A Taste of the Windy City

Happy friday everyone! Hope everyone plans on enjoying the pretty weather we're going to have this weekend. Today's post is going to be a review on all the food places I ate at in Chicago, so if you're ever planning on visiting soon, some of these places are so good and some may not be worth it (depending on what you eat). For the most part, when I eat out I'm vegetarian unless the restaurant serves Halal meat (since I am Muslim)-- so if you see me mentioning this down below, that's why :). 

1) Usmania's, ($$) an Indo-Chinese restaurant located on Devon Ave. 
Orange Chicken and Hakka Noodles

This was one of the first spots we tried in Chicago and man was this place good! There are two restaurants with the same name located right across each other (not sure how/why this happened lol). The Usmania restaurant is bigger & serves (halal) Pakistani food whereas this was across the street serving (halal) Indo-Chinese food. The servers were kind and accommodating and the prices weren't bad for the amount of food you received. We ordered the: corn soup, orange chicken, hakka noodles, manchurian chicken with a side of white rice. I can't say I was a fan of the soup however everything else was absolutely delicious. Definitely stop by here if you're in the area!

2) Catch 35, ($$$) a high-end seafood & steak restaurant located at 35 W Wacker Dr. 

Catch 35 was recommended to us by almost everyone in our lobby at the Renaissance hotel. It was less than 50 feet from the hotel and apparently everyone working there loved it so we decided to try this place out for dinner. Since they do not serve halal meat, I was limited in what I could order here. They had a variety of shrimp options and I got buffalo shrimp with a side of fries. My sister ordered salmon, which she liked. The buffalo shrimp however is something I do not recommend getting. It was literally buffalo sauce poured on cooked shrimp (I'm glad I ordered French Fries is all I'm saying lol). Personally, I did not enjoy this place but if you eat meat (fish, etc.)you will have a lot more options and may want to try it out or find Yelp reviews. However, everyone was nice and the ambiance is upscale formal. 

3) Lou Malnati's, ($$) an American Chicago-style pizza restaurant chain (multiple locations). 

The Lou
Oh. My. God. If you visit Chicago and don't go to Lou Malnati's... what are you doing with your life? I will say this, do not let the wait time turn you away from trying it. There were three of us and we were given an estimated 1 hour wait however they gave us a booth used for two people in about 15 minutes and we all fit so it worked out! A plus is that while you put your name down, you can go ahead and order so by the time you're seated your pizza is ready since it takes 45 minutes to make. 

It is no secret that I love pizza but I had never tried deep dish before so I was excited to try this place out because it was recommended by so many. We got the classic "Lou" pizza in medium and it was big enough for all three of us. If you love pizza or are a major foodie, you have to try this place and somehow make room for the chocolate chip cookie desert. It takes 10 minutes to make so they recommend ordering it after you start on your second slice. We waited awhile after finishing our pizza to put in our order for desert because we were pretty stuffed, but I wish we had gotten the bigger size! The small order is a sample size and once you take a bite-- you'll wish you ordered the bigger one (like we did haha). 

4) Max's Take Out, ($) a small American fast food joint serving hot dogs, burgers & fries located at 20 E Adams St. If you eat halal/kosher-- ask for a separate menu! 

Personally, I wasn't a fan of this place. It wasn't bad-- I ate my chili cheese + onions hot dog and my fries but the chili didn't have enough flavor that I'm used to from making my own at home. The fries were actually pretty good. 

5) Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe, ($$) a popular breakfast/brunch cafe located at 130 E Randolph St.
The Garden

Go ahead and schedule this place in your vacay itinerary and download the NoWait app to reserve your name so you aren't waiting on location for 2 hours (because if not-- you will. This place is busy but it is worth it. They open at 6am so logon to the app and reserve your spot). We weren't told about the NoWait app until we got there, even though we called beforehand to inquire about it but we were catching up with family so the time flew by. 

Berry Buttermilk Pancakes

Red Velvet French Toast
We ordered "The Garden" which is essentially a skillet of hash browns topped with cheese, sautéed and fresh vegetables and 2 sunny side up eggs on top. I'm going to attempt to recreate this heavenly breakfast item on the blog soon, so look out for it! My brother ordered the red velvet french toast that was also amazing. The fries were good. It's just all good haha. 6) Sunda, ($$) a chic space serving Asian fusion food. They offer a vegan menu!

After visiting SkyDeck we were absolutely starving and initially we were trying to go to Xoco, a mexican place but that specific location was closed. This was the closest spot from where our Uber dropped us off that seemed good. I had a bad pad thai experience in Atlanta and the noodles were just hard to chew. However, form the vegan menu I ordered their pad thai and while I could've done without the chopped peanut, the dish itself was plated perfectly and tasted amazing. Both my sister and my brother ordered sushi and enjoyed their dish as well!

7) Eataly, ($$$) a modern market featuring a wide variety of Italian eateries & markets located at 43 E Ohio St. 

This is the cutest little market! They have a bunch of desert places like a Nutella crepe bar, Gelato, etc. I tried a Nutella crepe and my friend got the strawberry Nutella crepe and both were amazing! Definitely a cute little spot to pop into while you're walking the streets of Chicago and are craving a little something sweet. 

8) The Halal Guys, ($) a Middle Eastern eatery serving falafel and gyros located at 49 W Division St.

I have heard so much about this place and like I mentioned on my travel vlog, it's like a Chipotle but the Middle Eastern version. They have a rice platter and you choose your choice of meat, etc. and it comes with the infamous white sauce that wasn't actually bad (I'm a picky eater lol). They don't mix the food items either, it's all separated on the platter. I've never tried the NY Halal Guys but I have heard that the location there is better than the Chicago location. 

9) Ghirardelli, ($) a chocolate shop/desert cafe located at 830 N Michigan Ave. 

YUM. Without a doubt, this was guaranteed to be good-- let's be honest haha. The brownie sundae and banana split was to die for, I'm craving it all over again. We were strolling through Chicago and ran into this place and of course being the foodies we are, we stopped in.