a Harvard alumni reunion. It was the perfect place to unwind and just chill. Taras grabbed a beer and I settled on the Death & Taxes cocktail (I'm an accountant - I had to!). And, seriously, this was the best cocktail we had all trip - the perfect mix of smokey, bitter, and sweet. Some day we'll have to play with the ingredients and remake it ourselves.
We finished the night with a super indulgent late night "snack" of traditional Chicago deep dish pizza at Giordano's. We got there so late that we had to wait 45 minutes for them to make the pizza (after a certain time they no longer have pizzas partially made for quicker service). And, oh my goodness, it was good and worth the wait. But I'm pretty sure I didn't eat cheese for a few days after this.
For lunch on our last day in town we wanted something a bit lighter and found Mana on Yelp. Everything was fresh and healthy, with a focus on vegan and gluten free foods. They also have delicious sake cocktails and fresh juices and smoothies.
Our last stop in town was Bangers & Lace where we shared a beer sampler from their large and well chosen selection. The beers were good but it was the decor that would keep me coming back here - exposed brick walls adorned with antlers and vintage paintings.
So, yeah, we indulged a bit in Chicago!
Travel tip: It's important to know what you enjoy most about visiting a place - for us, when we visit cities, it's all about food. We knew we wanted to be able to splurge in the city so we made sure to spend less money in the couple weeks leading up to Chicago, that way we were able to enjoy food and drinks guilt-free. Understanding what we value most makes it easier to re-allocate money in order to have an experience we will enjoy.
all food photos are from the iPhone