Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Windy City? Deep Dish Pizza?

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You may have gathered from my last post and some of my recent Instagrams that I spent NYE weekend in Chi Town with some of the gals I met while studying abroad in Salzburg during my senior year of college.

One more argument in favor of studying abroad (I could go on forever) - you make friends who could live anywhere in the U.S. More about my study abroad experience HERE.

My friends in Chi live in Lincoln Park. They both rent really cute old apartments near DePaul University, where they'll be finishing up school this semester. I didn't know what to expect from Chicago - I'd been there for less than 24 hours last summer on my road trip back to Oregon with my brother and stayed with cousins, who at the time lived in Wrigleyville. After this last trip though? I'm honestly kind of sold on Chicago. It's affordable, I ate amazing food, did some good shopping, and found that the public transportation is easy to use and many neighborhoods are walkable. Also - the weather helped. I didn't experience the biting winters Chicago is known for at all - I don't think it got below 30 more than once.

Sipping on some Austrian wine at the 3 Arts Cafe in Restoration Hardware Chicago!

Want the lowdown on my trip? Here goes.

Stayed in Lincoln Park. It was super walkable, felt safe, and was really pretty. We walked to the bar on New Year's Eve, walked to brunch the next morning, and walked to coffee and window shopping on Monday morning.

Ate so many things at so many places. The Bagelers for breakfast on NYE straight off the plane, lunch at Corridor Brewery in Southport (get the burger), brunch at Homeslice (wood in the restaurant is reclaimed from Oregon), dinner & drinks at Homeslice's sister Happy Camper in Old Town (get a pizza and goat sticks) where we were seated in a refinished Airstream trailer. Munched on mini donuts at Glazed and Infused (get the mini pomegranate old-fashioned), snacked at Devil Dawgs (got my Chicago Dawg!) lunched at Eduardo's Enoteca in Gold Coast (get the gnocchi).

Drank basically everywhere we went but of note would be Corridor Brewery (had a decent IPA and cool bike logo on the pint glasses), sold-out NYE party at State, morning mimosas at Homeslice, wine or fancy cocktails at Cindy's Rooftop - which has a killer view of the waterfront and part of downtown plus a rooftop bonfire and cool indoor vibe (spendy though - get a glass of wine for the view and call it a day), Pink Flamingo pitcher at Happy Camper, wine at Restoration Hardware - this is actually such a cool experience, I'll mention it again in a second!

Explored Lincoln Park - browsed at some of the adorable boutiques in the area, including Art Effect on Armitage, a personal fave. Southport - (where my cousins actually live now) has great shopping, although the majority of the stores I saw were something you would typically be able to find in most big cities. Downtown - we took the train (El?) to walk through Millennium Park and see the Bean because, well, Chicago. The Bean is something you see just to check off the list, in my opinion. Seeing the sheer expanse of Lake Michigan lapping right up to the edges of Downtown Chicago is more impressive.

Restoration Hardware - clearly not a neighborhood, but an interesting experience nonetheless. It isn't just a furniture store - it's a four or five story concept store that provides shoppers and tourists alike with an immersive experience in fully designed rooms and spaces that flow together as though you were touring a giant mansion. Plus you can drink while you walk around and then plop down on a massive leather sectional next to a floor-to-ceiling gilded mirror under a gorgeous pendant light. I was drooling over product, design, and experience all at once. Also, it's great for Instagramming, as you can see above.

All in all, I was really pleasantly surprised by Chicago. I didn't go in with much expectation other than to have a great time connecting with friends and reminiscing over our experiences abroad - but it only makes sense that when visiting with women I met while traveling across Europe, I'd be treated to a pretty cool little tour of Chicago, tons of good food, and wonderful hospitality.

By the way - I never had deep dish. Guess I'll be heading back!

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