On the Road Eats: Chicago

I have something to share with you.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- I Love Chicago!  I started the trip in the suburbs to visit a client so I found a small spot for lunch, then took the train downtown for the rest of my trip.  I stopped by an old favorite and then tried something new.  I also reconnected with a friend from college that I haven’t seen in over 15 years…..how wonderful to visit with her after all this time has passed!

Francesco’s Hole In The Wall
I was north of the city and figured I could find a great little Italian spot.  I searched online and found something on Yelp and a few other sites on to place called “Hole in the Wall”. With that name, it had to be good.  When I arrived, I was not 100% sold but the minute you walk in, you know it will be an enjoyable experience.  I was told they didn’t have a menu – all was posted on the whiteboard shown below and if I wanted something I didn’t see, just ask.  I really wanted the Veal and Eggplant Parmigiana but was convinced to go with the lobster ravioli with vodka sauce.  The recommendation was good and the next time I am in town, I will return to try something new!

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drumBAR at the Raffaello Hotel
I met a college friend for a bite/drinks after my meetings and she suggested the drumBAR at the Raffaello Hotel.  You take the elevator to the top floor and find a mellow atmosphere, perfect for after a long day of travel.  The bartender offered a special house cocktail but instead I requested a non-fruity Vodka with lime.  Freshly squeezed and not sweet, it was perfect to end my day and visit with my friend.  We also shared a couple small plates – the hummus and the burrata.  I was told the views from the terrace are wonderful but it was just too cold me for me to explore!

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I have wanted to try Eataly for a while but every time I walk in, I get a bit overwhelmed and am unable to make any decisions. This time I knew I wanted pasta. Something hearty(Chicago was cold) yet simple. I headed upstairs after making my way past the gelato and pastries, ordered the lasagna and enjoyed my dinner with a good book on my Kindle. Simple, great flavors and the perfect amount of food. I will be back!

The Purple Pig
image image imageI I had to go back. My first visit was so great that I had to go back. What did I have? Pig ears and grilled octopus. May not sound so appetizing to you but it was delicious. And at 11:30a, the place was already full.  Let me elaborate.  The pig’s ear, served with crispy kale, pickled cherry peppers & a fried egg on top.  You cut into it, mix it up and it is FANTASTIC.  The Octopus…not so out there and if you like calamari, try the octopus. It’s served with Green Beans, Fingerling Potatoes & Salsa Verde.  Great flavors and the perfect size for sharing(too bad I had no lunch date that day!).

Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel
As a past and present Marriott elite, I have been staying at this hotel for years and it’s one of my favorites in Chicago(If you are loyal to Hilton, the wit and the Conrad are great!).  It’s more modern like the rest of the Renaissance brand and the service is fantastic.  And even though it is on South Michigan, it is still easy to get everywhere and the views are fantastic!

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Chicago is the perfect city for the work life balance….I get to spend time face to face with my clients, try lots of great restaurant, reconnect with some friends and get a great night of sleep.  After a couple of days, I go home to my family feeling re-energized!

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