The Windy City - Chicago
Although this trip was not centred around food (as such) I took a few opportunities to discover some of Chicago's culinary delights. I was super impressed with Chicago and I hope to return one day again to discover more. The first thing I loved about Chicago is being about to walk the streets and being able to pop into a bar or a shop. This may sound weird to many, but at the time I was living in Dubai and that is just not possible there. Dubai is not a walking city. It is all shopping malls and hotels (where you will find the bars).
So I was super excited to get amongst it.
First day I actually stayed close to the hotel and found Heaven on Seven, which is actually a Cajun restaurant (reputed to be the best Louisiana cooking outside New Orleans). I will admit we ended up eating here about 3 times over the course of my stay! Don't worry there are plenty of Chicago eats coming up too.
I was flabbergasted at the chilli sauce selection! Wall to wall shelves showcasing every chili sauce you could possibly find!
Each table had it's own selection but you could swap from table to table if you wanted something else.
Gotta start with a cup of gumbo. This was thick, rich and hearty. Served traditionally with a side of crackers.
Not exactly Cajun but after living where I had been this was pure comfort. Chicken Fried Steak with creamy roasted garlic mash, vegies and cream gravy.
This was so good! Tender beef, good breading and the cream gravy was thick and clung to the meat.
I know peeps in Australia don't understand the 'chicken fried steak' concept (sometimes called Country Fried Steak). The steak is usually chuck, flank or round. It is tenderised and breaded then fried in a skillet (typically).
Then it was off to met the gang.
Later that evening, the early arrivals headed to Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill which is known for great Mexican street food.
We shared a serve of the guacamole and fresh tortilla chips and the Classic Queso Fundido with jack cheese, roasted pobalnos, caramelised onions and homemade chorizo.
Nothing beats fresh avocado and lime just mixed and scooped up with a crispy corn tortilla.
The Fundido is a hot, gooey mess and is delicious!
It was at this point, some 38 hours after departing Dubai, flying and being awake the whole time that I was falling asleep in my taco. It is also at this point (and some 5 years later) that I realise I don't actually remember what taco it was. I know it tasted great. Don't worry I did eat my taco before I headed back to the hotel for some zzz's.
There was a visit to the Hersheys store too.
You could even purchase the world's largest Hershey's Kiss, filled with lots of little kisses too. As much as I was tempted I knew luggage space was tight.
Back to Heaven on Seven for a couple of meals (I'll do this all in one go and get on with Chicago eats). I do love the décor at Heaven on Seven (Wabash St)
Sharing with a friend we had to do the Fried Green Tomatoes and I can't help think of my favourite movie of all time "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Café" every time I eat them.
The tomato is green and unripe and fries well with the thick breaded coating and served with a thick warm remoulade sauce.
I think I also got a serve of the Fried Green Tomatoes and Crab served with a corn remoulade sauce (as pictured)
another cup of that good gumbo (hold the rice this time).
The jalapeno cheddar corn muffin was massive! Fluffy, mealy cheesey and just a hint of heat. It was awesome with whipped butter.
As I previously mentioned, it wasn't all food. We did an Architectural River Cruise which was actually quite interesting. Some of the building in Chicago are beautiful.
Cruisin' past the newspaper buildings
Decide a tattoo was needed, so I did that too!
But we want the eats!
So I had a day to myself and headed out on a big foodie day of Chicago. I am not one for McDonald's but I was curious about their sausage biscuit on the breakfast menu. While eating in I was transported into a Jetson's episode with this very cool Golden Arches building.
The sausage biscuit was pretty good. Basic but so much better than a Sausage McMuffin!
Onto the real stuff. Billy Goat Tavern famous for their cheezborger! There are a few branches around Chicago but the original is on Michigan Avenue - underground.
This is the bar area inside the Tavern.
Enjoying a beer and a cheezborger...before it got busy. Kaiser bun, double beef patty, cheese, pickles
Next stop is Portillo's for hotdogs. I feel like I'm stepping into a 40's Gangster movie set. The themeing is playful.
Apparently a lot of stuff has also been purchased from the original Chicago stadium.
Going for the classic hotdog with everything including mustard, relish, freshly chopped onions, sliced red ripe tomatoes, kosher pickle and sport peppers piled onto a perfectly steamed poppy seed bun.
A good beef dawg...and those pickled chillis are crunchy, sour and fab!
My last stop before heading out of the city was at Gino's East of Chicago - the place to get deep dish pizzas, which are a Chicago staple!
This was a pepperoni deep dish.
and deep it is....ooey, gooey, cheesy pizza with a thick crust. I only ate 1 slice and the rest I took to my hotel for a late night dinner (I was staying out near the airport in a dodgy motel).
I think this must be one of the very few restaurants where you can graffiti the walls and chairs!! Looks pretty cool.
So I had to leave my signature!
Chicago was a fabulous city. There is so much to explore, eat and see. I only had a few days there and not nearly enough time to do more.
It's on the list for a must return.
- Heaven on Seven