Chicago Trip, June 3-5, 2005
Bradley, Keith, Aamir and me on Aamir's rooftop just outside of downtown Chicago (skyline behind us). Some of the best food of the trip was had on this rooftop...including a mango salsa, Aamir's wings and an excellent potato salad with peas.
I opted to sit at the bar of this very nice downtown restaurant a few blocks north of the Hilton we stayed at and a few blocks south of the Art Institute of Chicago, which was my next stop for the day. On a limited budget, I opted for the burger, which was served with red onion, lettuce, cheddar and bacon. The burger itself was semi-hefty - about the size of a Waterfront Alehouse burger and slightly tastier. The glass of wine I had with dinner was nice and crisp, but alas I forget the name. Service was pretty good. Timing was great, the hostess was very accomodating and pleasant and the main dining room looked like a great place to enjoy lunch. I would return to try some of the seafood dishes that looked pretty good.
I met some Phish-scene friends, Brandon and Mikey at the sibling (and sort of neighbor) of Pizzeria Uno in a quick sit down, eat, say good-bye dinner. We ordered a sausage deep dish pie and a round of 203 (?) beers. The number is the area code for Chicago. The beers were good and the pizza, though completely different than the kind I am used to, was pretty tasty. My favorite version of sausage, this was not, and the flaky crust seemed to suggest that the dough was of the frozen variety. But the rich tomato sauce and getting caught up in the whole Chicago pizza thing as well as hanging out with some fun guys for an hour or so was worth it all.
Al's "Hot" Italian Beef
Another friend, Brian G. picked me up in a cab at the hotel and took me out to Al's to get a traditional hot italian beef sandwich. Kind of in the middle of nowheresville sits this shack of a building that is just as thick and sweaty as the dishes they serve. Our sandwiches, which featured beef similar to a good quality cheesesteak but in the style of a French Dip, also had hot and sweet peppers and was dunked quite heavily into the jus of unknown proportions. The result was a blissful heart attack-inducing dining experience. Yum. It cleared (as promised by Brian) the hangover I had gotten from a night on the town with Aamir and warmed up the whole body as it made its way to its final resting place in my belly. This IS the cheesesteak of Chicago, in a sense, and one I would return to again in the future. A must have experience for visitors of the windy city. Next time, however, I will take Brian's advice and get a watermelon ice across the street from the other little shack on the block that dishes up flavorful iced-teas and italian ices.