Our kind of town, Chicago is
We just spent a weekend in Chicago for no reason other than wanting a little change of scenery. This time we stayed at Hotel Palomar, a relatively new Kimpton property located in the River North area. The location was terrific. We were walking distance from several great restaurants, including XOCO, one of a group of Mexican restaurants run by celebrity chef Rick Bayless. With a seating capacity of only 40, the casual hotspot isn’t particularly spacious, but the food is terrific and the servers do a good job of helping you find a seat even when the restaurant is close to capacity. We were there on Friday, so we ordered the special — smoky seared garlic shrimp tortas served along with black beans, poblano rajas, goat cheese and local spinach. It was delicious and a much lighter meal than it might sound. For our dessert, we simply had some churros. They’re made fresh daily and pair sweetly with a shot of dairy-free Mexican chocolate.
Saturday morning, we took the “L” to the Chicago Diner, a veggie eatery that’s one of our favorite culinary experiences in the city. We had their dairy-free chocolate peanut butter shake, which is so deelish that we found ourselves scraping the bottom of the glass to get every last sip. We ordered off the breakfast menu and got an omelet and biscuits and gravy. Both were tasty.
From the Chicago Diner, it was a short walk to Wrigleyville. We stopped in at the Goose Island Brewery and made a toast (with a Cubby Blue and Wrigleyville White to commemorate a lazy ballpark afternoon) before heading over to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs. There is a real energy there that we haven’t found anywhere else, making it an especially appealing place to catch a baseball game. While the park hasn’t exactly had any major physical upgrades, it has a certain accident-waiting-to-happen charm. And the park has made an attempt accommodate dietary preferences, expanding beyond Old Style beer and hotdogs to offer veggie burgers and a variety of gluten-free products.
After Wrigley, we headed back to the hotel and went online to buy tickets to Comedy Sportz, an improv event that’s comedy’s answer to a battle of the bands. The theatre itself is easy to find, located on Belmont literally steps away from a Red Line stop. The small theater looked to seat fewer than 100 people and the 8pm all-ages show we attended was geared more toward kids than adults. Seven dollar vodka specials made some of the ill-conceived skits and the referee’s tendency to say “um” go down a little easier.
After the comedy show, we ended the night at Sable Kitchen & Bar, the restaurant located inside Hotel Palomar. The service was slow and not particularly pleasant, but the wild mushroom flatbread pizza we ordered was phenomenal and smoothed over an hard feelings we had about being on the receiving end of some hipster-server attitude.
The sunny Sunday morning gave us an opportunity to stroll Navy Pier, watching architectural and city skyline boat tours load and unload. We hit the downtown Harry Caray’s (there is one at Navy Pier too), the sports bar decorated with memorabilia from the late Cubs’ broadcasters, for lunch and a little of the Bulls game before getting on the “L” and heading to Midway.