I had no idea about all the good food in downtown Chicago. Of course, the moment you search “Chicago” and “food,” you will find pizza, pizza, and PIZZA! But my google searches shocked me with the variety of tastes I could sample I wandered the streets of the Windy City. Sweets, citrus, tangy, salty–I found flavors from along the East coasts and even out of his country. And you know part of the reason I travel is food so…
If you don’t travel for new food experiences, what’s the point? I mean, yes, please sky dive, tour a fabulous museum, swim in an infinity pool (on my list!), or take a hike. But. When you go to new places, don’t forget about the food! I try to sample places I can’t find at home (or anywhere else for that matter). Chicago provided so many options, that sadly I couldn’t fit everything in my weekend getaway. But, never fear, I’ve got a lovely list of possibilities, restaurants I tried personally and others I just missed (but plan to taste the moment I touch back down…)
Where I went: Wildberry Pancakes and Café
130 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601
Before I touch on Wildberry, my first day in Chicago I tried room service (which you know I do in every hotel I stay in if I can) and ordered Flapjacks. Never had them before so, new food experience! And…I’m a pancake girl. Chicago may keep their flapjacks. lol. A bit eggy for my personal taste. So I made a point to get a certified pancake before I left. Which brings us back to Wildberry Pancake Café.
Let me take a moment of silence…
I had to pay homage to the food here. That crowd of people you’ll see lined up outside of the café, just across from Millennium Park, is not an illusion. They come in packs to taste the heaven I tasted. To get a glimpse of paradise. To have their tongues dance wildly in their mouths. Too much? lol. But seriously, Wildberry did not disappoint. I, of course, ordered a stack of pancakes.
But whoa…did they deliver way more than I anticipated! First off, pancakes come in a stack of five. Yes, you read that right, FIVE. So bring your appetite. Also, they have different flavors, toppings, and styles–I found myself drooling over Cinnamon Roll and Oreo S’mores. However, I suggest getting their signature Berry Bliss: vanilla anglaise, blackberry coulis, berry mascarpone, and fresh berries (in case all that glaze isn’t enough). Oh, and if pancakes aren’t for you (um, why??) this act also stars on Belgian waffles, French toast, and crepes.
You won’t regret finding your bliss; neither will your taste buds.
Where I missed: Batter and Berries
2748 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
Considering how many people brag about this placed tucked north of Downtown Chicago, I can’t believe I didn’t get to go. Well…I had plans to go the morning before my flight. Sigh…life happened. But please believe, the moment I go back to Chicago, I’m jumping in the long Sunday brunch line to try her out–word to the wise, get there EARLY.
Where I went: Chicago French Market
131 N Clinton St, Chicago, IL 60661
I chose this little spot because it forced me to take public transportation (I enjoy Lyft when I travel, but I always try out public transportation if I can–move like local). And after only about 5 minutes–plus 15 minutes of confusion figuring out which damn line to take, lol–I arrived at Chicago French Market. Simply the cutest place ever. Honestly the market reminded me of Ponce City Market in Atlanta (did they flatter French Market?). Looks small from the street, but trust once you walk in you enter an array of vendors with different foods for your lunch cravings. I wanted something quick and sweet, but not enough to ruin dinner. So I grabbed a smoothie from Loop Juice. And experienced close-your-eyes-and-moan-hmmmmm kind of tasty. All natural products so I didn’t go into an artificial sugar high.
Oh and don’t worry, Chicago French Market is indeed a market so you can buy fresh and organic meats, fruits, veggies, and more.
Where I missed: Revival Food Hall
125 S Clark St, Chicago, IL 60603
I’m actually surprised I missed out on this. Located in the Loop, this spot features a variety of different restaurants from BBQ, vegan, pizza (of course), sweets, and more. In fact, my “missed” dessert place is nestled in the Revival…but keep reading to find out where.
Burgers and Sandwiches
Where I went: Blackwood Barbeque
Okay, funny story. Blackwood was one of the first locations I locked down for my Chicago trip. I don’t often eat BBQ (typically because I don’t eat pork at all) so I nearly slid right past this popular spot. BUT, what put me on was the variety of meats they provided: beef brisket, vegan jackfruit, chicken, and of course the usual pulled pork. Blackwood also specializes in sauces–six to be precise. I kept things simple and chose Chicago Style (when in Rome…)
But…I think I need another moment of silence…
I don’t know if I just hadn’t had beef brisket in a while or needed a good meal, but the moment I bit into this sandwich I was undone. Literally, all my insides uncoiled, untangled, and went gooey. I melted. This brisket will stop traffic. This brisket is better than a first kiss. This brisket made me sing. And I ate this brisket cold because I passed out when I got back to my room. So you can only imagine what hot brisket will do for your life. Y’all, the food was divine.
Oh and the best part, you don’t have to get the sandwich. I did, obviously and loved every single delicious drop of it, but you can get a platter or be good and have the meat over a salad.
Where I missed: Au Cheval
800 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607
When a place shows up on literally every food list in Chicago, you really don’t want to miss out… When a signature burger is crowned one of the best in the country, you definitely don’t want to miss out. Well, I missed out. Sigh. Next time, Chicago, I promise. But if you go, DON’T. MISS. OUT.
Pizza, Of Course
Where I went: Giordano’s
Chicago and Giordano’s go together like peanut butter and jelly, like macaroni and cheese, like brownies and ice cream. If you go to Chicago you just have to try out a deep dish from Giordano’s. Just to say you did. Just to mark it off your bucket list (which I did). I wanted to understand what the fuss was about deep dish. Why did this pizza distinguish itself from all other pizza all over the country? Well, I found out.
First off, because it truly is a deep dish, prepare to give your meal some time to cook, letting all those juices and spices get to know each other on a very personal level. I got an individual deep dish (no point in getting a large pizza for just me) and added my own ingredients. But. Y’all. This pizza was…so worth the 30-minute-restaurant-almost-closed-my-phone-nearly-died wait. I didn’t even wait for the sauce to cool, burning my tongue in the tasting. Still amazing. The crust shocked me most. I thought it would feel too hard to truly bite into. Ha, that crust was firm, but oh so tasty. Like my vow about gumbo in New Orleans, I now refuse to eat deep dish in any city other than Chicago.
Where I missed: Pequod’s Pizza
2207 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
I kept hearing people say “skip Giordano’s and try Pequod’s.” Well, now that I’ve marked deep dish off my bucket list, I won’t miss this delicacy next time I’m in town.
Dessert – Best Meal of the Day
Where I went: Brown Sugar Bakery
328 E 75th St, Chicago, IL 60619 (also in Navy Pier)
This Southern flavored spot specializes in all kinds of sweet escapes–cookies, cakes, cupcakes, pies, even cheesecake. You truly can’t go wrong with your choices. Just hit the gym when you finish, lol. I dropped by this vendor while I wandered inside Navy Pier and almost walked right past… but colors caught my eye.
I tried cupcakes and other than my clumsy self dropping the adorable box it came in (my cupcake fell on her side), I enjoyed each, soft, moist bite. I got Dreamsicle icing. Um, YUM!
Oh and another bonus? This bakery is Black-owned. Hashtag Black Girl Magic!
Where I missed: Mindy’s Hot Chocolate Bakery
125 S Clark St, Chicago, IL 60603
Remember I said my “missed” dessert lives in the Revival? Well, I have dreams about the cookies I missed from this bakery. Not to mention the signature hot chocolate. Sigh…yet another promise to visit.
BONUS: Flavor from the New England Coast…
Metropolitan, 134 N LaSalle Dr, Chicago, IL 60602
Um, I did not expect to come across fresh seafood in the middle of the Midwest. At least, not seafood dipped in the flavors of Boston Bay or Maine marine. This quaint place had me pining for Cape Cod. lol. Now, you don’t have to get lobster; you can choose crab or shrimp. I don’t normally eat lobster, but I found myself curious about the taste. And Luke’s did not disappoint in the flavors of his lobster. Perfectly cooked, lightly seasoned, just the right amount of mayo on the roll…sigh. I want another one right now. Perfect size as well–though for you heartier eaters, you may consider getting the Trio (half a shrimp roll, half a lobster roll, and half a crab roll).
Well, I hope you enjoyed this delicious tour of Chicago’s best eateries. Did I miss any others? What else should I add to my wish list? Tell me in the comments below…
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