Tag Archives: Chicago

Chicago: Dining Options

I was in Chicago for a business trip so my dining experience was mostly of the food provided during our conference, but I did have a good dining experience in Chicago because each time we were out, our host and my friend made sure that I tried things that were not offered in my home country, or were popular in the windy city.

Sprinkles Cupcake, Ice Cream and Cookies
First off my list is Sprinkles.  Yup, we do have cupcakes in the Philippines, but this was most interesting because of its Cupcake ATM, which dispenses freshly baked cupcakes and cookies 24/7.

Our host’s daughter demonstrated how the ATM works, and it was a marvel to watch her order being processed.  When the boxed cupcake was dispensed, my co-delegates and I laughed at how prior to seeing how it worked, we all thought the cupcake may be flat to fit through the slot, or it’s all smashed!  Ha!

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My verdict:   I ordered Vanilla and here’s how its website described it:  “Purists will delight in Sprinkles Vanilla cupcakes, though our vanilla cake is anything but simple. A favorite of the bakery staff, this soft, delicate cake is perfumed by the sweet flavor of Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla for an effect that is simply… heaven.”  Yup, it is one very yummy cupcake, but a little too sweet for me.

Sprinkles in Chicago is located in 50 East Walton Street.

Fogo de Chão
This is one authentic Brazilian steakhouse and I must say this was my best dining experience in Chicago.  Everything was such a gustatory delight!

Here’s the fun part:

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Each diner is given this round card and our host told us that if the green side is up, it means the diner is ready for the restaurant’s gaucho chefs to begin tableside service.  Sixteen (16) cuts of delectable fire roasted meats will then be brought to the table, sliced and served by the chefs.  When satisfied with the serving, the diner has to flip the disc to the red side until s/he’s ready for more offerings.  Cool, huh.

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I must say their meats are succulent and my favorites were Picanha (Top Sirloin), Filet Mignon, and Beef Ancho (Rib Eye).  My, they’re simply mouth-watering that I’m wishing I were in Fogo de Chão as I write this piece.

Here’s another set of photo from my memorable meal.

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There’s my salad plate with cheeses, bacon, macaroni, and whatnot.  Our host cautioned us to go easy on the salads and bread because we were yet to be served meat, thus my salad plate looked bare.

There’s the bread too, which was the best bread I have ever had.  It was soft, buttery, and oh so yummy.  We liked it so much we asked for more and they were nice enough to refill it not once but twice!

They gave complimentary chocolate bars too (the red ones) and for dessert, we had their Fogo de Chão Signature Papaya Cream, which was their most requested dessert.  Heavenly!

Fogo de Chão in Chicago is at 661 N LaSalle Street.

Citè
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Located at the top of Lake Point Tower, which is the only skyscraper in downtown Chicago east of Lake Shore Drive, Citè is known more for its views than its food.

It was rainy when we visited the place and at some point, there were flashes of lightning so our view of Chicago skyline was quite a sight to behold.  Too bad I wasn’t able to capture it as we were too engrossed at chatting with each other.

Here’s my order, which was a set meal (Chef’s Tasting Menu).  Pardon the photo quality since I took this using my mobile and the lighting at the restaurant was a little dark.

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Prawns Dejonghe was my appetizer, while my soup was Lobster Bisque.  For salad, I had Heirloom Tomato Salad and for my entrée, I had Filet Mignon.  Dessert was Crème Brulee.  My verdict?  It was a good meal, though the food was not that impressive.  Service though was excellent.

Visit Citè at the 70th Floor of Lake Point Tower, 505 North Lakeshore Drive, Chicago IL.  Visit their official website for more information.

Emperor’s Restaurant

Whenever I am in a Chinese restaurant, I always order Sweet and Sour Pork.  My friend, meanwhile, ordered battered deep-fried oyster.

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I loved everything!  The Sweet and Sour Pork was just the way I liked it and the oysters were very tasty.  And the serving was so generous we were not able to finish everything and were so full we did not order dessert, but they did serve us fortune cookies at the end of our meal.

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I loved what my fortune cookie said.  I just hope (and will work hard for) it to come true.

Emperor’s Choice is in 2238 S Wentworth Avenue, Chicago.

Bubble Tea
These were very popular in Chinatown.  Though still full from our lunch, my friend who rarely visits Chinatown, asked that we try this out since she heard that they’re a must-try.

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I was disappointed though, since my Watermelon Smoothie was too sweet.

Wow Bao

My friend introduced me to this when we went shopping at Water Tower Place.  Wow Bao offers bao and other authentic Asian dishes with a modern flair.  As its name implies, Bao is their most popular item in their menu.  It is Chinese for bun and Wow Bao offers it in interesting flavours like Teriyaki Chicken, Spicy Kung Pao Chicken, Thai Curry Chicken, Spicy Mongolian Beef, and Barbebue Pork.  They also have sweet-flavored ones like Coconut Custard and Chocolate.

This must be a pretty popular dining option in Chicago because people were lining up to get their fill.  I ordered Teriyaki Chicken and it was good.  Tastes so much like our local siopao.  The bun was soft and the filling was flavorful.

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For more information, visit www.wowbao.com.

Café Galileo’s by Food for Thought
This is located inside Adler Planetarium and serves sandwiches, salads, soups, beverages, and desserts.

My fresh roasted chicken sandwich came with large Pepsi and a pack of potato chips.  I did not like my sandwich because the bread was too thick, with too little meat and veggies.   It was also dry and lacked dressing.

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Despite my disappointing lunch, I enjoyed my meal because I was able to get a respite from a whole morning of walking at Adler.  More importantly, the views at their balcony were stunning!

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See how the view of Chicagos’ skyline from Cafe Galileo’s extends from Shedd Aquarium to Navy Pier?

And thus concludes my dining experience in the windy city.  Too bad I was not able to document my experience with their famous Chicago-style pizza as we were so hungry we dug in before I got to take photos.  Compared to New York’s, Chicago’s is known as deep-dish pizza with a crust that can reach 3 inches.  Yummy, especially since it’s topped with large amounts of cheese!

Chicago: Sites and Sights

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The good thing about Chicago is that it has a lot of interesting, even historic buildings, public spaces, and art installations that it’s nice to walk along its streets and discover the bits and pieces that make this windy city a tourist favorite.  It’s such beautiful city to explore that I did not mind the long walks.

Tribune Tower
When I saw this building, I thought it looked so familiar.  Turned out that in the movie Transformers: Dark of the Moon, there was a scene of snipers shooting from the 26th floor of Tribune Tower.

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This tower, by the way, is located at 435 North Michigan Avenue and is the home of the Chicago Tribune and Tribune Company.  Designed by New York architects John Mead Howells and Ramond Hood, it is one’s of Chicago’s most popular buildings known for its neo-Gothic design and buttresses.

A trivia.  In the lowest levels of the building are building fragments from famous and historically important sites and buildings around the world.  These include the Taj Mahal, the Parthenon, Hagia Sophia, the Great Pyramid, Notre Dame de Paris, the Great Wall of China, Angkor Wat, Palace of Westminster, etc.   Two (2) sites from the Philippines, namely Corregidor and Fort Santiago also had their fragments incorporated in this building.

Wrigley Building
This skyscraper, located in 400-410 North Michigan Avenue, houses the corporate headquarters of the Wrigley company.  It was designed by the architectural firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White using the shape of the Giralda tower of Seville’s Cathedral combined with French Renaissance details.  It is Chicago’s first air-conditioned building.

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This building was also featured in scenes at Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Here’s a photo of both towers taken at a better day when the weather was perfect for a stroll.

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Chicago River
We passed by Chicago River many times when I was there.  This photo was taken onboard our host’s car.

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The river was not something spectacular, but it is noteworthy for its natural and man-made history.   According to Wikipedia, in 1887, the Illinois General Assembly, in response to concerns arising out of an extreme weather event in 1885 that threatened the city’s water supply,decided to reverse the flow of the Chicago River through civil engineering

Here’s a screenshot of more photos of the river and the buildings by its bank.

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Water Tower

Built in 1969, this the second oldest water tower in the US, which was originally constructed to house a water pump intended to draw water from Lake Michigan.  It gained prominence after The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 (some believed it was the only building to survive the fire, but there were a few other buildings who did).

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Located at 806 North Michigan Avenue along the Magnificent Mile shopping district, the tower now serves as Chicago’s Office of Tourism art gallery.

Art Institute of Chicago
This is an art museum located in Chicago’s Grant Park that features a collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in its permanent collection.  At one million square feet, it is the second largest art museum in the US.

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I was not able to go inside the museum and only took photos of its façade.

Chinatown
This neighborhood is the second oldest settlement of Chinese in the US.

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From TripAdvisor reviews of Chicago South Loop, which was where I stayed, I found out that this is near the hotel, but I did not get to visit this place until my friend visited me.  We were supposed to have lunch but were so hungry already so we opted to eat here (details in a future post) instead of going downtown.

More photos of the sights seen at Chinatown:
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More Sights and Sites
This is a collage of the sights and sites of Chicago that I can identify.

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From left: the building where the Philippine Consulate General office is located, Route 66, Willis Tower (did you notice the airplane?), Tribune Tower and Wrigley Building, Hancock Building, the US Bank, and the Fourth Presbyterian Church.

Here’s another set.

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I saw the jeans-clad art installation at one of the entrances of Willis Tower, while I passed by the Plaza of Americas on my way to Hancock Building.  I can’t remember the name of the bridge, but I passed by it on my way to Campus Museum.

Here’s a solo shot of it.  Aren’t the clouds so dramatic?

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And here’s a collage of some sights and sites that I cannot identify.  I’m trigger-happy when armed with a camera, and these are its results.

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Gardens and Fountains
Again, just some of the things that made my stroll in the Windy City interesting.

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I was able to identify some of the above scenes via Google: Eagle Fountains by Frederick C. Hibbard, Turtle Boy by Leornard Crunella, and Fountains of the Great Lakes, or Spirit of the Great Lakes by Lorado Taft.

Sculptures and Whatnot
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While researching these sculptures, I came across THIS BLOG, which was the most informative site I could find about Chicago’s public art.  From there, I was able to identify the above as (left to right): Theodore Thomas Memorial/The Spirit of Music Statue by Albin Polasek, Christopher Columbus by Carlo Brioschi, Bowman and Spearman by Ivan Mestrovic, General John Logan Memorial by Auguste Saint-Gauden, Magdalene by Dessa Kirk and Agora by Magdalena Abakanowicz.

I’ll end this post with one of my favorite photos from this set.  I don’t know what these flowers are, or the buildings, but I remember taking this somewhere at Museum Campus.

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Note that I edited this last photo using PicsArt.

Chicago: along Lake Michigan

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Most of Chicago’s attractions that I already blogged about e.g. Navy Pier, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, etc.  overlook Lake Michigan so I had a lot of photos taken of its scenes.

Looking out the bay, I was amazed at how blue the waters were since before this trip, the lakes that I’ve been to did not look as beautiful as this.  It looked more like a beach to me than a lake!

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It was relaxing to look at the lake’s stillness, which was occasionally broken by the sound of seagulls.  And oh, I was so happy one of my seagull shots (lower center photo) turned out so well even when I just zoomed it in.

By the way, since the water looked so inviting, I touched it and was so surprised at how cold it was, and this was on a beautiful summer day!  No wonder our host told me to wait until winter until I profess my love for the city.

I also enjoyed looking at the lake with Chicago’s skyline as its backdrop.

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I actually cannot identify most of Chicago’s buildings and skyscrapers, but I find it easy to identify Willis Tower and John Hancock Center because of their antennas.

And because Navy Pier is located on Lake Michigan’s shoreline, it’s very visible when walking along the bay.

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Here are more random shots of Lake Michigan’s scenes and sights, which made the long walk along the bay more interesting.

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Sorry, I was not able to get any information on what the art installations were all about.  By the time I was halfway through my walk, I was so tired I just zoomed in some shots.  Te he.

I’ll end this piece with one of my favorite photos from this set.

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It’s of Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium as viewed from the bay.

Chicago: Buckingham Fountain

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Officially named the Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain, this Chicago landmark was dedicated in 1927 and is one of the largest fountains in the world.  Built in a rococo wedding cake style, it was meant to allegorically represent Lake Michigan.

It was summer when I was in Chicago so the city, especially its popular attractions like Buckingham Fountain was always full of tourists.

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The above two photos were taken while I was onboard a car.  Up close, this is how the fountain looked like.

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Did you notice the sea horse?  There were 4 and they are said to represent the states that border Lake Michigan namely Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana.

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Some trivia:  The fountain was designed by Edward H. Bennett.  Inspired by the Bassin de Latome and modeled after Latona Fountain at Versailles, it was donated to Chicago by Kate Buckingham in memory of her brother, Clarence.

I was lucky that when I passed by this attraction twice, it was showing different water formations.

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Amazing how the center jet shoots up vertically to 150 feet!

Buckingham Fountain operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM from mid-April through mid-October. Water shows occur every hour on-the-hour and last 20 minutes.  For more information, click HERE.

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Chicago: Millennium Park

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This public park was originally intended to usher in the millennium, but did not open until July 2004, four years behind schedule.

This was the first tourist attraction I visited when I was in Chicago and being at it made me yearn for a similar space here in my home country.  I loved how such a public space looked so well-maintained and everywhere I looked, families, friends, and even solo souls like me were enjoying ourselves just by being in the park’s gardens, or looking at its attractions, etc.

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Cloud Gate
Perhaps the park’s most popular feature.  This public sculpture by Anich Kapoor is also known as The Bean because well, it’s shaped like a bean.

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When I was there, it was always crowded with tourists keen on taking their photos on this cloud that has unique reflective properties.  Its elliptical shape also distorts and twists reflected images.

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Inspired by liquid mercury, the Cloud Gate also reflects Chicago’s skyline.

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 Jay Pritzker Pavilion
This is Millennium Park’s centerpiece.  Designed by Frank Gehry and named after major donor Jay Pritzker, this bandshell has 4,000 fixed seats, plus additional seating for 7,000.  Amazing.

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The pavilion hosts the city’s major events, music series, physical fitness activities, etc.

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Crown Fountain
Named in honor of Chicago’s Crown family, Crown Fountain was designed by artist Jaume Plensa and executed by Krueck and Sexton Architects.  It is made up of a black granite reflecting pool placed between a pair of transparent glass brick towers that use light-emitting diodes behind the bricks to display digital videos on featured faces.

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I was amazed at how the faces spouted water and found out that to achieve this effect, each video has a segment where the subject’s lips are puckered, which is then timed to correspond to the spouting water, reminiscent of gargoyle fountains (this happens roughly every five minutes).

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As I was there during summer, the fountain offered people an escape from the summer heat.  Our host told us that come winter, Chicagoans skate here.  *sigh*  I hope someday I get to experience winter.


Lurie Garden
This public garden was designed by Kathryn Gustafson, Piet Oudolf, and Robert Israel.

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Pardon the photo quality.  It was too sunny and the glare of the sun prevented me from clearly looking at my camera’s screen so I was not able to adjust the settings.

Still, I’m happy my flower photos turned out well.

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