Cali Girl Does Chicago - Part Une

10:42 AM

When work calls... GO! The Windy City. Chi Town. Chicago. Whatever you prefer to call it, was my home for six days. My time spent in the Windy City can be described as -- a little fun (being a tourist) and lots(ish) of work!

Cheesy Moment Alert: This was J and I's first flight together. 
Since I don't travel often for work, I forget how important a direct flight can be. Lucky for me, on our way to Chicago we had a direct flight, albeit a full flight. Nothing much to note of our flight, other than we were pretty hungry when we landed.

Traveler's Note: Southwest uses Midway as their airport, many others use O'Hare International. We arrived during prime traffic on a week day, so our cab fare was slightly higher for lots of time spent sitting in traffic on the freeway. Once we arrived to the hotel, we dropped our stuff and set out to grab some dinner.
It should be said, that I did plenty of research for this trip, all in the name of FOOD. Taylor over at The Daily Tay even hooked me up with a sweet list of all types of spots for any eating occasion I could come up with. I even created a Pinterest board and pinned a handful of Chicago posts, some very cliche and some all about eating.

Let's just say my goal for the time not spent working was to eat WELL and do all the touristy stuff, especially the thing I missed two years ago. A little back story, two years ago the same trade show was in Chicago. I put off finding the 'bean' or also more accurately known as Cloud Gate, until my last day. I got up early before my flight and went on a run to find it. Thinking it was an easy task, I ended up running a total of 6 sweaty and humid miles, with no bean sighting. So, to say that was my only task this trip, is pretty accurate.

Back to our first meal. I have been hyping up Au Cheval ever since I was here two years ago. Literally, probably the best burger I've had (that is a huge declaration in my book). However, when we arrived there was a 3.5 hour wait. Screw that, it's amazing, but not that amazing. So, then we decided to hit up another spot I knew came highly recommended, The Purple Pig.

I called in advance and they didn't have a wait for two. I was amazed, only until I got there. They squeeze humans on top of each other, basically. Seated in a cozy little nook, yet right next to a nice couple, we started our adventure of cheese, swine, and wine. J and I are only slightly adventurous eaters, so the menu was a little exotic for us.

Bobota "Greek Cornbread" - with Feta, Mizithra Cheese, & Honey

"Greek Style Chicken" - Feta Brined Poussin, Potatoes, & Green Onions
Pork Belly Rillons - Honey Mead Glaze
Sicilian Iris - Ricotta & Chocolate Chip Filled Fried Brioche
Although we were a little hesitant with our decisions, we had no regrets after we tasted everything. J doesn't even like cornbread generally, but he was pretty speechless with this blend of flavors of cheese and honey. I think he asked, "Is this how cornbread is supposed to taste?" The chicken in itself was filling for both of us, but we were still glad we ordered the Pork Belly. The Honey Mead glaze was amazing, just the right amount of sweetness to go with the pork.

Please don't even get me started on this dessert. I think this is one of their most famous items on their menu. Well at least if you peruse their Yelp, you see this little ball of heavenly carbs multiple times. I took cutting into it very seriously. I knew it was a delicacy that needed precise dissection and consumption. Even though we were pretty full, we basically licked the plate clean. It was ahhhh-mazing!
 After dinner we needed to walk off some of our meal, so we wandered around the Magnificent Mile. It is a mile of boughie to budget shopping, all in one location. It's essentially an outdoor strip of every type of store you could imagine. When I saw Dylan's Candy Bar, I had to go in. I'm a sucker for candy, even if I don't eat much of what they sell. I think I'm more in love with how they display everything, than actually buying candy. Apparently, this store is a project of Ralph Lauren's daughter, but I'm not sure...that's just what I heard from a local.
J's hand for comparison!
We found a Trader Joe's to grab a few things for our stay. Normal stuff, bottled water, some cheap wine, and snacks. I couldn't leave without a Tj's Chicago themed reusable bag. Like I need more, but was a cheap souvenir!

We squeezed a decent amount of stuff in for our first evening in the Windy City. We called it quits and headed home.

The next morning we had some time to kill so we planned on brunch and some sightseeing. Brunch was another great recommendation of Yolk. It was recommended because it was in walking distance to Willis Tower and also just recommended by another friend for it's food. When you walk in, it almost seems gimmicky with all it's blue and yellow decor. But don't get it twisted, our meals were on point.

Chicken'n'Waffles - Bacon waffle topped with crispy fried boneless chicken & sausage gravy. Served with a side of warm maple syrup.
Huevos Rancerhos - Corn tortillas topped with jack & cheddar cheese, chorizo (sausage), three over-easy eggs, salsa, and a side of sour cream.
Fresh Squeezed Raspberry Lemonade
I actually ordered the Chicken 'n' Waffles, which is rare for me. I prefer savory over sweet for breakfast, but it sounded too good that day. I ended up liking J's breakfast better, so we switched less than halfway through each. It worked out magically. I really liked the lemonade, because it wasn't too sweet. J found some plastic in his food and the owner came right over and gave us a small discount. We weren't upset, we just let the server know. We appreciated the kind gesture and great customer service, even though we understand it was just an accident.

We had some time to kill before I had to work, so we walked...and walked a lot. We walked around Millennium Park

Although we had Dunkin Donuts in Sac for a short while, I felt obligated to give it another try. Especially since we'd seen so many around. Yup, not as good as everyone touts! I don't get the hype, Sacramento coffee is ten thousand times better!
Caffeinated, we ventured toward the Sears Willis Tower to check out the Sky Deck, but the line was insane. I'm all for doing touristy things, especially the 2nd tallest building in the nation, but not at the expense of our time wasted in line. So I snapped a pic from below and we walked back to Millennium Park for more adventures. I have no problem being a tourist and doing popular things, but I draw the line when the wait is too long. I love doing neat things that a city is known for, but sometimes it's fun to just explore.
Since Willis Tower was a fail, I needed to find the bean! Traveler's Note: The bean is not near the water front, you have to go in about 0.25mi from the water to find it! It was everything I'd hoped it would be. Well, slightly too many people, but still pretty awesome. With the Taste of Chicago going on, I think there were more people than normal as well. I had a great time taking a billion pics of the infamous bean. We wandered around and looked at the outdoor amphitheater and took in the sights. On our way back, we walked through the TOC to see what it was all about. It's a neat way to have all the eats of Chicago at your fingertips, but we were so full, we didn't eat anything!
 After a nap and freshening up, we headed out to a Pub of sorts, The Atlantic Bar,  to watch the US Men's National team play a Gold Cup game. J's friend recommended this spot, because it is the local Tottenham hangout. Since a Sac Town friend was also here for a conference, we met up there. It was a little out of the way, but I was happy to oblige for J. The food and service were sub par, but the company was worth it. Oh and the group shot and a few adult beverages, also helped! The game wasn't that great, but the US came away with a win.

Goat Cheese Croistini - Tomatoes and basil are marinated in extra virgin olive oh and served with pesto goat cheese and drizzled with balsamic reduction.
Belly Burger - 1/2 pound beef patty, seared pork belly, fried egg, green onion and topped with sriracha & Swiss cheese.
Mum's Mac n Cheese - Enjoy our homemade Mac & Cheese recipe with our flavorful cheese sauce that is topped with a toasted herbed bread crumbs.

After the game we headed back to the hotel to call it a night. Our first full day in Chicago in the books!

Instead of making the world's longest post and losing your interest, I plan on spreading these out in a few posts. My picture happy ways took over in Chicago, so I have plenty to purge onto you. Hopefully, some Cali girl (or guy) may find this helpful in the future!

Cali meets Chi... 

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  1. Replies
    1. HAHA! Thanks for your recco's we appreciate them mucho! xoxo, ganeeban


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