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September 15, 2008

Giving Chicago a chance



In a couple of weeks I'm going back to Chicago for another visit before the snow flies. That is, I'm visiting Gailor in Evanston, the suburb, but this time I'll go into the city to see what all the fuss is about. I'm going to dig out my Architecture 101 textbook and make a list of houses and buildings I should visit. And, OK, maybe I'll dig out a Chicago Zagat and make a list of restaurants I should visit as well. ...

I'll do my usual thing of taking a laptop and my camera, but I'm planning to still do Baltimore-centric posts for those who aren't interested in my travels.

I was also thinking of having one Question of the Day for an easy, vacation-style post, such as "What do you think of foie gras?" -- Ha ha. Just kidding -- hoping that the regulars will get the discussion going without my posting anything about it.

I'll ask my editors to publish comments when I'm too busy having fun, so be patient. They don't realize you're talking to each other so the comments have to be published as fast as possible. Otherwise you might as well be writing letters to each other.

Anyway, please post suggestions for topics you'd like discussed.

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 5:15 AM | | Comments (40)


EL -- you might as well combine Architecture 101 with job security, and start your grand tour of Chicago buildings with the Tribune Tower. ;-)

I thought of that. But then I decided to pretend the Tribune doesn't exist. I will be on vacation, after all, and that might be depressing. EL

Yes, but the Tribune building has a chunk of Ft. McHenry stuck on the side of it -- you owe it to the Hons to make a pilgrimage.

There is an odd little building - the Water something? - that was actually associated with the water system somehow, that now houses art/photography exhibits.

You really should ride the ferris wheel at Navy Pier.

As I recall, the meals we had in Chicago were quite acceptable, although I was talking, laughing, talking during all of them, so if I didn't die of ptomaine I was good. There was an Irish bar across from Grant Park.......

The architectural tour on the boats is marvelous and provides loads of great photo opportunities! I always recommend it to people heading out there.

I heard that Chicago got hit pretty hard by the vestiges of Ike.

If you take the train in from Midway, about midway between airport and Loop on the right side is a hundred-foot-long colorful graffito you may wish to document, the word "Gack!". I keep missing it, and like so much else, those things are transient.

I suggest watching the Blues Brothers about 10 times and the drive 100mph on Lower Wacker Drive. I am certain you know all the restaurants to hit.

Take the EL out to Oak Park for several great examples by Frank Lloyd Wright. Oak Park is an interesting village with a variety of restaurants and shops.

Yes, it's on my list. EL

The chicago water tower. It was one of the only major buildings to survive the great fire.

The river tour offered by the Chicago Architecture Foundation ( was great.

And as we found out a few weeks ago, if you're on the El red line on a weekend, EL, note that it's not stopping at the normal stops! It's not noted anywhere; it seems to be an inside joke to keep the locals laughing at the tourists...

I believe its the Water Tower, located on Water Tower Place. To keep this food-related, starting at Water Tower Place, if you go west on Chicago Avenue about one block, there is a street coming in diagonally on the right, Rush Street. About three stores North on Rush street, on the left, there is (was?) a little hot dog place where you can get very good Chicago Hot Dogs. They also have Char Dogs if you like them well done. I used to get to Chicago around this time of year and would always stop there for a few Chicago Dogs.

The referring to the EL (train) and EL (blog queen) is a might confusing.

Yes, it took me a minute too. I've been calling the elevated "El" for clarity's sake. EL

While you're in Evanston, you should try the Stained Glass for dinner. And I would love to get your opinion on Chicago style pizza versus Matthew's pizza (an internal debate I've had for a long time). Buffalo Joe's (in evanston) also has the BEST wings.

The architectural boat tour is a great way to see the city from the Water.

Please tell Gailor I said hello!


Oh, Yes, EL! Please give Giordano's stuffed crust or Original Uno's (or some local Chicago pizza) a try and share your opinion with us. It's the one thing that consistently looks good to me on the Travel Channel food shows. And, since Chicago is about a week away from winter, it won't be til at least next June that I even think about going there again.

Please say it's a couple of weeks away from winter. :-) EL

The best Armenian food (outside of my mom's kitchen) is Sayat Nova East Armenian on East Ohio Street. Kufta, boereg and lamajoun! Be advised---not for the garlic timid!

I used to call Chicago home, and it's still my favorite city to visit (at least once a year, or I go into withdrawal).
I highly recommend the architectural tour. Skip Navy Pier - it's basically the Inner Harbor, but smaller. Michigan Ave is great for people watching and exploring (oh yeah, and shopping). The museums are fabulous - Art Institute, Shedd Aquarium, Field. Also, check out Millennium Park and the famous Bean!
I have family in Evanston and my sister went to Northwestern. There are some good restaurants up there as well - tapas, greek if I remember correctly. If you get a chance, my favorite restaurant in Chicago is Rose Angelis in Lincoln Park area (google it). It's a charming italian restaurant in an old house, great food and atmosphere. They don't take reservations, but everyone waits at the bar across the street til their table is ready.
As for the great pizza debate - Matthews is like Papa John's compared to good Chicago pizza. Sorry! I live a stone's throw away from Matthews, but it doesn't cure my pizza cravings. Gino's East is my favorite.
Have a great trip!

Elizabeth, I am going there this weekend! I can't wait to blog all about it! Last November I went with an ex and we feasted at Alinea (which was AMAZING), if you have $500 to throw around you should do it!

My friends in Chicago practically had to swim to work this morning. You might want to take fins.

I don't understand the love for Matthew's Pizza. It is...ok.

It is such a shame the Berghoff closed.

I simply do not understand the aversion to Chicago's fall/winter temp. Everything happens

"I simply do not understand the aversion to Chicago's fall/winter temp" - Piano Rob, you just cannot understand the phobia that winter (and thus fall by near association) carries for some of us. Just nod understandingly and smile!

"if you have $500 to throw around" - Elizabeth - if you do, feel free to throw it this way! That's an open invitation to all - I promise I will put it to responsible use... :?)

Agreed, Piano Rob. I find it bracing, and miss it horribly.

It is amazing how alive you feel when you walk out the front door into -40F weather.

Lissa said: It is amazing how alive you feel when you walk out the front door into -40F weather.

Yes. Briefly. :-)

Disclaimer: I actually like winter weather, although not as much as when I was younger.

Lissa wrote It is amazing how alive you feel when you walk out the front door into -40F weather.

Did you know that freezing to death is quite possibly the most peaceful way to go?

Joyce, Yeah my ex had the dough to throw around! The feasting on this trip is going to be much more thrifty!

I simply do not understand the aversion to Chicago's fall/winter temp. Everything happens Does no one else find the second part of this mysterious?

Elizabeth - (sigh) that's part of the problem with ex's - hope you have a great time in Chicago anyway and look forward to reading about your food experiences.

Lissa (et al.): Ever since I moved to Bmore I cannot help but LOL at the whiners here regarding winter weather. In fact, my first Thanksgiving here we had snow - and I loudly complained that I thought I had moved to "the South." My two fondest winter memories in Milwaukee: On my 17th birthday (it was April) we got a 21-inch snowfall; and in the mid-80s we had a stretch of 32 days beginning before Christmas when the high temp was -2.

Sorry, EL - I didn't mean to scare you.

I must agree with Lissa and lament the closing of the Berghoff. If, however, the Palmer House is still in existence, you should go there; they were at one time known for their steaks. Then there's always the Drake.

gosseyn, I think P Rob was just trying to avoid using the s--- word.

The Drake? I thought that was in Ann Arbor? Only place I've seen milk toast on the menu.

I think it is long closed, but I was never one to go out of the way for milk toast.

Dahlink - u should know me by now - I'm never one to hold back.

Make sure to get a real gyro! I'll have to check with the boyfriend to see where he insisted on taking me. I've avoided the stuff here as it always looks beige. Oh dear gods was it delicious!

Enjoy Chicago! I fell in love with the city. It is gorgeous!

Ok, Lissa, I'll bite - what in the world is Milk Toast???? I thought it was an expression, I didn't know it was a real menu item!

P Rob, one day when I'm living further south, I too will LOL at the winter commotion - it's all relative isn't it? My friend from Norway used to sit outside in snowstorms in shorts, whereas I panic at the first mention of a "possible weather event" and grit my teeth and snarl with hatred at the poor meteorologist who reports such blasphemy!

For a really good gyro go to the suburbs to Papa Gus. They also have excellent whole grilled fish and an extensive list of Greek wines by the glass. The difference between house made gyro meat and the massed produced meat served most places is like night and day.

I've come to the conclusion that because people expect it to be cold, they will feel colder in northern climates than they would at the exact same temperature wherever it is they live. A climatologic Pygmalion Effect, if you will. I therefore have little patience with the "it's too cold up there" line. As if most Americans spend any significant portion of their day outside of a climate-controlled environment. Plus, those -40F days are usually bright and sunny and make one feel quite cheerful. ...

I miss winter.

How cold you feel also depends on the wind and humidity. The wind whipping off the lake has both. I was in Santa Fe in December one year and felt that it was nicely brisk one morning when I went out with just a sport coat over my shirt and pants (yes, shoes and socks too). Found out later it was 10º F. With no wind and little humidity you don't need layers.

The only good thing about cold is sleeping in supersoft flannel sheets.

Joyce, milktoast is toast, torn up, in a bowl, with milk poured over it.


Ms E,

Since you are a known lover of good bread, make sure you hit some of the neighborhood bread bakeries. The ones I have frequented have been Italian and very often the ladies seem to only speak Italian. Such flavor, texture and crunch, in such a mass of styles have led me to tell my brother-in-law and his wife that they will never leave the Chicago area because they won't find another place with such excellent variety.

BG - The only good thing about cold is sleeping in supersoft flannel sheets.. Amen. That, and a hot buttered rum by the fire. Although, I imagine bourbon would work just fine.

BG - The only good thing about cold is sleeping in supersoft flannel sheets.. Amen. That, and a hot buttered rum by the fire. Although, I imagine bourbon would work just fine.

Yes, I can't wait for flannel sheet weather. Unfortunately for me, that is not until almost Christmas.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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