Where to Eat in Chicago

Headed to the Windy City? Check out my guide of where to eat in Chicago!

A guide of where to eat in Chicago
A guide of where to eat in Chicago

The weekend before last, I tagged along with my husband who was on a work trip to Chicago for an expo. We went up a day early to hang out with my aunt and spend a little time exploring the city on our own. But once his conference started, I got to explore the city on my own and basically eat my way through Chicago!

We got there right after the Cubs won the World Series, so after battling some traffic from one of the largest gatherings of humans ever, we made it up to Highland Park, where my aunt lives. We were pretty hungry after a long day of travel, so first stop was dinner at Lucky Fish Deli. They make seafood dishes with both a Mexican/Cajun spin, which sounds really odd, but trust me, it's awesome! I went with the lobster enchiladas because LOBSTER ENCHILADAS, which were served drenched in a yummy green enchilada sauce with avocado and mango salsa.

Lobster enchiladas from Lucky Fish Deli in Highland Park
Lobster enchiladas from Lucky Fish Deli in Highland Park

For dessert, we shared ice cream and paletas (Mexican ice pops) from La Michocana, this hole in the wall ice cream shop/money loan place (because these are things that go together?). So many pretty pops! We went with yellow cherry and chili, milk and fruit, and horchata ice cream.

Paletas from Highland Park
Paletas from Highland Park

The next day, my aunt and I started the day with a nice long walk around her neighborhood. She lives in Fort Sheridan, which is an old fort where the historic buildings have been converted into homes and condos. She gave me a history tour and I snapped a million and one pictures of the leaves.

The old water tower

The old water tower

Then we grabbed bagels and lox at Once Upon a Bagel. Mine was kinda orangey looking and since the Tigers were playing I felt like that was a good omen.

Bagel and lox from once upon a bagel in Highland Park
Bagel and lox from once upon a bagel in Highland Park

Then we went with my aunt to the Sculptural Objects Functional Art and Design Expo and pretended that we had $20,000 to spend on beautiful pieces of art (we don't). It was pretty funny watching my aunt fangirl over artists. I hope my cousins are reading this so they can know that their mom not once, but twice remarked on the size of a cute Italian glass artists hands.

Gorgeous glass piece at SOFA
Gorgeous glass piece at SOFA
Clearly our house is missing an extra-large glass girly drink sculpture

Clearly our house is missing an extra-large glass girly drink sculpture

Because I am obsessed with Rick Bayless, the hubs and I grabbed lunch at Cruz Blanca, his new brewery and taqueria. The weather was weirdly perfect for November in Chicago, so we enjoyed our gose beer, tacos, nopales salad and GIANT tostada outside in t-shirts.

Portobello mushroom tacos, red chili pork tacos, giant chorizo tostada with black bean spread and grilled veggies, and grilled nopales salad
Portobello mushroom tacos, red chili pork tacos, giant chorizo tostada with black bean spread and grilled veggies, and grilled nopales salad

Since our Clemson Tigers were playing that day, we met up with a sorority sister of mine and went to a viewing party near Wrigley field. We won - yay!!

For dinner, my friend recommended The Publican. Oh my yum! I'd love to go back and just eat all the season vegetable dishes. Is that the most dietitian thing I've ever said?

Fried delicata squash with chermoula, labneh, lentils and pickled raisins + honeycrisp apple salad with burrata, shredded Brussels sprouts, grainy mustard and walnuts + the yummiest bread and butter
Fried delicata squash with chermoula, labneh, lentils and pickled raisins + honeycrisp apple salad with burrata, shredded Brussels sprouts, grainy mustard and walnuts + the yummiest bread and butter
Pork belly with mushroom farro risotto and roasted Brussels sprouts
Pork belly with mushroom farro risotto and roasted Brussels sprouts

The next day, the hubs had to go to the conference, so I spent the morning working at Cafe Integral, a nearby coffee shop. The menu is South American-inspired with lots of specialty coffees and teas. I went with their la andrea pour over coffee with hints of papaya and passionfruit and a jamon y queso baguette with prosciutto, Spanish cheese, aioli and blackberry jam.

Jamon y queso & coffee is my kinda breakfast
Jamon y queso & coffee is my kinda breakfast

I spend the rest of the afternoon exploring Eataly, Mario Batalli's Italian marketplace. I hopped from counter to counter, enjoying bellini's and yummy Italian snacks while getting some work done (apologies for any misspelled emails...).

Bellini's at Eataly
Bellini's at Eataly
"Ohh heaven is a place on earth..." P.S. I'm talking about the cheese, not the random men.
"Ohh heaven is a place on earth..." P.S. I'm talking about the cheese, not the random men.

I enjoyed a late solo lunch at the truffle inspired pop up at Eataly. Sadly, I managed to order the one truffle-free dish, the pork and veal agnolotti in piemontese butter sauce. Apparently that was one where you had to order the truffles separately shaved over the top. I like truffles, but for an extra $26....

Afterwards, the hubs and I met up again for a little walk around Chicago before he had to leave for a work dinner. We grabbed a spot by the river, listened to music and watched to boats and people go by. 

The Bean at night!

The Bean at night!

Normally you have to wait ages for a reservation at Girl and the Goat, but since it was just me, I decided to try my hand at getting a solo spot at the bar. I actually enjoy eating by myself, but this time turned out to be a blast. I sat at a communal table with a bunch of people who were in town for the same expo as my husband. We all ended up chatting, becoming buddies and sharing everything we ordered, so I feel like I got to have a bite of almost everything on the menu. I ordered the kohlrabi salad with fennel, roasted shiitake mushrooms and apples, the chickpea fritters and goat empanadas. The blue cheese sweet potato pierogies, escargot ravioli with crispy onions, and crispy pork shank with kimchi were also đź‘Ť

Chickpea fritters from girl and the goat
Chickpea fritters from girl and the goat
Goat empanadas with miso-blue cheese sauce and squash-apple slaw
Goat empanadas with miso-blue cheese sauce and squash-apple slaw

The next morning our brother-in-law came in for the same conference, so we all grabbed breakfast at Firecakes, a donut shop. It was worth having a tummy ache for the rest of the morning.

Giant chocolate glaze, valrhona chocolate glazed with espresso cream, buttermilk, and coconut cream donuts from Firecakes
Giant chocolate glaze, valrhona chocolate glazed with espresso cream, buttermilk, and coconut cream donuts from Firecakes

After spending the morning working from the hotel, I ventured out to Revival Food Hall. I wandered around to the different vendors before settling on a brown rice and tuna poke bowl with green juice. It was REALLY good, but I think I was spoiled with poke when I was in Hawaii. Columbia please open a place like this near my office and I will be there every. single. day.

From there, I took a loooong walk through Chicago to visit the Field Museum of Natural History. The museum was SO cool. They had some great exhibits on the history of tatoos and the Chinese terracotta warriors, but I spent most of my time in the Evolving Planet exhibit geeking out over dinosaurs and the Ancient Americas exhibit, because I have this weird fascination with the history of South America. Fun fact - if I wasn't a dietitian, I would want to be an anthropologist.

All of Chicago in the Cubs spirit
All of Chicago in the Cubs spirit
Strolling through Chicago
Strolling through Chicago
Field Museum
Field Museum
I really like dinosaurs.

I really like dinosaurs.

Ancient avocado! It's tiny - about the size of a golf ball!
Ancient avocado! It's tiny - about the size of a golf ball!

After I was done being a dork at the museum, I met back up with Scott and coworkers for a beer and jalapeno poppers. We then went out to dinner at Bohemian House, a restaurant with dishes inspired by German, Czech, Austrian and Hungarian food, which apparently, is not just meat and potatoes.

Hungarian lagos (fried potato bread) topped with chive sour cream, aged gouda and dill

Hungarian lagos (fried potato bread) topped with chive sour cream, aged gouda and dill

Spatzel with mushrooms, kabocha squash, caramelized onions and emmentaller cheese topped with pickled daikon radish

Spatzel with mushrooms, kabocha squash, caramelized onions and emmentaller cheese topped with pickled daikon radish

Chicken paprikash with pickled sweet peppers and czech potato dumplings…those potato dumplings y’all… 

Chicken paprikash with pickled sweet peppers and czech potato dumplings…those potato dumplings y’all… 

Since I'll be heading back to Chicago again next year for FNCE, would love to hear your recommendations for places to eat and sights to see for next year! Any favorites I missed?

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