Last updated: 09:00 AM ET, Fri August 28 2015

Dispatch: The Virgin's Trip to Chicago, Day 3

Features & Advice | Tom Bastek | August 28, 2015

Dispatch: The Virgin's Trip to Chicago, Day 3

Photos courtesy of Jenny McNeal.

A solid breakfast in a town of solid winter weather in the middle of the Midwest is nothing to sneeze at. I don’t rank breakfast towns, but if I did, Chicago would be close to the top. 

We have had an affinity for Chef Stephanie Izard ever since meeting her at the All-Star Cochon in Las Vegas a couple of years back, so we decided (with a friendly reminder from our friend Matt) to check out the Little Goat Chicago. The restaurant marks Izard’s follow up to the Girl and the Goat, her small plate concept that helped start the Randolph Restaurant Corridor. 

Across the street from the Girl and the Goat lies Little Goat, the Chef’s take on the American diner, but certainly done with much more flare. Logoed mugs, linen napkins and beautiful interior design take this diner up a notch.  The food is also a step above what you remember growing up with at the counter of the local Greek hangout. They serve three meals a day and stay open until midnight on the weekends.

I had the smoked corned beef hash with eggs, and my wife got the ooey gooey cinnabun and blueberry pancakes.  We are not hard to please but I will tell you that everything was spectacular.  If you are looking for a real treat, sit at the counter and watch the beautiful synchronized dance that is the kitchen and expo station. 

There were no less than nine cooks in the kitchen and at least two food runners running food. These guys and gals didn’t get a break all morning either. We were there on a Friday at 10 a.m. and there was an hour wait when we got there and when we left. 

On your way out, stop by the bakery and watch them make magic in the pastry kitchen. If you can, take home a fresh made French baguette for less that you would pay at the grocery.

On the walk back to the “L” (and boy did we need to burn off some of that breakfast) we were lucky enough to run into a “living walls” artist in the middle of a mural painting.  We enjoyed some conversation, which included some enlightenment on how the art is imagined and then executed.

To the Art Institute of Chicago we trekked, stopping out in front to grab a picture of the lion in a small tribute to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Leave yourself at least four to six hours to see everything. You are actually probably better off trying to break it up into multiple trips, and the two of us even contemplated membership because you could literally visit the place for two hours per trip once a weekend and not see everything for months.

See also: How To Have Your Own 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' in Chicago

We ran through the art museum, seeing as much as we had time to squeeze in and ran back to the Chicago Hilton to regroup. After a quick refresh, we were once again on our way, this time up to the Navy Pier

If you have children, there are things to do galore. The Chicago Children’s Museum, IMAX Theater, Ferris wheel and rides, as well as copious boat trips can all be had for you and the family. 

Although there isn’t much for us as of yet, where the Navy Pier development is going speaks to us on many levels.  Sustainability, a new look that is reminiscent of modern yet historical indoor markets, and additional green space with grander views. I know that we will definitely ride our bikes down there on our next trip back to see the exciting progress of the changes that are happening right now.

A bus from the pier to the “L” was almost an hour ride in rush hour traffic.  We were headed out to Wicker Park, and Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. isn’t the best time to be doing that. 

We should have traveled back south to towards the loop and taken the train from there and avoided the whole cross-town traffic. (Someone please learn from this). We arrived at Big Star where of course on a Friday there was a wait. 

Here is my take on the place:  It is hip and trendy right now, the tacos are good (for a laugh try the "walking taco" pictured below), the beer, tequila and bourbon selection is good, and the prices are apropos for the area/time/hipness of the place. They will not, however, take a credit card; cash only. I have no idea what the reasoning behind this is, but keep it in mind. There is an ATM onsite so really, no worries.

A short walk through the area, down the main drag brought us to Emporium Arcade and Bar. Unlike the guys up at the Galloping Ghost, this place had a plethora of pinball.  Nothing was more than a token, and tokens could be bought on your tab at the bar in $5 increments. The also had a good beer list and room to put up live entertainment in the evenings. My kind of place.

A quick walk back to the “L” and a slow crawl back to the room and we had had it. With 20,190 steps registered on the Fit Bit, we crashed hard.  One more day and homeward bound.  

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