A Tour of Chicago
I love finding hidden gems everywhere I go. I’ll share with you some of my favorite spots I am sure to check out every time I'm in the Chicago area!
My first stop in the morning is typically C.C. Ferns. It is a playfully-decorated coffee shop with friendly baristas and theeeeee bestttttt chai lattes. They use homemade syrups and fresh squeezed orange zest and always make their drinks with love. In the mood for a cocktail already? They have a curated list of "boozy steamers." My fave? The Benedictine & Chai. They also have a limited supply of Doughnut Vault doughnuts (I think I've found all the surprise places that carry their doughnuts outside the original Vault location, which is always exciting and means a much smaller line--although the line is still well worth the wait!). I never eat doughnuts otherwise, but it’s too hard to pass up their buttermilk old fashioned. C.C.’s is part of the Hogsalt restaurant group, which is one of my faves. I have been a fan of their spots since the opening of their first restaurant, Gilt Bar...we’ll get there soon!
After C.C. Ferns for fuel, the Green City Market in Lincoln Park (Wednesdays and Saturdays 7AM-1PM) is a great place to stock up for the week. I typically take my freezer bag and load it up as I go. I get fresh herbs, veggies, fruits, local goat cheese & yogurt. MmmmMmmm! I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! Most recently, I purchased asparagus (just picked that morning!), heirloom tomatoes, a bunch of herbs, pure maple syrup, berries, goat yogurt and local meat. It’s always a successful day. One thing I missed at the market was 1871 Dairy with their grassfed deliciousness. I hope to see them there again soon! Annnnd, I saw the Doughnut Vault truck parked at the edge of the market! Double doughnut win (no, I didn’t indulge in another haha)!
For a quick lunch, you can enjoy a lot of the Hogsalt specialties at 3 Greens Market. My husband grabbed a quick Small Cheval burger topped with pastrami. He loved it! My current favorite spot for lunch is Green Street Smoked Meats. Tisket a tasket eat a basket of their brisket! IT IS AMAZING. And, if you stay to eat on their picturesque, but windy patio, you can always hop back in for more! My husband loves the Warren Moon sandwich, which is brisket topped with a hot link sausage.
After all that BBQ, if you’re ready to settle in with a coffee, tea, or more Doughnut Vault doughnuts, you simply walk a few steps up inside Green Street to the home of the best latte art in town (or arguably, the world!), Sawada Coffee. This concept is named after the legitimate rock star of the coffee industry and World Latte Art champion, Hiroshi Sawada, and his influence adds a perfectly unique global vibe to the cafe. I had to indulge in a second chai latte! Those are made just like the ones at C.C.Ferns, but for exclusive drinks to Sawada, try the Military Latte, Cold Brew Jasmine Tea, or High Five Mocha. Or make a drink Tokyo-style for $1 more! They also have their own boozy steamers, incorporating sake and shochu into their drinks.
With dinner at Gilt Bar, you can never go wrong. Designed with an incredible attention to detail, they have created a rustic, candlelit, magical atmosphere for a farm-to-table dining experience that has guaranteed great service, food, & libations! Some of my favorites? THE CORNBREAD. It's a seasonal special (their menu rotates regularly, but this is especially rare), so if it’s there, get it. And call me. I’ll be there too! Other favorites include roasted cauliflower. Bone marrow. Pork belly. Any cocktail with Lillet for me and any with Chartreuse for my hub.
For quick snacks, upgraded bulletproof coffee, and healthy organic options, come vibrate higher at HI-VIBE Superfood Organic Juicery. Just a block or two away from Gilt Bar, this is a small (but mighty) superfood juicery in River North. I love their shaman shake & Bulletproof sludge. But everything I have had there is out of this world. They use all my favorite ingredients, including Jem Nut Butter!
My husband does a great walking tour of the city. It includes walking past the Blommer’s chocolate factory for a great olfactory experience and then doing a taste testing at the House of Glunz**. It is a pre-prohibition era wine shoppe. Since our first visit there, they have put a ton of work into some impressive updates, although we loved it just as much that initial trip, with the snooty somm and dusty bottles from generations past. It has character and we knew what to expect each trip. Now, business is booming and they opened a restaurant in the restored adjacent room, with very charming bartenders. It is also one of the few places in the world we have found that you can taste a whole line of Pappy Van Winkle** whiskies... ya know, if that’s your thing! You can buy bottles of it there too, if that is more your thing (or just this awesome Glencairn). Either way, it’s a fun experience!
Another regular stop for us is Publican Quality Meats. They have a great butchery (is that a word?) that has everything from traditional cuts of steak and cured meats, to things like duck confit and house-made sausages with escargot. Their cooler/freezer section is filled with many local favorites, homemade lard, broths, etcetera. They also sell small batch, non-soy chocolates, from Cali to Iceland. This is a great place if you want to make up a basket for someone as a quick, thoughtful gift, or if you want to sit down for a few to an excellent, made-to-order meal. If you’re there, be sure to check out the bathrooms downstairs. It’s an experience...we always make our guests go haha.
Shake & GO!!!
Downtown has another local juicery with an LA-vibe: Harvest Juicery. I enjoyed a ginger shot & honeydew juice. Organic. Glass bottles. Friendly girls. Succulents. What more could you ask for?
Looking for a nice after-dinner drink? I have ya covered. Maude’s Liquor Bar is my personal favorite. Drink of choice? Small’s Gin smash. I have loved everything I've tried at Maude’s, but that’s my all-time fave. My husband enjoys the Chartreuse smash, of course. If you happen to be there for a bite I highly recommend the cassoulet. I dream about it. But I’ve had the whole menu and would eat it all again, country terrine (pâté) and escargot included!
NOTE: if you are interested in eating at Maude’s or Gilt Bar, I highly recommend making reservations well in advance. A week or two to be safe, but who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky!
If my husband and I are staying in the city, we always check first for accommodations at this hotel in the Gold Coast. A historic building in the shadow of the Hancock building, it is nestled between the Magnificent Mile and the waterfront on a surprisingly quiet block. Parking is easy (just across the street). There is a workout room with a vibration plate to help get your lymphs flowing (if that is a priority to you, like it is to me! haha). In each room, there is a fridge to store your market haul and a stove to put the ingredients to good use, and there is a separate bedroom from the living room (which includes a pullout couch). It couldn’t be better, with room views of Lake Michigan and great rates, too!
There are plenty more stops I love in the city of Chicago, so there will be a part deux to this post! Stay tuned & #GetSatiated!
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