I have a lot of feelings around traveling. I love seeing the world's most recognizable streets, buildings, and views. I enjoy taking in the sights and sounds of a place far from home with people I love. But, like most people, I am susceptible to the phenomenon I refer to as Travel Fatigue. When traveling, no matter how big or small a venture, there are a lot of variables involved. You've probably flown in a plane in the last few days - jet lag. You might be in a different time zone - "what time is it??!" You're tired- waking up early, going to bed late, plus all. the. walking. The work it takes to "have fun and see the world" all the while, posing for adorable Instagram photos... is exhausting.
As someone who enjoys traveling, (as much as any anxious person can) but also struggles to maintain the energy level it takes to see, and do, as much as humanly possible in each new city, I am always trying to find a way to survive. Enter, food. Before visiting a city, I look up the top sights any tourist would want to see, then I look up where the best places to eat are. Yes, I try to plan our days around food breaks. Food reenergizes me, but it also gives me at least an hour or so to sit down: a chance to reflect, check in with myself, and rest before heading back out for whatever activity we have left to conquer.
Although it's great to sit down and refuel at most any restaurant, it's nice to know the place you're choosing has the possibility of also being a great meal. (We like to use Yelp as a guide if we have an internet connection.) We were incredibly lucky in Chicago and had our own tour guides - thanks Joe and Anne! -who recommended lots of options, and let us choose what sounded best.
Check them out, and let me know what we missed for our future Chicago visits!
Pizza: When in Chicago, you have to have some Deep Dish Pizza! We got our fix at Gino's East and it did not disappoint. I loved the crust, which had a slight cornmeal flavor. Although we weren't super hungry when we got there, the medium pepperoni + an appetizer was the perfect amount of food for the four of us. We left satisfied and not stuffed- huge win! The service was great, no wait when we visited in the mid afternoon, and you are encouraged to draw on the walls, tables, and chairs. Of course I participated, and wrote our initials to commemorate the trip.
Donuts: I mentioned a couple times that I was in the mood for a donut (half jokingly), and one morning I was pleasantly surprised to hear the boys taking donut orders, FOR DELIVERY. Joe and Jason brought breakfast home for us, and I was on cloud nine. Even better, the donuts were delicious. Sprinkles, apple fritter, glazed... I think they cleared the whole bakery out. We shared each flavor and saved the rest for later that night, in the fridge. They made the best desserts, too. I highly recommend Glazed & Infused, especially when you can have two nice boys deliver for you.
Fancy sit down meal: For our final dinner, we dined at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba near Lincoln Park. Holy Moly! I honestly don't know where to start. Their spanish tapas style menu, paired with house sangria was everything we could have asked for. It was special for us to sit down and order together, as it was our last night in town, but this place would have been amazing, any night of the trip. It's hard to remember every item we ordered, but from what I can recall we got: the brussels sprout salad, goat cheese baked in tomato sauce, spicy potatoes, the beef skewer, seared sea scallops, meatballs, and chicken empanadas. Oh, and red sangria. This was one of those experiences where I wish I took a photo of each item, but we were enjoying ourselves so much, I didn't even think to take my camera out!
The service was fantastic, the atmosphere, romantic and fun. Only drawback is that it's a little out of the city, but was just a short uber ride for us. I'm dreaming of our return already.
Drink: "Not Your Father's Root Beer" from Old Crow Smokehouse in Wrigleyville. The four of us split two of these drinks because of the high alcohol content. It really tasted just like root beer though, and I adore that picture of the four of us, taken with my timercam app on my phone.
Bars: Speaking of Wrigleyville, we stopped at a few more places on Clark Street after the Cubs game. There were tons of fun bars and restaurants - each with a different theme. We played beer pong at one - Joe and Anne beat us 2 games to 1. Even though I was playing the best I had ever played! At another, we ate pizza with macaroni and cheese on it. The atmosphere everywhere we went was great before and after the game itself, but I imagine the area isn't the best, late into the night, or when there is no game in town. I would recommend finding your own favorite spot if you have time to kill before or after taking in a Cubs game.
Burgers: Kuma's Too has some seriously epic burgers. Highly recommend for a filling meal and plenty of options with unique twists on the classic hamburger. The food was really high quality, and they had a bunch of cool beers. Fair warning: they play heavy metal music and the whole place is decked out in an extreme rocker vibe. It didn't bother us, but would have surprised me, had I not known!
- Eataly for Nutella crepes. And wine, and pasta. I could have spent all night browsing this place.
- Dylan's Candy Bar for any and every type of candy, when you need an afternoon pick me up.
- Wildberrry Pancakes and Cafe for cinnamon roll pancakes and fresh berry crepes, after seeing The Bean in Millennium Park.
- The Signature Room on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building for overpriced drinks with an incredible view.
- Wendella's Boat Tour for hot chocolate when you are very, very cold!