CHICAGO. I visited this city for the first time this past March for spring break and fell in love. It’s walkable, it’s beautiful, it’s vivacious, it’s Chicago. This past weekend I was there for an orientation/intensive training weekend for my new job in the medical field. Thankfully there were opportunities to go into the city and experience the fabulous food and culture. And somehow I ended up being there the exact weekend that Taste of Chicago was going on. It’s like I died and went to foodie heaven! If you have never heard of it, here is a link to their website to find out more information. Block after block of food vendors, pop-up shops, fashion shows, and more. I seriously couldn’t have asked for a better first day back in the city. Here are some of my favorites from the event:
1. Stan’s Donuts, Mini Biscoff Donut
I don’t think I’ve honestly eaten a donut that was this rich and unique in taste. Made with Biscoff filling and glazed to perfection, it was one of the best donuts I’ve ever eaten. Hat’s off to you, Stan!
2. Pop-Up Restaurant, Pad Thai
Awesome Thai dish full of egg, chicken, and shrimp topped with a tangy Sweet & Sour sauce. Wish I had written down the name of the vendor, but definitely got my money’s worth with this “taste”.
3. Kasia’s Deli, Potato Pierogis
Voted Best Pierogi’s in Chicago. So yeah, these were phenomenal! Fresh never frozen, served with a dollop of sour cream. Perfection. Some of my friends even went back for seconds if that tells you anything.
4. Giordano’s Pizza, Cheese Pizza
Deep Dish. Loaded with tomato sauce and brimming with cheese. This is what Chicago style pizza should taste like.
5. Mariano’s, Vero Chicago Mix Gelato
Marshmallows, chocolate chips, and pecans mixed into chocolate gelato. It’s like Rocky Road on steroids. Great job, Mariano’s!
A couple days after Taste of Chicago, we couldn’t stop dreaming of the Biscoff Donuts. So we made a special trip one night to snag a few at the Wicker Park location(Blue Line stop: Damen). This time I tried their Nutella Banana Donut and was yet again blown away. Chocolate, Hazelnut, and Banana are the perfect additions to a glazed donut. I don’t think I will ever be able to eat a Dunkin or Krispy Kreme donut again… And isn’t their shop so adorable?!?
Also while in Chicago, I got to try a few new restaurants including Big Star and the Handlebar. Big Star is a must if you even remotely like Mexican food. Their tacos were incredible, made with fresh ingredients bursting with flavor. Their margarita was pretty appetizing too! We went on a Friday night and it was packed. During the summer months, they offer outdoor seating and an open air atmosphere. Definitely worth the trip to Wicker Park for this one! Our table ordered the guacamole, salsa, and chips for our appetizer, and I ordered the Taco al Pastor and the Taco de Pescado. I think my favorite though was the Pescado! They started with beer battered tilapia, topped it with a spicy chipotle mayo that was incredible, and garnished it with cabbage, red onion, lime, and cilantro. I love Mexican food, but this was some of the best I’ve ever had hands-down!
The Handlebar is located in Wicker Park too, however a bit more off the beaten track. They feature a wide variety of dishes that are all vegetarian and vegan comfort food. Everything we ordered was spectacular tasting. I ordered their Handlebar salad, which was comprised of arugula, pear, walnuts, parmesan, and honey-mustard vinaigrette. Others in my group ordered Shrimp & Grits, Fried Avocado Tacos, Chili Mac Attack, and the Wilted Kale Salad. I tasted them all and would suggest them all. Definitely a neighborhood favorite for the locals, making it a great ending to an even greater trip.
Ended my last night with a trip to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. It was my first Jeni’s experience and definitely not my last! They make all their ice cream from natural ingredients, including flavors like Wildberry Lavender, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Root Beer, and Bourbon Salted Pecan.
I tried the 1/2 scoop of Sweet Cream with the 1/2 scoop of Brown Butter Almond Brittle. Icing on the cake to the perfect trip! Next time you are in Chicago, expand your horizons and look for fun new places to experience. Their food scene is booming right now making it the perfect destination for any foodie or restauranteur. Hope these suggestions help you plan your next trip to the Windy City!
XO, Kitchy Living