Picking up from yesterday’s post, we arrived in Chicago just before sunset, and managed to catch a glimpse of the cityscape with the sun lowering behind it from the Adler Planetarium; a hot spot for this.
After this magical moment, we manoeuvred Big Bertha (our car) through the city and around the one way system (a few times), and then finally made it to our hotel. I’d read online that they had valet parking, but also normal self parking on offer, so pulled up outside to ask the door man about our options. He didn’t seem to want to help unless it involved valet parking, to the point where he simply walked away backwards from us, while saying “I don’t know”. It was a hilariously confusing moment, that ended up with us pulling into the car park across the street.
We were staying at The Whitehall Hotel, which (parking help aside) was really nice. It’s an old style hotel, but the staff are new style and hilarious. The receptionist openly told us that the phones were ringing too much and she’d rather talk to us; she was super helpful and super sassy. Our favourite combination.
It was late, but our bellies didn’t care about time. They knew we were in Chicago, and hankered for the pizza we had heard so much about. Lucky for us, Giordano’s was a five minute walk away, so we ran out the door and into the tender loving care of Chicago’s famous stuffed deep dish pizza.
We hesitantly only ordered two pizzas between the four of us, after recommendations from our waiter. Thank christ we did, because I was completely full after pretty much one slice. Luckily, the slice I did manage was the best one of my life.
I mean, why doesn’t deep dish pizza exist in London. WHY.
Thankfully, for our trip, this was not the last slice of deep dish pizza. The very next morning, we went on one of Chicago Food Planet‘s Food Tours, of the Gold Coast and Old Town.
I won’t give all the details, because you need to go on it yourself to find out. Though I will give you the run down.
We were lucky enough to have a main tour guide, and two trainee guides along, so were very well catered for. I think one of them was called Rachel, but I may have made that up. The trainee guides were about the same age as us (early twenties), and mentioned how they were training at The Second City. They were very confident, and bubbly, but not in too much of a drama-ey way, if that makes sense. They still had a bit of an edge to them.
En route they gave us background information on not only the food, but also the history of where we actually were. In all honesty, we booked this food tour because it made sense logistically (time/date/place etc) but we were really pleased with how it worked out.
We were in the old town, which is how I had always imagined Chicago to look. If, like me, you were a big fan of Two of a Kind, you’ll have the same image in your head.
Going on a walking tour is great, because there are a lot of things you would walk past and never think about. For example, one fun fact they told us was that at one time you were taxed on how wide your house was, not how long. Hence the reason for so many long houses. Plus, we also passed the original playboy mansion, which apparently after finishing its stint housing bunnies, was sold and used as student residences. I still like to imagine the phone call some freshman made home to their parents to tell them where they’re now living.
The main reason we were on the tour though, was of course, FOOD.
The stops were:
- Lou Malnati’s
- Tea Gschwender
- Kamehachi Old Town
- La Fournette
- Old Town Oil
- The Spice House
- The Fudge Pot
- Delightful Pastries
There were quite a lot of stops, some of which I loved more than others:
The first stop was Lou Malnati’s pizza and it was very, very good. But different to Giordano’s.
The pastry was a lot more crumbly, and the filling seemed more tomatoey and less cheesy than Giordano’s. It depends on your taste as to which you would prefer, but I personally preferred the pizza we had the night before.
It was the first stop, so we were quite hungry, but obviously they don’t give you massive portions because then you’d be too full for the rest of the tour. Saying that though, one of the next stops was Kamehachi, a sushi restaurant, which neither Dan nor I particularly enjoy. We did manage to force ours on other people though, so some people had an extra nice time there I guess.
In between Lou Malnati’s and Kamehachi’s, we went into Tea Gschwender. Any tea shop, as I’m sure you can imagine, is like a sweet shop for me.
This one got about a 6.5; I like to go in and smell all the teas myself, try a fair few and then buy a million, but because you’re on a tour you don’t really have time to buy anything. So this score is roughly based on the lack of tea seen everywhere and the actual tea we were given. I think it was lemon iced green tea, but I can’t quite remember. I just know that it wasn’t the best I’d ever had.
Generally though, I tend to make my tea to the exact way I like it, so I wouldn’t base all your assumptions of the place on my 5 minute review. That was just one of many – if you’ve been there, and loved it, let me know in the comments below.
A lot of the rest of the places kind of merged into one, as they were along the same street and it kind of felt like an amazing 80’s montage, where all I did was eat.
The place I will mention, is The Spice House, where they make all of their spices in the shop, fresh within the last couple of weeks; it really makes you wonder just how long the spices you have sitting in your cupboard have been there. I don’t even know how long they stay in the supermarket. Forever, potentially… ?
On that question, I’ll leave you. This was only the very start of our time in Chicago; our feet had no idea what was about to hit them.