The Best of Chicago
Chicago is the third largest city in the country and there is no shortage of great food, hotels, and entertainment. While it can be fun to walk around and see what you stumble into, Chicago is freezing and they don’t call it the Windy City for nothing!
To avoid the chilly temps and sheer overwhelm, plan out your day with our favorites!
Where to eat in Chi
There are so many amazing restaurants– from the Loop, to West Loop, to River North and beyond! There are some that stood out, though!
Lunch in the Loop
For Lunch, we went to 312 Chicago, a modern Italian restaurant in the Loop (Chicago’s downtown) in the Theatre District. There is no shortage of Italian restaurants in the Loop but 312 Chicago has something that’s such a pain to find– good gluten free Italian food! The menu has so many options and our server recommended some gluten free pasta that was some of the most delicious ever!
While quality of food is important, so is the vibe and service! The atmosphere was so fun with the downtown views, the friendly atmosphere, and hanging out with our food blogger friend, Sue, from the @foodtravelist (check her out on insta!). 312 Chicago is also adjacent to the Kimpton Hotel Allegro Chicago which is celebrating its 20th anniversary! So whether you just want some amazing Italian food in the loop or you’re looking for a place to eat before a Hamilton matinee, definitely check out 312 Chicago!
Dinner in River North
Just a quick uber right across the Chicago River from the Loop is River North and our favorite dinner of the trip! Sable Kitchen + Bar is a contemporary American restaurant with over 20 original cocktails. And Chicagoans are famous for loving their cocktails, especially in the winter (and in the summer for that matter– but that’s for a different blog post *winky face emoji*).
When we arrived, we went to our private booth and everyone there was so nice and friendly– which can make or break a dinner. Okay, but back to the drinks, this bar program is extensive and well thought out. There are SO MANY beverages to choose from– the most recommended and our favorites was the “War of the Roses”. It maybe wasn’t the prettiest of the cocktails but it so so delicious with Pimm’s, gin, elderflower, mint, and bitters!
Delectable cocktails aside, the food is classic French inspired but with a modern twist. The Vegetable Crudité that we shared with the table was a fan favorite! Our crudité came out with hummus and beautifully sliced vegetables on a bed of edible dirt– you read that right, edible dirt! Okay, it wasn’t dirt, it was pumpernickel with tahini paste. So you take the veggie slice, dip it in the hummus and then into the “dirt” and it was delicious! Definitely hit up Sable Kitchen + Bar for a fun date night or with friends!
Of all the Museums and tours, go to the Art Institute of Chicago with Museum Hack
In between eating all of the good food, be sure to get yourself a little bit of culture. Chicago has quite a few museums and the Art Institute is a MUST SEE! And I don’t know about you, but when I go a museum, no matter how much I love the art, I get “museum fatigue” and get so overwhelmed and tired. To combat museum fatigue, you should absolutely do a Museum Hack tour at the Art Institute (or at any other museum!).
Our guide, Colin, is trained in Improv (which is not surprising in Chicago- the home of Second City and other improv schools), and kept us on our toes the whole time! Our tour was over two hours but didn’t even feel like it– it flew by! I’ve been to the Art Institute before and have seen it in Ferris Bueller’s day off (cue in Cameron crying at the giant Seurat post impressionist painting). But Colin showed us pieces that I would have just glossed over or forgotten about. Really, Colin made learning about the artwork super fun with really engaging conversations and games. Yes, games. Without giving too much away, scavenger hunts, fierce (but friendly) competitions, tableau vivant, and statue impersonation. On this tour, we saw so much more than just the famous impressionist paintings and Andy Warhol. Seriously, go on a Museum Hack tour– it was so much fun (and educational!)
The Dana Hotel and Spa @danahotelandspa conveniently located in River North was the ideal place to rest after a full day in #chi. The staff is really helpful, there’s a cute bar (for those instagram worthy photos) and the rooms are comfy and chic! Being just north of the Loop, you get those beautiful skyline views. The decor is that industrial, modern meets mid-century with all of the different details from the fixtures to the wall art. And our shower was probably the biggest I’ve ever seen! The Dana was the peaceful retreat we needed after our action-packed time in Chicago!
So those are my Chicago favorites in a nutshell for you! What are your Chicago faves? Let us know in the comments!