Travel, United States

A Weekend In Chicago

This past weekend, I headed out of town and on my first (and definitely not last) trip to Chicago.  I’m. In. Love.  Below is a recap of all the places I went and everything that I did.  If I had my choice someday, I might eventually be Chicago’s newest resident.

Hotels

Dana Hotel and Spa – 660 N. State St.

For my first night in Chicago, I stayed with my best friend in this hotel. Upon entry, it has a very downtown, hip boutique feel, yet it’s 25 floors of the most amazing industrial-meets-modern rooms (check out the bathroom, as well as the concrete ceilings!).  The room we had was complete with a corner balcony, giving me an amazing view of the city!

The view from the bathroom. Photo courtesy of The Dana Hotel
Amazing floor-to-ceiling windows. Photo courtesy of The Dana Hotel
A real city view
Chicago “on fire” during sunset.

W Lakeshore Chicago644 N. Lakeshore Dr.

Photo Courtesy of W Hotel Lake Shore

Never to disappoint, this is easily creeping up in my personal W Hotel rankings to being one of my top 3 favorite W properties to stay at.  From the incredibly friendly staff, to the swank, no-bad-view rooms; as well as the overall high-energy level of the hotel, you would never expect anything less…. unless… you have a view like this:

Yes, we were totally spoiled by a non-obstructed view of Lake Michigan.  Check out some pics below:

The room. Photo Courtesy of W Hotel Lake Shore
The view into the bathroom. Photo Courtesy of W Hotel Lake Shore

Restaurants

Quartino 626 N. State St.

This place is old school Chicago-style Italian.  As with most of the other restaurants in Chicago, it has it’s own exclusive gluten-free menu with quinoa-based spaghetti, as well as the THE BEST risotto I’ve ever had.  I recommend the asparagus risotto on the gluten-free menu.

The bar area. Photo courtesy of Quartino
The restaurant. Photo courtesy of Quartino

Pump Room 1301 N. State Pkwy

This expansive restaurant, bar and lounge has been graced by every celebrated person, from David Bowie to Julia Childs.  It features an amazing menu of small plates, full entrees and a ton of signature cocktails.  The decor is modern and hip.  Yet, when you walk under the rounded arch and into the lobby, you get the feeling that you’ve stepped back into colonial times, giving their lounge area more of a historic feel.  The energy is still high but it’s that unique mix that makes this place still incredibly popular amongst the well-known and influential.

Drink fav: Passion Chili.  It’s Gentlemen Jack Whiskey, Passion Fruit-Chili, Lime, Ginger Ale.

The bar area
The lounge area
The restaurant

Tavern on Rush1031 N. Rush St.

Bill and Giuliana Rancic dine here and it’s understandable, as to why.  Another Chicago-style restaurant has hit the mark, in terms of great food and great atmosphere.  Settled in the middle of all the posh shopping, it’s a perfect lunch spot.  Their gluten-free pizzas are amazing!

Photo courtesy of Tavern on Rush

Chicago Cut300 N LaSalle

One of the newer fine-dining places in Chicago, this steakhouse offers an incredible menu of options, as well as a beautiful dining room that overlooks the river.  Being that there were three beautiful ladies at our table, we were lucky enough to have a cute and fun waiter named Jeff (ask for him and/or Mickey when you go), who spoiled us with a tasty (yet actually healthy) dessert to end our meal.  We are definitely coming back there the next time all of us are together!

Us with our waiter Jeff
The view from our dining table
Photo courtesy of Chicago Cut Steakhouse

Signature Room875 N Michigan Ave.

95 stories above Chicago, this was by far the coolest brunch experience I’ve ever had.  Although overcast when we entered, by the time we left, it was almost clear skies with an amazing view of Chicago.  The brunch was exquisite with so many options and it was there I crafted a new drink: champagne and grapefruit juice (still trying to come up with a name for it).

The clouds clearing, to get a good panoramic view of Chicago
Photo courtesy of Signature Room. We had the table in the corner

Bars/Clubs/Speakeasys

Violet Hour – 1520 N Damen

You would never know it’s there because the external facade is a wooden barricade that has been covered by minimal graffiti.  Once inside, you walk up a nondescript hallway and into what can only be likened as a swank speakeasy.  No cell phones are allowed, and you can only be seated once seats are available for your entire party.  All drinks are $12 and they have light fare to munch on at half that price.  The music is hauntingly beautiful, giving you a complete experience of being swept into another era, or even world.  It’s, by far, the most amazing lounge I’ve ever been to.

Drink fav: Part and Parcel.  It’s grapefruit juice, vodka and grapefruit bitters.

The infamous shot, featured in GQ Magazine. Photo courtesy of The Violet Hour

Untitled111 W. Kinzie St.

Untitled is a speakeasy and by far, one of the coolest hybrid concepts for a bar/lounge/club/restaurant I’ve ever seen.  It boasts a champagne room, a whiskey room, a VIP area, restaurant, dance floor and plenty of bars.  Upon arrival, we headed into the champagne room and grabbed a bottle of Moet Chandon Imperial.  Unlike clubs where the markup is more than overkill, they charge you just slightly over what at-cost would be.  Again, since it was three girls sipping this, we were given a glass of Cristal each.  Afterwards, we headed to the VIP area with some friends to dance and drink some more.  This is a place I will definitely be returning to in the future.

Our group of new and old friends at the champagne bar

Studio Paris – 59 W Hubbard

This expansive place features a couple of levels of restaurant, bar and club.  Decorated in modern, hip swank, it features a glass-enclosed terrace with walls covered in faux ivy and topiaries – it’s nothing but VIP tables.  The Deejays are some of Chicago’s best – including DJ Mr. Best – spinning some of the best house I’ve heard, since DJ Anthony Ross at Voyeur, in San Diego.  They also pull some of the biggest names in house today, including Calvin Harris and Martin Solveig. The crowd is young, yet fashionable.

Photo courtesy of Studio Paris
Photo courtesy of Studio Paris

Tourist Stuff

Churches!

Nestled in between breathtaking high rises are old historic buildings – especially many beautiful gothic churches.  Check out some of my pics below:

Such a peaceful and tranquil space, amongst the stark contrast of a high rise

Inside of St. James

What happens when you wander around

Even just spending a few hours wandering around the streets of Chicago, you notice so much eclectic beauty – it’s where old meets new; where you can almost picture the 1920s with the pre-war buildings, yet see how modern the city has become over the years.  I feel like I didn’t even get to explore half of it.

The most gigantic golf ball, outside of Michael Jordan’s steakhouse
An amazing view of the John Hancock Building
Mike Ditka’s restaurant, nestled in what felt like “Old Chicago”
Ikram clothing boutique – http://ikram.com/

… Finally…

Why they call it the “Windy City”.  Check out how fast these clouds are moving!

Give me your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s