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Trip Report 5/29 -6/5 LONG!

Manhattan, NY
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Trip Report 5/29 -6/5 LONG!

First off I want to send out a big thank you to everyone on this board, I read this forum daily to prepare for our trip and the suggetions on here were spectacular! So Thanks!! A little about us, my wife and I are in our late 20's/early 30's, and both travel a lot for work and pleasure, so we are very glad we found this site. Somehow this great city eluded us until two weeks ago (we have no idea how we had never made it to Chicago before.. always have wanted to go, but it just never happened.. Chicago was our last major US destination and it looks like we saved the best for last (coming from 2 people who LOVE New York!!)

Flew UAL out of JFK and landed at ORD around 10AM on May 28th. My wife had some vouchers for a Limo service, so we hired a town car to take us to our hotel. We used ChicagoLand Limo and they were pretty good. Got the job done and it was much better than a cab. We stayed at the Peninsula on Suerior and I must say this was one of the very best Hotels we have stayed in world wide. Check in was friendly and fast, and everybody on staff was superb at each of their functions, and they even knew our names by the end of our stay. World class spa as well.. Our room was very large and had a great bathroom, I could go on about this place but I just couldn't say enough. It was early afternoon, so we decided to get my wife's shopping out if the way. We walked over to Michigan Ave and walked north to Chicago and then all the way down to Madison and over to state and then walked back North to the hotel. Lots of great shopping and it was pretty crowded everywhere we went. Kind of like 5th avenue in NYC. It was almost 8 by the end of this marathon spree so we decided we wanted to eat casually on our first night, so we went to Giordanos down the street for Chicago Pizza.. We had a stuffed Pizza and Good God was it good! W both love our NYC pizza, but I think we are now Chicago Pizza fans!! This was spectacular (we also did deep dish and this later in the trip, all was excellent!!). After dinner we wlked North on Rush and had a few drinks at some bar with a huge outdoor patio, met another couple there from Sweeden and they were raving about Chicago as well...

5/30

Woke up early and went to Orange for breakfast.. Pretty good, had the fruishi and split some french toast kabobs. Walked to <illenium Park (very cool place), buckingham fountain and Navy Pier. Great walk along the Lake, at this point we decided to set aside a day and really walk it up North.. From NP, we got a cab down to the Field Museum, and quickly walked through there (you really almost need a whole day there, great museum though). It was 2 at this point, and we had cubs tickets for that night and we wanted to experience wrigleyville so we grabbed a cab and headed up to Wrigley. Walked down Clark street and went into Goose Island for lunch and a few drinks.. After that we bar hopped (Central, Barleycorns, Bernies and Murphys??). Met tons of great people, met some die hard cubs fans, and quite a bit more who siad they were die hard but didn't really seem to know anything about teh team.. Still, everyone was very nice and we had fun. Somehow we got roped into doing shots at Bernies with a group of people my wife made friends with... Needless to say our walk to Murphys was accompied by a nice buzz. Murphy's was jammed, beers were like $35 each (actually I think they were $7 for a can if bud Lt, but not sure), but a really fun time. We had seats in section 123 abut 4 rows back, great seats. I ran into a business associate of mine there which was kind of funny, small world. Wrigley is a very cool park, I caught myself just sitting there soaking it in. Bathrooms were a little nasty (avoid wearing sandles), and we saw two fights while were were there. Anyway, FLA won the game 9-0, and my wife and I went out to the bars up there with associate after the game and stayed out way too late, bars were packed at 1AM on a tuesday. Only negative about our experience was it seemed many of the younger cubs "fans" just went to the game to get obliterated, way too many obnoxious people completely smashed out of their minds. Not that my wife and I don't tend to get oversevered on occasion, but some of what we saw was out of control. But the kindness and fun of 80% of the people up there made it a great night!!!

5/31

Slept in!! Woke up and decided that drinking until 2AM was not the brightes thing to do.. went to some place rec'd by the concierge for a super greasy breakfast at Lou Mitchels??? Really good though. Decided on one of the 1,436 starbucks in our block area and grabbed some coffee. Had tickets for the Arc. Boat tour and it was great.. What a beautiful city, we highly suggest this tour.. Got off and walked around the loop for a while, loved the business district. A lot of beggers, but you see that everywhere. Had reservations at North Pond that night, and we decided to cab it up to Licoln Park Zoo, and then walk to the restaurant. Zoo was free, and was really nice. We then walked up t the restaurant and we had an excellent dining experience, this place was very good, service was great, wine list great, views great, HIGHLY suggest this for a great dinner. After dinner we walked over to wells and down towards North Ave (I know and remember the streets becuase I am a freak when it comes to knowing where I am, so I study maps before we travel... I know, very weird, but it really comes in handy). On the way down we stopped at some bars for a couple drinks, and had a great margarita at Adobo grill (had some guac too, VERY good). Decided to have a night cap at the Hancock, great views and good drinks. Nothing like an $18 4 oz martini... we enjoyed ourselves though.

6/1

We had reservations at Alinea this night, so we got up early and rode the el to different neigborhoods to shop. Went to bucktown, Wicker park (damen ave shopping), then over to Lincoln Park to shop on Armitage, and my wife had a blast. Grabbed lunch at a place called Sai Cafe, great sushi. took the El back down to the hotel (got a bit confusing, but it was because we didn't read anything, thought we were on the red, but we got on the borwn, etc... anyway, had to get a cab from Chicago ave to the hotel. Once back, the hotel had left us a bottle of Veuve in our room for our "anniversery". Only problem is our anniversery is in October, so I called the desk to tell them they made a mistake. They just laughed and said enjoy it if we want it. No problems with that! Got a cab up to Alinea and had the best dinner of our lives. We got to meet the Chef Grant Achatz who was younger, and much more hip that we expected. Dinner here was really expensive as expected, but well worth it belive me. We did the tour menu with wine pairings. It was 5 hours of the most inventive dining ever.. place blew us away. So did the bill, I think it was $750ish with tax and tip... Again though, well worth it. We were tired so we went back to the hotel, but decide to walk down Michigan Ave at night. Can't say enough about Chicago and how much we love it there... We had a very lovely walk.

6/2

We got an envelope under our door the night before with 2 tickets to the cubs game for our "Anniversery".. laughing I called down to the desk to alert them of their mistake, and they laughed and sais they sent them up for a laugh, and we should enjoy the game. Again, No problem!!. This time took the red line up to wrigley around 10AM, grabbed breakfast at a place called Sonyas?? Really good, very eclectic crowd. Walked up sheffield and clark, and as we passed Barleycorn, I heard my name called out. As I turned I saw an old college buddy who was in town for the Braves/Cubs game.. was kind of weird I randomly now ran into two friends on one trip. Went into barleycorn, and it was a University of ILL fest (turns out it was Illini day or something). Hung out at bar until game, and went in. Place looks even better during the day.. Peninsula gave us great tickets 118, row 16. Saw Piniella have his annual LouPlosion, great game and good times. Met my friend and his wife after the game at Sluggers for a quick beer. We had reservations at Avenues that night, and agreed to meet out aftewards. Went back to hotel, thanked the staff again for the tickets, and got ready for dinner. Restaurant is in the Hotel, so no need for a commute. WOW. This place was spectacular, service, food, everything. Had an awesome entree (tuna three ways or something else they called it...). Wine was great. Chef Bowles is really one of a kind. And dessert was smashng too, I could have ordered another dessert round. We hit the bar in the hotel after dinner and waited for my friend and his wife (she is from chicago). I think I told my wife 736 times how great dinner was the last two nights. Our friends met us, had a drink and then went to Rockit. Really cool place, by the time we left it was jammed and there was a hefty line out front. We then went to Le Passage for the rest of the evening and caught up. We both had a really good time.

6/3

We decided to take it easy on this day and we slept in until 11. Went to Ralph Loren's for lunch and it was really good. We went to the art museum for a few hours (great museum). After the museum, we walked all the way up to fullerton on the lake path (Again, LOVE this city...) Views were great, people were out running, beaches were crowded, boats were out... Man. (Before our Walk we grabbed lunch at Lou Malnatti's ordered a small deep dish and small thin... very, very good..). So that is why we walked so far, to burn off the 34,327 calories we consumed at lunch. After we got back, we got ready for dinner, which was at Spiaggia that night. Spiaggia was great italian food. I was expecting a bit more, but it may have been because I spoiled myself the previous two nights... not to bring down spiaggia at all, it is world class. Chef Mantuano (sp?) is oobviously one of the best. After dinner we wlked over to the drake and had a drink there, nothing special, looks like thta place has seen its best days. Walked down St' Clair, walked by TRU (one of the other places I wanted to go to dinner..) and then walked back to the hotel.. Ended up in the bar for a nightcap, and met a very nice couple from LA. We ended up talking pretty late and called it a night...

6/4

My college friend called us early and told us he had white Sox Yankees tickets for that night.. even though I am a mets fan and detest all things Yankee related, I happily agreed (I love baseball as you can probably tell, plus I have always like the white sox for some reason). Only problem was, we had reservations at NoMi for that night and I REALLY wanted to go there.. Anyway, we come to find out they have a lunch menu from 12-2:30 so we shot over to the Hyatt and had a GREAT lunch... Need to hit this place for dinner, views were great too. Friend was staying at his sister-in-law's condo in Lincold park, so we took a cab up there around 2PM. They drove us around a bt and showed us some of the neighborhood. Some great single family homes there, very cool neighborhood. My wife and I then talk about how much we would love to live in Chicago (this is actually on on-going converstation, that is how much we loved this City!!). Friends wife was meeting some of her friends at a tailgate at the game, so we headed down on the Red Line at about 4:30. What a great experience.. tons of people beforehand drinking and grilling, playing catch, tossing "bags". We met so many interesting people before the game, it was great listening to some of the die hards talk about the 2005 world series. We had a blast before the game. Went in about 20 minutes beforehand, and frined leads us to seats right behind the sox dugout (first row) as a surprise, I guess his wife had a good business contact. Now I had always heard in the past how much of a sterile park the sox had (I called it Us Cellular, and some of the older guys in the lot yelled that it will always be Comisky...) but this place was great!! I have been to about 20 of the MLB parks now, and I would have to say this was in the top 7 easy. I was then told they did a bunch of renovations and I thought it looked great. Fns were great too, everyone was really into the game and knew what was going on. Food was very good (I think I gained 15 pounds at the game itself). Player intros were very cool, scoreboard montage, Thunderstruck, fireworks. We hit the bar in right field for one inning (very cool) and walked around the concourse. The OF concourse is crazy, it's like a mini party out there. Game was great, Big Jim hit a HR, so did Paul Konerko. Sox won 6-4 and anday the Yanks lose is a great day... After game we luckedout with a cab right down the street, and we went up north with my friends wife to meet a bunch of her friends. Ended up bar hopping with them until WAY past our bed time, but we had a great time, and went to some very cool bars in LP and Wicker Park.

6/5

Got up late, checked out and tried to figure out how and why we drank so much on vacation (we like to have a few drinks and maybe one long night, but running into friends can really lead to hang overs..) Our flight was at 5PM, so we grabed a quick bite and our car picked us up right on time.

Again, we loved Chicago! We have been fortunate to travel all over the world and we are being sincere when we say Chicago in our favorite. City was clean, people were wonderful, great sorts fans (both sides of city), architecture is fabulous, food is world class (better than NYC IMO.. I may get beat up for that by friends in NY), I just can't say enough. How this city eluded me for 31 years is beyond me, but we are seriously thinking about moving there. Regardless, we already made plans to come back in August for 5 nights and are already excited. Thanks again and we love your city!!!!

(wow, just read this, sorry about the length and the huge amount of spelling and grammar errors...)

Chicago, Illinois
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1. Re: Trip Report 5/29 -6/5 LONG!

Alinea (the full tour) and Avenues back to back?

You people know how to live.

My wife and I once did Taillevent and Lucas Carton back to back, and I thought that was as good as it gets. For food though, I will take Alinea and Avenues any day.

Illinois
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2. Re: Trip Report 5/29 -6/5 LONG!

That's one of the most detailed reports I've read. Glad you had a good visit.

Chicago
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3. Re: Trip Report 5/29 -6/5 LONG!

No kidding, great dining vacation, sounds like you guys had a blast. NoMi is great for dinner, and TRU is great too (used to be better IMO), but you should still go there.

Glad you liked comisky, they have really improved that place a ton in the last 5 years. The neighborhood has vastly improved as well..

Manhattan, NY
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4. Re: Trip Report 5/29 -6/5 LONG!

Skeeter - Yeah, as you can tell we are major foodies, we love to try different restaurans in different cities. I have to say Alinea and Avenues are in the top 5 places we have ever eaten (Alinea is the best..). North Pond was VERY good too, but not at that level.

Dave - I had so much more to include, but it was getting so long I ddn't want to bore anyone. I forgot to mention Our friends drove us to a place in the suburbs called Johnnies for lunch. This was my first ever Italian beef snadwich and it was unbelievable, we have been craving one ever since. We also did a Chicago Style Hot dog at Portillos, was very good (we split a beef there too, but not as good as Johnnies). You guys have the best food ever...

JVoll - We really did love Sox Park, very cool place. (Wrigley was awesome as well). On our next trip, we are making reservations at NoMi, TRU and possibly Everest. Any other suggestions? SKEETER, you have any other suggestions for dinners? We were thinking Trotter's, but heard it wasn't as good as it used to be.

Again, thanks to everyone, such a great city!

Rensselaer, Indiana
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5. Re: Trip Report 5/29 -6/5 LONG!

UES, glad you had such as great time here! Your first trip will be a hard act to follow but methinks Chicago has a lot more surprises in store for the both of you...

Let us know when in August you will be visiting. Keep in mind that there are a couple of major festivals then, in which you might have interest...The Air and Water Show and the Chicago Jazz Festival.

Rensselaer, Indiana
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6. Re: Trip Report 5/29 -6/5 LONG!

Oh, forgot to mention these:

For dinner: Schwa; Blackbird; Kevin; Moto (if you really like experimental cuisine); Frontera Grill/Topolabampo; Boka has a new chef - been hearing very good things about Guiseppe Tentori - but haven't been there recently. (By the way, Boka is right around the corner from Steppenwolf.)

Casual: Hot Doug's (the Sausage Superstore and Encased Meats Emporium). Take a look at Doug's website - recommend especially the daily game offerings. Go on Friday or Saturday when he offers the duck fat fries. Doug waits on you himself. He has his own theme song, too, now. Enjoy!

Chicago, Illinois
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7. Re: Trip Report 5/29 -6/5 LONG!

Glad you enjoy our food.

I agree on Blackbird, Kevin, and Moto.

Blackbird's food is great. but the room is very loud and the tables are way too close together. Not a comforbable place for a meal.

Kevin has become a favorite. A great mix of French and Asian. An interesting note: At Avenues, you will see a real emphasis on how the plate looks. It is artistic, and the food lives up to the appearance. At Kevin, I get the impression that the chef really couldn't care less what the plate looks like as long as it tastes good. And it is very good.

Moto is the inverse of Kevin -- appearance and creativty are everything. Moto is an interesting meal and well worth a visit, but the food for me just didn't live up to the presentation.

I would definitely do Charlie Trotter's. Chef Trotter is no longer cutting edge, but he remains a master and one of the few who I consider a genius.

NoMi is very good. Others like it more than I do. I am a huge fan of breakfast there. You get great views to to the east. The food in the morning is outstanding. I need to have another dinner there to form a real opinion as to dinner.

Topo is also a great place. It is amazing what Chef Bayless does with basic Mexican ingredients and techniques. Just incredible food. I actually prefer Topo during the winter. For a short time you forget what it like outside.

Janesville,IA
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8. Re: Trip Report 5/29 -6/5 LONG!

As a Cub fans who plans his vacations around Cub games I really enjoyed your trip report.

Chicago, IL
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9. Re: Trip Report 5/29 -6/5 LONG!

Alinea, Avenues, NoMi and Spiaggia punctuated with generous helpings of pizza? I’m envious, and I could theoretically do that on a regular basis.

If I can offer my opinion, check out Copperblue in Lake Point Tower (right by Navy Pier). We met chef Tsonton while we were there, and he went so far as to email us the following day with recommendations for our upcoming trip to Paris. (Like his own restaurant, his recommendations didn’t disappoint). It’s a fairly new place, but the cuisine is extraordinary. The duck is not to be missed.

A short hop west on Illinois street is DeLaCosta. Chef Rodriguez is a somewhat arrogant transplant from New York who knows how to cook. His dishes are full of surprises – tart when you expect savory, spicy when you expect sweet, and so on. He puts it all together spectacularly. I recommend starting with Chicharrones or marlin tacos (or both), and moving on to the tuna.

Regarding Trotter’s, “not as good as it used to be” means it doesn’t reign as undisputed champion anymore. It’s still one of Chicago’s top restaurants, but it has more competition now.

Swartz Creek
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10. Re: Trip Report 5/29 -6/5 LONG!

great post and loved the honesty... many of us have been there done that with the ... oh why did I do that?? the next day LOL.... really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing. I agree with the comment, you guys know how to live.