i fantasized ’bout this back in chicago…
if you follow me on instagram, you know i spent the second half of last week in chicago. a few years ago, i was spending some time in chicago with some of my favorite reslife women – gigi and christine. while i got to experience chicago as a city, one of the most memorable events of that entire year was greek easter. christine’s family is fully greek and greek easter is celebrated like christmas, only bigger and significantly more fun.
when christine got married this past december (you can read about my bridesmaid dress post here), i promised her family i would make it out for greek easter 2019. when i looked at a calendar and realized greek easter fell during my spring break week, i was elated. this meant i could not only celebrate greek easter but spend some much needed quality time with my work wife from honda, reens and her amazing boyfriend, sam. over the years, we all feel more like family. so, let’s get to it.
by the way, i feel like i ate my way through chicago. i clearly took the whole “spring break” thing to a new level.
i flew in wednesday night and felt like i was moving to chicago with all the luggage i had. part of this was because my hair is not in braids so i had to travel with far more products than i did on my previous trip to the chi. the second reason is because the weather forecast changed about 87438729 times in the week leading up to me arriving. even with me waiting until the day before to pack, there were still changes later on in the trip that i did not have proper clothing for. such is life, i suppose.
i kicked off thursday with candace, one of the bridesmaids from christine’s wedding that i clicked with immediately at my first greek easter. we met for brunch at 3 arts club cafe – this amazing restaurant located inside of a restoration hardware store. you guys, i was shook. it was absolutely breathtaking. who wouldn’t want to wait on furniture this inviting while their table was being prepared? so many of my home decor dreams came to life within seconds of walking in…
i live for neutrals, especially shades of gray and white. the subtle pops of color whether it be a plant or a bowl made me ridiculously excited. as if that was not gorgeous enough, these are a couple of shots of the view from my table.
i don’t know where i would put it but i need one of these chandeliers for my own apartment.
the menu was simple yet covered all of the necessary bases. candace and i ordered a bottle of rosé while trying to decide what appetizer to get.
we ended up going with the burrata and there could not have been a better decision made. it was so fresh and the oven roasted tomatoes were subtly sweet. i honestly could have gotten a second order to eat as my meal but wanted to be mindful of just how much cheese i knew i would consume over my time spent in chicago. candace laughed out loud at me – i am truly a californian.
for our meals, candace ordered the lobster roll with fries and i had the kale caesar with shrimp and avocado. the only thing we would not order again were the fries – many because they seemed to have been sitting. everything else tasted just as good as it looks below.
we couldn’t leave without satisfying our sweet tooth. because they make their doughnuts in house, we had to try a couple of different flavors. both the cookies n cream and the coconut doughnuts were so good! they were just sweet enough and the texture was perfect – light, cakey goodness.
it’s like they knew i would be writing a blog post about this dreamy wonderland because there was a perfect selfie mirror on our way out that i had to get a shot in front of:
because the weather was so great, we headed over to one of candace’s favorite spots (quartino) that has great outside seating, including a terrace on the second floor. for the record, “so great” in chicago is being in the low to mid 60s in april. when i left la the day before, it was 81 degrees.
i will never say no to sparkling rosé in the sunshine.
i had a tiny bit of down time before joining reens and sam at one of the most breathtaking bars i have ever been to – cindy’s.
if you go, you have to order the drink pictured below – no bars. i love just about anything with vodka. the peach, citrus flavors and fizz made it even better. this drink tastes like springtime.
because i knew we would be outdoors, i did a slight outfit modification. the weather in chicago shifts at the drop of a hat so instead of one of my cozy cardigans, i brought out the faux fur.
naturally, reens and i were accidentally twinning. this is one of the many reasons she is my work wife for life.
can we talk about both of these views?
cindy’s treated me well and i will definitely be back. during a warmer day, i would not even attempt to go here without a reservation. we waited about 15 minutes to get to the rooftop on a weekday when it was already in the 50s outside.
on friday, reens humored me by taking me to do all of the touristy things i wanted to do. while i had done most of them before, i wasn’t blogging then so circling back was necessary. first stop was:
next, we went to portillo’s. i eat a hot dog maybe once a year but i cannot go to chicago and not get at least a polish dog with some cheese fries from this staple. it was just as good as i remembered.
we swung by sears (now willis) tower because we thought this sky lounge was there but we were at the wrong building! we pulled it together and made our way over to the signature room at 95th – it is at the john hancock building. the views and the service were unparalleled.
oddly enough, the best views were from the women’s restroom – it is like they knew women would want photos with this background. we literally watched a group of women leave their table and request that their table be held so they could get a group shot while the lighting was still this good. gotta love it.
we headed home and i finally got to try the deep dish and calamari served at giordano’s – my life will never be the same.
this was the perfect thing to coat my stomach before heading out to the bar to continue drinking and participating in my first turtle race!
big joe’s was such a great little pub. the staff and locals were so friendly. there was a diverse crowd. i appreciated that the patrons controlled the music, the drinks were stiff and i happened to win my first turtle race with #4 – lucky dan. i even have a shirt to prove it!
on saturday, we trekked out in the snow. yes, you read that correctly, the snow, for a byob brunch. la really needs to take some notes from chicago. there are so many byob places and that is a game changer. breakfast house was amazing and the supreme chorizo hash had this unreal chipotle aioli that i could happily just drink. probably sounds gross but it is honest. the pancake that accompanied my chorizo hash was perfectly fluffy and absorbed the syrup just the way i liked. i am certain everything was improved by the two bottles of champagne and bottle of sparkling rosé we polished off.
we relaxed for a bit post brunch and then by sheer luck, one of my closest mentors and friends, reena was in town for just over 24 hours. we were somehow able to make dinner plans work and proceeded to spend literally four hours at this dope restaurant – ocean prime.
pictured above are about half the items we ordered: the black orchid is a delicious vodka based cocktail with an edible orchid – how gorgeous?! for dinner, i ordered the lobster roll and the spicy tuna roll – both were ridiculously fresh which makes sense since they have the fish flown in daily. for dessert, we split both the butter cake and the creme brûlée – we had zero regrets. not pictured is one of the most beautiful cocktails i have ever seen – berries and bubbles – it is also vodka based and you can see its goodness on my chicago highlight on the gram. we had the smoked gouda tater tots and the broccoli and cauliflower. all were flavor packed and just perfection. we were so impressed with both the ambiance and the service seeing as how the restaurant has only been open for three weeks. they have several other locations but if you go to the one in chicago, ask to be seated in tyler’s section. he is an absolute riot and so friendly and relatable.
sunday rolled around and it was so bittersweet. i was sad knowing my trip was coming to an end but was so pumped to head to greek easter. i could not wait for reens and sam to experience it. there really is no way to really explain it – you just have to live it. i think they thought i might be exaggerating until we walked up the driveway with all of my luggage (since i was going straight from aster to the airport) and my favorite uncle in the family screamed that we needed to take shots.
if you have seen my big fat greek wedding, think of that kind of situation only better because of the company, the laughter, the never ending drinks and the best lamb you have ever had in your life.
getting to reunite with almost all of the bridesmaids from christine’s wedding and squeeze her parents and karl (her husband) in person was the icing on the cake!
chicago was exactly what i needed to help get me through the last month of work. it was filled with friends who have become family, great food, tasty cocktails, tons of fun and just joy.
if you have been to chicago, what places were must sees for you? i would love to hear about it in the comments below.