Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Food. Chicago. July.

Lets seen now.  Where did we eat?

I'll go in order.

1. Cheesecake Factory

Day One

For fun we decided to take the Hop on Hop Off  Double Decker bus tour.  (I'll tell you more about this tomorrow.)  Let's just say for now...we got hungry and hopped of the bus at Water Tower Place and walked over to the John Hancock for lunch.  Cheesecake Factory is in the 'basement' of the John Hancock.  No one was super happy with their food.  Except me.  I had Bang Bang Chicken and Shrimp.  It is peanutty and coconutty.  I do love it.  Emma's burger was bland.  Patrick had fish...which he did like I think and Katie had....fettuccine with chicken.  She ate so very little.  That child.  She drinks she beloved soda and never has room for food.

2. Beach Stand at fireworks in Evanston

I did not eat.  I was not hungry for dinner.  Emma had a hot dog and Katie had a Popsicle.  The girls bought chips and salsa to snack on during the fireworks.

Day Two. Friday.

Gosh the city was busy on Friday.
We were staying near Andersonville and I saw a bakery in Andersonville I wanted to visit.  (Best thing I ever ate: Marzipan)  Emma and I went to the bakery early Friday.  It was closed for the WHOLE weekend.  We went down the street to get bagels at Einstiens bagels.  Apparently they do not know how to butter a bagel before you put cream cheese on it.  So weird.  The butter was blobbed in ther with the cream cheese.  Come on.
We also got Starbucks.

So I guess that is 1. and 2.

3. Big Star

Big Star is in Wicker Park.   Out of all the places Emma's has been in Chicago...this is the one she longs to go back to.  The food: Tacos
For me, the drink: Limeade
For the girls: Coke

My Limeade was the best drink I had in Chicago.  Get one at Big Star.


We all liked it very much.  Delicious ingredients.  My pork taco had pineapple on it.  Katie just got plain chicken and she thought it was the best thing she ate all weekend.


Try this place.  Plan to wait a while.
Bring Cash.

4.  The Weiner Circle


We saw this spot on the Conan O'Brien show.  We all like hot dogs so we thought we'd give it a shot.
I had the Chicago dog, Katie had a plain 'red hot' and Emma ate french fries.  She was still full from lunch I think.

On the Conan show the people who work at The Wiener Circle yell and scream at the costumers.  I was afraid.  But they were nice to me.
I also saw Ted Allen visit The Wiener Circle on Best Thing I ever ate.  His hot dog snapped.  Mine did not but Katie's did.  (The casing, you know)


If you want a Chicago dog.  This was good.  The french fries were very good too.
Bring Cash.  It's on Clark.

Day Three. Saturday.

5. Nookies. Edgewater.

Emma and I had a taste for salads so we went to Nookies.
I got a Cobb salad and Emma got a salad with goat cheese and chicken and balsamic dressing.  Katie got chocolate chip pancakes and barely at any.  Oh yes.  She drank all of her chocolate milk first.

My salad was perfect.  You know how sometimes you have to hunt for the avocado?  Not on this salad.  There was a half of an avocado sliced right there and sitting on top of the lettuce.  So good.
Emma liked her salad as well but I don't think she loved it as much as I loved mine.

When Emma was a little girl she played waitress a lot.  She would come to me almost every day to take my order.  I would always order a Cobb Salad and a Diet Dr. Pepper.

It makes me smile to be able to really order a Cobb Salad.

6.  Lovely

A bakery.  We went in to say hello to Emma's friend. She was not there but we bought a glazed donut with chocolate on top for later.  It was very good.

7. Kuma's Corner

Kumas corner. Burgers.

This is a rock and roll hamburger place way out in the middle of the city.  We learned of this place from Guy on Diner's Drive In's and Dives.  We have wanted to come here since 2009.

It was too hot and smokey to eat inside so we ate on the patio.  Which was kind of nice but really I was too hot.  The girls were fine.  The hamburgers had good flavor.  Katie got macaroni and cheese.
My hamburger had a bourbon pear, brie, and sauteed onions.  Emma's had horseradish sauce, two cheeses and lettuce and tomato.  She got fries and I got home make chips.  I liked my chips.  The buns were pretzel buns.  I did not eat mine.  Not that I don't like them...it was just too much food.  I ate my burger with a knife and fork. The flavors were delicious.  My burger was over cooked tho.  I ordered medium rare and it was not.

We all liked our cute server. She had lots of tattoos.  One of Stimpy.  She was impressed I knew who it was.

I'm glad we went.  Not sure if we will ever go back.

8. Hilltop

For breakfast we stopped at a 'mom and pop' place.  The eggs were good.
The price was right.  The owners, Greek.
You get the picture.
Our kind of place.

So that's what we ate on our summer vacation.

Where would you choose to go out of this list?

Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment...it makes my day!
Katie is at theater camp all week with her friend Carrie so it's just me and Ginny....and she has not learned to talk yet.  But I am working on it.

Love ya!

Encourage one another,


  1. How do you butter a bagel before cream cheese? Here in NY it's either cream cheese or butter...
    Do tell!

    -Also, that wiener place was on LI Medium on Sunday. They were scary and cursed a lot. I guess that's all for the cameras though...

    Love love love hearing what people eat!

  2. I love your recap of the food! I think that's one of the best things about a vacation....you can eat out and not feel guilty that you're eating out for every meal, since you can't be at home to cook. Thanks for sharing your experiences...if I ever get to Chicago (and not just on a layover) I think I'd like to check out that taco stand. Limeade is my all time favorite!

  3. Gina, when the bagel comes out of the toaster you spread butter on it. It melts. Then you add the cream cheese.

    1. I've never had both butter and cream cheese, seems like here in Kansas City its one or the other too... too funny

      PS I am not a Cheese Cake Factory fan, I think the menu is too large, the portions are way too large and the price is too high for no better quality than you get. Maybe its worth getting the actual cheesecake but I've always gotten way too much food and had such "sticker shock" that I've never had any.

  4. Amy J in WI10:17 AM

    What a fun weekend in the city you had. I remember in high school my youth pastor took us to a hamburger/dog place near Moody called Mr. J's. I thought that was fun...they yelled at you if you were not ready to order, which always made me nervous.

    Carrie sounded like she had a good day yesterday! I am knee deep in cleaning out Andrew's (age 16) room while he is gone at camp. Wow...bags and bags of trash.

  5. Anonymous10:29 AM

    What an adventure! The only place I've been to on this list is the Wiener's Circle. I love a good Chicago dog! However, my favorite place to get one is Superdawg.

    Hope Katie is having a great time at theater camp. And how fun to go with a friend. Maybe you should read aloud to Ginny this week. Princess Bride...or perhaps something starring a canine? :)

    Mary Z

    1. Mary!!! That's funny. Where The Red Fern Grows.

    2. Old Yeller? Maybe not (-:

  6. Anonymous10:34 AM

    Let's see....I would go to Big Star, Wieners Circle, Nookies and Hilltop. : P

    Sophia eats like a bird. It makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes. But, whatever...I've learned not to fret over it.

    Thanks for telling us about your dining experiences! I enjoy hearing about food!
    I love the photo of Katie and Emma in front of Kuma's corner.

    Sarah P. from Iowa

  7. I would go to Kuma's and get their "Famous Kuma Burger" with an egg on it

  8. Anonymous10:48 AM

    I've never buttered my bagel before putting on the cream cheese. That is new to me.
    I would go somewhere they served ice cream. :)


  9. Kuma sounds good to me...because the architecture looks so beautiful. But I do not like being hot!

    I dream of visiting Chicago someday...but I have been to two foodie havens recently: the Sonkma Valley and San Francisco. Tied for best food in Sonoma area was a hole in the wall, English not required Mexican restaurant that was super inexpensive and the flavors were amazing...and a high-end bistro called Cindy's Backstreet Grill (I
    think), that served fantastic chicken curry salad, a marshmallow chocolate dessert and an unforgettable rose wine. Yumola. San Francisco's favorite meal was eggs and bacon at Carol in OR's brother's house. Great food, fantastic coffee, and the best kind of conversation.

    But Chicago, someday!

    Thanks for the foodie recap.


    1. * in whose universe does Sonoma autocorrect to Sonkma????

      Di (-:

    2. Chicken curry salad sounds amazing right now. And I'm thrilled that you had a great meal at Dan and Val's house. When they come to visit, or we go there, I resent needing to use the bathroom. I know I'm gonna miss a great conversation.

    3. John was thinking he would go enjoy the backyard, but he couldn't pull himself away from the baseball/theology/knife sharpening conversation we were having (-:

      The only thing missing was you!


  10. Janice11:17 AM

    This post has made me very hungry! It all sounds delish. And it sounds like a fun time with the girls!

    Um, I think you should read Harry Potter to Ginny!

    and...please stop giving Katie sugary drinks before every meal!! water, lots of water

  11. Replies
    1. Our kids are off soda AND milk - we're pounding water-only. I know how frustrating it is when they drink their hunger away. Grr...

    2. In other words, I feel your pain!!!

    3. HP for Ginny! Perfect!

      I only drink soda when I'm in the States - maybe ONCE per visit - and it's usually an A & W Rootbeer. yummm! Soda really does fill you up. Or as we call it in Alaska: Pop :-)

    4. Julie3:51 PM

      We call it pop, too, Susan, and pop really isn't on my list of must haves, but when I do, an A&W root beer would hit the spot!

  12. Anonymous11:34 AM

    Julie hostessed at Cheesecake Factory while a freshman at DePaul. I could tell you about the training she had to go through, it has helped her in life and her career. We used to love to go eat there and people watch. Jerry Springer lives or lived in the building and he was always there. I always have good food...lately all I get is the BLT salad and take half of it home. BIG portions!
    Kris Schwarz

  13. Sonjasunshine11:35 AM

    I would jump on the tacos - definitely - and limeade. Love a good limeade made with real limes, especially in summer. Thanks for a fun day in the blogosphere! Always enjoy your writing and pictures. Have fun with Ginny. She's such a cutie.

  14. Anonymous12:04 PM

    Hmmm....I think Big Star sounds the best. That pork taco with pineapple sounds delicious. I'm so glad you had a fun vacation with your family. And I think it is very cool that you purposely went to places you had heard about on T.V. What a fun adventure.
    Debbie Z.

  15. Been missing it here...a lot. Too busy at work to breathe it seems.

    Since we are vegetarian, I guess I'd choose Big Star for the fries and limeade. It looks like a great place for people watching :) Love that you went on a little TV tour; even if it didn't meet the hype it would be a fun "treasure" hunt.

    Hope Katie is staying cool at camp. You and Ginny have fun!

  16. Anonymous12:30 PM

    All the places you mentioned sound like good places to eat. I especially used to like going to bakeries when I could still have wheat products. Our youngest son was like Katie and would order and then not eat, so we caught on and my husband and I would take turns ordering only an appetizer and finish our son's meal. We talked about waste a lot while the boys were growing up since my parents who lived through the Great Depression lived with us and now our youngest son as an adult is really responsible about food. My husband's sister and her family would not let their younger kids order their own food and had everyone share food choices. Once our youngest nephew told the server he was only allowed to eat scraps. That ended up being a family joke and often when they would go out my SIL would not order and would be the one to eat scraps/share a meal. Lots of young families around here are going on stay-cations this year and exploring restaurants and activities within driving distance of home. We enjoy watching Guy's Diner's Drive-ins and Dives...he is a character. So happy you had a fun time in Chicago. love and prayers, jep

  17. Anonymous12:35 PM

    We always try to eat at the mom and pop type places....
    gives you a true feel for wherever you are visiting...
    we have met some of the nicest people this way too...

  18. Donna, this is my kind of vacation recap! It's ALWAYS about the food.

    I was downtown with my girlfriend. We were going to pick up lunch at Chipotle. My friend's daughter overheard that and shook her head. No. You will not go to that gringo restaurant. So she took us to a hole in the wall cafe, ordered for us in Spanish. THE BEST food, the best guac I've had in my life. That was seven years ago and I still think about it, I still drool.

    1. Carol,

      You would have loved this place in Healdsburg. Spanish speaking TV in the corner, pointing to the menu to order, no "Napa Casual" outfits. And the enchilada sauce....was INCREDIBLE. If I spoke Spanish, I would have gone to the kitchen to find out what in the world was in that sauce.

      And I am the girl who vividly remembers the Portuguese soup on the island of Lanai during a vacation in 7th grade. What 12 year old remember soup from a Hawaiian vacation? Me.


    2. You've been to Lanai?!!! No one's EVER been to Lanai. My brother was married there, and it's virtually all of Hawaii I've seen!

  19. I must be juicing again..because I'm finding myself reading your recap over and over. And, pretty much, in life, it's all about the guac. :)

  20. Oh I am late to the party today!

    (I've had a guest here from the States; a dear friend who I've known since back in my Anchorage days :-)

    It's been fun to take her to my favorite places to eat around here.

    I LOVE a Chicago style hotdog. YUM!!! Also when home in Illinois, I love to go out for a big American style breakfast. At a Greek diner would be ideal. yummmm.

    Up in Anchorage, when visiting my dad, we go to our favorite burger spot and it is so dee-lish.

    Last but not least, when home I have Mexican food whenever I can, preferably in Anchorage where they have some great spots, especially Carl's where they make a kick you in the pants Margarita. (and my brother drives :-)

    now I'm hungry! Thanks Donna for this foodie recap.

  21. Al's been to Nookies and loved it. All Chicago hotdogs are awesome!
    I love a poppy seed bun and a pickle spear with my hotdog..shhhhh I use

  22. Loving these food details! We were back in Chicago area last week and thought of you as we stopped in the Popcorn Shop in Wheaton while staying with mother in law. Tiny tiny and their casual counting of small individual candies of various prices was quaint. Wish they sold delicious cheese popcorn instead of regular popcorn but hey, it's a tiny place! Enjoy your quiet week.


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