I love Chicago! Almost every birthday since Kyle and I have been married, I've asked for a trip to Chicago instead of presents (well, that's a lie, I still welcome the presents). My birthday is in the Fall, so I love to visit when the leaves are changing colours. It's also the perfect weather to walk around; cool and crisp, but not too chilly. There is so much to see and do in Chicago, but for this post I'm going to focus on the food and drink, since Kyle and I are not into the typical touristy activities. The amount of incredible restaurants in Chicago is also quite lengthy, so I'm only going to highlight a few of our favourites.
Little Goat | Girl & the Goat
Both restaurants are owned by Top Chef winning chef, Stephanie Izard, and are located within 2 minutes of each other. Little Goat is a diner featuring breakfast and lunch, with a small coffee bar and open bakery attached. Make sure you try the goat chili; it's SO GOOD, with so many different flavours and textures. It's my favourite thing on the menu. They also have a great rooftop bar in the summer. Girl & the Goat is a very busy dinner-only restaurant and it's hard to get a reservation. But, don't fret, they save the bar for walk-ins, so you can snag a seat once one frees up. The food is delicious, the atmosphere is lively and energetic, and the service is warm and friendly.
Gilt Bar (pictured above)
This space is amazing. It's low-lit, intimate, and trendy - and the food is just as good. Order the tenderloin steak tartare, you won't be disappointed! This may be the BEST beef tartare I've ever tasted (and we order that almost everywhere). The avocado salad, burger and pork belly were also delicious.
From the team behind Avec and Blackbird comes this homage to beer, pork and fish. With paintings of pigs on the walls, long communal wooden tables and large, white, globe lighting, you feel like you're in a high-end butcher shop. If you don't eat pork, you may want to skip this one. However, to all you bacon-loving, pork belly-eating, prosciutto connoisseurs - I recommend the charcuterie plate.
Green Street Smoked Meats (pictured above)
If you enjoy BBQ, you'll love this place! Located in a warehouse-like open space, with plenty of seating and hanging lights, this space is amazing. And the food - oh. my. word. Be sure to try the brisket (the best EVER), the pulled pork and potato salad (potato salad, really?! yes, really). There's a coffee bar attached overlooking the dining area, so that's pretty cool too. It's the perfect stop to hit before heading home.
If there's one type of food I can't get enough of, it's mexican. I LOVE Mexican food. The flavours are incredible (avocado, lime and cilantro with everything?... ummm, yes please). Frontera Grill, owned by TV chef Rick Bayless, is always busy; but if you can't get a seat you can head next door to Xoco - it's casual, take-out focused little brother. Both restaurants are incredibly delicious and flavourful.
This restaurant features Mediterranean shared plates in a small intimate space. We went for brunch, which they only provide on Sundays, and it was delicious. Make sure you order the chorizo-stuffed medjool dates - you'll thank me.
Three Dots and a Dash
Yay! A cocktail bar finally! On our last trip to Chicago a few weeks ago, we stopped here for the first time, and it was my favourite part of the trip! It's located behind Frontera Grill, so I recommend hitting them at the same time. We went at 5pm, when they first open, and there was already a line up, so be prepared to wait; but it's definitely worth the wait. The tiki cocktails are delicious (I recommend their signature drink - the Three Dots and a Dash) and the space is so cool. Tiki-themed, dimly light and lots of seating; this place is great for groups or parties.
Several years ago, before I knew much about good coffee, Intelligentsia was my first "third-wave" coffee experience. I was told to try a cappuccino and I couldn't believe what I was tasting. It was creamy, smooth, sweet and looked so pretty in my cup. It started my quest for the perfect cup of coffee. Now, years later, I prefer to drink pour overs, americanos and macchiatos; but I will never forget that cappuccino experience. We've visited so many great coffee shops, but Intelligentsia has to be the most consistent. The coffee and service is always top notch, I'm never disappointed when I go. I highly recommend visiting the shop near Millennium Park on Randolph St.
Andy's Jazz Club
Conveniently located downtown, Andy's features live jazz music every night. The space is comfortable and clean (you don't feel like you're in a grungy bar) and the musicians are professional and very talented.
Other places we recommend:
The Green Mill Jazz Club
The Purple Pig
Gaslight Coffee Roasters
Chicago is such an amazing city. It's the perfect destination for a long weekend - just a four hour drive from Windsor. The architecture is incredible and the parks are amazing. I think the beautiful Windy City should be at the top of your travel list!