"She is novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time." --Mark Twain
Someone once said to me, just prior to my move to Chicago two and a half years ago, "If you haven't lived in Chicago for six months, you don't know Chicago." This family friend had spent a great deal of his career in The Windy City prior to moving back to the thumb of Michigan, where he still resides today. I didn't understand what he meant back then, but it seems obvious to me now as I have watched this incredible city change and evolve by tenfold in just the short time I have called it home. The next couple weeks will bring a bittersweet change as I uproot my life here in Chicago and head back to the mitten. While I am grateful to have the opportunity to work at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!), I will miss my life here dearly, and it about breaks my heart to realize the Chicago I visit down the road may not be the one I've grown so fond of.
This beautiful city has been too good to me, and I often have family and friends in town asking where I recommend they go for coffee, a fun dinner, or even some free things to do while they are here. So partly for people planning to visit Chicago in the future, and partly so I don't forget all of my favorite spots in town once I leave, I have compiled a list of places that always kept me coming back for more. If you happen to venture into any of these spots, you'll have to let me know if you enjoyed them as much as I did!
Brunch: The Allis at SOHO House, Zella (a boozy brunch for sure), M. Henry, & Ann Sather
Lunch/Dinner: D4, Big Star, Green Street Meats, & Public House
Just a Coffee: Heritage General Store, Beatrix, C.C. Ferns, & La Colombe (go for the coffee on draft)
Cheap Thrills: Halligan, Saltan's Market, Billygoat Tavern, Portillo's, Burwood Tap, Howl at the Moon, & Bub City
Instagram-Worthy: Summer House Santa Monica, Mahalo, Doughnut Vault, Left Coast, The Hampton Social, & Happy Camper
Where Calories Don't Count: Firecakes & Jeni's Ice Cream
Places to Go When You Have Nowhere to Be: Lincoln Park Zoo, the lakefront (you won't find a better view of the skyline), Chicago Cultural Center, The Art Institute of Chicago, Foursided, Art Effect, the Winter Garden at Harold Washington Library, & Lincoln Park Conservatory
Throughout the high points and the low, I wouldn't trade my experiences in Chicago for anything in the world. In fact, I may be headed to Ann Arbor for now, but something tells me I'm not done with this city just yet. Stay tuned!
"Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world." --Frank Lloyd Wright