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!

Three yummy Mexican restaurants. Ole Chicago!

I missed good Mexican food when we lived in Colorado. There were lots of Mexican places but only a couple really good ones. There are lots and lots of great ones here!

One of the first places we went was Azteca De Oro: 3731 North Clark Street, Lakeview Chicago, IL 60613.

We had lunch here and it was really good. I had a taco plate and Mike had a burrito. Great prices and fun decor, too.

A taco plate from Azteca De Oro, Lakeview, Chicago

A taco plate from Azteca De Oro, Lakeview, Chicago

Tasty burrito from Azteca De Oro

Tasty burrito from Azteca De Oro

Fun decor at Azteca De Oro

Fun decor at Azteca De Oro

Another Mexican place we liked a lot was El Cid 2: 2645 North Kedzie Avenue, Logan Square,  Chicago, IL 60647

Not sure if there’s an El Cid 1, but El Cid 2 was very good. Big fruity margaritas, and really tasty soft tacos. It’s right by the Logan Square Blue Line so it’s convenient, too.

Mango Margarita at El Cid 2, Logan Square Chicago

Mango Margarita at El Cid 2, Logan Square Chicago

Soft taco plate with three different tacos at El Cid 2, Chicago

Soft taco plate with three different tacos at El Cid 2, Chicago

Tarascas: 2585 N. Clark St., Lincoln Park, Chicago, 60614

This place is only a block away from our apartment but it took us forever to actually go here. They have signs all over the place touting their gigantic margaritas (45 and a half ounces). I don’t really want a gigantic margarita (usually gigantic things are merely gigantic and not very good) but one day we went in anyway out of sheer laziness combined with starvation. I had a normal sized margarita which was actually very good. We also got a huge plate of  nachos, also very good.

Nachos from Tarascas, Lincoln Park, Chicago

Nachos from Tarascas, Lincoln Park, Chicago

 

 

Filini, Chicago

Filini: 221 N. Columbus Dr. Chicago, 60601

Filini is in the lobby of the Radisson Blu Hotel, which is in the famed Aqua Building in Chicago.

Very modern, open, airy, and pretty, with excellent food and drinks and good service.

We went here and sat in the bar when my parents and my brother and sister-in-law came to visit from L.A. in September. They stayed in a condo in the Aqua, so we went to Filini a couple times while they were visiting. We drank a lot of wine! Then we had a lot of food! It was really fun and a great experience.

David and Sarah at Felini in Chicago

David and Sarah at Filini in Chicago

We started with a cheese plate. David had a beer and Sarah had some sort of sparkling wine, which is all the rage with the young people these days, I’ve noticed.

Cheese and breadsticks at Felini Chicago

Cheese and breadsticks at Filini Chicago

Then we had the delicious creamy, cheesy artichoke and spinach dip with some flatbreads. Mom and I shared a bottle of Sicilian red wine.

Artichoke and spinach dip

Artichoke and spinach dip

Sparkly and modern ambience at Felini

Twinkly and modern ambience at Filini

We ordered a couple of pizzas including a margherita and a sausage, but this one rocked my world! It was sauteed exotic mushrooms, spinach, taleggio cheese, and truffle oil. It was the best thing I’ve eaten in a long time. I might have to go get one right now.

Mushroom spinach pizza from Felini, Chicago

Mushroom spinach pizza from Filini, Chicago

We finished the evening with some Italian cookies.

Italian cookies at Felini, Chicago

Italian cookies at Filini, Chicago

I love Filini and will go back soon!

So much amazing food in Chicago

Some of you might have noticed that we like to eat. For a lot of people, eating is something they do to stay alive. They call it a necessity.

But for us, eating is a hobby.

Lucky for us, Chicago has a few places to indulge us. We’ve been pretty busy, and we’ll talk about some more of these in greater detail later, but for now, here’s a list of some of this city’s amazing food offerings we’ve enjoyed:

  • Uncle Sammy’s: Our first night in Chicago, we were having a horrible time finding a place to park a UHaul truck. At about midnight, we finally found a place and were walking home when we stumbled onto this gem. The Pilgrim is a very fine sandwich.
  • Kitchen Sink: Good, simple sandwiches.
  • Floriole: Adrienne loved it. I thought it was only OK. Quiche, apparently, is to die for.
  • Pasta Bowl: Delicious and affordable pasta.
  • Tzatziki Grill: Excellent Greek place that also has a pretty solid Italian Beef sandwich.
  • Margie’s Candies: It’s like time travel at Margie’s. Egg-salad sandwich and the Terrapin Sundae: Recommended.
  • Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria: Our favorite pizza in Chicago so far. Pizza in Chicago is like barbecue in other towns: Everyone has a very strong opinion. We loved Lou’s, but we’re still open to trying others.
  • Lito’s Empanadas: Delicious — and cheap. For $2.50, one of these little guys is great for a snack. Get two, and it’s lunch.
  • Del Seoul: Weird little Asian dumplings that are oddly addictive.
  • Paciugo: Gelato. Can’t go wrong with gelato.
  • Pret a Manger: This is Target’s cafe. Yes, I know. Why eat out at Target? But you see, here in Chicago, even going to Target is a dining experience.
  • Brown’s Chicken: Fried chicken place in one of the downtown pedways. Scenery wasn’t great, but loved the biscuits and mashed potatoes.
  • Bobtail Ice Cream: An almost-overwhelming amount of goodness.
  • The Edge: Cake!
  • The Grove: More time travel. Open-face turkey or meatloaf sandwich, with bottomless coffee.
  • Red Hen Bread: Tip: Get the day-old stuff for a little less money (same deliciousness, though).
  • Taco Joint: Best Mexican so far in Chicago. Lebanese Pork Taco: must have (available only on Thursdays).
  • Chicago’s Dog House: Our favorite dog place in Chicago so far. Good choices, good service, good prices.
  • Clark Street Dog:  Got caught in a storm and waited it out in here with a couple of dogs and a couple of beers. There are worse places to end up when it’s raining.
  • Red Hot Ranch: Our first hot dogs in Chicago. Our first experience with french fries on a hot dog. Interesting.
  • Big Star: Gourmet tacos. Service was only OK, but the decor was great. After Taco Joint, though, hard to compare.
  • Gibson’s Bar and Steakhouse: Best service of any of the restaurants we’ve been to. A shoutout to our server, who happens to be a Lincoln Park neighbor! Desserts are insane. And tall. You’ll need to share. Oh, and also: $$$
  • Filini: Ultra-modern, ultra-hip dining at the signature downtown building Aqua. Sotto Bosco pizza was impressive. As was the Carciofini spinach dip.
  • Rosebud: Best Italian so far in Chicago. Two must-tries: Penne Bolognese and their Cavatelli Alla Rosebud.
  • Toast: Great service. Outstanding breakfast burrito.
  • Stella’s: Delightful breakfast options.
  • The Bourgeois Pig Cafe: Carrot cake!
  • Goose Island Brewpub: We didn’t eat here, but for some great local brews, it’s worth a try.
  • Dunlays on Clark: $5 Cheeseburger special = delicious.
  • The Burwood Tap: One of the oldest continuously operating bars in Chicago. Really good free food Mondays through Thursdays (my fave was the chicken).
  • Smoque: Been having a hard time finding some barbecue out here, but this was fantastic.
  • Pizzeria Due: After a too-long wait at Malnati’s, we ended up here. Not quite as good as Lou Malnati’s, but if LMs is a 10, Pizzeria Due is a 9. Very good.
  • Portillo’s: Iconic. Worth it for the atmosphere. Still, Chicago’s Dog House wins out.
  • Potbelly Sandwich Shop: Grilled Chicken Mediterranean is a fine, fine sandwich.
  • Matisse: Did not expect deliciousness when we ordered the Reuben Potstickers. We were pleasantly surprised.
  • Do-Rite Donuts: You’ll find lots of Dunkin’ Donuts here, but few local places. These guys do donuts right.
  • Wow Bao: Quirky little place with neat little fluffy dumplings. A must-try.
  • Devil Dawgs: It’s worthwhile to try all of Chicago’s hot dogs.

So much food in this town — how do people here ever get anything done?

Sundaes, treats, floats. Plenty of tasty options at Margie's Candies.

 

If you're after treats, Bobtail is also an excellent choice.

 

What's this? A hot dog? Yes, I guess so. Underneath the french fries, anyway. Interesting technique, Red Hot Ranch.

 

The S'mores cake at The Edge. Cake did not last long.

 

The best Chicago hot dogs, in our opinion. Chicago's Dog House.

 

A very full meal at Smoque BBQ: Chicken, mac & cheese, baked beans, and cole slaw.

 

Carrot Cake! At the Bourgeois Pig.

 

We don't only take pictures of food. We are also capital-A Artists. Or, maybe this is the view after we'd eaten too much and had to lay on the floor. Hard to say.

 

 

Downtown Colorado Springs Wrap-up Round-up

We love living in Chicago now. We appreciate all the things that big cities have to offer, including the progressive attitudes of the citizens and the people in charge. But Colorado Springs has its charms, and it was really hard to leave. The downtown area is very pretty with lots of trees and flowers (when the city can find it in the budget to water them) and beautiful historic homes and buildings (for now anyway). There are lots of little shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars, a couple of cute parks, a public library, some art galleries, and two museums. It’s flat so it’s easy to walk or bike around, and the views of the mountains are stunning.  Here are some of the things we loved about living in downtown Colorado Springs (along with some of our gripes, as usual).

You can walk or bike all over the place. It's flat and the drivers are cautious.

You can walk or bike all over the place. It's flat and the drivers are usually pretty cautious.

Smiley's was just a couple blocks from our house, and we went there many weekends for breakfast.

Smiley's was just a couple blocks from our house, and we went there many weekends for breakfast. Click this pic for their website.

Homespun handwritten menu at Smiley's

Homespun handwritten menu at Smiley's

Breakfast at Smiley's is delicious!

Breakfast at Smiley's is delicious! Probably the best bacon in the COS.

Tejon St. Music has been around a long time. Great place for all your guitar needs. Click this pic for their website.

Tejon Street Music has been around a long time. Great place for all your guitar needs. Click this pic for their website.

Pretty residential street in downtown Colorado Springs

Pretty residential street in downtown Colorado Springs

Our old apartment downtown. It's since been sold and the new owners "remodeled" it, basically ruining all its old history. Still, it's got pretty neighbors.

Our old apartment downtown. It's since been sold and the new owners "remodeled" it, basically ruining all its old history. Still, it's got pretty neighbors.

Lunch on the patio at Poor Richards. Best pizza in town! Click this pic for their website.

Lunch on the patio at Poor Richard's. Best pizza in town! Click this pic for their website.

Cocktails and coffee at Poor Richards.

Cocktails and coffee at Poor Richard's.

Paris Crepe- one of our all-time faves. Click this pic for their website.

Paris Crepe -- one of our all-time faves. Click this pic for their website.

The best crepes are at Paris Crepe. Don't they look delish?

The best crepes are at Paris Crepe. Don't they look delish?

Paris Crepe is across the street from Acacia Park and it's nice to spend a summer evening eating crepes on their sidewalk cafe.

Paris Crepe is across the street from Acacia Park and it's nice to spend a summer evening eating crepes on their sidewalk cafe.

The weather is gorgeous and the views are stunning from downtown.

The weather is gorgeous and the views are stunning from downtown.

In the summer there are free concerts in Acacia Park on Saturday evenings.

In the summer there are free concerts in Acacia Park on Saturday evenings.

There's also a farmers market there on Mondays.

There's also a farmers market there on Mondays.

Acacia Park and Monument Valley Park are fun places to sit and have a picnic.

Acacia Park and Monument Valley Park are relaxing places to sit and have a picnic.

You can walk everywhere downtown.

You can walk everywhere downtown.

 

Terra Verde and Sparrowhawk Cookware are little locally owned shops with neat items for sale. Click this pic for Terra Verde's website.

Terra Verde and Sparrowhawk Cookware are great locally owned shops with neat items for sale. Click this pic for Terra Verde's website.

The Rodeo Days parade takes place every July down Tejon St. There's also  St. Patrick's Day parade, and a Christmas parade.

The Rodeo Days parade takes place every July down Tejon St. There's also St. Patrick's Day parade, and a Christmas parade.

Tony's Bar. The bar we love to hate. Click the pic for Tony's website.

Tony's Bar. The bar we love to hate. Click the pic for Tony's website.

Zeezo's is the place for all things magic and costume. Click this pic for their website.

Zeezo's is the place for all things magic and costume. Click this pic for their website.

If you're young and preferably in the military, you'll love weekends at downtown's pseudo honkeytonk, Cowboys. They also have bowling upstairs.

If you're young and preferably in the military, you'll love weekends at downtown's faux honkeytonk, Cowboys. They also have bowling upstairs.

The sidewalk cafes at Il Vicino, The Ritz, and Jack Quinns are nice places to have a meal.

The sidewalk cafes at Il Vicino, The Ritz, The Olive Branch, and Jack Quinns are nice places to have a meal.

Catch a movie at The Peak (but be aware they don't take credit or debit cards). They also have a small bar where you can grab a cocktail, glass of wine, or a beer to take into the theatre.

Catch a movie at The Peak (but be aware that they don't take credit or debit cards). They also have a small bar where you can grab a cocktail, glass of wine, or a beer to take into the theatre.

Then go over to the nightclub compound on Tejon St. and have a drink at the bar with the fire on the roof.

Then go over to the nightclub compound on Tejon St. and have a drink at the bar with the fire on the roof.

La Baguette has delicious french fare. Click this pic for their website.

La Baguette has delicious french fare. Click this pic for their website.

A brewpub whose building was saved from the wrecking ball by Governor Hickenlooper (way before he was governor), Phantom Canyon.

A brewpub whose building was saved from the wrecking ball by Governor Hickenlooper (way before he was governor), Phantom Canyon.

The Pioneers Museum is a neat place to spend an afternoon.

The Pioneers Museum is a neat place to spend an afternoon.

Labor Day weekend is the Balloon Festival, we could see them from our bedroom.

Labor Day weekend is the Balloon Festival, we could see them from our bedroom.

Slightly north of downtown is the well-stocked nursery, The Good Earth Garden Center. Click this pic for their website.

Slightly north of downtown is the well-stocked nursery, The Good Earth Garden Center. Click this pic for their website.

The Good Earth Garden Center is a nice place to walk around or pick something out from their vast selection of plants and garden art.

The Good Earth Garden Center is a nice place to walk around or pick something out from their vast selection of plants and garden art.

Slightly south of downtown is Bristol Brewing. They make their own beer and have a tasting room. Click this pic for their website.

Slightly south of downtown is Bristol Brewing. They make their own beer and have a tasting room. Click this pic for their website.

Beer flight at Bristol Brewing.

Beer flight at Bristol Brewing.

 

We’ve devoted a lot of space on this blog to downtown, and this post is not at all comprehensive (we didn’t even mention Shuga’s!). So please check out our other posts for tons more things to do. And be sure to let us know what your favorite downtown things are and when new shops and restaurants open up! We might not live there anymore, but we still care. And of course we’ll be back at some point. Hell, maybe we’ll even come back and get that coffee truck we’ve been dreaming about rolling.