For me, the last three days were spent in Chicago. It was wonderful; all my classes are finally finished, and all the necessary documents have been turned in for my study abroad in Japan in the fall, so I was free to focus on fun! The things I am sharing aren’t in order by which I liked most, but rather in the order in which I experienced them while I was in Chicago. It may seem like all I did was eat… and that would be a correct assumption. Really though, is there any better way to spend your time than appreciating food? 😉
1) Senem’s Coffee and Tea House (Click for directions and more information)
This little gem is a Turkish Coffee House. First my brother and I tried their homemade mint lemonade. YUM. So delicious! And even better sitting in the cute little shop playing games.
After cooling down and hanging out for a while, we caffeined up with some Turkish Coffee. This was basically like a very strong expresso shot, and while it was not as good as the lemonade in my mind it was still great (and super pretty! 😀 ).
Because we were going out for lunch, we didn’t try any of the delicious baklava, but they had several flavors and everything was homemade.
2) Demera (Click here for directions and more information)
Have you ever tried Ethiopian food? It doesn’t seem to be prevalent in the area around which I grew up, but it is actually one of my favorite cuisines. The food is about half vegetarian and everything is eaten by hand using a homemade yeast risen, largely gluten free, flatbread to scoop up all the food. Trust me, it is as fun as it is delicious! Everything is incredibly full of flavor and a wide range of spices that aren’t often encountered to this degree in Western cooking.
At the end of the meal, I had some shai (chai) tea and my brother had some Ethiopian coffee. I would definitely recommend both!
3) George’s Ice Cream & Sweets (Click here for directions and more information)
Because I just hadn’t quite eaten enough good food for one day, I stopped into George’s with a friend. The goal was to sit down for a bit and cool down, but I was in for a pleasant surprise. Not only did this store have a wide variety of flavors, it had dairy free and soy milk options, many types of creative flavor-combinations in shakes and malts, and pastries and candies made in the store.
I ended up getting a Double Caramel ice cream and Matcha ice cream, and both were delightful!
4) Wendella Architecture Tour (Click here for directions and more information)
Saturday morning we were graced with sunny weather and we set off on a boat tour of riverside architecture. Although it may feel very stereotypically “tourist-y” these kinds of tours are a great way to see the city and take lots of fun pictures from a new perspective. Speaking of pictures, I took about a million, which you probably don’t want to see. 😛 I will share a few pictures so you can see how great of an experience it was.
Also, the boat was large and double decker, with seating on the top and a bar/lounge and bathrooms on the bottom. The tour is not too long (about 75 minutes) and at no time did I feel in any way seasick–the river is not choppy.
5) Joy Yee’s Noodles (Click here for directions and more information)
After wandering around Chinatown for a while searching for the best place to eat lunch at, we stumbled across Joy Yee’s Noodles. It is incredibly eye-catching, being two stories high with one wall serving as an area for to-go orders of their extensive list of bubble tea. In case you were unaware, bubble tea is the best thing. Like, on the entire planet. Seriously.
So anyhow, hungry, we ventured inside. The menu is the size of a novel, and the servings are ginormous. Tip, go with a few people and eat family style. You probably only need one dish for every two people. Everything was delicious, and from spying on other tables and the food they got, everything is probably delicious.
Also, they had a delightful sign on the door. 😛
6) DAVIDsTEA (Click here for directions and more information)
My last morning in Chicago was drizzly and more cold than it should be in June. This is the perfect time for tea! Okay, ANY time is the perfect time for tea in my book, but this was especially nice. 😉 There are actually a few DAVIDsTEA shops in Chicago…and to be honest I am not sure which one I went to… But I am sure you can’t go wrong. Each store has 150 kinds of teas, which you can get hot, cold, or as a fizzy spritzer.
My brother knew what kind of tea he wanted, but all I knew was that I wanted something green or white. The wonderful woman helping me suggested an option that smelled absolutely wonderful, and just as I was about to decide to go with that one, she pulled down another wonderful smelling option. This process repeated about 10 times, and eventually I decided on an African Mint Green tea to drink and a Toasted Walnut Green Tea with Pineapple and Almond in bulk loose leaf for later. Actually, I am drinking it right now, and I LOVE it!
One of the things I loved in the store that I will definitely be checking out later are their cute tea samplers, which you can check out here. Some of their teas have actual pieces of different types of chocolate, and one I am interested in trying in the future is called “birthday cake” which literally has sprinkles in it!
7) Glazed and Infused (Click here for directions and more information)
I literally can not remember the last time I ate a doughnut. It has probably been at least 7 years. :O So when we came across this store and were already looking for something to munch on, it was thrilling even though I felt like the health police were going to chase in after me.
They had samples (always a plus!) in creme brûlée and pistachio–both delicious. I ended up having a doughnut with a homemade lemon curd filling and blubbery glaze, and my brother had a banana doughnut with cream cheese frosting. Wow. Amazing. If you are in Chicago, definitely try this place out! (And if you are gluten free, go across the street to DAVIDsTEA which I talked about before and get some sweet chocolate tea instead, equally delicious!)
Side note, if I ever open up my own bakery I have decided to give out warm moist towels if I sell anything that resembles a doughnut. Maybe it is just lack of experience eating doughnuts, but wow was that messy! Honestly my hand was covered in sugar. 😛
8) Karyn’s Raw (Click here for directions and more information)
To make up for the doughnuts (just kidding it was already a plan) we went out to a raw restaurant for lunch. In case you don’t know what this is, a raw restaurant serves food that has not been cooked in any way, so it is naturally vegan. For starters we had hummus with some marinated carrots and cauliflower and flax seed crackers.
Then I had Portobello Napoleon, which may have been the best raw meal I have ever had. 😀
Alright, that was a long post but I hope you enjoyed it and found it helpful! 😀 If you try any of these places, or find some others I should try, let me know!