Not so shy girl in Chi town

Chicago 24Did you know that Chi Town originally got it’s name from a 1975 country album? The album by C.W. McCall had a song on the record called “convoy” and included lyrics about driving through “Chi Town.” The last time I had gone to Chicago I was 9 years old. I do not remember going to see the city or anything exciting, as I was driving cross country to move from Connecticut to California and it was just a quick stop to visit one of my mom’s best friends. It was summer time and the only thing I remember is going to a pool with a waterslide…not very much of a Chicago memory if you ask me! So it was a pleasant surprise when my boss asked me to attend our annual conference in Chi Town this past November! I had already built up in my head for years what I would do if I was in Chicago next, but I only had about 24 hours to actually explore, so I had to be strategic!

Chicago 17I really did love this city and I cannot wait to go back again! From the beautiful architecture to the delicious food, there really is nothing Chicago can’t offer you for a true “downtown” experience. I had the LONGEST list in life of things I wanted to do while there, all suggestions from friends, family and of course my Blogger Babes! However, after a 4.5 hour plane ride, meeting and speaking with 500 different faces and shaking hands at the conference, going from warm 70 degree weather to cold 40 degree weather, you could imagine my dismay when I got sick the last day which was the day I had planned (3) more Chicago bucket list restaurants and bars! I ended up spending my last day in my hotel room and ordering Caviar (which is similar to Postmates but on the East) and having ramen (which was not the best). Boo! Honestly, there was SO much more I wanted to do, see, and eat, and I was so disappointed I got sick, but below you will read highlights from my trip, where I stayed, the restaurants I ate at, and unfortunately, a few items I did not have time for that I would highly suggest to my travelers.

Accommodations~ I am so lucky to work for an amazing brand like Kimpton. Each and every one of our properties are unique and innovative, while keeping a sophisticated charm. I had the opportunity to see and experience (3) hotels while in Chicago: The Grey by Kimpton, Intercontinental Chicago (Miracle Mile), and my personal overnight accommodations, The Kimpton Allegro. All 3 hotels are in fantastic locations, walking distance to many bars, restaurants, shopping, and nightlife, and I experienced them by attending an event, dinner, or meeting at each one.

The rooms are quaint but also encompass a downtown feel with amazing views of the city!

With every Kimpton property, they love to give you that WOW factor in the lobby. This art piece at the Allegro (below) clearly illustrates that the hotel wants to remind it’s guests of an older era, which I would say is 1920’s since they have a speakeasy upstairs! The detailed decor in this lobby really incorporated a vintage feel with the gold accents and leather furniture, and the designers did an amazing job of making you feel that you’re in downtown Chicago.

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Did you know every Kimpton property has a complimentary wine hour from 5-6pm?! It’s such a perk when traveling to have a glass of wine waiting for you right when you get back to the hotel from a meeting! The Allegro actually serves Prosecco for their wine hour which I love as bubbly is always a favorite of mine, but I was able to sample a couple of their white wines as well including this Sauvignon Blanc.

Food: As much as I had heard about Chicago, I definitely had high expectations of the food scene in the city and had compiled a whole list of places to fork down! Of course, as with most trips, I didn’t get the opportunity to venture to nearly as many places as anticipated. However, with the limited time I had, I did get to experience very amazing food and culture!

Bar Siena (pictured below) was a place I had seen blogged about many times on instagram and pinterest since they also own this very cool doughnut and Italian coffee shop, Bombo Bar, which is attached to the restaurant. Located in Restaurant Row in the very popular West Loop neighborhood, Bar Siena is known for their eclectic Italian streetfare which is served family style, and is leaded by winning Top Chef Fabio Viviani (who is gorgeous by the way) and owned by DineAmic Group partners and the Chef himself. I loved the vibe of this restaurant as it had a very energetic, yet romantic feel and although the food has beautiful presentation that made it feel like a fancy restaurant, it has the ability to gives you a casual feel.  

Let me just go ahead and say that I have tasted A LOT of burrata in my life. I have traveled to Italy and tried burrata. My family has even made burrata! This was without a doubt my favorite burrata I have ever had at a restaurant. It was seriously so delicious I cannot stress enough how good it was! And to answer the question you may be thinking, yes! Bar Siena makes all their cheese in house and EVERYTHING on their menu is made from scratch. Of course being Italian, I had to try their gnocchi as this potato pasta is very hard to master. Mixed with prosciutto sausage, rapini, parmesan, and chili flakes, I felt the gnocchi was cooked to perfection and although I did find the dish to be a bit salty, I think that’s because I’ve never had prosciutto sausage before and I wasn’t expecting such a strong taste. 

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Bombo Bar is is a walkup eatery that is known for their Bombolini, a small, hole-less donut that has the filling on the side to “stuff” the donut with. I really wanted to incorporate one of their hot beverages with one of their dessert options, so I chose the Hotter Cider (pictured here). As amazing as it looks, this hot beverage consisted of very apple cider, salted caramel, and the best topper, an old-fashioned, pecan-apple donut! Connected to, and also served for dessert at Bar Siena, I would highly recommend this spot for a quick dessert place. 

Pizza from Chicago

Giordanos pizza is infamous for the deep dish style pizza in Chicago and they have multiple locations. If you are not familiar, Chicago style pizza has cheese in the middle, with the crust and the sauce on the outside. For the heavy cheese lovers, this is a melted cheese heaven dream! Being Italian, I was skeptical at first, but it was extremely delicious and I would definitely go back there again! We got half cheese and half sausage, and both were so yummy! #nomnom

Things to do: Just walking around the city is honestly enough to do in itself! Endless shopping, restaurants, and entertainment surrounds you no matter what part of town you’re from. From our hotel, we were able to walk to the river, the iconic Bean, and even the infamous Ledge, which of course, I had to  experience!Chicago 28

The Ledge, also known as Sears Tower is infamously known for their 8 walkout ledges that those who want to experience the terrifying feeling, can enjoy. As they only give groups less than 2 minutes to take pictures, I was very strategic in exactly how I wanted to pose myself for this particular shot (pictured above). It honestly was an extremely terrifying  yet exhilarating experience as you have a whole 1 minute elevator ride up the 130 stories to your ledge! Pictured below is the view from the ledge, when we first got to the top of the building. Luckily by the time it was our turn, the city lights had just come on enabling me to get this beautiful picture above. 

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My first time at the iconic Bean, I was so excited to only get myself in this shot!
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Beautiful leaves turning all around you in Chicago in the Fall

What I wanted to do that I couldn’t: I’m sure as most of you can relate, when we go away somewhere, there’s a long list of places you put in your phone that you want to check out and let’s be honest, we actually probably only see 10% of what we planned. I try to be that person who can cram a lot into one vacation, but as I stated earlier, with getting sick, and also being on a work trip, I was limited. Below are my Top 3 places that I plan to explore the next time I’m in the city:

#1- Three Arts Club Cafe- Owned and located inside Restoration Hardware, this beautiful design gallery is host to a restaurant, cafe, and wine bar
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#2- Lena Brava- This eclectic and trendy restaurant is located in the West Loop and  and owned by Top Chef  winner and author of 9 cook books, Rick Bayless
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#3- Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise- A 90 minute boat ride that allows you to learn about Chi Town’s history and beautiful architecture.

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Thank you for reading and always keep sipping!