Chicago: A Grown Ups Disneyland!



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


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


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…


WHOLE FOODS! :mrgreen:


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!


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


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


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


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


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!


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


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


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!


The inside was funky-Spanish-esque,


with long, family-style seating.


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


He loves this kind of abstract art!


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


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


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.


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


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.


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


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!


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


They steam your bagels!!!!


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!


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!


And visiting their candy stores!

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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!


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


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


It was completely packed inside – everybody loves dessert!


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


A Red Velvet Cupcake!!


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




Happy… ;)   


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. ;)


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


I stocked up on all the necessitates…


Chocolate Brownie PURE Bars.


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


Regular Peanut Butter and Sesame Soy Ginger Vinaigrette.

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Palaak Paneer.


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


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


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



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


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


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


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.


Light, chewy and with just a hint of garlic.


And 3 different entrees to share!


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.


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!


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.


Ahhh, vacation!


This morning, my Big Gulp and me drove home.

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Sweet home Iowa!!!!!!


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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  1. Katie 05.16.2010

    Wow what a great trip you had!!!!!!!!! Loved the recap!! That whole foods is amazing!!!!!!!!! I have only been to the whole foods in the downtown of chicago, but the one in the area you went is amazing!!! I wish my whole foods was like that here!!!!!!!!!!! Love the goodies you got at trader joes too!! Yummy!! That Almond butter is a must try I need to get, and those pb filled pretzels, those are addicting!!!!! I can eat a whole bag in a day!!!

    Glad you had a wonderful trip!!!!!!! So much yummies you had!!!

    Enjoy your night!!!

  2. Jenna 05.16.2010

    Aww, this post made me miss Chi-Town! I actually went to DePaul for a semester and fell in love with the city, it is so magical! That Whole Foods looks unreal, too good to be true. Have fun with the hubby tonight!

  3. Jenny 05.16.2010

    WOW! Looks like an amazing weekend of eats- love it!

  4. Emily 05.16.2010

    I am jealous of your Chicago adventures–and going to TJ’s! I’ve never been to one, and I can’t WAIT until I get to visit one. :)

    I used to work at a sandwich cafe’ that made a fig jam and brie sandwich with turkey–it was amazing! I highly recommend trying that combo out.

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kristin. Kristin said: Chicago: A Grown Ups Disneyland! […]

  6. becca 05.16.2010

    Thanks so much for the tips! I’m off the Chicago in 11 days! It’s one of the few places you can fly direct to from Edmonton. It’s been recommended to me that we check out a bbq place called Smoque while there but I might try to make it to some of those places too!

  7. I literally have one thing to say – that WHOLE FOODS!! OH. MY. DAYS.
    I’m going to London after my exams, and Whole Foods is the 1st place I plan to go to – but the size of that one takes the biscuit!! So lucky :p
    I’m glad you had fun!

  8. sassy molassy 05.16.2010

    I love Chicago! Looks like you ladies had such a fun time. I love the wine bar in the middle of a nice grocery store. So many good eats this weekend. I love that about big cities!

  9. Looks like an awesome (and delicious) trip!

  10. Looks like you had an amazing time while you were here! I haven’t been to that huge WF yet, but I keep meaning to :)

  11. What a fun time, filled with AMAZING eats!!


  12. Kathleen 05.16.2010

    Wow, that Whole Foods looks amazing! We only have smaller ones here in Houston, and none near me. I rely on smaller, local chains which is great but big stores like that are so convenient! Also, the nearest Trader Joe’s is in Nashville, so I have YET to visit one. I think I just need to visit Chicago, since I’ve never been there. :)

  13. Daisy 05.16.2010

    Kristin – this recap is fabulous. I’ll admit I was skeptical of your first stop (Whole Foods?! Why?) I was shocked and amazed they had a WINE BAR. friggin awesome. Our friday nights were identical except you were in Chigaco and I’m in Boston. :) I drank pitchers of red sangria and ate tapas as a spanish tapas bar andd then went on a mini bar crawl. perfection!

  14. I have a great friend who live in chicago and I would love to go visit her. Although it is a longer drive for me. Some day I’ll get their though.

  15. Ooo, such a fun weekend. I will be in Chicago for a wedding in August and will be there with all my best girl friends. I can’t wait! I will have to hit you up for some recommendations.

  16. Mich 05.16.2010

    We have the same pink ATL cardigan… and I’m wearing it now! Great taste ;)

  17. Angharad 05.16.2010

    I love Chicago and I am exactly the same – every time I visit I fall more in love and wonder why oh why I don’t live there! So cool.
    Glad you had a whale of a time — and that Indian food did look incredible despite the crazy service.

  18. Sarah 05.16.2010

    Your recap made me excited to take my first trip to Chicago next month. I can’t wait Also – you will not be disappointed with the new TJs almond butter. It’s the best.thing.ever. No lie, I can’t keep out of the jar and I’ve only had it a week!

  19. Wow. I think I may have to go to Chicago JUST to visit that Whole Foods. Foodie HEAVEN! And the cupcake… oh yum!

  20. Angela 05.16.2010

    Sounds (and looks) like you had a great trip. Next time you should really check out Carnivale. It is hands down my favorite Chicago restaurant. A Latin fusion menu with delicious drinks! I am sad that I don’t get to visit Chicago more often to eat there.

  21. katie 05.16.2010

    you had a foodies DREAM WEEKEND!! :) TJS and whole foods.. im in awe!

  22. Daniela 05.16.2010

    Kristin sounds like you had a FABULOUS trip minus the nasty construction. Looks like you were on the eisenhower which is the chi’s newest nightmare. blargh. but thanks for the re-cap, I live in Chicago so I enjoy seeing where people to to find new places :) Sweet Mandy B’s is next on my list!

  23. Caylie 05.16.2010

    This makes me want to visit Chicago again!! And seeing you go to TJs again, really makes me want to get on my cousin’s case about when we are going to the one in Milwaukee!! Always so busy… Psht!!

  24. sara 05.16.2010

    Ooh I love Chicago too!! My sister lives there and it’s so much fun to go visit!! Your pictures are awesome & next time I visit Chi-town I’m definitely going to try to visit these places!! Glad you had a good time

  25. Sara 05.16.2010

    Looks like you had a blast :)

  26. A wine bar in a supermarket – GENIUS! I was in the US recently and am so jealous of you having Wholefoods, there is nothing like that outside of London here. Luckily, I do have a fabulous bakery near me which makes red velvet cupcakes, my absolute favourite :)

  27. StitchinSweetSue 05.17.2010

    Would love to shop Whole Foods someday, none close to here. We have Wegmans, which is comparable I think. It’s a standing joke around here that the ladies get *dressed* to shop at Wegmas – lol.

    Figs are like bacon, good with anything:)

  28. kate 05.17.2010

    Ive never been to that WF but Ive definitely been to that Trader Joes. The Crate + Barrel Outlet and the Goose Island Bewery are right around the corner!

  29. Sazzy 05.17.2010

    i LOVE Chicago! Thanks for sharing this. In fact, I’ll be in Chicago in the near future, and I’ll definitely be dragging my friend over to that Whole Foods you’re talking about. That whole foods in chicago you speak of definitely blows my local whole foods out of the yard!

  30. Sara 05.17.2010

    What a great trip! I’ve been to the Whole Foods headquarters in Austin, TX and it is amazing. I literally could have spent hours there!

  31. Anna 05.17.2010

    Looks like a fun weekend. You’ve got me itchin’ for a road trip!

  32. Machelle 05.17.2010

    That Whole Foods is GREAT! I’ve never been in one…never even seen one! A bar in a grocery store?!? Who’da thunk it? And I love that cool jam jar! That would make a nice little vase for flowers.

  33. Jessica Lee 05.17.2010

    I have been waiting for Cumin to open. I must try!

  34. […] friend’s husband kept raving about this ice cream this weekend, which got me CRAVING it – so Ben went out and got me a little mini […]

  35. penny. LA 05.18.2010

    Believe me, Chicago is worth all the construction and traffic. ;)

    That red velvet cupcake looks amazing. I have a recipe for homemade ones if you’re interested… the cupcakes come out tasting just as they would if bought at a boutique cupcake shop, plus – you can freeze them for up to two months!

  36. […] was talking with my cousin and friends this past weekend in Chicago about how much we all love unsweetened vanilla almond breeze. I don’t drink it from a glass […]

  37. Jurgita 05.21.2010

    Oh yes, I do love Chicago and your pictures make me feel sooooo nostalgic. I want to go back so much!!!:-))) I lived there for almost 7 years and it was definitely a city with experience. I see you’ve had a great time there, your pictures are wonderful (!!!) as always. Thanks so much for sharing! Your posts make my day! :-)))

  38. waving flag is the BEST song EVER imo !!

  39. […] am SO pumped for never-ending supplies of almond butter, peanut butter filled pretzels and so.much.more! Opening day is TBD, but it supposed to happen […]

  40. […] I also brought a bagel thin smeared with crunchy roasted flaxseed almond butter. […]

  41. […] cup Sesame Soy Ginger Vinaigrette (or any other comparable […]

  42. Shella Woodbeck 07.12.2010

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  43. Windows Phone7 11.12.2010

    appreciate for all the information. I able to file this link for next time.

  44. Meghan 11.19.2010

    This is my first time on your website and I love it! My good friend lives in Chicago and you gave me good tips for my next visit. I was so impressed with every detail, I voted for you (which I very rarely do)!!

  45. Susan 12.08.2010

    Glad to see you went to Sweet Mandy B’s! It’s my favorite! We used to live very close to it and it took real effort not to go there daily!

  46. Emilie 04.22.2012

    I just came across your blog after seeing a post on pinterest and I love it. I live in Chicago and have been to all the places you write about here…I also live very close to Sweet Mandy B’s and it is hard not to go there for a treat every night. I am going to try one of your running workouts tonight at the gym. I am training for a the first annual Chicago women’s half marathon in June…you should sign up!

  47. Sara 05.11.2012

    This is totally random but I came across your blog through Sadie & Stella who linked to one of your recipes. I’m local to Chicago and I swear the guy in the photo is the little brother of one of my old high school friends. Is his last name Sherwood by chance? If so, such a small world!

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