Chicago Trip Report With Restaurant Reviews

Jun 2nd, 2008, 08:10 AM
  #1  
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Chicago Trip Report With Restaurant Reviews

We went to Chicago May 23-26 for my husband's 31st birthday. We flew into Midway on Southwest and stayed at the Marriott on Michigan and Grand.

Flight and transportation: Flight was on time and catching the orange line to transfer to the hotel was a breeze. It did take longer than I anticipated to get to the hotel though--about 45 minutes. We each bought a 3 day pass for $12. We really only used the L for airport transfers and to ride up and see Wrigley. The other times we'd either walk, get on the bus (pass works for that, too), or we caught a cab once to the Second City theater.

Hotel: The hotel was in a great location--Michigan and Grand. It was an easy walk to most places--Millenium Park, Art Institute, shopping, Hancock Observatory. Tons of great restaurants nearby. The lobby was nice, the staff was helpful, and the rooms were clean. We enjoyed the view. The rooms were small, however. Since I've never stayed in Chicago before, I can't compare them, but I found them surprisingly small. I stayed at the Crowne Plaza in New York City in February, and found it to be much roomier.

Friday:

Arrived and got to the hotel about 1:30pm. We went to grab pizza at the original Pizzeria Uno. Our wait was about 30 minutes, but they began cooking our pizza so by the time we got to our table, it was only about 15 minutes before our order arrived. The pizza was...filling. We ordered far too much. We were with 2 other couples, and the guys are big eaters, but we had so much left over.

After lunch, we caught the L and went to see Wrigley Field. You could really just take pictures of the outside and peak through the gate. The guys enjoyed it. My husband likes microbreweries so went to Goose Island brewery and tasted two flights of their local brews. It was a neat place, and the brew was good.

We headed back to the hotel and changed for our 7:30pm dinner reservations at Tavern on Rush. Our travel companions said their friend hailed it as the "best steak they'd every had". The food was good (fine dining so expensive), but it wasn't the best steak I've ever had. We had the spinach artichoke dip for an appetizer, the petite filet (try the roasted garlic preparation style) for dinner, and the chocolate cake for dessert. There were six of us, each had several drinks, plus the above, plus a bottle of wine at dinner, and the tab was $435.

We stayed at the restaurant until 11pm and enjoyed dessert, drinks, and conversation. We then headed to the hotel to rest up for morning.

Saturday:

My husband and I got up and went running. We ran down to Navy Pier and ran by the water. Very nice. On the run back, we stopped and got coffee and a bagel and fresh fruit and water at the grocery store.

We walked over the Michigan Bridge (lovely) to Millenium Park and breezed through it on the way to the Art Institute. We rented the audio tour and followed the Director's Tour. We stayed a couple of hours and enjoyed it. As most people recommend, the Impressionist area is wonderful. Tickets are $12 each; audio tour $6.

We had reservations at The Gage for lunch for my husband's birthday. It's a gourmet Irish pub directly across from Millenium Park. It's in a historic building, and the food and beer selection is fantastic. Highly recommend. One of our couples had the french toast--it was delicious! The fish and chips were good as well. I had the chicken pesto sandwich, and it was heavenly. Sweet potato fries were a hit. For six of us (an entree each), and a beer for everyone, it was about $135 .

Following lunch, we took the Architecture River Cruise by CAF. It was spectacular. Highly, highly recommend. $32 each.

We took a nap and rested up before dinner. We had tapas at Emilio's. yum! We'd never had tapas so it was a fun experience. We enjoyed their homemade sangria (they had red and white, but we enjoyed red). We ordered about 4 entrees total. Our tab was somewhere around $80. It was a lively place, but allowed for good conversation.

Following dinner, we went to Second City ETC. We saw "How Many Democrats Does it Take to Lose an Election?". It was really funny. It wasn't candidate specific too much, just lots of political humor and just "in general" humor. I was skeptical, but we laughed out loud so many times, and our faces hurt from smiling so much! We left around 1:30am. We caught a cab there and back. No problem--about $8 each way.

Sunday:

Got up and ran again. This time we ran along LakeShore Drive. Just wonderful running trails! We showered and went to breakfast at West Egg. The wait was long, but we got on a separate list to eat outdoors. Wonderful! They're famous for their omelettes. Hubby got a Mexican omelette that was fantastic. I got the most delicious french toast. All for about $20 with coffee and tip.

After breakfast, we went to take a bike tour with Bobby's Bike Hike. $32 each. We had a big group. It was frustrating because we went so slow at first. However, they gave a lot of information on the history of Chicago, and we saw neighborhoods we would have had to otherwise explore alone (which we wouldn't have done). The best was when we went to the beach along Lakeshore. They let us ride the 2 miles or so at our own pace to Navy Pier. We really enjoyed this.

There was a free concert by Northwestern at Millenium Park--J. Pritzker Pavilion. It was lovely! We sat out on the grass with tons of folks who had food, beverages, blankets, card games. The venue is just wonderful.

Following the concert, we had dinner at Bandera. It was great! We were seated immediately (no reservations). It overlooks Michigan Ave. I had the Macho Salad, and my husband had the Veggie Burger. Don't let the names fool you---gourmet entrees. Yum! We had a banana cream pie for dessert that was to die for. We each had a glass of wine. I think our bill was around $75. Highly recommend.

We were too tired to do anything afterwards so it was back to the hotel for our final night.

Monday:

Got up and ran again. This time along Lakeshore Drive, through Grant Park (that fountain!), and to our breakfast destination---Yolk. Food was delicious. I had crepes, husband had another omelette, and again, under $20. Highly recommend.

We caught a bus back to the hotel and changed and packed up. Checked the bags with the hotel and went shopping. Tons of shopping along Michigan! We ended our trip at the John Hancock Observatory. Look for the signs for Signature Lounge. We each had a drink (him a $8 beer, me a $12 martini) and enjoyed the lovely view. Everyone is right--the women's bathroom has the best view.

We grabbed our bags and made our back on the L to Midway.

Wonderful trip!

I'll be sure to respond to questions if you have them.

mindibz is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2008, 09:04 AM
  #2  
cd
 
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Thanks for a good report mindibz. I enjoy reading about places I've been because I re-visit it as I read.
cd is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2008, 10:15 AM
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great report -- sounds like you had fun! I admire your dedication to running, especially on a vacation! Chicago does have great places to run though.
kansasmom is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2008, 11:00 AM
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Great report! It's fun to read your perspective on my hometown.

I would highly recommend The Gage, the Art Institute, the architectural boat tour, and a stroll through to Millennium to anyone visiting. You chose well. The only off-suggestion was Tavern on Rush, which I might suggest as a see-and-be-seen spot for dessert and drinks, or Sunday brunch, but no where near the best steak in Chicago (and we have a lot to choose from).

Hope your husband had a great birthday and your trip sounds fun!
Chicago_Heather is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2008, 11:06 AM
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Oops ... didn't mean to shortchange Emilio's (am assuming you ate at the one on Ohio) as a strong rec, especially its desserts and I'm not a sweets person.
Chicago_Heather is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2008, 02:50 PM
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really liked your trip report; I like how you put prices on everything and your no-frills just the facts ma'am style. cute, .
ncounty is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2008, 04:49 PM
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Enjoyed reading about my home town. I've been to most of the places, and always enjoy someone else's perspective. Can't think where the recommendation for Tavern on Rush having best steaks in town came from--there are SO many other better places! Bandera is sometimes very good, but sometimes the food just tastes blah--we usually go at lunch--but staff is very nice.

Glad you enjoyed Second City and our beautiful lakefront! Hope you'll be back. Yes, the Marriott has very small rooms, esp. for Chicago, but the location is great.
marilynl is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2008, 06:27 PM
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Very nice report, mindibz! So glad you enjoyed your time in Chicago!
CAPH52 is offline  
Jun 9th, 2008, 11:45 AM
  #9  
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Thanks for reading! I always include time details and price details b/c I'm so curious about those things when I plan a trip and maybe it will help someone else. Just love your town!
mindibz is offline  
Jun 11th, 2008, 10:32 AM
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mindibz, thanks for this post! I've poached several ideas for our trip in August....
tenthumbs is offline  
Jun 11th, 2008, 05:01 PM
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Loved your report! So glad you love my hometown!
sarge56 is offline  
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