Like “Ol Blue Eyes” crooned, Chicago is my kind of town, and its eclectic cuisine, amazing art collection, and other attractions may make Chicago your kind of town, too.
In Frank Sinatra’s song can be heard the lyrics describing Chicago as “one kind of town that won’t let you down.”
Once I find something that I like, I stick with it. That is certainly true when I travel to Chicago and it never lets me down. The places that I enjoy, most of which involve food, art, or entertainment, are featured below. In addition, some other interesting venues are highlighted which can be found in the area of the city known as “The Loop,” the heart of downtown, and are within walking distance of the Palmer House Hilton hotel.
The Berghoff Restaurant is the city’s oldest restaurant and it has adopted the tagline “History is Served!” The Berghoff was established in 1898 and is located at 17 W. Adams Street. On my most recent trip to the Berghoff I ordered my “usual” for lunch: Jagerschnitzel, which is pork cutlet, sautéed with mushrooms, bacon and Jagermeister infused sauce, flanked on either side with caramelized root vegetables and spaetzles. And the price is only $15.50.
Dining room at The Berghoff Restaurant. Chicago, IL
Open to trying different foods, I ordered something new at dinner the next day: Free Range Lamb, which is lamb chops served with mixed greens, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, and a zesty lemon, oregano vinaigrette. And the price is only $16.95. The plate looked so picture-perfect that I decided to take the photo below. If you are wondering if it tastes as good as it looks, the answer is yes.
Free Range Lamb served at The Berghoff Restaurant. Chicago, IL
The Berghoff offers an exceptional casual dining experience, but I thought would venture out of my comfort zone and try a fancier, and new, for me at least, place. My destination for lunch was the Russian Tea Time restaurant at the corner of Adams Street and Michigan Avenue. There I had “Genuine Russian Dumplings – Pelmeni” and the menu description reads:
Making first class pelmeni takes a truly special skill! The dough is rolled very thin and hand swaddled. We offer 12 wonderful dumplings with seasoned ground beef and onions, boiled, tossed in melted butter. Served with carrot salad, sour cream and garlic yogurt sauce...14.50
It was Великолепный (Magnificent!).
Russian tea time restaurant dining room. Chicago, IL
Deep dish pizza often comes to mind when thinking about Chicago. And one restaurant that has been serving up Italian peasant pie for decades is Pizano’s Pizza & Pasta. Rudy Malnati, Sr. is “one of the pioneers of pizza’s inland movement” within America’s Midwest. Malnati established Pizzeria Uno in 1943, featuring deep dish pizza, and his son, Rudy Malnati, Jr. opened Pizano’s Pizza & Pasta on State Street in 1991. There are now three locations for this restaurant, including Pizano’s in The Loop located at 61 E. Madison Street.
When exiting the Russian Tea Time restaurant, simply turn right, walk half a block, and you will find yourself at the doorsteps of the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago. Located at 111 South Michigan Avenue, this immense and beautiful building is a piece of art in and of itself, but within its walls are housed historic masterpieces from all over the world.
Entrance to the Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, IL
My objective when going to the Art Institute of Chicago is to spend as much time as possible in the Impressionism and Post-Impressionism collections. It seems that time passes too quickly when trying to take-in the works of Édouard Manet (French, 1832-1883), Paul Gauguin (French, 1848-1903), Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926), Berthe Morisot (French, 1841-1895), Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890), Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919), Georges Seurat (French, 1859-1891), and so many other masters.
Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.” Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, IL
Many works by American artists also grace the walls of the Art Institute of Chicago. Masterpieces by familiar names such as James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Frederic Remington (1861-1909), Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Mary Cassatt (1844-1926), and Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) are exhibited at the AIC.
For example, Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting Sky Above Clouds IV is featured on one wall of the museum. O’Keeffe painted this eight feet high and twenty-four feet wide work in the summer of 1965 when she was 77 years old.
Georgia O'Keeffe's "Sky above Clouds IV." Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, IL
I was also drawn to a collection called Arms, Armor, Medieval, and Renaissance. The room housing the Arms and Armor collection was particularly fascinating. Arms and armor, dating back to the 1500s, for tournaments, jousting, civil ceremonies and parades are showcased, including armor for horses.
Arms and Armor exhibit. Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, IL
Within “The Loop” is the city’s Theatre District where the Chicago Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre, Ford Center for the Performing Arts/Oriental Theatre, and Bank of America Theater are located.