Chicago Weekend - Trip Report
DH and I were in Chicago for 5 meals last weekend (notice I count the number of meals, and not the number of days?)! Thanks to all you awesome Chicago Chowhounders (nsxtasy - you rock) for helping us make the most of our meals while we were there. I was delighted to learn that we were hitting the end of Restaurant Week while we were in town (BONUS!).
Where we ate:
We drove and were fortunate to have a car, which meant a trip to the suburbs to hit Super Dawg Drive In. DH had one goal - to get a Chicago hot dog. I had seen this place on a food show (Food Network or the Travel Channel) and deemed this our very first stop, much to the delight of DH. We both had a Chicago dog and fries, and DH also ordered a strawberry shake. The hot dog itself was delicious and cooked perfectly. The toppings were thrown on top, which didn't make it visually appealing. Also, because of the packaging, the bun became a soggy mess. The tomato was a chunk of inedible green tomato, not the red tomato slices that I had imagined. The fries were just how I like them - crispy. And the strawberry shake was oh so good and thick. We felt like we were experiencing a bit of Chicago as we sat in our car and munched on our dogs. Overall: 3.5/5.
Dinner that night was at La Madia. I know, I know, when in Chicago you're supposed to indulge on super thick deep dish pizza. But I just wasn't feeling up something that heavy. I was so happy with our selection of La Madia. I am a big fan of bruschetta.... and really, what's not to love...bread, garlic, fresh and crispy goodness. We started with the Toasted Bruschetta, Seasonal Wild Mushrooms, Marsala Glaze & Whipped Ricotta. One word: whipped ricotta....ok, that's two words. Two words I will never forgot. So good. We also had a salad....which was good, a little skimpy on the ingredients. We split a pizza as we didn't want leftovers, otherwise we would have both gotten something different. In the end, we both agreed on the Housemade Fennel Sausage & Sweet Onions, Tomato Sauce with Mozzarella Cheese. The crust was perfect and there was a good amount of ingredients. There was a large party (I mean like 15-20 people) who had taken over the bar area when we first arrived. It was so loud we couldn't hear ourselves think. I'm so glad we stuck it out (and waited well beyond our 9:00 reservation). Overall: 4.5/5
For brunch on Sunday I had several great suggestions. In the end we went with RL (Ralph Lauren) which wasn't even suggested. Maybe it's because the locals see it as a tourist spot? It worked out great because it was walkable from our hotel and put us in the area we wanted to be for the day. The service and ambiance were perfect. It was very upscale and made us excited for the food to come out. For brunch they gave us a basket of goodies, a cinnamon roll and a couple of muffins. DH ordered the corn beef hash and loved every bit of it. The eggs were poached perfectly and the corn beef was diced nicely - not shredded. I was totally craving a burger and had read that the burgers were very good. I know....a burger? But it hit the spot nicely. The Challah bun was excellent. A little on the pricey side. Overall: 4.25/5
Dinner that night was my favorite meal. We went to Salpicón, which again was in walking distance from our hotel. I loved how all of the walls were painted a different color. The bar was casual and the tables were spaced nicely (not all crammed together). We talked to who I am assuming is the owner and he was very nice. It was obvious he was proud of the place, but not in an obnoxious way. He said they had another level upstairs that looked almost exactly like the downstairs. Very nice man. I took advantage of the restaurant week menu!! For my appetizer I chose the gorditas divorciadas. Honestly, I could have made my entire meal out of these. There were two different salsas on the beef...I preferred the guajillo to the serrano-tomatillo ( a little less spicy). For my main dish I had Camarones al Mojo de Ajo (Grilled tiger shrimp in a sweet garlic and olive oil sauce with avocado chunks and guajillo chiles; served with white rice). The shrimp were cooked perfectly. I loved every bite of it. The meals are served with delicious homemade corn tortillas (my fav). Dessert was the weak point of the meal (or maybe I just ordered the wrong thing). I chose the cinnamon crepe filled with mango and raspberry. It came served with a caramel sauce over it, which made it a saucy mess. But I was so full that I could have skipped dessert and still been happy. DH started with an order of guacamole and chips. Never have I tasted guacamole this fresh from a restaurant. My DH makes the best guac (years of perfecting) and this was comparable to his. For his main course he had langostinos poc-chu (grilled freshwater prawns marinated in orange juice and guajillo chiles; served with frijoles colados, avocado, plantains and herbed rice). His rice was outstanding. The presentation was very nice as the rice was served in a pyramid at the center of his plate. I believe it had oregano and black sesame seeds in it....which doesn't sound like it would work, but it did!! Overall: 4.75/5
We had planned on going to breakfast before we hit the road but the day was sunny (after a weekend of clouds and rain) and we didn't want to leave. We ate some fruit and headed back to Michigan Ave. I knew DH loved his Chicago dog experience and I wanted something to compare SuperDawg to so we went to Portillos for lunch. Their dog was closer to what I expected a Chicago dog to look like. And the bun was less soggy, for sure. The relish was standard, not the bright neon green. The fries were average and nothing to be excited about. We decided to have the full Chicago experience we needed to try an Italian beef sandwich. I am not a fan of sauce or anything soggy so there was no way I could get mine dipped. Man, was this a great sandwich!! So glad I tried it. The place was fun and it was obvious that the locals love it (we saw many police officers on lunch break). Overall: 4/5
Sadly, after that we headed back home. Already looking forward to my next trip to Chicago!!