3 Days, 3 Ladies from Toronto
I'm visiting next weekend with two ladyfriends from Toronto. We are in our early 30s and are visiting to eat, drink, and run the St Patrick's 8k. We've all been to Chicago before, so the main focus of our trip is hitting up as many interesting spots as we can for whatever is new and best in food and drink.
For reference, we love restaurants like Toronto's Bar Isabel, serving food that is exciting, interesting, focused on fresh ingredients, good seafood, a little meat, lots of veg, not too fussy, but with good service. We love craft beer and hope to some shopping for booze to bring home, and we also love good, refined cocktails and wine bars. We're also game for more low-key bars/food (street food, dive bars, etc), for balance.
I'm hoping you can take a look at our itinerary and let us know what's good where we're going, or if we're astray, fill in the gaps, and suggest amendments.
We arrive Thursday, March 13, in the morning. Our plan is to take transit from Midway to Union Station for baggage storage. After that, we're hoping to do a bit of a foodie walk, hitting Doughnut Vault for snacks and then Xoco for lunch. After that, we'll continue with a touristy walk via Magnificent Mile and Millenium Park, hitting Binny’s, Eataly, Pastoral, Intelligentsia and the French Market on our way to get our bags and check into our Airbnb apartment.
Thursday evening we have a reservation at 5:15pm for dinner at Girl & the Goat (all we could get). We have made an 8pm reservation for drinks at Aviary, and also hope to hit Au Cheval and/or Publican for later drinks and snacks. Any tips for these spots?
Our earliest plans for Friday, March 14 are a 1pm reservation at Blackbird. After we hope to hit the Art Institute for the afternoon. We plan on getting to Berkshire Room for an early evening drink when they open, then carbo-loading for our race the next day at Slurping Turtle. If you have another recommendation for an easy, more affordable carb-heavy meal (eg. sushi?) in that neighbourhood, I'm open to suggestions. Also any additional spots we might grab an early drink without going overboard before the race.
On Saturday March 15 we run the race in the morning. Our plan is to spend the afternoon wandering Wicker Park/Bucktown etc refuelling in food and drink. Destinations include: La Pasadita, Atomix, Map Room, The Bristol, Bluebird, Hot Chocolate,Trenchermen, The Violet Hour and of course Big Star. We're good at noshing small bites, sipping a bit, and wandering, so if you can suggest additions or a plan of attack for this Saturday crawl, that would be great!
Sunday we fly back to Toronto in the afternoon, but we're hoping to do brunch at Dusek before we go.
Thanks in advance - we can't wait! (And we hope the weather gives us lots of sun for walking, too!)
Ambitious itinerary! A couple of thoughts:
Thursday - Consider Do-Rite donuts, in the Loop. Doughnut Vault typically makes one batch of donuts and when they're gone, they're gone. Do-Rite keeps making new batches until 11am or so and will stay open until they sell out. I also prefer Do-Rite, particularly any of their Old Fashioned varieties.
Saturday - As often as I visit La Pasadita, it's usually because I've been out and I'm on my way home. I wouldn't consider it destination-dining. Honestly, for craft beer and smaller bites, Bangers & Lace (a few blocks from La Pasadita) would be a great stop. I'm not sure Atomix is worth the detour, either. There might be a new Intelligentsia outpost open by the time you take your trip (at Division and Ashland), or there's Alliance Bakery & Cafe. My favorite coffee roaster in the city is Dark Matter, but they're located about 1.5 miles from Wicker Park proper. If you really want great coffee (and they do the usual pour-over, french press, chemex, and drip preparations), it might be worth the detour (they typically have a few pre-made sandwiches and the usual assortment of pastries). Archie's Iowa Rockwell Tavern is nearby, and it's a great dive-ish bar. You can also get amazing sushi at Kai Zan, but they're only open for dinner.
Also in Wicker Park is Piece. Great pizza (New Haven-style, not Chicago deep dish) and great beer that they make on site. They tend to get very crowded, though. Revolution Brewing is located a little to the Northwest along Milwaukee Avenue - it's my pick for the city's best brewpub. More great beer with a solid menu of well-executed staples (burgers, pizzas, etc.). There's a corner liquor store across the street called Vas Foremost that has an excellent craft beer selection, too.
Your Thursday evening plan is quite ambitious, if it's to include drinks and snacks after the aviary. The aviary has snacks if you're still hungry after girl and goat. Save the publican and au cheval for another visit
Glazed and confused has AMAZING donuts and has several locations in Chicago. Don't miss out.
Blackbird is amazing. We also had lunch there and it was great.
Also, you might consider Big Star Taco if you go to Wicker Park area.
Last thing - don't forget some Chicago mix popcorn to bring back home!
To jump on the doughnut train, I really like Firecakes way better than all the others because they are less sugar-bomb and more pastry. The hazelnut long john and the triple chocolate cake doughnuts are AWESOME.
You ladies would really like this itinerary for a dinner if you want to swap Girl and Goat. I just did this with a few friends and it was great (we're the just-turned-40 crowd). Dinner and fantastic cocktails at The Dawson (corner of Grand, Milwaukee, and Halstead), a short walk (5 mins) over to Lone Wolf (on W Randoph) for more drinks and then a late night Au Cheval cheeseburger (after midnight). There is an upstairs bar at the Dawson where we just walked right in on a Thursday night at 8PM when the restaurant and downstairs bar was packed. You could also stop in at Richard's Bar (a fantastic dive) or Emmit's (of Ocean's Eleven fame) which are both across the street from The Dawson before heading over to Randolph Street.
Another note, while I love Pasadita Carne Asada tacos, its not really in Wicker Park. Kinda' across the tracks.