Taking These Lemons on a Little Trip…to Chicago!

chicago skyline - night
After people find out that an entire crate of lemons has dropped into my lap (I was *ahem* eliminated), they all pretty much say the same things. It’s a mad lib that goes like this:

That’s _____!
(insert extremely negative adjective like “horrible,” adverbs in expletive format like “f**king” are also acceptable).

I’m so _____.
(insert emotion, most commonly it is “sorry”).

But everything happens for a reason. You’ll _____
(insert a positive verb phrase that implies something very encouraging about my future, e.g. “bounce back”)

And in the meantime, this will be a great chance for you to _____!
(insert another verb phrase that has nothing to do with working).

That last one is funny. Everyone has the most interesting suggestions for what to do with myself after I march right out of this office’s doors. Take a break. Catch up on reading. Catch up on blogging. Cook. Bake. Travel. Hm, travel. Now that’s an idea.

The problem is, I hate flying. I also don’t like the beach, so suggestions of jetting off to the South Pacific to catch up on my reading on some remote island does not appeal to me at all. I’d rather walk up three flight of stairs and layout by the pool on my rooftop. And it’s October here, so that’s how much I don’t want to fly to the beach.

So instead, I’m going to party like a rockstar in *dramatic pause* . . . Chicago! I know Chicago isn’t the first destination that comes to mind when thinking of places to go on a vacation. It’s not exotic. It’s not exciting. Chicago is a business trip. In fact, it’s a business trip I’ve made several times already. For fox ache, you may ask, if I’m going to stay within the 48 contiguous states, why wouldn’t I go to the Big Apple?! Baby steps. I don’t think I can last more than three hours on a plane. At least, that’s how long my dosage of xanax will have effect. Besides, Chicago was my home for a whole summer

delicious life goes to chicago
public transportation? what’s that?

I guess five years of travelling for consulting (which probably has a little something to do with why I hate flying) is paying off now – a whole backlog of airline miles and hotel points. So I’ll be flying out there at the end of this month, staying in a lovely hotel overlooking the lake, and I’ll have a rented car in which I can tool around the Windy City, from…restaurant to restaurant. :)

Restaurants. Food. Eating. I can’t wait. I’ve already started thinking about where I want to go and what I want to eat, but it’s been a while since I’ve been to Chicago. Though their restaurant scene is probably not as fickle as LA’s, I can’t imagine that it’s exactly the same. Back then, I went to places like Blackbird, Emilio’s for tapas, Frontera Grill & Topolobampo, Gino’s East and Giordano’s, Salpicon, Reza’s…I can’t remember them all. I never made it to Charlie Trotter’s, though. Here’s a secret: the day after the airline tickets were booked, I made a reservation at Charlie Trotter. LOL! But I know there are other restaurants I have to try, I just don’t know what they are. Time to do some savvy research, and maybe ask for some suggestions. Suggestions, anyone?

Deep dish pizza. Real Chicago dogs. Greek food. Wait, so in preparation, does this mean I have to go on a “C” diet? ;)

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 stef October 13, 2005 at 10:23 pm

you go girl, chicago is one of the best food cities in the US I think :) eat up and write up, so we can live vicariously through you.


2 Nic October 13, 2005 at 10:23 pm

Great plan. I like Chicago a lot and I’m sure you’ll have a great time. I don’t know how much fine dining you’ll want to do, but I cast my vote for Tru.


3 sarah October 13, 2005 at 10:31 pm

yeap, tru is one of the contenders…

probably will do the things like pizza and hot dogs for lunch, and do high-ish end dining at night.



4 Anonymous October 13, 2005 at 11:15 pm

You are going to love it.

But depending on how long your trip is (and how many meals you get), I would recommend you try a few other places before going to Trotter’s. It’s definitely a well-known destination for dining in Chicago, and while the food is good, it’s a bit stuffy/snooty. It sounds like you want to have fun, and Trotter’s is not really a place that you’d “party like a rockstar.”

There are plenty of restaurants that have incredible food and offer a great dining experience. Do some more research, you’ll find them. :)


5 duckduckgoose October 13, 2005 at 11:31 pm

I’ve tried a lot of the pizza places there and have come to the conclusion that the spinach deep dish at Gino’s East is the best. Pretty amazing pizza.


6 Fatemeh October 14, 2005 at 3:47 am

North Pond, definitely. It’s in a really beautiful little building overlooking, duh, a pond.

They are obviously very influenced by Alice Waters. The service was spot-on, and it was… just, well, delicious.

There’s a place that Alder’s written about, too, that he loves in Chicago. I can’t remember the name at the moment.


7 Anonymous October 14, 2005 at 7:09 am

Poppy Z. Brite just got back from Chicago. Her S.O. is a chef, and they ate in all kinds of places from sublime to hot dog joints.

Start reading her blog here:


And go on until she leaves there, about 10 posts???

Have a good trip.


8 paul October 14, 2005 at 7:18 am

I second Tru and North Pond.

Trotters will not dissapoint, however every tourist I know who comes to this town to eat Charlie’s food seems to enjoy whatever second choice I’ve taken them to more.

Also savvy research on restaurants here should be done at lthforum.com, not chowhound. Trust it for the best knowledge on real Chicago food.


9 sarah October 14, 2005 at 3:29 pm

thanks for the suggestions, fatemah and paul.

and paul, i am heading over there to lth to make an inquiry. thanks!


10 NS October 15, 2005 at 5:47 am

The place that I would most like to try in Chicago is Alinea, the cutting edge restaurant from French Laundry alum Grant Achatz that sounds like our country’s answer to Spain’s El Bulli.


11 sarah October 18, 2005 at 2:18 am

whooo boy. alinea sounds a little, um, too out there for me. i have not graduated to that yet. i mean, i am still trying to learn to appreciate things like oaxacan. and thai. and sushi.


but the trip is starting to come together. I CAN’T WAIT!


12 Rachael October 21, 2005 at 1:39 pm

Hey peach.
My suggestions include:

Spring (chic seafood. not cheap)

Butter (130 Green street. Chef is a cutie, and single…food is outstanding)

Frontera Grill, (sure there is a celeb chef and the prices are a touch high, but the food really is amazingly authentic Mexican…)

Superdawg (6363 Milwaukee. Hotdogs are a really, really big thing in Chi-town. These are the best. It would be a sin travel all that way and not have a dawg…)

Hot Chocolate (on No. Damen. You like dessert, right? Check this spot out, you will be in heaven.

There is also a branch of Vosages chocolates downtown which will take your breath away (and possibly, the last of your money. its crazy pricey)

I say skip sushi and thai and stick to things midwesterners excel at…beer, brats and sweets. The best places to just pop in to a place to check out are Bucktown and Wicker Park.

Have fun!


13 Christine November 6, 2005 at 8:35 pm

There’s a great diversity of food in Chicago that shouldn’t be ignored.

– Korean: Cho Sun Ok on Lincoln north of Irving, warm and inviting Korean BBQ
– Japanese: Sunshine Cafe on Clark and Berwyn has homestyle dishes (lots of rice and noodles, no sushi) and a really friendly atmosphere
– Vietnamese: Argyle street East of Broadway and North of Lawrence has a lot of Vietnamese restaurants to choose from as well as one of the best places to get roast duck (Sun Wah BBQ)

oh and for hot dogs, Hot Doug’s is the place to go (Califronia near Addison) – great selection of chicago style and gourmet hot dogs and on the weekend they fry their fries in duck fat!


14 sarah November 7, 2005 at 4:25 am

well, if i were to be in chicago for more than two days (the trip changed so that i only spend half the time in chicago and half the time in milwaukee) then i would definitely do a lot more ethnic exploration around the the neighborhoods, but given the shortened time frames, i have to go for the MOST CHICAGO BANG for my buck. dogs, pizza, and italian beef :)

but it won’t be my only trip to chicago…oh no. i will DEFINITELY be going back many times…:)


15 Lincoln Square Girl May 15, 2006 at 8:27 pm

Besides the best deep dish pizza and italian beef, Chicago has the best:
Thai (Arun’s), Indian (Tiffin), Italian (Spiaggia), French (Everest), and Korean food (San Soo Gap San) in the world.

–Lincoln Square Girl


16 sarah May 15, 2006 at 11:11 pm

hey lincoln square girl!

hm, i would agree with you on most of those things, but i highly doubt chicago can beat LA when it comes to korean food. but next time i am in chicago, i’ll remember to try san soo gap san for a fair comparison!


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