By: Revanche

Visiting Chicago and the Midwest

April 8, 2013

On a very quick visit to the Midwest…

A) I nearly shivered myself to pieces in the approximately 30 degree weather. Brrr. Brrr…. BRRRR….
B) Thankfully PiC really loves me and on a morning jaunt, scouted a Top Shop for me. Seriously, the guy remembered the one store where I like to get my leggings. My one pair of leggings I’ve ever bought. Thank goodness for the ridiculously good Patagonia jacket he found for me a couple years ago.


C) The Water Tower had a fun art exhibit and I had to document a few things for @CthulhuChick. Cthulhu-rabbit! Octo-heart?
D) What trip isn’t all about the food for me? Thanks to @aledonne for the recommendation, we stopped into Giordano’s for a few different pizzas. They were pretty good. Of course, I had to stop into Downtown Dogs for a Chicago dog appetizer ….


E) We also tried macaroni and cheese pizza, grilled chicken pesto pizza, and a fish fry. So. Good.  (I want to eat mac and cheese pizza forever.)
F) My second old-fashioned with a cinnamon stick. You wouldn’t expect that a single detail like that would make a huge difference but it absolutely made the drink.

Except for the cold, I loved the city, the feel of fun and culture, and most definitely the food. We’ve been there on another quick trip in the past and were focused on Millenium Park and saw the famous Bean, etc., and I’ve worked in the city (again, briefly) and saw the Field Museum during a closed exhibit.

It feels like getting little very spaced-out nibbles of a vast and wonderful area.

Have you been to the Midwest?  (I know some of you are FROM there!)

Next time, what would you recommend?

19 Responses to “Visiting Chicago and the Midwest”

  1. Michelle says:

    Love Chicago! I grew up there and my brother actually used to work at Giordano’s and I love the pizza. I now live in St. Louis and love it here as well 🙂

    • Revanche says:

      How fun! Well ok, it was work so maybe not THAT fun. But I thought the staff there were very friendly. Never been to St. Louis, care to share any must-sees?

  2. Linda says:

    Oh my goodness! There is sooo much to do here in Chicago!

    First off, apologies about our fickle weather. It is always best to dress in layers since weather can change so drastically in a matter of hours. In general, you can count on it being very cold in January and February and very hot in July and August, but that’s about it. Every other month of the year is pretty much a toss up.

    For fun stuff to do/see, you can’t beat anything the Chicago Architecture Foundation offers. They do a top notch river tour in the warmer months and several engaging walking tours all year long. Chicago is the home of the skyscraper, and we have a rich architectural heritage that we love to share with visitors. If the weather is good and you want to do something different, check out for tours on the river and lake that involve your paddle power. If you like art, then a visit to the Art Institute is a must.

    You’ve seen Millennium Park and “the Bean” (Cloudgate is the official name), which are both fabulous free activities. Did you visit the Lurie Garden while walking around Millennium Park, too? It’s easy to miss because it is so cleverly buffered by shrubbery and trees, but is a quiet little oasis when you need a break from the craziness of the Loop business district. You can hear the water feature running under your feet and watch the bees fly over from the hives on top of City Hall and just breathe.

    If you have more time than just a couple hours here and there to do fun things, get out into the neighborhoods. Go just a bit south of the Loop to visit the Glessner and Clark houses in the Prairie District, the area where the original moneyed set used to live. A couple of good neighborhood diversions in winter are the conservatories at Garfield Park and Lincoln Park. It’s easy to reach either one via public transit (which is also a fun experience on it’s own), and Lincoln Park also has a free zoo that is fun to walk around at just about any time of year.

    Speaking of public transit, take a ride on the el to find fabulous food options. Hop on the Blue Line towards O’Hare and exit at the Logan Square el stop for some amazing food at Lula Cafe, Longman & Eagle, or Yusho. Or if you like beer, hop off the el at California and visit Revolution Brewing for some excellent made-on-the-premises beer and good food. There are many wonderful dining options in Chicago, but most of them are not in the downtown area. Other favorite places I eat whenever I can fit it in: West Town Tavern on Chicago Ave. (get off the Blue Line el at Chicago, and if you do stop at the Matchbox a quirky little bar for a special cocktail before or after dinner); Smoque for BBQ (get off the Blue Line el at the Irving Park stop and exit on Pulaski; this is a BYOB place); Big Jones for simply awesome Southern-inspired cuisine with a lot of made-in-house charcuterie (take the Clark bus north; it’s a bit of a long ride, but the neighborhood views are compelling; or take the Red Line el north to Berwyn and then catch the Foster bus west to Clark for a combination approach to the Chicago Transit Authority system); or The Bristol in Wicker Park/Bucktown.

    Also, this guy on Yelp has a solid list of offbeat things to do or places to visit in Chicago. I’m not so sure about his restaurant picks because I haven’t been to them all. I keep wanting to get to Pleasant House Bakery in Bridgeport, but it is quite a hike from my house and such a tiny, tiny place that the wait for a table can be quite long. Hot Doug’s is another impossible place for me due to long waits for food on the days I can visit. I also detest the Chicago Air and Water Show. But see if any of his picks strike a chord and check them out to get out of the downtown district and experience real Chicago!

    And you can also message me when you’re coming back if you’re up to meet for coffee or a drink.

  3. I just moved back to Chicago from California and yes it’s ridic cold here on and off. Today it’s nice, yesterday it was chilly, Saturday it was… gosh…

    Glad you visited!

    • Revanche says:

      I think you rolled into town right after I left, maybe. Timing’s a little hazy for me with all the stuff going on lately.

  4. The art museum in Chicago is the best I’ve ever been to. The NY Metropolitan museum may have more stuff, but the Chicago Art Institute is much better organized– each room tells a story and gives you a full picture. (And they have awesome stuff like dollhouses! paperweights! etc.)

    Lou Malnati’s has a gluten-free (formerly atkins) pizza that has sausage for crust. 🙂

    I <3 the Chicago Lyric opera.

    • Revanche says:

      MORE PIZZA. Always.

    • Linda says:

      I’m more of a fan of Symphony Hall than Lyric Opera because I like smaller venues. If you want to see theater, the Goodman in the Loop has no bad seats. Seriously, I bought discounted tickets in the “nosebleed” section to see Animal Crackers a few years ago and I was impressed with how great the sightlines were. Actually, all of our live theater venues are very good EXCEPT for the ones the show big musicals from Broadway. I find them cavernous and soulless and would much prefer to go to Broadway in NYC to see those types of performances.

  5. Lots of cool museums in Chicago, the aquarium, and the boat architecture tour is pretty cool. That’s about all I can think of off the top of my head, other than shopping. And Lake Michigan makes me happy 🙂 haha

    But yeah… winter is cold. I was shivering to death when I was in Michigan around that same time, and I lived there for ~20 years!

    But I do like Chicago, and given the chance I would take a job there after I graduate. I say this, now, of course, when it’s 80 degrees down here…but I survived before, I’m sure I’d survive again. And being a quick drive or train ride away from the family would be great!

    • Revanche says:

      I’ve had various friends go to school and move there over the years, enough to make me think it’d be a cool place to be. Then I think again about winter. And that’s the end of that. 🙂

  6. I live in the midwest and I’m sad to report I’ve never had authentic Chicago style pizza. How pitiful…

    • Revanche says:

      I do NOT judge. We’re in the Bay Area and there are tons of SF things we haven’t done yet. We do them when we get visitors. 🙂

  7. Shelley says:

    I’ve not read the rest of the comments in detail, but Bill and I really enjoyed our tours via the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Learned a lot and saw beautiful things. Can’t speak for the food or shopping – we were only there two days (missed our plane home by 24 hours – duh – and had to cough up another $500 to get home – Bill actually thought it was worth it!). We had a room picnic one night and a steak dinner in the hotel restaurant the next.

  8. Shelley says:

    I’ve not read the rest of the comments in detail, but Bill and I really enjoyed our tours via the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Learned a lot and saw beautiful things. Can’t speak for the food or shopping – we were only there two days (missed our plane home by 24 hours – duh – and had to cough up another $500 to get home – Bill actually thought it was worth it!). We had a room picnic one night and a steak dinner in the hotel restaurant the next.

    • Revanche says:

      I can see Bill’s POV. Considering you didn’t have to, technically, carve out a budget to get there for a couple days, I suppose you could view the bonus $500 and 2 days in Chicago as worth it. After all, you would have had to come all the way from the UK otherwise. 🙂
      I’ll keep the CAF in mind!

  9. EEEK! Chicago! I’m planning to go in the fall… Seriously, are you looking at my vacation plans and copying??!

    Millenium Park is the #1 attraction I wanna visit in Chicago.
    That… And eat Chicago pizza. omnomnom.

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