Oh we had some lovely food in Chicago. I love American food. The portion sizes are ridiculous, at least twice as big as the normal person requires, and the best American food is not at all healthy, but it really is delicious and I headed out to Chicago fully prepared to treat myself over a long weekend. I loved every meal we ate, from the traditionally American to the new food fashions. So here’s what (and where) we ate.
On my first night I arrived from the airport at dinner time so dropped my bags off at the hotel and we went straight out. James already had his eye on a restaurant a few blocks from our hotel (it must be impossible to get lost in American cities,everything’s in squares). From the outside, Chicago Q seemed incredibly quiet and empty so we loitered for a minute, wondering whether we should give it a try but in the end we went in. And I was so pleased we did! Immediately we were in a large, bustling restaurant, much larger and busier than it had looked from outside – although the acoustics meant it was very noisy.
I had Mac & cheese with pulled pork and bacon and out came the biggest skillet you’ve ever seen. I started eating and 15 minutes later it looked as if I’d barely touched it! I didn’t manage to finish, it was the largest portion I’d ever seen – but absolutely delicious. I would definitely go back there. I’m drooling slightly thinking about it!
I wanted to start my first day in Chicago with a proper American breakfast. James doesn’t normally eat breakfast so I had some persuading to do, helped by the fact I had already identified the best breakfast places around us when lying wide awake in the early hours due to jetlag. So soon after James woke up we headed out for some breakfast. I have to say we were both laughing reading the menu, each dish seemed to have enough ingredients to be a 3 course meal rather than just one dish. I went for the corned beef hash with swiss cheese and onion – which ALSO came with crispy potatoes AND 2 eggs…. AND a huge scone with jam and clotted cream?!!!!!
For lunch on the two days we were in Chicago we went to the Revival Food Hall. When you only have a small amount of time in a new city, you tend to want lunches to be relatively quick affairs, to leave more time for exploring. But at the same time, I’m never one for just getting in calories so I wanted to find somewhere nice for a quick lunch.
I was so pleased with the Revival Food Hall. It felt like I was really getting a sense of non-touristy Chicago, due to the number of people who had obviously just popped in on their lunch break. Wish I had somewhere like this to get my lunches from at work!
We ate first at Aloha Poke. I had never even heard of poke before, this is one cuisine that has not yet made its way to London.
It’s a Hawaiian-style salad dish with grains, raw fish, avocado etc etc. James and I were both still quite full from our banquet of a breakfast so went for the small poke bowl. As the jetlag was hitting I also had a coffee from the Revival Cafe – I picked their brew of the day but was then completely overwhelmed by the number of questions I was asked about how I wanted my coffee and ended up just saying in a panic whatever you think is best! And the barista did a good job because it tasted pretty great and gave me a much needed kick for exploring the Art Institute in the afternoon.
The next day we came back and tried out Graze Kitchenette. I love burgers and am now slightly fussy about them – these were brilliant. Absolutely delicious, meat cooked perfectly, the bun held together, the cheese was great. I would definitely recommend the burgers – although I was underwhelmed by their drinks options which were a variety of iced teas.
Finally – dinner. We wanted hot dogs and these are meant to be some of the best, on the up-market scale, in Chicago. But as we approached the restaurant and realised quite how posh it was we began to wonder if we were dressed right. But no worries – we were greeted with that incredible American friendliness and shown to a table in the restaurant, right by the window, despite the fact we only wanted to choose from the bar menu.
We started with lobster tacos and cocktails which might explain why the meal ended up so expensive! But lobster tacos seemed to me to be the perfect amount of lobster and I have to say, they were delicious, lovely juicy rich morsels of food. Then came the hotdogs, which were undeniably good but I finished mine very quickly…
My favourite meal was undoubtedly the first – I want to go back when I’m slightly less jetlagged to do that amazing Mac and cheese justice!