A couple of weeks ago, I visited Chicago with my former college roommate. Since I graduated college, traveling has been a priority. Last year, I went to New Zealand and this year I chose Chicago. Out of all the places in the world, why did I choose Chicago? Because of the food, literally. I am foodie and food is everything. A few years ago, I was watching "Best thing I ever ate: Chocolate Edition" on the Food Network and I saw Mindy Segal, executive chef of Mindy's Hot Chocolate Bar and I fell in love.
There was only one problem, Mindy's Hot Chocolate Bar is in Chicago and I live in North Carolina. So... I decided to go to Chicago and try it. I am not kidding. From my trip, I learned there is more to Chicago than hot chocolate. Chicago is lit with so many things to do! Here's my list of seven places to go when you visit Chicago.
First up is Giordano's: Chicago's Famous Deep Dish Pizza. I love pizza. I haven't been eating pizza since I have been eating clean, but It is still one of my favorites. When you are traveling, there is no such thing as a diet. I have never in my life had Chicago deep dish. I have had it in Pittsburgh, but that didn't come close. This pizza was so freaking delicious. It's not greasy and the crust is actually edible, its like buttery pie crust. The cheese is full fledged mozzarella and the sauce is unbelievable.
When you go, you have to get on a waiting list to sit (it will be packed) and then you order. The pizza takes roughly and hour to cook so when you finally sit at a table your pizza is ready; Smart thinking Giordanos. Although I thought Giordano's was amazing, word on the street is, the best deep dish pizza in Chicago is called Pequod; the locals know their stuff.
2. Sky Deck Chicago
Next up, is Sky Deck. Did you know Chicago is home to the world's first skyscraper: The Home Insurance Building. Back then, 10 stories was huge! But now, that is baby stuff. The Willis Tower, now home to Sky Deck, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. The tower stands at 110 stories tall, 100 stories taller than the first skyscraper. The Willis tower is the 12th tallest building in the world. The building was built in 1973, back then it was the tallest building in the world. The sky deck is a popular destination, because you can stand on the top floor's glass balcony. If you are afraid of heights, I would not recommend this.
3. Soul Cycle
Never have I been to cycling class that was so lit! This is hand downs the most amazing fitness class I have ever attended. Back home, I have a road bike, so I love to bike and I also do cycle classes at my local gym. But Soul Cycle, is the God of cycle class. This place serves complimentary gum, hair conditioner, tampons, face cleanser, mouth wash, hair spray, deodorant spray etc. You can order Fiji water on tab!They have fashion wear sponsored by lululemon. Class itself is dimmed and the music is fire! My roommates and I did the session, Kanye vs Jay Z. I burned so many calories at the place! And get this you have to use special shoes to ride the bikes!
4. Millennium Park
Okay, so...there are plenty of parks in North Carolina, but none quite like this. The parks in North Carolina are nature trails- full of woods and nature "stuff". Millennium is modern and futuristic. Since it was cold when I visited, all the park attractions were closed but I still had fun taking pictures. The picture below is The Bean, The Cloud Gate. The structure is so cool, when you walk underneath The Bean it's magic.
5. China Town
I haven't been to New York, so I don't know what China Town is supposed to look or feel like. But I took my chances, and went. Before I say more, I have two words for you: Chinese Kit-Kats! I never thought Kit-Kat could come in so many flavors. Flavors like green tea, strawberry cheesecake, orange, ginger, or ice cream. I also sampled canned squid, fish, olives, and other delectables; the flavors were interesting. I even got to taste real dim sum. I forget sometimes, that there are so many different Asian cultures. In North Carolina, most restaurants are Chinese or Hibachi and most recently Pho has taken over. We don't have anything like this in North Carolina. I am very appreciative that I got to witness authentic culture: I cannot wait to book a trip to Thailand.
6. Green Mills Jazz Club
I love jazz- classical, contemporary, big band swing. I love Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Peggy Lee, Billie Holiday etc. The 1930s and 40s are my favorite fashion and musical era. I always dreamed I was singing at the Cotton Club in Harlem. That style and that sound is priceless. I don't know many people that would appreciate live jazz music. Jazz can be boring compared to pop or rap, but every music genre has origins in jazz and blues. Chicago, is home to many jazz clubs. I like the style of Green Mills, it looked old timey. The drinks were old fashion and so were the bartenders. Green Mills is a historical landmark and its open late and its not expensive to go. I would love to go back. As soon as I walked in, I felt like a celebrity. I wish I was born in that era. Listening to live jazz is one of the greatest experience I think one could ever have.
7. Mindy's Hot Chocolate
I saved this one for last, because, in a childish sense, this was special to me. I love chocolate, especially hot chocolate. As a child, I remember my mother would make me hot cocoa. My mother and my grandmother baked yellow cake with chocolate icing for every holiday, it never got old. I developed a taste for chocolate early and fast. I wish I could remember my first piece of chocolate, but I remember on special days my parents would surprise me with the smooth treat.
Every Christmas, my dad bought a big box of Godiva chocolate truffles and shells. On my birthday I would be gifted chocolate bars, it made me so happy. Chocolate is dear to my heart, because chocolate reminds me of family. I know that sounds silly, but those were happy times in my childhood.I love white, dark, milk chocolate, I even love 100 percent cocoa bark. I understand not everyone will like Mindy's Hot Chocolate.
It isn't for the faint of heart or the faint of wallet. But I saved up to experience this bliss. Mindy's menu is comfort food and she sure knows how to take care. The hot chocolate is rich, it taste like melted chocolate bars. You can't gulp it down either, you have to sip mighty slow. Her desserts are only for serious chocolate lovers. You can find Mindy's cook book "Cook Love" at Barnes and Nobles bookseller, I didn't get to taste her cookies, but I didn't get to have the butterscotch hot chocolate. This was the best thing I ever ate on my birthday. Thank you Mindy.
List of places I wanted to go to, but didn't have time for: Sad face.
*House of Blues, Pequod, Navy Pier, London House Rooftop bar, Nutella Cafe*