Family visit to Chicago September 2012

In September my parents and my brother and sister-in-law came to visit. We did a lot of tourist stuff, since we were practically tourists ourselves back then. We ate a ton of good food and saw a lot of stuff, too.

They stayed at The Aqua. It’s new and really cool. There is a hotel, condos, and apartments. They rented a condo on the 40th floor.

The Aqua, Chicago.

The Aqua, Chicago.

The Aqua Building was designed to look like water.

The Aqua Building, Chicago.

The Aqua Building, Chicago.

 

The Aqua, Chicago.

The Aqua, Chicago.

Sunday we had lunch in our tiny apartment and dessert on the roof deck, then we walked from our apartment in Lincoln Park through the zoo and down into the Gold Coast and had dinner at Gibson’s Steakhouse, which was awesome.

The tigers at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

The tigers at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

The fam in Lincoln Park

The fam in Lincoln Park.

Huge steaks, delicious cocktails, sides and wine at Gibsons in Chicago.

Huge steaks, delicious cocktails, sides and wine at Gibsons in Chicago.

David and Sarah relaxing outside at The Aqua.

David and Sarah relaxing outside at The Aqua.

On Monday we took a tour with the Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Company. It was actually really fun and informative. Highly recommended.

Chicago Trolley Company's Signature Tour.

Chicago Trolley Company's Signature Tour.

We sat on the top of the double decker and got some good pictures.

We sat on the top of the double decker and got some good pictures.

Since the tour is “hop on, hop off” and there are designated spots to do this, we opted to get off on Taylor St. and go to Rosebud for lunch.

Lunch!

We are serious about lunch.

Sarah and David like to share entrees. I don't share, but I do sample what everyone else has.

Sarah and David like to share entrees. Good idea, I'll share, too!

Mike had the Penne Bolognese (it was delicious).

My dad had the Penne Bolognese (it was delicious). We "shared" it.

Mike had the Spaghetti and meatballs (it was delicious).

Mike had the Spaghetti and meatballs (it was delicious).

I had this insane thing: Cavatelli Ala Rosebud. I still dream about this dish. It was one of the best things I've ever eaten. I told my dad I'd share it with him but wound up scarfing most of it myself. It's basically a gnocchi-like pasta with grean beans, tomatoes, peppers, and a butter sauce. OMG.

I had this insane thing: Cavatelli Ala Rosebud. I still dream about this dish. It was one of the best things I've ever eaten. My dad and I were supposed to share it but I wound up scarfing most of it myself. It's basically a gnocchi-like pasta with grean beans, tomatoes, peppers, and a butter sauce. OMG.

After lunch we got back on the trolley and finished the tour. Later that night we went to the John Hancock Building’s Signature Room and had drinks and checked out the view from the 95th floor.

Fancy cocktails at The Signature Room.

Fancy cocktails at The Signature Room.

Tuesday we started out at Big Star in Wicker Park. The service was sort of lame and we felt like they weren’t that thrilled to have us non-hipsters out on their patio for everyone to see, but the food was really good. The margarita was not great, though, and overall we like Taco Joint in Lincoln Park better.

Yummy tacos at Big Star in Wicker Park, Chicago.

Yummy tacos at Big Star in Wicker Park, Chicago.

The margarita was warm and didn't taste like anything special. Plus it was small.

The margarita was warm and didn't taste like anything special. Plus it was small.

Another delish taco and really good beans- which were attacked by the family before I even got a good picture.

Another delish taco and really good beans- which were attacked by the family before I even got a good picture.

Yet another tasty little taco and the blah margarita. No matter how many pictures I take of it, it isn't going to improve.

Yet another tasty little taco and the blah margarita. No matter how many pictures I take of it, it isn't going to improve. You can see how everyone else devoured their food.

Then we got on the El to Wrigleyville and wandered around there for awhile.

Mom and dad on the El platform.

Mom and dad on the El platform.

Instagram!

Instagram!

Chicago wore them out!

Chicago wore them out!

We thought about taking a tour of Wrigley Field but the tickets were $25. REALLY? Yeah. Then we had some cocktails at one of the many bars up there.

Wrigley Field Instagram.

Wrigley Field Instagram.

After the drinks we got back on the El and went down to Fullerton in L.P. and had some hot dogs at Chicago’s Dog House.

The 'rents at Chicago's Dog House.

The 'rents at Chicago's Dog House.

All the yummies at Chicago's Dog House.

All the yummies at Chicago's Dog House.

Later that evening we took an architectural river cruise with the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

CAF Architectural Cruise

CAF Architectural Cruise

River cruise, CAF.

River cruise, CAF.

Some cool shots from the boat.

Some cool shots from the boat.

CAF does great river tours, very informative and fun.

CAF does great river tours, very informative and fun.

The Wrigley Building a la Instagram.

The Wrigley Building a la Instagram.

After the river tour we had drinks and apps at Filini. I had another of my favorite foods ever there.

One of the best things I've ever eaten: the mushroom pizza from Filini, Chicago

One of the best things I've ever eaten: the mushroom pizza from Filini, Chicago.

Wednesday was their last day in Chicago so we started out in The Loop at Do-Rite Donuts. Everyone else was food-ed out, but Mike and I enjoyed the donuts very much. Rookies!

Do-Rite Donuts, Chicago.

Do-Rite Donuts, Chicago.

Then we just hung out in Millenium Park and had lunch at Mariano’s, the neat grocery store/cafe/restaurant by The Aqua.

Sarah and Dave at "The Bean".

Sarah and Dave at "The Bean".

Sarah and Dave at "The Bean".

Sarah and Dave at "The Bean".

These shots are irresistible.

These shots are irresistible.

These shots are irresistible.

These shots are irresistible.

Family shot!

Family shot!

LOL, silly.

LOL, silly.

"The Bean" is really called Cloud Gate.

"The Bean" is really called Cloud Gate.

Awwwww.

Awwwww.

David and Dad.

David and Dad.

Millenium Park, Chicago

Millenium Park, Chicago

 

 

Fun!

Fun!

Some places to get happy hour drinks and snacks in Colorado Springs

Another wrap-up post- where to get some drinks with your food.

Judge Baldwin’s: another brewpub

Judge Baldwin's in The Antlers Hotel

Judge Baldwin's in The Antlers Hotel

MacKenzie’s Chophouse: great vintage decor, excellent food, and pretty good happy hour specials.

MacKenzie's Chophouse

MacKenzie's Chophouse

MacKenzie's has some nice drinks.

MacKenzie's has some nice drinks.

Johnny’s Navajo Hogan: Johnny, of Southside Johnny’s, did an excellent restoration of this historically landmarked building. Service is fabulous, and the drinks are good too.

The Navajo Hogan is an historic building.

The Navajo Hogan is an historic building.

Johnny's Navajo Hogan

Johnny's Navajo Hogan

Johnny restored the original neon sign

Johnny restored the original neon sign

Red Martini:

The cozy bar at Red Martini

The cozy bar at Red Martini

A blurry picture of their happy hour menu, which is pretty extensive.

A blurry picture of their happy hour menu, which is pretty extensive.

Not sure if anyone ever plays the piano at Red Martini

Not sure if anyone ever plays the piano at Red Martini

Red Martini snack menu, lots of good happy hour specials.

Red Martini snack menu, lots of good happy hour specials.

Happy hour cocktail

Happy hour cocktail

Happy hour cheese plate

Happy hour cheese plate

Happy hour coconut chicken fingers- these are really really good!

Happy hour coconut chicken fingers- these are really really good!

Sonterra Grill:

The very pretty Sonterra Grill

The very pretty Sonterra Grill

Happy hour!

Happy hour!

They have a few really good happy hour food items, including free chips and salsa.

They have a few really good happy hour food items, including free chips and salsa.

Springs Orleans: Good happy hour specials. Don’t forget to go next door to the new hotel, they have a beautiful lobby bar.

Springs Orleans

Springs Orleans

Springs Orleans

Springs Orleans

I love happy hour!

I love happy hour!

They kept tons of the original features when they renovated the hotel (Wyndham at the Mining Exchange) and restaurant

They kept tons of the original features when they renovated the hotel (Wyndham at the Mining Exchange) and restaurant

The original tin ceiling

The original tin ceiling

Springs Orleans has a very long wine list- almost all of them are available for happy hour.

Springs Orleans has a very long wine list- almost all of them are available for happy hour.

Swirl Wine Bar:

Nice atmosphere to go with your wine and cocktails at Swirl Wine Bar

Nice atmosphere to go with your wine and cocktails at Swirl Wine Bar

The Famous: if you want to spy on Colorado Springs movers and shakers, you have to go to Friday night happy hour at The Famous.

Hob-nobbing with Oinkety nemesis, John Hazlehurst at The Famous

Hob-nobbing with Oinkety nemesis, John Hazlehurst at The Famous

Snacks at The Famous

Snacks at The Famous

A gigantic plate of french fries at The Famous

A gigantic plate of french fries at The Famous

The Loop: great Mexican food and fab margaritas.

A huge margarita at The Loop

A huge margarita at The Loop

Rico’s Cafe and Wine Bar:

Rico's Cafe and Wine Bar

Rico's Cafe and Wine Bar

Delicious hummus and happy hour wine on the sidewalk at Rico's

Delicious hummus and happy hour wine on the sidewalk at Rico's

Rico's offers 3 and 6 ounce wines by the glass, so you can try a few at a time. And their food is interesting and tasty, too.

Rico's offers 3 and 6 ounce wines by the glass, so you can try a few at a time. And their food is interesting and tasty, too.

 

Shuga’s: Of course, Shuga’s. My Fave. Great food, great atmosphere, great happy hour.

Happy hour!

Happy hour!

Special cocktail for happy hour at Shugas

Special cocktail for happy hour at Shugas

Now go to happy hour somewhere and come back and tell us all about it!

 

Two Great Coupons

We went to Jose Muldoon’s last night with some friends and it was super fun. We sat on the patio and I had a veggie taco salad along with (several?!) margaritas. They have a bunch of different kinds of margaritas, unlike some other so -called swanky Mexican restaurants in town. I’ve only ever had their appetizers before, which are fine, but the salad was really good.  And of course the chips are totally addictive.

We call them The Monkees! Our friends at Jose Muldoon's, Colorado Springs

We call them The Monkees! Our friends at Jose Muldoon's, Colorado Springs

Anyhow, here’s a Living Social coupon for $30 worth of food and drinks. It’s good at the downtown location or the Powers Corridor location. I haven’t been to the Powers Corridor one but I heard it’s good. If you go to the downtown one be sure to sit on the patio, it’s really pretty.

Another coincidental Groupon is this one for paint supplies. We have a couple of painting projects going on in our lives this week, so this will come in handy.

These are both really good deals and as always with these deals, you have to buy these coupons today!

 

 

Cafe El Paso–Tex Mex in Colorado Springs

I’ve been on a serious quest for some good Mexican food here in Colorado Springs. I’m sad to say I’ve been having kind of a hard time. Cafe El Paso is really cute from the outside and it got good reviews elsewhere so we went the other night.

Cafe El Paso is “Tex-Mex” which usually doesn’t mean much outside of  Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. But I think the owners are from Texas, so they know what they’re doing.

They have a really interesting menu that includes all the usual tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc. But they also have huevos rancheros all day long, not just for breakfast, which is awesome. They also have some other interesting dinners that I’ve never seen before.

The decor inside is not that great, I’m sad to say, because the outside is really inviting. Oh well. The food is really good.

We started with some free chips and salsa.

Chips and salsa from Cafe El Paso

Chips and salsa from Cafe El Paso

They have a menu with several different margaritas. This is unusual and good! Most places here don’t have more than one or two kinds, even fancy places that should (Sonterra, I’m looking at you). I ordered the one that the server said was her favorite and thought it wasn’t that great. I’m pretty picky about drink mixes or drinks that taste like drink mixes but that’s just my own personal issue. Anyhow, this one was very sweet and tasted “mix-y”.  But later on in the evening some people at a neighboring table had half a pitcher of theirs left and brought it over to me to finish. LOL. Anyhow, those were made with some fancy tequila and were much better than the one I ordered.
Margarita at Cafe El Paso

Margarita at Cafe El Paso

Linda and me getting our drink on. Actually she's just having water.

Linda and me getting our drink on. Actually she's just having water.

Mike had the special of the day which was some fancy tacos.

Beef tacos at Cafe El Paso- comes with rice and beans
Beef and mango tacos with onions and cilantro at Cafe El Paso- comes with rice and beans
Huevos Rancheros for dinner at Cafe El Paso

Huevos Rancheros for dinner at Cafe El Paso

Too many margaritas and I can’t remember the name of what I got. It was seriously good, tho.

A really interesting creamy chicken dish wirth rice and beans from Cafe El Paso
A really interesting creamy chicken dish wirth rice and beans from Cafe El Paso

So, anyhow, Cafe El Paso has lame decor, decent margaritas (if you order the right one- get the fancy tequila), and really good food!

Nederland, Territory Days Colorado Springs, Henri’s, Toast

First things first. Friday we went up to The Nordstrom Rack so I could return a dress and DM could look at shoes. It’s near Littleton so we went over to a yummy place called Toast in downtown historical Littleton. Seems like it used to be a cute place. A Little Town. Now of course it’s a sprawling ugly suburban hell.

I had what else, french toast! And eggs. Yum. The french toast was sort of creamy inside and made with thick bread. Sort of cinnamony too but not too much. I could have lived without the whipped cream, but other than that it was delish. I was also considering the Grilled Chicken and Pear Sandwich, The Roasted Turkey and Avocado Sandwich, or The Apple and Brie Sandwich. I’m going to save this menu and see if I can make some of this stuff myself.

Oddly, given their name, the toast was the least interesting item they had. DM liked his cornbeef hash, tho.

We wanted to go on a hike to see wildflowers. After I reasearched it a little I realized there weren’t going to be any wildflowers yet. That happens in July. Still we wanted to check out the area so we headed up to Eldora/Nederland and walked this little hike. By the time we go there it was chilly (49 degrees!) and sort of late so we only spent about an hour on the trail. It will be a nice place to come back to in summer tho. Eldora is a pretty cute funky place. There’s no town there anymore, just a boarded up general store and some log cabins. The log cabins were cuuuuuuute. Little tiny things with lace curtains in the windows and stuff like that. It would be fun to stay in one sometime.

Yea, there was even still lots of snow on the ground!

One little tiny wildflower!

After the hike we went down into the town of Nederland. It’s not much of a town. Just 5 or 6 blocks. We had dinner and beers made on site at Wild Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery. It was VERY Colorado. I had the Otis Pale Ale- it was cute and had a pig on the tap. DM had some other thing that was a “guest beer” meaning it was from another local brewery not this one. I liked mine better. It was sort of sweet. We shared some sweet potato fries which were really good. As good at the ones at Paradox Lounge here in Colorado Springs.

DM had the brisket with the sampler sauce platter, baked beans and garlic mashed potatoes. I tasted it all and it was really good. One of the sauces was a Thai sauce and it was yummy. The rest of them were your standard bbq sauces. A couple of them were super hot and spicy. I liked them all but aside from the Thai one they weren’t outstanding. Not even close to Missouri Hicks! That’s the best sauce ever. I can’t wait to go back in September on a road trip with the DM. ANYHOW, this was very good. We did great as far as food went on Friday.

I was still pretty full from breakfast so I had a Buffalo pulled chicken salad. It was much smaller than I expected it to be (just a regular dinner salad plate) but even then I didn’t finish it. It was really good, tho! It was a perfect idea. I love Buffalo wings (despite the fact that the first time I ate them like 15 years ago I got major food poisoning from them- hey, that never stops me!) and to have it in a salad makes a lot of sense. The sauce was really hot and the blue cheese dressing and lettuce and carrots and celery were nice and cool and crunchy. I’m gonna for sure make this at home.

There are tons of street fairs almost every weekend here or nearby this summer. Yesterday we went to the first one, The Territory Days in Old Colorado City which is about 5 miles from here in an old historical part of town. It was PACKED. It was ok but not that exciting.

I love lilacs ans they’re everywhere here! I can’t remember them being everywhere in Southern California but maybe they are and I just somehow missed them.

We got hungry but didn’t want to eat $10 turkey legs or $6 funnel cakes so we popped into a little Mexican restaurant called Henri’s. I’d never heard of it or seen a review of it or anything. Yikes! That always scares me. Anyhow we sat at the bar, ordered up some drinks.

Chips and salsa were $2.

This is annoying and LAME! Mexican restaurants should not charge for chips and salsa. But by then I was hungry and getting a little drunk so we went ahead and ordered them anyway. Grrr. The salsa was really good. Hot but not overwhelmingly so. No raw onions in it which I appreciated as you know how fond I am of the raw onions.

I had my fave: posole. It was pretty good. Not as good as the one at Dona Rosa in Pasadena. I KNOW some people really hate that place and honestly I’ve only been a couple times but that posole will live in my memory forever. Anyhow, this one was good and hit the spot with the drinkin.

DM had some kind of enormous burrito. He enjoyed it.

After the fair we went over to Target for a few things. Then to Cheers liquor store so I could get more margarita fixins. I wanted to spend the day outside on the grass cuz it was so nice out. By this time DM was ready to crash tho. So he napped and watched hockey inside and I laid out in the sun for awhile. I neglected to buy triple sec cuz I bought margarita mix and figured it would have it in it. I dunno, it’s been forever since I’ve made margaritas. I would have made them from scratch but Colorado has the most retarded liquor laws that say you can’t sell food (limes!) in a liquor store. So screw it, I bought the mix. It’s a locally made mix with all natural ingredients and no HFCS so it wasn’t THAT bad. Homemade would have been way better. Anyhow I made the drink with the mix, the tequilla, and some OJ and it was pretty good. I only drank about half of it tho cuz I started to get a headache. I went inside and took a two hour nap but still had a headache so I took a fiorinal and had some coffee and felt better. Sheesh, not a good idea to drink first thing in the morning before eating anything, I guess.

Today we went to Home Depot to scout out flooring and carpet and other things cuz DM needs to do some work on his condo in Phoenix. The place was empty. Sundays in Colorado Springs. Sheesh. It’s good to be a heathen in this town. We also had hot dogs. Home Depot hot dogs are my faves.

Now DM is at work and I’m gonna go outside and sit in the sun for awhile then come back in and do some cooking. I guess I need to lay off the carbs for awhile because not only am I getting fat but I’m super cranky and low enrgy from them, too. I found some veggie recipes, too cuz I have been seriously lacking in them as well. I used to be so much better about food than I am now. I dunno what the deal is. I’ll keep you posted if I find some good ones.