Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Weekend in Chicago

This past weekend, I visited Chicago with my brother and sister. We were only there for less than forty-eight hours, but it was fun exploring the city for the first time!

Because the three of us are foodies, we pretty much arranged our schedule according to where we dined. And while I will not cover everything that we did throughout our trip, I will highlight some of the places that we visited!

Friday I arrived in Chicago before my siblings, so while I was waiting for them, I set out for the Chicago French Market. Along the way I passed by Kramer's Health Foods.

Kramer's Health Foods

In the front of Kramer's, there is a health food store with prepared foods, beverages, produce, supplements, and more. Meanwhile, upstairs there is a healthy vegetarian cafe and juice bar. Unfortunately the cafe was closed when I stopped by, but I still purchased a prepared tuna sandwich from the front of the store, which was made with (real) tongol tuna, mayonnaise, Ezekiel Bread, tomatoes, green onions, celery, and barrel pickels. For only less than $6 it was a great, delicious, and healthy purchase!

After walking a little over a mile I arrived at the Chicago French Market- a year-round, indoor marketplace with local artisans and purveyors.

At the Chicago French Market, I stopped at Raw, which offers 100% raw and plant-based foods. While I am not raw nor vegan, I love trying new and different healthy foods! 


Signature Muffin (Carrot and Raisin, left) and Kale Chips (right)

I purchased the carrot and raisin signature muffin and the dehydrated kale chips. Although dense, the muffin was very tasty! The kale chips were alright, although I was not a big fan of the seasonings. These kale chips were made with kale, tahini, lemon juice, HSS, garlic, agave, spirulina, nutritional yeast, and cayenne. However, when I make kale chips, I usually season them more simply: a little olive oil, salt, sesame seeds, and optional garlic powder. Raw also had some delicious looking and sounding salads, other prepared foods, beverages, and more. Check out the menu here. If you are looking for healthy food in Chicago, I'd recommend to stop by Raw!

After the Chicago French Market, I took a train to Green Grocer ChicagoGreen Grocer Chicago is a small, neighborhood market featuring locally grown and produced produce and specialty food items. The store is small, but a neat place to check out if you are interested in local and organic food items! At the store, I picked up a copy of Edible Chicago. And of course, my visit to Chicago would not have been complete without a tasting of a local kombucha brew. Green Grocer Chicago offers NessAlla Kombucha as a local brand option, which is produced in Madison, Wisconsin. I tried the raspberry kombucha. It was slighty sweet and had nice effervescence!

Green Grocer Chicago (left) and NessAlla Kombucha (right)

Saturday morning, my brother, sister, and I had lunch at the Mexican restaurant, Xoco. My favorite item that we got were the churros. They were light, crunchy, and delicious!

Churros with a chocolate shot (left) and Aztec hot chocolate (right)

Afterwards, we visited The Art Institute of Chicago. I enjoyed the Impressionism and Post-Impressionism exhibit the most, which features works of Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Vincent van Gogh, and more.

Next, we went to Mana Food Bar, a vegetarian/vegan food bar that also offers smoothies and freshly squeezed juices. Everything that we ordered was beautifully prepared and delicious! Some of the items we ordered included the mana slider made with a brown rice and mushroom burger with spicy mayo, chilled yellow wheat noodles tossed in a spicy sesame peanut sauce with shredded peapods and carrots, and spicy tomato braised okra over blue-cheese grits.

Mana Food Bar's outdoor patio

Spicy tomato braised okra over blue-cheese grits

On the next day, Sunday, we had Easter Brunch at Nana. Nana is a family-owned restaurant that sources from organic, local, and sustainable food producers. We enjoyed the food here, and ordered the sweet potato doughnuts made with dark chocolate, cherry gastrique, and sweet potato chips as an appetizer. For entrees, we shared the nanadict (made with pupusas, chorizo, poached eggs, poblano cream, and home fries) and the "biscuits and duck gravy" (made with two eggs, biscuits, duck confit gravy, cipollini onions, and seasonal veggies). The biscuits in the "biscuits and duck gravy" dish were huge, but other than that, the dish was perfect!


"biscuits and duck gravy" at Nana

After Nana, we visited Millenium Park, and we were lucky that we had such nice weather over the weekend! Of course, we also stopped by Cloud Gate at Millenium Park, also known as "The Bean."

Millenium Park

Cloud Gate

Overall, we had a great time in Chicago. The city is more spread out than other cities, such as compared to New York City, and to get around we made use of the city's public transportation and Zipcar. Other noteworthy places that we dined at in Chicago included Avec and Urbanbelly. In addition, we had deep-dish pizza at Gino's East, but were not impressed. Places that I would have liked to stop at if we had had the time includes the Dill Pickle Food Co-op, a farmers market such as the Green City Market, and other cultural attractions. I will just have to visit those the next time I am in Chicago!

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