Eating Chicago

Eating Chicago

Where, oh where did Dianderthal go? Oh where, oh where can she be?

It seems that autumn has sucked me up. The Sunday before Labor Day, I fell into a busyness swamp, then pulled myself out only to be swept up into a vicious cyclone of overwhelm, and was then thrown into a sea of tight schedules and deadlines. Oh, and then came Ebola (remember my full-time gig as a public servant at a local health department?). With three of four kids playing on volleyball teams in addition to dance classes, solo rehearsals, team leader duties at church, a half marathon, a birthday, a couple work trips, homework assistance, my part-time teaching job, and a 15-year anniversary, I blinked and it was mid-November.

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But now I’ve found a new determination – a re-commitment to my blog and the seven of you who read it. In late August, I spent four days in Chicago, and ever since have wanted to share my food experiences.

So to Chicago, what I remember of it – the many tasty bites I enjoyed now a savory blur. I’ll pull up the pictures I took and let them jog my memory.

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Here are just a few of the doughnuts I tried in the Windy City. Of the many I tried, Firecakes served what I recall as my favorites, in particular the Butterscotch Praline, the Valrhona Chocolate & Espresso Cream, and the Triple Valrhona Chocolate Cake. Firecakes was just a place we passed on our way to Navy Pier, yet was drawn to by its buzzy glow and enchanting entry. Actually, it was the husband who initially spotted it, pointing towards it with a grunt, compelling me to join him. Well played, Mr. Brown.

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This is Weber Grill, a place recommended by the concierge at a hotel where we were not staying [*when traveling with Mr. Brown, its our goal to stop at every Double Tree hotel and affiliate we happen upon to get warm cookies; at the Double Tree Magnificent Mile – our second DT of the trip – he also asked for dining suggestions]. While not a major chain, Weber Grill still had the feel of one due to the association with the Weber brand. If there is such a thing as Chicago BBQ, I’m not sure how authentic this place is. However, as skeptical as I was, this joint wasn’t terrible. In fact, my sangria proved mighty tasty.

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I didn’t eat at Mickey D’s but picked up McNuggets for my kid following my solo adventure to Little Goat. With leftovers in hand for my husband, I knew she’d be ready for some grub by the time I made it back to the hotel, so I stopped to get her some deep fried awfulness. But if that wasn’t the swankiest McDonald’s I’d ever been to…

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If I’d travelled with girlfriends instead of the family, I’m sure several hours might have been spent here, in Eataly, one of only two in the States. A third is supposed to open in Los Angeles but by the time it gets here (2017!), I’ll have busted open from all of this eating. To Chicago’s, I ventured twice – once with the gang for a stop at the Nutella bar and then dessert shop for sweets, and then again a morning later, waking as my husband and kid still snored for a coffee and croissant getaway. When I return to Chi-Town, I’d love to indulge in Eataly’s cheese offerings, wine, pastas, seafood, olive oils, vinegars, pastries – I guess it’s a good thing this outlet won’t be nearby for another couple of years to give me time to lose the 30 lbs I may gain in just one trip.

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As cute and sweet and lovely as Doughnut Vault is, I only had one bite of my DV buttermilk old fashioned. Not because it wasn’t tasty, not because I enjoy wasting my precious duckets, but because I purchased these doughnuts soon after finishing breakfast at Xoco; and though I set them aside for later, I had that dessert visit to Eataly I mentioned. And then more food and more food and more food (including yet another doughnut spot, Glazed and Infused). You know you’re eating well when you can’t finish off a couple of doughnuts.

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Across the street from our hotel sat XOCO, a place I’d visited years before when in Chicago for a conference; and a place I frequented twice on this occasion, and would have a third time for churros if I hadn’t been stuffing myself with various other Chicago treats. It’s owned by the celebrated Rick Bayless, one of my first favorite chefs. Likely my most memorable dish of the trip was their Torreja, a wood-oven baked French toast topped with bacon-pecan sprinkles (while on vacation, I take a vacation from abstaining from bacon). Yes, Hyatt Place offered a fine selection in their complimentary breakfast buffet, but rarely do I get a chance to eat Bayless for breakfast.

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And there he was! I saw him as we passed by the restaurant one morning. My husband tried to get me to go inside and ask to take a picture with him but I got cold feet.

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And you can’t leave Chicago without pizza. I made the mistake of going touristy with my deep dish at Gino’s East – not awful but I’m sure there’s better Chicago-style pizza in the city. As our first meal, it wasn’t the best way to start our trip but, as you’ve seen, I easily made up for it.

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And that’s Chicago (with a stop on our way to Purdue at MJ’s childhood home in Gary).

Xoco: 449 N. Clark and one other location
Doughnut Vault: 401 N. Franklin
Firecakes: 68 W. Hubbard
Weber Grill: 539 N. State Street and other locations
Glazed and Infused: 813 W. Fulton and other locations
Eataly Chicago: 43 E. Ohio
McDonald’s: 600 N. Clark and other locations

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