Chicago: A Grown Ups Disneyland!

47

HOW-dy!

I’m back from another faaabulous weekend spent in Chicago!

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I made record time and got to Chicago in about 5 hours and 15 minutes. If construction and traffic in the city (the only reason I couldn’t live in Chicago) weren’t an issue, I think I might have made it in under 5! 8O

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After I got to my friend’s house we took a stroll around the neighborhood so I could stretch my cramped, car legs, shopped a little, then got cleaned up to go to happy hour at the most magical place on earth…

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WHOLE FOODS! :mrgreen:

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Oh yes, the Whole Foods in Lincoln Park is bigger than most, ummmm…events centers? I don’t know – it’s eye-poppingly big and is a grown up’s Disneyland!

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This Whole Foods has a nice bar setup with comfy tables, chairs and board games to sit and relax with.

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They also have this adorable wine bar in the middle of the store – Da’Vine – which is where we setup camp.

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I ordered a beer (at the wine bar, I know).

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I think it was a Goose Island White beer? Either way, it was amazing.

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The wine bar had cheese platters that you could order, but we just bought some fig jam, brie cheese and crackers from the cheese section of the store and had ourselves a little picnic!

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Isn’t it cool that they let you do that?

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Fig jam + brie cheese = DIVINE! You must replicate!!

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Just two girlfriends catching up. ;)

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After happy hour, we met another one of our friends at People – a really cool sangria and tapas restaurant!

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The inside was funky-Spanish-esque,

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with long, family-style seating.

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The art on the wall was local, and for sale it looked like! I took a lot of pictures for Ben…

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He loves this kind of abstract art!

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Since People is a sangria bar, we HAD to get some, obvi. We chose the classic Red Sangria pitcher to share!

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Ooo, it was super refreshing! Not too strong, but the big green apple pieces made the drink really fun to chew. :)

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The three of us ladies ordered several different tapas to share so we could taste as much as possible. First up was Empanada de Cerdo – sweet chili pork empanadas with Belgian beer aioli. Spicy, sweet and savory – AMAZING.

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Queso de Cabra – goat cheese, tomato sauce and garlic crusted bread.

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Like your Mom’s cheesy garlic bread that she used to make on spaghetti night when you were growing up – except on crack. Unbelievable – a must try!

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Datiles con Bacon – bacon wrapped dates, baby!! STUFFED WITH GOAT CHEESE! You can never go wrong with bacon wrapped dates. Staple.

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We had a great time – good conversation, good friends, GOOD FOOD! I’d totally go back to People! 

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After dinner one of my friends went home (she’s preggo! :) ) so my other girlfriend and I went on a mini bar crawl – good times!

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Bagels were mandatory the next morning, so we hoofed it to Chicago Bagel Authority for breakfast.

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They steam your bagels!!!!

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The result is a chewy, warm, bagel – the best you’ve ever had.

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We met another friend of ours there who is literally obsessed with CBA (aren’t you, Laura?!) and she wanted to show off her fantastic CBA shirt. Awesome!

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The rest of the day was spent strolling through the streets of Chicago. There are so many different neighborhoods in the city that all have very distinct and unique personalities. I love spending hours exploring them!

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And visiting their candy stores!

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Yowza!

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We also went to visit with my cousin and her new baby girl (hi Ellen and Julia!) and afterwards, stopped by a dessert parlor right in her neighborhood that she said we had to check out – Sweet Mandy B’s!

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Sweet Mandy B’s is ummm – the greatest place ever.

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The sell cupcakes, cookies, cakes, bars, brownies – anything you could ever want from a bakery!

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It was completely packed inside – everybody loves dessert!

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I surveyed my options, and after seeing the girl behind the counter frosting them, I got…

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A Red Velvet Cupcake!!

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Smeared high with cream cheese frosting – it was decadent. Sweet Mandy B’s is so great!

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Demolished…

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Happy… ;)   

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Some more strolling and wandering ensued and I came across this bulldog statue. I took a picture for Ben because bulldogs make him melt. Awww. ;)

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Next it was off to the promised land – Trader Joes! Whole Foods AND Trader Joes in one weekend!

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I stocked up on all the necessitates…

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Chocolate Brownie PURE Bars.

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Crunchy Roasted Flaxseed Almond Butter (which you guys and my friends told me I HAD to try!)

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Regular Peanut Butter and Sesame Soy Ginger Vinaigrette.

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Palaak Paneer.

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And the the Queen of snacks – Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels!!! Don’t worry – I got the last bag in the store, and also busted into them on the drive home. :D

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To wrap up my last night in Chicago, we went to a new Indian restaurant that was actually opening that night – Cumin.

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Cumin was fabulously decorated. Everything was brand new and very chi-chi.

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It was packed inside – we were happy that they were drumming up such great business on their first night!

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We were served some toasted cumin seed flat bread crisps when we sat down. They were paper thin and super crunchy.

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They were served with apricot preserves, plum sauce and an unidentifiable green sauce. The apricot preserves were perfectly sweet with the smoky chip.

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That’s when things went from good to…not good. Lesson learned – don’t go to opening nights of restaurants. There was no waitering system in place and there could’ve only been one chef in the kitchen because the food came out one table at a time, with at least 20 minutes in between each delivery. Disaster!!!

Finally our food DID come and, thankfully, it was terrific!! We started with some savory garlic naan.

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Light, chewy and with just a hint of garlic.

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And 3 different entrees to share!

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Chicken Saag – chicken and spinach cooked in mild Indian spices and rich curry sauce.

Paalak Paneer – spinach and home-made cottage cheese cooked in Indian spices and tomato-curry sauce.

Chicken Madras – chicken cooked in a savory and exotic flavored coconut broth, Indian spices and creamy curry sauce.

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Honestly, the food was outstanding, and they gave us a 15% discount because it was opening night, and everything went so horribly, horribly wrong. My friends who live in the city agreed that after things got ironed out – they’d definitely go back!

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We called it a night after dinner – it was already 10:15 by the time we paid – so we went home, got in our sweats and watched SNL.

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Ahhh, vacation!

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This morning, my Big Gulp and me drove home.

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Sweet home Iowa!!!!!!

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Every time I go to Chicago, I fall more in love with it. There is SO much to do, and I adore the fact that it’s such a walking city. A must see, must visit destination if you’ve never been!

I’m off to go hang with my man for the evening – have a great night!

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