Cali Girl Does Chicago - Part Deux

9:02 AM

What to do next?
I already saw the bean, that's all I really cared about accomplishing this trip! I guess it's time to focus on my EATS! I can't forget about working, I better worry about that a little too ;)

The days blurred together, but it was officially the start of the weekend. I guess it didn't matter much, because this weekend in Chicago would be a wash. By wash, I mean I'd be working both days. I started my day off with a lovely 4mi run, along Lake Michigan or the Water Front as they call it. I didn't bring my phone to snap pics, because I took the same exact ones two years ago. I wish I would have though, it was a lovely morning. Oddly nice for a summer in Chicago, or maybe I was traumatized from my last trip and the horrible, humid, nasty hot weather.

Once back from my run, I grabbed a coffee and J. We sent to our booth at the trade show to start setting up the final touches. We had deliveries to intercept, then I got my faux food stylist on! After a few sweaty hours we finally finished the booth, it looked amazing...if I do say so myself!

I commissioned a local bakery, Vanille patisserie, to make some goodies to display and they were gorgeous and tasted good (we ate the chocolate after the show ended).
 
 

We were starving, so we showered and headed out to get a late lunch. Again, I contemplated Au Cheval, but since I'd already eaten there I wanted to try a new spot I'd heard about. Supposed Farm-to-Fork burgers, that intrigued me a lot. We made our way to Grange Hall Burger Bar for some eats.
 
 Blueberry Collins && Strawberry Fields 

Ultimate - Grassfed beef, Muenster, bacon, arugula, caramelized onions, (sans) horseradish aioli.
 The Ruben Dog - Jumbo Tallgrass Beef Hot Dog, (sans) cider and beer soaked 'kraut', Thousand Island, Swiss Cheese, Served with ranch style potato salad.
Hand Cut Russet Potato Fries && Beer Battered Onion Rings
 

Everything was/is very simple. The plate comes with the burger, open faced...which seems to be the case for all burgers ordered. The sides are decent in portion. For the cost to food ration, we weren't that impressed. The flavor of my burger was good, but not that great. I keep comparing everything to Au Cheval. And that's not very fair. As we were eating it started to sprinkle.

When we were done, we wanted to walk around the area. However, there was only a few restaurants. We sauntered into one to look at desserts, but left empty handed. Then we walked past Au Cheval, which the kitchen was closed, so I took this pic:

We then found ourselves heading toward downtown/Magnificent Mile again, even though it was still sprinkling/raining. We hit up the NikeTown for J. It was crackin' - a DJ and a guest appearance, and lots of overpriced stuff to buy. We wanted to to grab a drink at the Signature Room at the John Handcock Center, since it's supposed to have a gorgeous view (as good as Willis Tower) for free or the cost of a drink! But, J left his ID at the hotel..FAIL! So we decided to get out of the rain and head back to the hotel to relax for a bit. Knowing the next day would be pretty busy, as it was the first day of the show!
Dope US Crest at NikeTown
 

We felt it necessary to finally indulge in some Chicago style deep dish pizza. So here's a mini-Cali-Girl synopsis:

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, it's all the rave. So here are the few things that I know about it:
  • Lou Malnati's & Giordano's are the big competitors.
  • Gino's East is supposed to be bomb and they use cornmeal in their crust.
  • As suggested by Taylor - Peaquods is deep dish the locals love, better than Giordano's (but it was far from where I was staying).
  • I'm sure there are others and this list is just the icing to the cupcake. If you have another suggestion, please feel free to send to me to add to the list!
So a little back story, my last trip here I had Malnati's my first night here. But to be fair, I took it to go and ate it at the hotel. These factors made it an experience that was much less than desirable. So, since I already tried Malnati's, even though it wasn't a fair trial, we decided to try Giordano's...so we'd both be newbies. 

We showed up, but it was really busy. Unbeknownst to us you should per-order your pizza when you add your name to the wait list. The deep dish pizzas take 45 minutes to make! We actually found some bar seating, so we went with that. We ordered a small pepperoni deep dish signature pizza and a side Cesar salad. Lots of soccer was on, so we occupied our time with that. J ordered a Frozen Lemonade and I had their house Cab Sauv, which is bottled in good 'ol Napa, CA! Bonus here (and in lots of Chicago places), they serve Pepsi on tap!

Forever later, our pizza arrived. Since it took awhile, they gave us a Medium instead of a Small. Although, both sizes would be way too large for us. Again, I know it's a Chicago thing, but I don't really need deep dish pizza in my life. I like the regular (thin to them) crust. The flavor wasn't bad, but it was just too much cheese and red sauce for my general liking. I know, I know. In Chicago, you must try. Which we did, I just wasn't that in to it!
 
 

The time change was still affecting my sleeping pattern, especially during the night. I'd toss and turn and get up super early all the time! But we made it home semi-early, since I had to be ready for the show the next day!

Show Day!

Instead of getting up early to work out, we decided to get up early and have a delicious breakfast. My girl, Maria, over at Say Hey Girl recommended The Bongo Room on one of my IG posts from a previous day. She also mentioned trying Intelligentsia Coffee, which they brewed, so it was a double win for me!


Croissant Sandwich - grilled croissant with melted muenster & crisp bacon with one egg any style & house potatoes
White Chocolate & Caramel Pretzel Pancake
 House Intelligentsia Brew
Dare I say, it but this was probably one of our most favorite meals of the trip. Those pancakes weren't overly sweet and the pretzel chunks aren't as weird as J anticipated. The coffee was swoon worthy as I thought it would be. My sandwich tasted like carb and butter heaven with the croissant. I didn't really care for the potatoes, too wet and soft, but good flavor and seasoning. They would just be better if they were crispy! It was worth skipping a workout, it really was...

Back at the hotel, trade show garb adorned, I walked next door to the Convention center for the start of the reason I was in Chicago - IFT 2015!

The booth looked amazing and with a stroke of lucky genius, the 'almond house' I had commissioned became the hit of the show. People were literally taking selfies with it. Since I had such a huge breakfast, I wasn't hungry during the show, at all. Well at the very end I was hungry, so I found a booth and ate some Mac-N-Cheese.
 

After the show, we met up with the team and had dinner at Capital Grille. Funny thing is, we ate at the exact same restaurant two years ago. I guess that's what happens when we plan last minute, it's a chain steak house. It was great to decompress from the first day of the show, with the team.

Appetizers, ordered that are not pictured:
Pan-Fried Calamari with Hot Cherry Peppers 
Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella with Vine Ripe Tomatoes
Tempura Lobster & Shrimp w/ Sriracha Dipping Sauce (2 orders)

Gorgonzola & Truffle Crusted Dry Aged NY Strip with Cabernet Reduction - 14oz Boneless dry aged New York strip, black truffle and Gorgonzola butter, and cherry Cabernet reduction.
Dry Aged Porterhouse Steak - 24oz - Our signature 24oz steak. Classic perfection.
Lobster Mac 'N' cheese

Sides to share, ordered that are not pictured:
Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Mosto
Au Gratin Potatoes
Parmesan Truffle Fries
Sauteed Sweet Corn with Jalapenos

Cheesecake with Fresh Seasonal Berries - Extremely light, with a caramelized brulee topping.

Dinner took forever, but it was really tasty. It being a chain restaurant, doesn't really matter in this case. The food is tasty, even if the service was a little slow this time around. The wine, conversation, and day one of the show made it that much better.

After dinner, a group of us went to enjoy a cocktail at The Signature Room at the Ninety-Fifth. This was the perfect, especially since we had to turn around last time we came here. I'm sure it's cool to see during the day, but there's something magical about seeing the city lit up at night.

So if you've ever been, I'm sure you heard where the best view is in the entire place, right? Take a guess! The Ladies Room! Whaaat? Yup, it was pretty awesome. We also ran into a very inebriated girl who has us still laughing about our encounter with her. She drunkenly took our picture and gave us some sage, drunk advice about loving ourselves! She was a gem.
 

We were seated by the window, where a few of us ordered drinks, while the others just took in the sights. We stayed for one drink and lots of picture taking, before we all headed home for day two of the show. 
 
Day 2 is always the longest, so we all wanted to be well rested.

Traveler's Note: If you do not have a rental car, which is really unnecessary, there is a huge discrepancy with Uber drivers and taxi drivers. The taxi drivers are somewhat rude and mostly non-personal, if they speak English. Some we used were cordial, but that's it. They drive slightly more recklessly, but get you where you need to be. We found the Uber drivers much more pleasant and with very clean and new cars. We used a mix of both while here, since our hotel was not in the downtown/main area. We used what was convenient, but came to prefer the Uber drivers over the taxi/cab drivers. Either one you risk the driver being a little weird (re: crazy), but we noticed it less with Uber.

This Cali girl loved eating her way through Chi town!

Pan-Fried Calamari with Hot Cherry Peppers

Our signature appetizer. Crisp and golden with a fiery flavor.
- See more at: https://www.thecapitalgrille.com/menu/dinner/il/chicago-downtown/8008#sthash.Hgw3oIOB.dpuf

Pan-Fried Calamari with Hot Cherry Peppers

Our signature appetizer. Crisp and golden with a fiery flavor.
- See more at: https://www.thecapitalgrille.com/menu/dinner/il/chicago-downtown/8008#sthash.Hgw3oIOB.dpuf
Pan-Fried Calamari with Hot Cherry Peppers

Pan-Fried Calamari with Hot Cherry Peppers

Our signature appetizer. Crisp and golden with a fiery flavor.
- See more at: https://www.thecapitalgrille.com/menu/dinner/il/chicago-downtown/8008#sthash.Hgw3oIOB.dpuf

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