Monday, September 05, 2011

Last week I spent some time in MY Second City, Chicago. It was almost exactly one year to the date that I left Sweet (second) Home Chicago and some things have totally changed. If you are visiting, here are some “must do’s” you need to add to your list.

·         I’m a big fan of Graham Elliott. The hubs and I dined at his namesake eatery a few years back. It was upscale, contemporary, amazing food, but served in an unpretentious way. Radiohead is playing and servers wear tee shirts. Rather than serve bread, there is a helping of GE’s famous truffle oil parmesan popcorn. Well I swung by Grahamwich – the new sandwich only shop. (FYI – I’ve heard that gourmet sandwiches shops are the new culinary trend!)Seriously…this place is AMAZING. I noshed on the grilled cheese, which featured my current obsession prosciutto smothered with Wisconsin cheddar and cheese curds and tomato marmalade. The famous popcorn is available to add as a side. Delish!!! Note: this is a small sandwich shop - seating is limited!

·         Speaking of sandwiches. Hands down, my favorite lunch spot in the city during the work week is Hannah’s Bretzel. I dream about this place. I order nothing else but the parma with goat cheese.

·         Oh a marathon shopping (more like window shopping) trip, I came across a darling new store in the North Bridge Shops on Michigan Ave (where Nordstrom is) called Charming Charlie. How did I not know one of these stores existed in Pittsburgh? Anyways, Charming Charlie is a super sparkly store that has some great costume jewelry. The store is sorted by color, so if you are looking for something to jazz up a specific outfit, this store should help! Also spotted in the North Bridge shops is Kooky. I was in the market for a few baby gifts and spotted this adorable shop!

·         So when I turned in my IL driver’s license, I knew that my Saturday shopping staple (Anthro) was closing its doors two blocks away from my apartment. While it was only moving down the block, I was appalled when I found out that the store was being turned into a Lou Malnati’s pizza joint. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lou’s, BUT this was my shopping destination every week for 6 years! How could they turn it into a pizza shop? Well I walked by this renovated eatery two times, once at night and another during the day, and I must say I actually like what they did with the place. It’s a contemporary pizzeria look with fantastic outdoor seating. It’s in a notorious touristy spot, without a cheesy tourist destination feel. Visit Lou Malnati’s in the Gold Coast for Chi Town pizza with a cute outdoor dining experience.

·         Finally, over the course of my trip, I went out on three dates with other men (don’t worry, my husband knows!). I felt like I was on The Bachelorette. While one took me to a gay bar and another brought his finance (awkward), another took me to one bar that has amazing views of the Chicago – Market. While it’s not as trendy as some other rooftop bars, the drinks are reasonably priced and its west of the city to give guests some great skyline views. This guy would have got the rose ; )