Trip Report - 7/3-7/9
Just got back from Chicago this morning. We arrived Wednesday night at MDW and took the CTA orange line to Wells/Washington and walked to the Crowne Plaza Metro for 1 night. Hotel was fine, rooms clean, location a little off beaten path. The night was a comp - that is why we were there and just really needed a place to sleep after our flight. Up early on Thursday for a short walk to our main hotel of the trip, Hotel Allegro at Randolph and Wells in the loop. We checked in early at about 9 AM and were upgraded to a King Suite with Jacuzzi as I am a member of Kimpton's Inner Circle. Everyone at the hotel was very pleasant and made our stay wonderful. I have stayed a few other Kimptons and I think this is one of their lesser properties, but it is amazing what Kimpton can do with these old Hotel buildings. Our suite was great at 550 sq feet with a separate living room and a large bedroom and bathroom. The location worked well for us as we walked or took the CTA everywhere. I had taken advantage of the Groupon deal on the CTA passes. On Thursday, we just walked to Millenium Park and up the Magnificent Mile to kind of get the lay of the land. We had tried to get into Wildberry for breakfast, but there was an hour wait, so we ended up at the South Water Cafe at the Kimpton Monaco for brunch as there was no wait. We both had paninis - Cuban and ham and smoked gouda. Service was great and the food was very good and we were glad to find an air conditioned, not noisy space, to relax a little before our day. Walked all the way up to Oak St Beach and back to our hotel, doing a little shopping along the way. I have to say, the shopping is incredible along Michigan Ave - no bargains - but such a variety of shops and department stores. After a 2 hour rest at our hotel, we went to dinner at 5:30 at the Gage. The food was delicious as well as the service. Had the Poutine and the venison burger. My partner had the sausage platter and fried pickles. From there we went to see Book of Mormon at the Bank of America Theatre. We had box seats that I got for a steal and thoroughly enjoyed the show. I have never laughed so much at a show before. I HIGHLY recommend seeing this show if you get the chance.
Friday we had reservations for the 8AM architectural cruise with Chicago Line Cruises that included coffee and muffins, cookies, etc. We really enjoyed getting out on the lake and taking in the city from a different perspective. The commentator on the boat was entertaining and very informative. Everyone coming to Chicago should do this tour. We then attempted breakfast at Yolk, the wait was over an hour and there was no air conditioning so we moved on to the West Egg Cafe. the breakfast there was good, fast and everything a good breakfast place should be. We ended up waiting about 20 mins for a table. After breakfast, we walked over to the Chicago Merchandise Mart to peruse the first 2 floors of home decor and furniture. We then did some of the stores on State Street and had a drink at the ROOF at The Wit hotel - great space and spectacular views from up there. Dinner Friday night was Frontera Grill, which I had made reservations months ago. Dinner was delicious !!! Walked around the surrounding area after dinner and stopped for a cocktail at the Downtown bar. Then off to bed.
Saturday we decided to explore the neighborhoods, as we are not into the very touristy things. We had heard so much about the Wicker Park Bucktown area, we took the blue line to the Damen stop. We asked a person working at Glazed and Confused Donuts for some recommendations of where we should go. She gave us a route down Damen to Division to Milwaukee and back to Damen. It was only around 10:30AM so not alot was really open and it was mostly restaurants and bars anyway. I did have a delicious donut which was a bismarck filled with vanilla goat cheese and topped with a fresh rasberry glaze. YUM!! We then decided to go up to Boystown and try that. We took the brown line from the blue line and got off at Belmont near North Halsted. We walked around that area and found alot of great stores and interesting places. We stumbled upon North Broadway in Lakeview East and followed that down to Clark, having lunch at Stella's Diner. Cheap and good food. We walked all the way down Clark to the Lincoln Park Zoo and the observatory. We were quite exhausted at this point and just sat in the park for a while to rest. We ended up taking a bus back into downtown to our hotel. Dinner was to be at Siena Tavern, but we changed last minute and went to Mario's Table in the Gold Coast area, using a recommendation from Tripadvisor.. Average italian food, not really worth the trip. We did, however really enjoy the Gold Coast area. Charming, beautiful houses on tree lined quiet streets, just steps away from the madness of Rush St.
Sunday we went up to Boystown for brunch at Hearty (Hearty is owned by the Hearty Boys from Food TV Star fame). Just OK brunch, but got us back to the Lakeside East area for some more exploring. I had their Bacon Sausage corn dog. A good attempt at unique comfort food, but just did not hit the mark.Took the red line back to the Driehaus Museum, which was one of the highlights of our trip. It is a magnificent mansion that has been painstakingly restored to the original victorian era and opulence that once was ever present in old Chicago. Shopped some more and decided to have an early dinner at Lou Malnati's for some deep dish pizza. We has the Chicago Classic and some wings. As expected, quite delicious, and our most inexpensive meal of the trip. Cocktails at the Signature Lounge atop the Hancock with a great view of the city and a nice stroll thru the city back to our hotel.
Monday was checkout day at the Allegro, so we got a late checkout at 2 and went for breakfast at the Wildberry Cafe. Food was very good , but I do not feel it is worth all the hype. I had the signature berry bliss frnech toast. This was our only rainy day and we took advantage of the Chicago Pedway. I wish I had remembered this earlier in the trip, as it was a lifesaver, and really a hidden secret within the city. All the time we were in the city, it was pretty humid and in the high 80s most days. Most of the Pedway is air conditioned and can get you around most of the loop all the way to Millenium Park. From breakfast we went underground from the Wildberry, crossed the street to the Chicago Cultural Center. This also was well worth a visit as we saw 2 art exhibits, as well as the spectacular architecture of the building itself. The Tiffany domes are worth the visit. From there we went right back under ground from the building and walked completely covered from the rain all the way back to our hotel. We came out at city hall, walked out the side door and crossed the street to our hotel. It was great! We packed our bags and checked out at 2, leaving our bags with the hotel. Went back to the Merchandise Mart to explore the upper floors as we deal in the furniture biz. Went to Chicago Cut for an early dinner. Had the cajun bone in ribeye steak - the best I have had in a long time and the setting right on the river is stunning. Walked back to the hotel and caught the orange line out to MDW, where we got a shuttle to the Clarion airport hotel because our flight was early on Tuesday. Just hung at the hotel. Basic airport fare - nothing special.
Overall, we had a great time. TONS of walking, and the CTA passes were a godsend. Thank you Chicago for a great vacation and thank you everyone on this board who assisted in making our trip a great success.