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

 

 

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!