Let’s take a trip Tuesday – Chicago

What could bond two brides who have never met more than their wedding photographer?  Not much apparently…well, not when jess is your photographer.  That’s how Emily and I became aquainted with one another.  I remember Jess daydreaming about Emily’s ITALIAN wedding  (check it out!) and how she even splurged on some Louboutins for the big day.   And then, dear internet, it happened.  I fell head over louboutin heels with emily.   and i know you will too.  

Annnnnd we’re off – to Chicago!

{meet Emily & Nick}
Name: Emily    Blogem equals me  Location: Chicago, IL 
How long have you lived there
Chicago has been my place of residence for 3+years now. It’s not quite a “home” yet, but I am growing fonder of her every day.
If you moved from somewhere elsewhere did you move fromWhy
Three years ago, I  found out that I was going to medical school…in Chicago. Considering that I was living in West Palm Beach, FL at the time, I was mildly terrified. I did not own a coat. Accompanying that terror, however, was a healthy sense of adventure. I was also very excited about the opportunity to expand my wardrobe to include more than sundresses and bikinis and flip-flops. Any excuse to shop, eh?
How is the weather?
{Emily enjoying Fall}
{Emily and the snow of Chicago … on her car}
Oh dear. Where to begin? First, a disclaimer: as mentioned above, I am from Florida. I had not seen snow in years before I moved to the great tundra that is the Midwest (save for an isolated weekend skiing in Colorado). I did not have a coat. These things might have made my experience with Chicago weather a bit more extreme than it is for most people.  That said, I believe that I have acclimated well.

Another thing to be said about Chicago weather is that people from Chicago LOVE it. And they love to complain about it. Maybe they don’t know what it is really like to have more than 12 truly nice days of weather in a year. I don’t know. Either way, don’t get into an argument with someone from Chicago about the weather here. It’s just not a good idea.

Now, to the weather: in the summer, it usually gets warm sometime in June and stays warm until sometime in September. Sometimes this warmth is humidity-free, which is nice. However, sometimes it is real freakin’ humid here. I didn’t think that I would ever experience Florida-like humidity outside of the actual state of Florida. I was wrong. And Chicago humidity is actually WORSE than West Palm humidity, because there is no lovely ocean breeze to enjoy. Summers are really great in the Chi though…suddenly sidewalks are filled with planters and patio seating,  people are walking everywhere, and the city skyline can suddenly be enjoyed from any number of rooftop bars and restaurants. And you really haven’t enjoyed a beverage until you’ve enjoyed it from a rooftop (use caution, however. I can say from my recent experience in the Cook County Trauma Unit that sometimes drinking and rooftopping can be very hazardous to life and limb.).

The winters are another story. Winter in Chicago is bookended by Fall and Spring, both of which are entirely too short for my liking. The weather starts cooling down around October, and the first snow usually falls sometime in November or December. The snow usually stops in March, which makes you think Spring is coming, but then Winter pump-fakes and there will be another two weeks of sub-zero temperatures in April. I may be slightly exaggerating here, but seriously, Winter is soooo loooooong. And bitterly cold at times. There was one week last year where the ENTIRE WEEK, the temperature did not go above zero degrees. Not even kidding. Fashion-sense aside, no amount of clothing can protect you from temps like that. 

Tell us what a typical weekend is like for you there

Given the fact that I am a med student, and am actually on-call in the hospital at this very moment (on a Saturday), maybe for me to be honest about what a typical weekend looks like for me would be counter-productive for those who come to Chicago hoping NOT to spend their time in a hospital. So instead, I will tell you about an *ideal* weekend for me here.

It starts with a Friday night out to dinner with my sweetie, perhaps accompanied by friends, and/or pre/post-dinner drinks. Preferably somewhere within walking distance (we live in Lincoln Park)…we are usually tired after a long week. We like Sushi Para Too, Toro Sushi, D.O.C. Wine Bar, Tarasca’s (mexican…of course), Hema’s Indian Kitchen, Riccardo Tratorria (best Italian food in the city…I do not exaggerate), Gemini Bistro, and Raven’s Bar is our favorite neighborhood drinking haunt (great games there).

{Emily & The pond in Lincoln Park}

On a Saturday, I usually like to kick it off with brunch. My favorite brunch spots are actually in the Ukranian Village/Wicker Park area (Nick’s old neighborhood, pre-marriage…that’s how I discovered them): Branch 27 (best Bloody Mary I’ve had yet…the pork belly n’ grits is divine, as are the Chilequiles), Jam (AMAZING. also cash only. this is the best food you’ll find in Chicago for the price. they recently opened up a patio, and expanded their menu to include dinner as well. happy happy joy.), Milk & Honey Cafe (a bit more a la carte, but still delicious with a lovely summertime patio).
After brunch, depending on the weather, I like to do something outside (like the Lincoln Park Green Market) or stay in (snuggle on the couch with Nick, watching movies and the falling snow). If I have to study, I like to hit up the Bourgeois Pig or Noble Tree Cafe…great cozy study spots. On Saturday nights, I like to try another restaurant :), and then see some live music, or lively people out on the town. I’m still weeding through great dancing spots, so stay tuned in the future. I still haven’t found many I like. For nightlife, I like many of the bars on Division Street, and Pint on Milwaukee Ave is also a favorite. Wrigleyville kicks it up an entirely other  notch when it comes to nightlife and drinking. I try not to hit it up too often, and my liver thanks me for that. 🙂
Sundays are made for relaxing, and watching football (during football season, of course). My favorite thing to do is to relax on the couch with friends and a few beers, watching game after game, while playing on my computer. 🙂 Thus, my blog was born.
This doesn’t always happen on a weekend, but seeing concerts and visiting Millenium Park (whether it’s to see a concert or not) are always highlights in my life. Seeing a show at the Pritzker Pavilion (most recently Ray Lamontagne!), visiting the Art Institute, reflecting at the Bean, throwing coins in the Buckingham Fountain….I could go on.

{Nick @ the Ray Lamontagne concert}

{you cannot beat the skyline from Pritzker at night}
Where do you like to eat in your town?
(see above) Also, Jerry’s Sandwich Shop, Nacional 27 (late night on Fri/Sat, the middle of the restaurant turns into a dance floor and the city’s best closet salsa dancers start shaking their stuff…it’s so enthralling! I have yet to be brave enough to join them. Some day…), Xoco (another Rick Bayless lunchtime spot…open till 3pm, with Mexican street food. It opened over a year ago and there is STILL a line out the door and around the block every time I go. So worth it though.),…

I could seriously go on and on and on. Chicago restaurants are truly phenomenal. There are so many places I’m leaving out, neighborhoods I’m not representing, but this entire post would literally be all about food. This makes me sound like a fat chick. But hey, I like to eat!

Where do you like to shop?
No trip to Chicago is complete without a stop at the Magnificent Mile. This strip on Michigan Avenue is full of everything from Prada, Coach, and Tiffany’s to Forever 21, the Gap, and Victoria’s Secret. It’s a huge tourist attraction, so there’s always a steady hustle and bustle of people, and tons of street performers lining the sidewalks. I especially love to walk the Mile in the Spring when the tulips and crocuses are blooming in the flower-boxes that line the street…AND at Christmastime, when snowflakes are falling and Christmas lights are twinkling, and when you simply MUST stop in every single shop just to keep yourself from freezing. 🙂

For my less touristy daysmy three favorite shopping strips to frequent are as follows:
Lake & State- the best discount shopping in the city. Loehmann’s and Nordstrom Rack are across the street from each other…great places to score fabulous clothes on the cheap. There is also an Anthropologie. Obviously not discount shopping (although if you hit their sales just right, you can land a goldmine), but still wonderful for inspiration and fabulous smells from their intoxicating candles. If you are here, you must try Frontera Fresca on the Seventh Floor of the State Street Macy’s. It is the lunch hour version of celebrity chef Rick Bayless’s Chicago restaurants. GREAT mexican food: my mom and I split a torta (Mexican sandwich), a huge Chicken Chipotle salad, guacamole & chips, and a margarita for less than $30.
Armitage & Halsted- I can walk to this Lincoln Park gem from my apartment. Here there are not one, but TWO BCBG’s, an American Apparel, a Cynthia Rowley, Intermix, MAC, Lush, Nine West, Rugby (by Ralph Lauren…so preppy and fantastic), Lulu Lemon (for when you’re channelling your inner yogini/fitness junkie), and a delightful smattering of boutiques and consignment shops. Of course there’s a Starbucks, and the Twisted Lizard is your best bet for Mexican food (can you tell I like Mexican food? I may or may not have served it at my wedding reception. It’s true.). Chicago Bagel Authority also lives up to its name.
Southport Corridor- there is another Anthropologie here, which is a huge draw for me. 🙂 This strip is also chock full of boutiques. Many of which are currently out of my price range, but parking is easy here, and if I’m in the “hood” for the Anthro, I usually stop in and see the neighbors. If you are shopping early on a Saturday, you simply MUST stop in to Southport Cafe. Cupcake pancakes, y’all. Pancakes made of cupcake batter. To quote Sarah Tucker, I die. They also have many other delish brunch options, and a delightful little in-cafe market so you can replicate their delicacies at home, if you so choose.

Suggest some must see places for an out of town visitor

Chicago is known for many, many things. Especially blues. My favorite place to catch the blues is Kingston Mines. Music plays from 9pm-4am every day of the week, on two stages. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better show in the city. I LOVE it. I went there for my 24th birthday, and was serenaded via guitar solo by a gentleman named Charlie Love. My life will never be the same.
{Nick & Emily – serenaded by the blues}

Other highlights are seasonalbut some suggestions are as follows: 
Roof (rooftop bar/small plate resty at the top of The Wit hotel); Architectural Boat Tours on the Chicago River (cash bar on board, folks. great way to give yourself a break from shopping for an hour.); Signature Lounge at the John Hancock Building (classy bar with floor-to-ceiling windows on the 96th floor of one of the tallest buildings in Chicago. read: phenomenal views. skip the Observatory on the 94th floor, where they charge you $10 just to get off the elevator. go up one more floor and spend that money on a delicious beverage.); Cubs game at Wrigley Field (whatever your sports team preference, the Wrigley Field experience is tough to beat. Old Style and a Chicago dog. just trust me.).

{chicago architectural boat tour}
Tell us why you love your town:
If all of the above is not enough of an indication :), I will just say that Chicago will always hold a very dear place in my heart because it is where I met and fell in love with my husband, Nick (the male face you see in all these photos). I have very few Chicago memories without him in them. Wherever life takes us in the future, I know we will always remember Chicago with deep fondness, because it is where our love story began.
{Emily and the BEAN}
Anything else we should know about where you live?
Chicago is a very special town. It’s a big city, with a hometown, Midwest heart. The people are friendly and VERY diverse. I am still anticipating exploring Greektown, Chinatown, and Germantown, to complement the Little Italy experience I have already had. Chicagoans are big sports fans in general. There is not a single time of year where there isn’t a Chicago team to cheer for, and this means there are many many sports bars full of people on any given night. If bar food isn’t your flavor, you can find world-class cuisine of ALL types, and many restaurants are BYOB (bring your own, for those unfamiliar with this concept. show up with a bottle of vino or a six-pack in your purse. they’ll bring you a bottle opener or a wine key, and the appropriate glasses.). There is just so much to do! I am still whittling away at my Chicago bucket list, trying to get it all done before my 4th year of med school is up…just in case I don’t stay here for residency. It would be virtually impossible for anyone to be bored in this town. There literally is something for everyone.

So. I officially. want to hop a plane to Chiacago and listen to some jazz.  Don’t you?
Next best thing – Emily’s blog.  I know you’ll love it over there.  

happy tuesday.
thank you Emily!! 

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