The Windy City
Hi guys! I want to thank you all again for being so patient with my posting schedule over the past two weeks! It is hard to believe that in that same time span, I’ve traveled to California and back, attended my own bridal shower, flown to and explored the city of Chicago, and driven the (very long, 700-mile) drive back home to Washington, DC.
My pants might be a bit tighter, but it has been a crazy, food-filled, and amazing whirlwind nonetheless.
I still have yet to tell you about my trip to California (if you follow me on Instagram, you might already have an inkling as to what that was all about!), but let’s start with my most recent trip to Chicago.
I’ve alluded to this before, but Connor has been living and completing hospital rotations in various cities across the country, including San Francisco, New York City, and Chicago, all in the past four months! Kind of explains a lot, right? Applying for residency is no joke. You essentially apply to what feels like a million places, and basically have zero control in the entire process.
In other words, we have no idea where we will be moving or living come next summer. That is, until March 20th (otherwise known as ‘Match Day’ for medical students, and ‘Eat My Feelings’ day for me). My inner control freak is, well, freaking out.
On the other hand, how many times in your life are you given an envelope telling you where you are going to live for the next five years? It is sort of exciting. And terrifying. And totally nuts!
Did I mention we are planning a wedding in the midst of all of this? We might be insane. Ok, ok, we are insane. I mean, I totally look insane in the picture below. By the way, it was blindingly sunny. I’m not pretending to be a sailor.
Since I had never been to Chicago before (and we might very well move there), I figured it was about time that I visit and experience the city for myself. Connor finished his hospital rotation on Friday, and I flew out to join him on Sunday morning, right after my bridal shower, for the next three days.
We got an early breakfast at Toast in Lincoln Park, before heading down to Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. A million pictures of Cloud Gate followed.
We then walked over to Willis (aka. Sears) Tower to ride the 103 floors up in the elevator to check out the city of Chicago from the SkyDeck! I tend not to be into super-touristy things like this, but I’m so glad we decided to visit it!
The view was incredible, and I got a much better understanding of the city’s layout. I also had no idea that Sears Tower was the tallest building in the world for more than 25 years!
We could even spot the wire that had been constructed for Nik Wallenda’s high-wire walk which, coincidentally, took place that very night!
Connor also forced me to stand on the Skydeck Ledge (an all-glass box that extends about five feet past the Skydeck overlooking the city below. Somehow I managed to smile for the photo below, even though I was completely petrified and refused to look down the entire time.
He even made me sit down on it. Peer pressure is real, you guys!
To make up for it, he took me to Giordano’s around the corner for a late lunch and, more importantly, my first Chicago stuffed pizza experience. I have to say, I probably spent close to 45-minutes researching pizza in the weeks leading up to this trip. It is a hotly debated subject amongst Chicagoans (one which I am not well-versed in–for example, I thought it was called deep dish, not stuffed!), and there are a lot of contenders.
We ended up sharing a classic ‘stuffed pizza’ amongst the two of us and added spinach and garlic. All that stuff on the top is garlic. I was expecting the crust to be very heavy (and sort of greasy? I know, I know), but I was pleasantly surprised by how light it was! Ok, light might not be the best way to describe it, but you know what I mean.It sort of tasted like a savory, cracker-like pie crust. Does that even make any sense? I have no idea.
Either way, it was good!
After lunch, we drove down to Evanston to see Northwestern University’s campus (my mom’s graduate school alma mater) and check out my parent’s first apartment building, and walk on the beautiful (albeit freezing) beach.
At that point, we had forgotten about daylight’s savings and the sun went down about 10 minutes after we got there. Major fail.
That night, we headed to Lula Café in Logan Square for dinner. My pictures are atrocious since the lighting was horrible, so I’ll spare you, but the meal was wonderful! We went to a lot of great places during the following two days, and it was probably my most or second favorite meal during the entire trip!
We shared a raw Brussels sprouts salad (with Asian pear, cashew, and sourdough), kabocha squash and aged gouda croquettes (with turmeric, anchovy, and lemon verbena), roasted duck breast (with red cabbage, sunchoke, white truffle, and crispy duck vinaigrette), and an amazing eggplant and ricotta stuffed casoncelli pasta with veal bolognese, hazelnut, fennel, and parmesan. One of the best meals we’ve had in a while.
They even treated us with glasses of sparkling wine and a complimentary dessert to apologize for a slight mishap with our original dinner reservation. Any restaurant with that level of food and service after being open for just over 15 years deserves a pat on the back! We were seriously impressed.
The following day, we had a quick breakfast before heading down to Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue to go on the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise.
I’d heard great things about this cruise for years, so it was on my must-do-in-Chicago list! The tour was wonderful (it showcases all three branches of the Chicago river), the weather was perfect (it was around 60 degrees, thankfully), and our guide was incredibly knowledgeable about the city’s architecture and buildings. I’ve come to realize that I’m a sucker for a good city skyline–and any city near or on a body of water.
I learned a lot and it definitely made me fall for Chicago a lot more than I ever expected. The history and level of thought behind the design of the skyline and buildings was fascinating. Trump Tower, included.
At one point during the boat cruise, I turned to Connor and said, “Oh my gosh, I smell chocolate!” Sure enough, two seconds later the guide mentioned that we had just passed the Blommer Chocolate Company, the largest cocoa processor and chocolate ingredient supplier in the states, located on West Kinzie Street in River West.
The air literally smelled, and practically tasted, like chocolate! I’ve decided that I need to move to that neighborhood solely to be surrounded by that smell all day long. It was incredible.
After the boat cruise, our original plan was to walk to XOCO, Rick Bayless’s Mexican street food restaurant, for lunch at my older sister’s recommendation. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that it wasn’t open on Monday (don’t worry, we went back the following day), and we ended up walking around the corner to discover LYFE Kitchen.
Sadly, I later realized that LYFE Kitchen is not unique to Chicago (it started in California and there are multiple locations), but we were really impressed nonetheless! It is essentially slow fast-food, and all of the dishes use seasonal, local, and often times organic ingredients, and are all less than 600 calories each.
We ended up sharing a kale Caesar salad and side of roasted Brussels sprouts and butternut squash, and I got a really delicious Barramundi soba noodle bowl with mushrooms, scallions, and edamame in kimchi broth. Perfect for a cold and dreary day!
This was followed by a quick trip to Merchandise Mart, where I ogled over the world’s largest collection of showrooms. Specifically, kitchen showrooms. I also took photos that I later realized I wasn’t supposed to take (oops).
We ended the afternoon with a quick metro trip to Wicker Park in search of donuts–you know, priorities–only to realize that said donuts were two blocks away from our lunch spot. I settled for a delicious pick-me-up cappuccino at Worm Hole Coffee instead.
It was a super hipster area that reminded me a lot of downtown Oakland and Berkeley, California actually! Thankfully, I was wearing a new pair of skinny corduroy pants, so I felt right at home.
Back soon with a recap on our dinner that night at The Girl & The Goat, and our last day in Chicago!
33 Comments on “The Windy City”
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My hometown! So glad you had a great time there. True story: almost every time we visit home, we splurge on a deep dish pizza from Giordano’s (the spinach deep dish 4LYF :)) because it’s just the best.
How in the world did I not know that Chicago was your hometown?! I had no idea. Glad I went to your favorite deep dish spot! We ALMOST got the spinach one!
Glad you enjoyed your trip to Chicago! Sounds like you hit up some really great spots- good choices. You’ll have to come back, because there are only about a billion more! Just don’t come in the winter, things get considerably less charming. 😉
YES!! There are a billion more! That is what I loved so much about it. Yeah, the winters scare me–and that is saying a lot considering I went to college in upstate NY (ok, maybe that is not even comparable either). Thanks Christina! 🙂
You guys are insanely AWESOME :)! I have a bunch of friends who went through that whole residency thing and man, does it sound stressful. But it will be so exciting to see where you end up! Also, you sure make Chicago look fabulous 🙂
Aww, thanks Amy! I’m pretty sure we’re just insane though…
It is a really crazy stressful process, but I’m trying not to over-think it TOO much. We don’t have much control in the process, so I figure it’s not worth the stress. Otherwise, I would probably need to be committed or something! HA!
I just moved back to Ohio after living in Chicago for years. I miss it and was excited to see you visted Toast and Wormhole- two of my favorite spots. Chicago is such a great city! Glad you enjoyed your trip!
Yay! I’m so glad to hear from a local that I chose some good spots. There are a million more! 🙂 Thanks Coty!
That all sounds so exciting! Good luck with the future living/working/wedding plans! I’m visiting the US next year and this has made me all excited to finally start planning again. maybe I should be adding Chicago to the list!!
Thank you so much Jess! Your trip sounds so exciting! I just read on your blog that you live in Melbourne–I studied abroad in Brisbane in college, but never had a chance to go there (so bummed). If you need any advice or tips, feel free to shoot me an email! Sounds like a blast.
Ah chicago- this is my home! We live in the south loop and really love it here. This architecture tour is awesome and great restaurant choices, sounds like you did your research. However I am more of a Gino’s East girl (when I eat deep dish, which is pretty rarely). Glad you enjoyed your trip and chicago’s weather was kind to you! Can’t wait to hear about the rest.
Connor was staying in the South Loop all month long! (And I stayed there with him obviously). It seemed like a great area! I also heard great things about Gino’s East! I totally know what you mean though. I would probably only crazy it every few months, but I HAD to at least try it if I was there! 🙂
Love Chicago!!! Looks like you guys had a blast!
I loved it too!! Thanks Nicole!
I love this post! I grew up here and now live here again and it is always so much fun to see someone else fall in love with the city. I really hope you guys get to move here! Lula is one of the many fabulous and unpretentious hidden gem restaurants in the city, and how could you not love a city where the air smells like dark chocolate downtown nearly every morning!?
It was such a cool city! I agree with everything you said! I have no idea why it has taken me so long to get there 🙂
Looks like a fun trip! I got stuck in the crazy blizzard weather like 5 years ago in Chicago but came back with ton of memories 🙂 Love exploring new citys!
Oh my gosh! I can’t even imagine! That does sound like an adventure for sure! 😉
sounds amazing!!!! you went to all of my favorite places!!!! (except the pizza, we need to talk about this, you need to go to lou malnati’s next time 🙂 #pizzadebate). that would be so awesome if connor matched in chicago! i go there to see my family all the time!!! thanks so much for posting all of the photos, they make me so proud of my hometown!
Oh no! See? I clearly should have sent you an email before my trip. This was the other option I was debating, because I also heard great things about Malnati’s too! I guess I’ll just have to go back again 😉 I loved Chicago! The entire city felt so special.
I so want to go to Chicago. It looks amazing and all your photos have me thinking I need to plan a trip soon. What a cool city!
I think you would love it! It is so different than any other city I’ve been to before! And the food is fantastic.
I grew up in Illinois and you hit all the best spots! The architecture tour is my favorite, you never realize how gorgeous the buildings are until you take it : ) Best of luck on your matching and wedding planning (I’m in the midst of planning too, so I feel you!)
So happy to hear that! And I totally agree, I would had no (ok, a little bit) appreciation for the architecture without having taking that boat cruise. So worth it! Thanks so much Abby! Good luck to you as well! It’s a crazy process, huh?
The boat tour sounded really cool, I need to do that the next time that I visit Chicago. Also, I’ve never had stuffed pizza, Brian said that the one that he tried was super rich, glad yours was not.
There is definitely a lot of cheese (ideally, I would like 10% less cheese and 10% more sauce if I was getting technically), so it is rich in that sense, but this one wasn’t rich in the crust-sense.
Giordano’s – GOOD CHOICE! (But I’m a Lou Malnati’s fan :D)
These pictures are gorgeous! And I don’t know how you’re managing ALL that right now. You guys are nuts!
BUT I wish the best of luck for Connor! And can’t wait to hear about the next chapter of your journey 🙂
Keep being awesome, L!
Ahh, I wish we had had more time (and space in my stomach) to try Lou Malnati’s too! That was another option I was debating! Thanks so much for the kind words, Kayiu! You are so sweet.
Looks like an amazing trip! I went to Chicago this summer and did a lot of the same things you guys did. And yes – the sky deck this was so freaking scary. I’m not usually freaked out by that stuff, but I almost lost my shit. Ack.
That ledge is so scary!!!
My sister just started her residency at OSHU in Portland, but I was shocked how crazy her travel schedule was when she was doing interviews. She was also trying to “couples match,” which added a layer of complexity. This must be such a scary and exciting time for you! Btw, you ARE SUPER brave for standing on that sky deck ledge. Good luck with everything!!
So exciting for your sister! Isn’t it an insane process? Connor told me all about couples match a while back, that’s an even crazier process! I feel like no one really knows how nuts of a process this whole residency thing is unless you are either a part of it, or know someone who has gone through it. Thanks so much Marcella! Hope you are well!