Diary of a Foodie, in Chicago recently (longish post)
Day 1: arrived in time for lunch and had a car so we decided to drive out to see if Smoque was worthy of the hype. An unequivocal yes. I had the St. Louis ribs; my dining companion had the pulled pork sandwich. We shared fries, cole slaw, macaroni and cheese, beans. Would definitely return for a quick lunch. Having had excellent BBQ in the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee (and even in New Orleans), I've tried a few (recommended) BBQ places in Chicago but never found one I thought worth the effort getting there. Smoque was definitely worth it, the real thing.
Dinner: Coco Pazzo on W. Hubbard. This was my second visit, and I wanted my husband, who adores Italian food to try it; it lived up to my first great experience there. We had the antipasti selection and the stuffed zucchini blossoms--and should have stopped there, for while the pasta dishes we also ordered were excellent (rabbit bolognese for me and a special w/ duck for ), we weren't hungry enough to eat more than a few bites.
Day 2: early lunch at Cafe Spiaggia, my husband's absolute Chicago favorite--it's a must-do whenever he's there. He had the wild mushroom and prosciutto pizza--so delicious; I had pasta w/clams (didn't think whole wheat pasta worked so well w/the clam sauce, but it was still tasty). We shared a baby octopus salad--divine.
Late dinner at Frontera Grill, my must-do (that or Topolobampo) when in Chicago. This place never disappoints and did not this time. I had a couple of starters; DH had, I think (we both had too many margaritas!) lamb enchiladas(?) w/mole sauce. Wonderful.
Day 3: mid-morning snack of Garrett's caramel corn w/cashews--couldn't resist--and then a quickie late lunch at Big Bowl, which I like to go to once in a while simply for the fantastic fresh ginger ale. I think of the ginger ale and spring rolls as the beginning of the de-tox after the fat calorie extravaganza!
Alas, it was time (so little for such a big dining city) to leave; once again we'd used up a good bit of our dining itinerary with the must-dos and not gotten to try some new places. Next time, we will do Publican . . . or Osteria via Stato . . . or Table 52 . . . or the restaurant in the new wing of the Art Institute, and Yolk for breakfast, and Hot Doug's. Next time, we must stay longer.
Have I said how much I love Chicago? Especially in August. Even in January if I'm sitting in a wonderful eating establishment.
Summer here is nice, your a trooper coming up in January from New Orleans (I had to see where you were visiting from).
I was in New Orleans for the new year '99-'00 for about a week leading up to new years eve. My friends and I explored many different areas and neighborhoods in N.O. Slept in a tent on the Mississippi, R.V. parks, motels, etc. Ate a lot of good food. Had Po-boys, Dixie beer, a vegetarian jambalaya (I think), and wonderful rich rice and bean dishes.
Quick story about my great time in N.O.
Of course we on Bourbon street on New years eve. My friend drank what he thought was water in a downtrodden hotel the a.m. before new years eve, it happened to contain the one remaining contact of my other friend. He had to listen to our description of the goings-on. He could not see (and we told him all he was missing), so he certainly ate to make up for it.
I loved the Gulf of Mexico and my visit to New Orleans. Hope all is well there, will go back.
Like ms. Chow said, keep coming back.
re: Alan N
Oh, I will, November most likely. I think Chicago is the most beautiful American city. With family nearby, we have often considered moving there. (We spent several months in the area after Katrina.) We know the winters are brutal, but the summers are brutal here. Good food abounds in both places. I hope we can someday maintain a place in both cities. (A girl can dream, can't she?)
Glad you liked NOLA. Y'all come back!