Happy to say that I proved myself wrong and that Chicago is a pretty alright place to visit and no, they aren't lying about the food. Literally EVERY RESTAURANT I went to there had something that was really really good. I actively tried to find things not to like because they kept winning on the food front.
I did not succeed.
FOOD PLACES I APPROVE OF:
Saugatuck Coffee Co
Senem's Coffee and Tea House
Both coffee shops were realllllly good. I ordered an iced white mocha made with whole or 2% milk at each and they were both outstanding. Miles better than starbucks. (Sorry to all my friends employed there.)
This is a just a simple frozen yogurt place like you see all over Portland, except it didn't suck. I avoid yogurt places because for what you get (half melted strange tasting vanilla with stale toppings) the price is shitty. This place surprised me. The yogurt was partially solid and actually cold. They also had all fresh toppings on the bar, even though we went close to closing time after dinner. A++ would definitely recommend.
We ate at:
Smith & Wollensky
Sports Corner Bar & Grill
Diva Thai & Sushi Bar
Sports Corner Bar & Grill
Cafe at The Field Museum
You order things to share in a group on small plates. I highly recommend the:
Pear & Pancetta Pizza (sounds weird, looks weird but it has bacon and is really fucking good.)
Pork & Polenta (The polenta is what sold me.)
I gave it a 7.5 because the food is better than average from a Portlander's point of view and the service was a bit slow despite the bar not being at all crowded on an early Monday evening.
I gave it a 6 because the chicken I ordered was pretty dry and not all that flavorful. Everyone else's food was really good, most notably the pasta dishes.
Every one of those cities has refillable cards. You just pick how much you want on there(in our case, we did 3 days of unlimited travel on bus or train in Chicago for $20) and boom. The machine spits it out and there you have it. Don't throw them away because they don't expire unless specified. I still have our Oyster cards from London (they cost £5 each to activate, no way am I throwing them away.)
The Art Institute of Chicago
This is one of Rodin's Burghers of Calais. It was part of six sculptures of ordinary french citizens who agreed to go captive to the English in the 1300's. They went, expecting to be executed. Giving their lives for France, but were spared by the English queen. Rodin memorialized their courage, which for the time (late 1800's), was not a popular concept in art. They were not idealized or deified nor were they gods or anyone of importance. They are portrayed as they were. Ordinary, brave people.
Yet, here it is. Just sitting in the atrium of Ai Chicago without even a plaque to tell you where it's from.
The Field Museum
The skull you see on this skeleton is not real, however.
Sue's real skull weighs over 600 pounds and is too heavy to be mounted with the rest of her. It sits in a display case on that balcony just behind her. Go upstairs and you'll find it.
Field Museum - Other Exhibits
The Ptolemaic mummies come from around 300 BCE - 30 CE. So the younger of the Egyptian dynasty, but what makes them so unique is that Egyptians had very clear cut and established rules for proportions and how their art style was depicted. That style was changed ONCE in the over 3000 year span of their culture and the man who did it (Akhenaten & Nefertiti...look it up) was systematically erased from their history (or at least they tried to.)
These mummies are showing another shift in that style towards the greek side of things as they were ruled by Ptolemy, (a greek) after the death of Alexander the Great.
The Rest of Chicago
Chicago is a great destination city and I very much "get" it now. It is a hub city for a reason and I think it has definitely earned that reputation.
Join me on my next adventure in September to:
Quintana Roo, Mexico!
Until next time,