So many of our readers write us asking, “Help! I’m going to Chicago, where should I go while I’m there!? ” So we asked our friends here at The Interrobang!? and our readers, what’s The Right Way to see Chicago? Here’s our top recommendations, in no particular order.
1. Mollys Cupcakes. Obviously. 2535 N. Clark Street, 773.883.7220 Home of the world-famous Ron Bennington Cupcake, and all delicious things. Grab a swing and enjoy the best cupcakes in all of Chicago, and some outstanding cookies, brownies, homemade ice cream and some of the best coffees and coffee drinks we’ve ever had. And say hi to our good friend Mike while your there. He owns the joint.
2. The Wiener Circle. 2622 N. Clark Street. Chicago Style hot dogs located conveniently right down the street from Mollys. Obviously get them Chicago style.
3. Hot Dougs. 3324 N. California Avenue. You’ll have to travel a bit but everyone calls it the best dog in town, and the best fries.
4. Lou Mitchell’s for breakfast. 565 West Jackson Boulevard. Open since 1923, it’s literally a part of Chicago history. Get any of the skillet breakfasts, served right in the pan. It may look like a greasy spoon– and you can definitely go the high cholesterol route– but you’ll also find fair trade coffee, whole grain toast and kick ass egg white omelets. Delicious and very Chicago. Free milk duds if you have to wait in line.
5. Garrett’s Popcorn. Various locations. Outstanding caramel corn fresh out of the …whatever they pop and coat the popcorn in. Basically it comes out still hot, and there is no substitute for that. Buttery is pretty great too.
6. Blackbird. 619 W. Randolph. (312)715-0708 If you want a nice dinner, using great local fresh ingredients, check out Blackbird. Since everything is seasonally based here, the menu changes often so just order what looks good to you. We had an outstanding meal there.
7. Kuma’s Korner. 2900 West Belmont Avenue. We’ve heard from enough people to trust that this place has one of the best burgers in town and has become a Chicago institution. Expect lines.
8. Gibsons Steak. Again, it’s as much a part of Chicago as anything. It’s not a ‘secret’ and it might not even be the absolute best steak in the city. The menu is basic ‘steakhouse’ fare and the apps are just okay but it’s a damn good steak, and its very Chicago.
9. Fishbar. Grab a stool at the counter of this truly unique Lakeview spot, where you can order comfort foods (small plates of fried everything) or go trendier with outstanding sashimi’s, carpaccios and tartares. The selection is small and based on what’s fresh that day. Great salads, clams, and oysters too. Get the salted potatos on the side, a bowl of chowder, and anything else after that. Don’t miss the changing beer list, picked to match up perfectly with the catches of the day.
10. Publican. It’s trendy. But so what, it’s delicious. Warning, all the tables are communal, and it tends to get loud. If you’re not willing to give yourself over to that environment, just go to Gibsons. But if you want a different kind of experience, with fun and surprising menu choices, This is an outstanding choice. Save room for dessert.
When You’re Done Eating- Or In Between Meals, Do Not Miss:
9. Millenium Park. One of the best things to do in Chicago. Check out the Bean, and all of the other iconic sculptures and fountains. It’s also a great place to view several of Chicago’s skylines. The Frank Gehry designed amphitheater is completely unique and beautiful and brilliantly designed. Try to get there when someone is playing music of any kind. We happened upon an afternoon rehearsal there and it was an amazing experience. And you’ll also want to check out all of the bridges, gardens, walkways and other features of the park.
10. The Art Institute of Chicago. Located adjacent to Millenium Park. If you like art, Ferris Bueller, or even the board game Masterpiece, you wont want to miss the World Famous Art Institute. Its located right alongside Millenium Park so you can kill those two birds in the same afternoon.
11. Frank Lloyd Wright Home, Studio and Neighborhood. This requires heading out of downtown to Oak Park, but if you have the time, and like architecture, its a really interesting side trip. You get to see and tour the house where he lived and worked, but even more fun is the walking tour through the neighborhood where he designed many homes. The best part of the neighborhood tour is you get to grab headphones and tour on your own timing.
12. The Rafaello Hotel. 201 E. Delaware Place. 312.943.5000. We love a good boutique hotel: big enough to have privacy, but small enough to have a personal touch. The prices are reasonable and sometimes even better than reasonable (check hotels.com for upgrades and deals). For the price of a small room in a big chain hotel, you can have a suite here, and its worth it. Rainforest shower, sitting room, work area, and you’re located right off Michigan Avenue, near the beach, shops, restaurants and the water tower.
13. Wrigley Field. Chicago’s a great sports town, and seeing any sport there is a great experience but nothing beats a visit to Wrigley Field. Currently hosting its 98th year of major league baseball, it’s as much a part of history as it is a part of Chicago culture. Catch a game if you can, or a tour if you can’t time your visit with a home game. But make sure you check out this incredible landmark.
That’s it, for us, but here is a collection of some things our readers sent in on twitter to recommend where to go to do Chicago The Right Way. Let us know if you love or hate anything mentioned here.