So this weekend I was able to go on a trip to Chicago. I live in Ontario Canada, so it’s about a 6/7 hour drive.. not including traffic that makes even Toronto rush hour look good.. Anyways me my boyfriend, his sister and his dad all traveled there is two weekends ago. Nick’s good family friend was getting married, so I was lucky enough to tag along.
I was happy to just spend time with nick but I was also very excited to see Chicago and taste all the foods that are so essential to the city. To be honest whenever I go anywhere food is the thing I’m most excited about.. clearly I’ve got my priorities straight. I’ve never been to Chicago before so it was a really exciting for me.
As soon as we got into town on Friday we went to a place I found on diners, drive-in’s and dives. Say what you may about Guy Fieri and his bleach blonde highlights, but his food picks are never wrong
Our first stop was at a place called Smoque Barbeque. I guess as a Canadian I get really excited when I get to eat barbeque because generally in Canada it isn’t something we have. I know it may seem odd to have barbeque in Chicago, but let me tell you it was fantastic seriously. I was level 400 + on the hangray scale, so it was that much more satisfying.
LET ME TELL YOU IT WAS GREAT. All caps because it was that good. I got brisket – sliced not chopped, for my side I got mac n’ cheese and it came with two very different sauce and coleslaw.
Where do I even begin ( as my mouth waters as I type this…), well lets start with the sandwich- the brisket was so incredibly tender it had a rich smokey flavor with hints of something like liquorish (honestly I don’t know what it was but that’s my closest comparison).The meat could truly stand by it’s self. It was served on a warm, fresh bun that was light but strong enough to hold the meat.
It came with two sauce one being a thinner vinegar based sauce that was intended specifically for brisket. I was a huge fan of this sauce I love vinegar based hot sauces so this was a no brainer – vinegar with smokey and sweet hints to it. The next sauce was a thicker BBQ sauce intended more for ribs or chicken. It was also very good.
The mac n’ cheese was great creamy with a crispy top! No complaints here. But really it was nothing out of this world.
The coleslaw was vinegar/sweet sauce. I really enjoyed it and it complimented the meat very well!
MMM thank you smoque bbq! I will be back again 😉
Somewhere in between we went to the wedding met a bunch of American’s and called it a day.
The day after the wedding we decided to take the train in from where we were staying which was about an hour trip. By the time we got into the city it was about 11 and I was needing a coffee – so I went to Dunkin ( cause America runs on it) and had a weak coffee and we were off for a day of adventures.
Nick is so great with directions – I am not at all. So naturally he plans route’s out our trips (he’s great). He had the transit all figured out so it was just a matter of where we wanted to go first.
Billy Goat Tavern
We ended up going to the the billy goat tavern http://www.billygoattavern.com/. This is definitely an iconic spot it had a SNL skit inspired by it.
This place is what you without a doubt would call a dive bar/tavern. Dimly lit, plastic hard seats, the only thing that is illuminated is the wall full of alcohol. A restaurant started by a greek immigrant who wanted to have his very own bar. The name came from an actual goat showing up at his door and later used the goat as a marketing strategy and literally brought the goat everywhere he went. Long story short many famed actors and writers end up coming to this place as a haven, such as bill murray, roger ebert, past presidents, and politicians.
Also it is located in an “underground”, which such movies as Batman and Blues Brothers were filmed.
As I said it’s a tavern so nick and I got a cheeseburger (as you should). They grind the beef in house, there buns are fresh and warm, topped with American cheese. Two of them came to 7 dollars which was great!
You have the option of toppings: fresh pickles, onions, ketchup and mustard.
This was the best burger I’ve ever had. No lie it was the best, it was simple, fresh and just really good. It’s quite the place, with some incredible history.
Then we took a break from eating and did some walking. We went to the legendary “bean”.
Then we headed to the navy pier and took a nice stroll.
Nick’s dad and sister came into the city later than us so they wanted to meet up with us. We were walking towards where they were – which happened to be a deep dish pizza place. Side note: After talking to quite a few locals they told me people from Chicago don’t actually love deep dish as much tourist do. Nick and I didn’t end up getting any pizza but we tried some of his dad’s and sisters.
Since we were hungry (once again) we went to legendary Al’s Beef. I’m obsessed with Anthony Bourdain so naturally we watched the parts unknown episode of Chicago and this was one of the places he recommended for some Chicago classics.
So I felt it was only right to get a Chicago dog. Which consists of: a poppy seed bun, all beef hot dog, florescent relish, mustard, two green hot peppers,onions, tomato slice and a pickle spear with pepper on top.
It was really great! Considering I don’t like mustard or relish. The flavors are awesome, and the fries were super crispy and delish. They weren’t some culinary masterpiece or anything but food like this is what make a city proud of something unique to them.
We walked around for a bit, then I remembered I saw the shake shack. Who I have been instagram stalking for about a year simply because of their cold custard. Which you may think is just like ice cream but it is like ice cream that got married and had really successful child that made their parents proud, just to give you a general idea of what it’s like.
I’m sorry I didn’t mean to make you cry from this beautiful picture.
This was vanilla custard, with bananas, pieces of salted caramel pie and salted caramel sauce.
Very good, the only thing by the time I got near the end it got way too sweet. But they have frozen custards that you can get without any “add in’s” next time.
After that we found a target which excited me immensely ( see photo below for full level of excitement) , since we no longer have them in Canada.
Went to a Le Creuset Store, which is full of things I can’t afford but love to look at!
Then we took the train around town to different places. Walked around for a bit. Took a train to one of the top restaurants in the North America ( and perhaps the world) Alinea – dinner costs about 245 per person so I thought I would opt out this time. One day I will be back to eat there so I just started at the restaurant like a grade 9 in love with a senior. Hopeless romantics, am I right?? https://website.alinearestaurant.com/
So it was about 7ish by then and we realized we either could take a train at 830 or 1130, so we opted for the 1130 because how often are you downtown Chicago??
The Little Goat Diner
We were looking up places to eat then I found this place called the little goat diner. The menu looked amazing and it wasn’t that expensive. So we took the train and headed over. After doing some research I found out the street we were on is crediting with having one of the best downtown restaurant districts in all of the states. Which made sense because the little goat was awesome! The atmosphere is of a relaxed diner with food that is above and beyond you would ever find in a diner.
The staff were incredibly helpful, because everything on the menu looked exceptional and they have twists dishes with a Korean spin such as their kimichi ruben and a pork belly pancake with hosin sauce. After a long deliberation I went with their tuna melt ( highly recommended by the server). Funny thing I have never actually had tuna except once from a tuna but yolo baby!!
This was the king of tuna melts. Ain’t no wonder bread and canned tuna here!
The sandwhich was sourdough bread topped with fresh tuna, house made mac n cheese sauce, nicoise salad * which is green beans, hard boiled eggs, olives* and spicy and sweet pickled onions.
I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire I ate this. No lie. First thing they have a bakery attached to the restaurant. So the sourdough bread was unreal, the tuna was super fresh and tasty, and the nicoise salad was really balanced and complimented the tuna very well. AND THE CHEESE SAUCE .. so good and not over powering.
The proof is in the plate. I cannot say enough great things about this place! If you are in chicago you must go. If you are feeling something a bit more quite and upscale the owner Stephanie Ieizard ( winner of top chef) owns 2 other places on the street.
After that we were walking out of the restaurant and there was a festival going on at the time so we stopped to listen to the band. They were a really cool jazz funk band, and everyone was having a blast. It was a great end to a fantastic day.
That wrapped it up for Chicago, so much fun I definitely want to go back again.
On the way home the next day we made a small detour to a hole in the wall Mexican joint in Windsor.
Chicago, you rock.
Thanks for reading,