touchdown jesus and melty cheeses : south bend & chicago [8]

Friday morning saw us driving from Cleveland to Chicago. Because my family (except myself, naturally) is full of Notre Dame sports fans, I wanted to stop in South Bend to pay my respects to Touchdown Jesus:

Max, a Purdue alum, was less than thrilled (thanks, babe, for being a good sport!) so I promised him we could get whatever he wanted for lunch. We were busy Yelp’ing to find a place near ND’s campus when he got incredibly excited and slammed his hands on the steering wheel and yelled “I KNOW WHERE WE’RE GOING!”
Much to my shock and awe, he managed to find a place that he used to love going to in college – to the extent that he would drive down to Indianapolis to get it – Yats. He described it as “New Orleans deliciousness” and he isn’t wrong. I struggle with NOLA-style restaurants as I really dislike shrimp and similar seafood, so I don’t often go for creole-type-meals. So Max got a jambalaya and a drunken chicken and I got a white bean chili and a spicy chipotle chicken. They serve all their meals over a bed of rice and with this delicious spicy garlic butter bread. SO GOOD. I probably wouldn’t do it, but I can see why Max would drive a couple of hours to get the food. I unfortunately didn’t take any pictures so you can just imagine what that would look like.
And then we were en route to Chicago.

 

Max has driven to Chicago many times, I have only briefly been to Chicago when we flew out to go to a wedding in Indiana, so I was VERY excited to finally get to see more of Chicago than O’Hare and traffic. We arrived at our landing pad – family friends of Max’s – in time for a delicious dinner. I love restaurants and eating out and trying new things, but it was so nice to be able to sit down at a table in a home and eat a fantastic home cooked meal.
Saturday morning, we got up and headed to the commuter line to take a train into Chicago proper. The elevated train through the city is pretty cool, so that was a bit of a different experience from the NYC/Boston/DC metro systems I’m used to. We hopped off at the Loop downtown and walked over to Millennium Park to see The Bean, because sometimes I am touristy:
We walked from Millennium Park to Navy Pier (I had to stop to take a picture of the Public Library, because LIBRARIES ARE THE BEST, EVERYONE). Navy Pier was crowded but wow, was it beautiful. The water is so blue it doesn’t even look real. I could have stood out on the end of Navy Pier for an entire day. The breeze was perfect, there was barely a cloud in the sky, so many gorgeous boats out on the lake to look at. Plus some absolutely incredible views of the Chicago skyline:

 

 

 

We did a little walking along the shoreline trail en route to lunch. I love pizza, and for a long time, Pizzeria Uno was my restaurant of choice so I have a soft spot for Chicago deep dish. I’ve been to a Giordano’s in Orlando, FL, and Max has been to both Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s so he decided to go for the trifecta and we went to Gino’s East. It was a similar process to our last pizza adventure at Grimaldi’s pizzeria in Brooklyn: you get in line and they (generally) go through the line on a first-come, first-serve basis. We waited for probably about 45 minutes or so, which is really not that long of a wait all things considered.

I probably would have waited for a full week to get to eat this pizza. It was that good. I have very high standards for pizza and my first experience with real Chicago deep dish was mindblowing. We ordered a supreme with sausage (get the patties not the crumbles!), onions, peppers, and mushrooms (easy to pick off if you are like me and hate mushrooms!). SO GOOD.

I had something akin to a religious experience, and me shoveling pizza into my mouth with a beer easily accessible is truly Peak Dani:

How cool is all the graffiti on the wall! I absolutely loved the divey atmosphere of Gino’s and the graffiti was so fun. I wish we had known/brought some sort of marker with us to add our contribution, but it will have to wait until next time.

The plans for the rest of our evening involved heading up to Wrigleyville to get some beers and catch a glimpse of Wrigley Field. En route, we stopped at American Girl Place, which was a bucket list item I didn’t know I had until I was checking it off. I was obsessed with American Girls growing up – Felicity was my favorite and is probably the inspiration for my childhood obsessions with colonial America/the American Revolution and may or may not be the reason I colored my hair red and moved to Virginia (insert shrugging girl emoji here). I always wanted to go to lunch at the AG Cafe when I was a kid, but we never traveled to Chicago and it just moved to the back of my mind until I was a block away and was hit with an overwhelming WE NEED TO GO TO AMERICAN GIRL PLACE. Guys, I cried when we walked in the door. I am pretty sure we were the only adults in the store without a child in tow, and I didn’t even care a little bit.

We hopped on the train and rode up to Wrigleyville, completely unaware that there was a concert at Wrigley and wondering why there were so many people in cowboy boots. Turns out that the Florida Georgia Line / BSB / Nelly tour was in Chicago. There was a very eclectic group of people on the train for that reason. So we got to Wrigleyville, took a few pics, and had a drink or two at some assorted bars in the area:

Wrigleyville didn’t really have the lively vibe we were hoping for, so we decided to go over to the Market Days festival. Market Days is “the largest street festival in the Midwest and is geared towards the LGBT community” with assorted entertainment, DJs, stands, food, etc, and only a short walk from Wrigley. We got a couple drinks and walked around the festival – unfortunately because we came so late in the evening, many of the stands and shops were already closed which was a bummer. I wish I had known this festival was going on and I would have planned more time to ACTUALLY go, but we got a sufficient amount of champagne slushies as we walked around so I wasn’t disappointed. There were quite a few pretty great dance parties occurring around the festival, which was fun.
We decided to wind down the night with a long (very…very long) walk back to the commuter train to head out of the city. Guys, I am really bad at gauging the scale of iPhone maps and so I thought we were doing just a mile or two and it turned out to be like, five miles or something obnoxious. My feet hurt real bad after that walk was done.
So that was our day in Chicago. As with most of our adventures on this trip – I’m already looking forward to coming back.

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