Eating through a few Midwestern States

We recently got back from a multi-state odyssey.   We traveled and ate through many states.

We only passed through St. Louis to spend the night on our way to Chicago,  but we would love to go back and try some BBQ and blues!  Next time,  I hope.  Right outside our hotel was a City Seeds Urban Farm.   It was so impressive.  I wish I had some pictures, but it was raining.  That,  however, did not daunt anyone working in the garden that early morning.   Everyone had a raincoat on and looked eager to get to work.   This sounds like a great program!

Our first stop in Chicago was Park Grill.  It was cold and rainy when we ducked in and so we each had a great cup of vegetable soup and split a fantastic turkey burger.   This was a perfect light lunch as we began our exploration of Chicago.   Our server was kind enough to suggest we start at the Chicago Cultural Center.   What a gem.   We briefly explored some of the exhibits.  I was most taken and it will be on our list for future visits.

Tiffany dome at the Chicago Cultural Center.

This former city library has some fantastic (and literary) mosaics.

An apt quote.

Next we were off across the street to the Art Institute.  I had been there many years ago and I was eager to revisit and share this experience with my husband.

Guardian lions outside the Art Institute.

We were pleased to find so many favorites like Georgia O’Keefe and others.  (And, thank you to the docent who told us to wait thirty minutes and come back at 5:00 when it was free!)

As we ate our way through Chicago, we hit the touristy places as well as stumbled upon some other gems.  These are listed in no particular order.

  1. My husband has a friend that ships in Lou Malnati pizzas every Christmas.   I had to buy some of their signature canned tomatoes after we devoured a pie.
  2. We had some other friends who suggested the Billy Goat Tavern for its particular brand of ambiance.  It was nice to see that the SNL fame hadn’t commercialized it.

    Cheezeborger! Cheezeborger! Cheezeborger!

  3. Wormhole:  Loved the “back in time and stuff.”  Lots of stuff from our childhood.  (Does it make me feel old or honored that these old toys are now revered and hip?)  Great vibe and great coffee.  (Not bad vegan muffins, either.)
  4. Northside:  We were just looking for a place to rest and relax for a bit after exploring  Bucktown.  The outdoor patio was perfect for people watching on a crisp afternoon.
  5. Piece Brewpbub:  Cute name,  great service,  cold brews and good pie.
  6. Haymarket Pub:   Do you see a theme here?  Had a few beers (I liked the 4 oz. size option) before we went to Girl and the Goat.
  7. Girl and the Goat:  I usually have at least one destination dining establishment in mind when we travel.  This time it was Stephanie Izard’s restaurant.  (And, yes, I was influenced by her appearance on Top Chef.)  It was packed but service was good.  We tried the Chickpea Fritters first.  Yummy, how can I make these?  We also had the roasted cauliflower, sauteed green beans with a fish sauce vinaigrette, the sugo and the braised beef tongue.    Another great meal from another great chef.  (She was actually working the line.)
  8. The Goddess and the Grocer:  I love little specialty food shops like this.  I really wanted to buy enough food and drink to go on a picnic.  Maybe next time.
  9. Olivia’s Market:This is a regulation market.  We saw many families doing their Friday afternoon shopping.  I loved that the high-end, organic soup cans were placed right next to the Cambell soup.  I wish I had Olivia’s next door to me at home.

    Cool and rainy morning at Lincoln Park.

  10. Farmers’ Market:  Wherever we travel, if it is a Saturday, we find a Farmers’ Market.  We were able to hit the one in Lincoln Park before we left town.

Great trip to Chicago and we are now dieting.  We continued on our journey through Wisconsin and Minnesota to end up in northern Iowa for more great dining.  Will share recipes from this trip soon.


5 comments to Eating through a few Midwestern States

  • Oh how I miss Chicago! My husband and I lived there for 3 years. Such fun eats! Happy travels to you!

  • Eliot

    Thanks, Katrina. We had a blast and are already planning our next trip!

  • Ann

    Looks like a fun trip…

  • Hi, Eliot!

    My stomach is grumbling just reading about all the good food you got to eat on your trip to Chicago! The restaurants and all the diverse foods are my favorite part of the city! I am the social media coordinator at Midwest Living magazine and we’re working with Enjoy Illinois on a Facebook contest called, “Magnificent Getaways Giveaway Contest,” which invites people to share recent magnificent Illinois experiences for a chance to win one of three one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime experiences in Chicago and across Illinois. The Grand Prize alone includes dining (for four) on the Ledge at Skydeck Chicago, Terzo Piano and Lawry’s Prime, plus a stay at the Trump Tower and more! If this is something you’re interested in you can enter one of two ways: or on the contest website, Please feel free to contact me with any questions at

    Hayley Mason, Social Media Coordinator for Midwest Living magazine, Meredith Corporation