Chicago, That Toddlin’ Town. Part Two

Besides eating everything in sight, D (my husband) and I had the chance to spend some time in our old neighborhood, Bucktown. I can not believe how many new restaurants and shops have opened their doors in the past two years.

Around the time we moved to California, a “neighborhood beautification” project was just starting in the area. I must admit, they have done a fair amount of cleaning up. Bucktown is considered an “up-and-coming”area, chock full of trendy boutiques, amazing restaurants, artists, musicians and strung-out crazies, but becoming more and more gentrified every day as the young professionals swoop in from Lincoln Park looking for housing steals (which definitely aren’t steals anymore, trust me).

Living in an up-and-coming area also meant encountering two signs at the end of my street on my early-morning coffee run (decaf, of course).

The Gallery Café was a sweet little place on the corner serving up yummy egg bagels, smoothies and coffee drinks. The kind of place that always had NPR playing through the speakers, pleasant people behind the counter, and most importantly, a place that shared a corner with some of Chicago’s finest. Mmmm, can’t you just smell it? The aroma of freshly brewed coffee and skank-ass ho. Fantastic. Yep, my neighborhood had a teeny-tiny problem with prostitution. It actually took me weeks to realize that the vehicles idling in my alley at 3 in the morning weren’t psycho murderers awaiting the perfect moment to break into my place and mutilate me. Silly me- those cars were temporarily housing prostitutes while they performed their specialties on nasty dudes. Delicioso!

It was pretty foul walking out to your car in the morning to find a used condom (hey, at least they’re using condoms! safe sex rules!) or two lying on the curb, so as time passed I got really angry about the situation until one day I noticed a flyer on my door. It was informing me of the Bucktown Neighborhood Association’s “Let’s bust the prostitutes doing the deed and chase them out of town with flashlights at 3am” parade. My prayers answered! Sign me up! Kind of sounded a little like Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 to me, but hey, I’m always up for a little neighborly bonding while chasing down hookers in alleys. So, the day finally arrived. I slept in extra-late to ensure full alertness for the hunt. I was so ready to go- look out hoochies! Well, I was ready to go until I decided to drink 6 vodka tonics while out with friends, come home, pass out and apparently unconsciously turn off my alarm when it went off in the middle of night. So much for that.

We managed to take some photos this weekend, although most were taken by my husband after forcibly hogging the camera the ENTIRE time. Click on the photo below to check them out.

Chicago Slideshow


Chicago, That Toddlin’ Town. Part One

I just returned last night from Chi-town, and I am one stuffed bird. Seriously, where is my little lonely gym membership card? The trip was fantastic, and I must boast a 100% success rate when it came to completing my restaurant list despite torrential downpours, time constraints and some brief yet explosive gastrointestinal issues. I am a warrior. Unfortunately, my stomach has been stretched to three times its normal size, evident by the fact that I have already eaten three meals today. It is 3:27pm. Help.

I had such a great time on Friday and Sunday. Saturday was renamed why-did-I-wear-flip-flops-when-it-is-pouring-down-freezing-cold-rain-we-look-like-drowned-rat-tourists day. Most of the day was characterized by this look on my face.

Did you all know that Chicago is in the midst of a huge drought? Apparently, it had not rained for months in the windy city until this weekend. What superb timing I have. It literally poured on Saturday. In fact, the monsoon began as my husband and I stood outside of my very favorite brunch spot for AN HOUR waiting for a table. Good times. It’s cool though- we warriors can handle trivial diversions such as soaking wet clothes and walking pneumonia, and the wait was sooo worth it. By the way, for those of you who were interested in the list, here you go.

*Bongo Room – the site of the monsoon. My very favorite place ever. Wiping the drool off my keyboard.
Toast – mascarpone-stuffed french toast. mmmmmm.
Hot Chocolate – new place, very tasty.

*Potbelly sandwiches – quite frankly, the best sandwich on the planet. I guess they are located in about 5 states, so not a true Chicago exclusive. Sue me.
*Piece – brewery with highly addictive thin crust pizza. I know, I know- you’re supposed to eat Chicago-style pizza. I am telling you, this pizza is amazing. In fact, I told the waitress that I dreamt of this pizza on occasion. She looked at me funny and gave me a nervous giggle. Whatever beaaatch, do you KNOW how good this pizza is?! Jeez, take a compliment. Oh, also their Top Heavy hefeweizen is great.
Sultan’s Market – tiny Middle Eastern place. Their falafel is excellent.
Milk and Honey – cute little place, yummy sandwiches.

*Club Lucky – Italian supper club. Atmosphere is super lively, and the best part is their Always Lucky martini. Ketel One vodka straight up with blue cheese stuffed olives. Hell yes.
*Spring – very romantic. Has won multiple culinary awards.
Le Colonial – Great location in the Gold coast. Ask to sit on the patio.
*Gibson’s – the quintessential Chicago steak house. You really haven’t experienced Chicago if you haven’t eaten there.
Meritage – Pretty pricey, but worth it.
Café Iberico – tapas and seriously good sangria.

*my very fave places

More on the trip very soon. I’m hungry.


My Kind of Town

This is the view I will be gazing at for the next four days. Chicago! Chi-town! The Windy City! My husband has been working in Chicago this week, and I am flying up to meet him tomorrow. I can’t even describe how excited I am, considering we moved to California from Chicago less than two years ago. Wow, I can’t believe it has already been that long!

If I had to choose between the two places, I definitely would choose California. Nothing beats living by the ocean, and don’t even get me started about horrible Chicago winters. However, I really miss the brisk pace of living in downtown Chicago. Restaurants open 24 hours, fun pubs on every corner, being able to WALK to places. Nobody walks anywhere in Southern California. Ever. Doesn’t matter if the destination is within 3 blocks. No walking. Seriously, you probably would get arrested unless of course your sole purpose is to exercise. Then walking is strongly encouraged because you better be in skinny-ninny shape if you think you are going to live around here, plus you better have perfect makeup and hair AND be wearing a Juicy Couture velour tracksuit while you’re at it. Barf. Anyway, we have so much to accomplish in the next four days! Catching up with old friends, checking out Millennium Park, and most importantly, eating massive amounts of food. Of course, in true whoorl fashion, I have created a list of all the restaurants we must eat at while there. If my calculations are correct, we will have to eat every 3.2 hours to complete my list and I am not fooling around. This is serious shit. Chicago has some of the best food anywhere and I am totally prepared to put on a couple of pounds. Don’t worry though; I’ll be sure to walk it off when I get home. But I’m NOT wearing a Juicy Couture velour tracksuit, thank you very much.

Have a great weekend!