Hello, Chicago – Part 1

November 29, 2017

Oh, Chicago. It’s been far too long. Growing up and going to college in western Michigan, we made frequent trips to the Windy City to visit relatives, see a play or an improv show, or explore museums, and much more. Since we’ve been in Columbus and started having kids, it’s been tougher to get up there, but last month Beth and I made a return with our friends Robin and Jodi for a quick weekend of food, donuts, coffee, cocktails, and this little-known musical called Hamilton.

We snuck into the city early on a Thursday afternoon, staying at the Hyatt Place downtown and parking our car for the weekend at the Poetry Garage. The hotel offers valet services, but it’s cheaper to park at the garage a couple blocks away, especially if you’re ditching the car and riding trains or buses for the rest of the weekend. The bonus is that the Poetry Garage names its floors after famous poets. It’s easier to remember (we were parked on Billy Collins), and you get to read poems while you wait for the elevator.

After we checked in, we strolled west across the river to the West Loop, a district that has seen a renaissance in recent years, thanks in part to restaurateurs like Stephanie Izard opening multiple eateries. That night we made our stop at Monteverde, which just a week prior had been named by Eater as one of the Midwest’s 38 Essential Restaurants (along with the amazing Milktooth in Indianapolis, where we stopped for lunch on the drive in, and Hoyo’s Kitchen in Columbus!).

Eater calls Monteverde “an unrepentant celebration of pasta,” and that sentiment proved to be accurate.

We sampled everything from the Nantucket Bay scallop crudo.

To the burrata with ham.

The wok-fried arrabiatta with tagliolini pasta and shrimp in a garlic hot pepper oil.

And the gnocchetti con pesto with pine nuts, pecarino, and ricotta.

Plus the special, an egg ravioli that oozed rich yolk when you cut it.

Our feast completed, we hopped in an Uber back across the river to…

HAMILTON!

As two people with theatre backgrounds (we met during a production in college, after all), it was a dream come true to see the show. We know the soundtrack backwards and forwards – heck, our boys can recite some of the songs – and it was a sheer joy to see it live. It really is a remarkable work of art, an expertly and intricately written piece made all the more powerful because it’s a true story.

It’s thanks to Robin that we found our tickets, which she snagged (for a decent price, to be honest) through Ticketmaster resale.

How lucky we are to be alive right now. We didn’t throw away our shot while we were in the room where it happens. Work!

The next morning, still in a post-Hamilton haze of excitement, we hopped the train back to the West Loop for first and second breakfast.

First breakfast was Do-Rite Donuts (and also fried chicken, apparently?), a shop with three locations around the city.

There’s a long line of accolades hanging on the walls at Do-Rite, one of which featured a quote from Alton Brown saying their old-fashioned donut was the best he’s had. I’ll take that recommendation.

I’m a fan of simplest is best, so we enjoyed excellent old-fashioned donuts (including this cinnamon-crusted version) and cake donuts with icing and rainbow sprinkles. It was shaping up to be a beautiful morning, so we sipped coffee and nibbled on donuts on the patio.

And then it was on to second breakfast, an incredibly rich and creative affair at the Little Goat Diner nearby. Read on for part two and part three as well!

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FOOD + TRAVEL WRITER

I go by Dr. Breakfast, but in addition to restaurants and recipes, I write about family travel, breweries and distilleries, the arts, outdoor fun, and so much more.

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